Are your hormones sending you on a physical and emotional roller coaster? You might not be aware how much these little chemical messengers actually rule your life.
Did you know that there are over 100 identified hormones in the body? And they aren’t just about your monthly cycle — they control your metabolism, weight, energy, mood, brain function, sleep and much more…
Hormones really do control how we look, feel, think and perform — and for something so important, we don’t know an awful lot about them.
So here are 10 of the most important things to know about your hormones;
1) Deprivation diets don’t work
Deprivation diets won’t work if your hormones are out of balance (and that’s for most women over 40!). That’s because this type of diet puts your body into stress mode — it literally thinks you are in a famine!
Once in stress mode, cortisol kicks in and tells your fat cells to hang on for dear life and shutting down your metabolism, so when you start eating normally again, guess what? Yep, even more weight goes on and here we go again…
TIP: Ditch diets for good and start nourishing your hormones instead so that they increase your metabolism and get you burning fat, not storing it.
2) Your stress hormones have priority over everything
When your body is in survival mode too often, high levels of cortisol will not only store fat (usually around your belly), but will suppress your immune system, cause digestive issues and crash your energy levels and sex drive.
TIP: Recognise your stressors (it might not be just the obvious ones) and prioritise daily stress management (deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, music etc).
3) Peri-menopause can start at 35!
Some women sail through these years, but the majority will suffer with symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, PMS, brain fog, poor sleep, low libido and hot flushes.
TIP: You are much more likely to sail through these years if you have a hormone friendly diet and lifestyle. Start now!
4) Sleep is non-negotiable
Getting less than six hours of sleep a night can seriously impact your energy, mood and waistline, as well as increase your risk of more serious health conditions as you get older.
TIP: Make sure you are prioritising a good night’s sleep — get to bed by 10.30, switch off your gadgets, keep the room pitch black and avoid caffeine/alcohol.
5) Don’t skimp on the fat
Many of your hormones are made from fat, so stay away from the skinny lattes! Eating healthy fats also helps you feel full and balance blood sugar, reducing insulin (your fat-storing hormone).
TIP: Choose avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, organic full fat dairy, grassfed meat and oily fish.
6) The gut — hormone connection
Your gut and hormones are inextricably linked! Food sensitivities or gut flora imbalances can upset the way your hormones work and reduce the absorption of the nutrients your hormones need.
TIP: Cut out any foods that you might be sensitive to (gluten, dairy, soy and corn are the big ones) and see if your symptoms improve. Get tested if you suspect any underlying infection. Eat more fermented foods (live yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha) to restore your good bacteria.
7) Look after your liver
If your liver is clogged up, toxins and waste can hang around longer than necessary, messing with the natural detoxification of your hormones, especially oestrogen.
If your liver is busy with that bottle of wine you had last night, it won’t be able to deal with your oestrogen, recirculating it back into your system, potentially causing PMS, bloating, headaches, mood swings and breast tenderness.
TIP: Reduce your exposure to toxins around you. Switch to more natural organic household and personal care products, avoid plastic, reduce alcohol and choose organic foods.
8) Vitamin D is your secret hormone
If you live in the UK or Northern hemisphere, you are likely to be Vitamin D deficient, as you are not going to be getting enough year round sunshine.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and it supports all your other hormones, as well as being a huge friend to your immune system (and an important breast cancer protector).
TIP: Get your Vitamin D levels tested and take supplements throughout the winter months.
9) Your thyroid hormones run your metabolism
If your thyroid hormones are too high, you’ll get anxious, sweaty, palpitations and weight loss. Too low and you could have fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, low mood, cold hands/feet, PMS, hair loss and a lot more!
TIP: Get your thyroid properly tested if you suspect you may be affected (contact us for info on testing). Eat coconut oil to help boost your metabolism.
10) Too much exercise can ruin your hormones
Many women think they have to do more exercise to lose weight. But too much and the wrong kind can increase cortisol, stressing out your body and actually making you hang on to fat!
TIP: Exercise smarter. Listen to your body. Take regular breaks from sitting. Walk more. Short burst (or HIIT) training can increase fat burning hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. Do yoga. Vary your routine.
Look after your hormones and notice the difference
There is a lot more to know about hormones (I’ve been studying them for over seven years!) but if you get to grips with these 10 first, you’ll start to notice a real difference.
About Nicki Williams
The chocolate, coffee and wine loving nutritionist!
Nicki Williams is a qualified Nutritional Therapist, author, speaker and founder of Happy Hormones for Life, helping women to get back to their absolute best – slimmer, energized, more productive and in full control of their hormones!
After failing to find any medical help for her symptoms of exhaustion, weight gain and hormone issues herself in her early 40’s, she discovered that she could turn things around using diet, lifestyle and natural supplements.
She went on to qualify as a nutritional therapist and hormone expert, and now helps women all over the world with her online programmes, workshops and individual and group coaching.
She has recently published her first book;
It’s not you, it’s your hormones; The essential guide for women over 40 to fight fat, fatigue and hormone havoc.
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- Guest Blog: 10 things you need to know about your hormones - March 28, 2018