Guest blogger, Brooke Benson, talks hormonal balance
You may or may not have made the connection, but hormones rule when it comes to mood, skin, metabolism and energy. Sounds ominous, but what if you could harness the power of your hormones to increase happiness, boost energy and look and feel great? Hormone levels start to drift downhill in your twenties, but with a few simple changes, the superpower of hormonal balance can be yours. After all, who doesn’t want a rocking body, stable mood, glowing skin and fast metabolism?!
Here is a list of the 6 Commandments for Healthy Hormones:
1. Symptoms are simply messages from your body.
Hormones are chemical messengers made by the endocrine glands that travel in your blood stream to other organs and tissues. They control our mood, digestion, energy levels, sex drive and metabolism. Hormones allow is to feel calm and chilled or remain frazzled, frumpy and exhausted. If you are experiencing PMS or mood changes, weight gain, bad skin, bloating or anxiety and irritability, chances are your hormones are out of balance. Listen to your body to take control of your health – journal your symptoms and make it easier to find potential causes or triggers.
2. All paths lead to cortisol.
Our major stress hormone, cortisol, has a huge impact on whether other hormones are able to do their jobs correctly. If you have high cortisol levels (due to stress), this can leave you feeling tired, washed out, and uninterested in life around you. High cortisol levels can also make you feel fat and bloated around the tummy area. Your mind plays a major role in managing these pesky cortisol levels, so create a top 5 list of how you can hit the “Pause” button. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, a warm bath, body scan apps – all are great choices to stop stress in its tracks.
3. You snooze, you win: Restore, rejuvenate, refresh with sleep.
Hormones such as DHEA (your ‘fountain of youth’ hormone) and growth hormone are released when you sleep and enable your body to repair and refresh cells of your body and skin. These brilliant chemicals respond to your circadian rhythm – your sleep/wake cycle – so wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Sleep is also important for regulating leptin and ghrelin, hormones responsible for regulating hunger and appetite. At the risk of sounding like your mother, try to be in bed by 10pm every night. The hours before midnight are essential for repair of skin and muscles. In other words, this is how to avoid Botox.
4. Work from the inside out: Help your liver and gut.
Your liver is responsible for clearing out excess oestrogen and other hormones, and it is important to aid this detoxification process to lessen symptoms of PMS and PCOS like acne and irritability. Foods like broccoli and cauliflower contain nutrients that will increase enzyme production in the liver (I recommend 1/2 cup of steamed cruciferous vegetables a day), whilst dandelion tea, parsley and coriander are fantastic for liver cleansing. Optimal digestive health is also essential to lower the amount of oestrogen reabsorbed back into the blood stream. For this reason, adding high fibre foods, psyllium husk and probiotics can help lower water retention, bloating and mood changes.
5. Food is information, not fuel.
While a doughnut and a bag of nuts may contain the same amount of calories, the nutrients they contain act in very different ways on the body. Processed foods contain high levels of gluten, trans-fats (unhealthy fats) and sugars – all contribute to inflammation, poor concentration and mood instability. Eat clean proteins like nuts, seeds, quinoa and organic meats and eggs, and add hormone-balancing fats like coconut oil, avocado, and raw butter to your diet. Eggs are the superfood of hormone control, and provide vitamin D (a building block for hormone production) and choline and iodine – to boost thyroid hormones and metabolism. An egg a day keeps the bad mood away!