Hormones affect all of us throughout our lives. Don’t believe that? – (gently) ask any teenage girl, pregnant woman or new mother if they’ve experienced a change in their mood recently and see if the answer is yes.
As incredible as it sounds, people are often loathe to blame their hormones being out of whack for their medical issues, yet will gladly seek out anti-depressants, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and all manner of alternative remedies in a bid to feel well again.
When women hit their mid-thirties and early forties and beyond, the very early stages of perimenopause start to creep up on them, with many having no idea that’s the reason behind their suddenly unbearably heavy periods, irritability, exhaustion and general malaise. And, whilst there is lots of help available out there, many women often suffer in silence – because they’ve slowly forgotten what it feels like to be at their best.
The hormones which tend to drop off first are progesterone (which can send your oestrogen sky high by comparison, resulting in terrible PMT and mood swings) and testosterone (which women do have a bit of naturally in their bodies and when the levels fall, it results in a drop in libido and a sudden disinterest in sex). Before long, oestrogen levels drop as well. But as a rule of thumb; it’s not your age, it’s your symptoms that doctors go on when deciding whether you’re perimenopausal and if treatment is advisable.
Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, can be treated with HRT, even if you’re still having periods, so seeing a qualified doctor is crucial if you feel you’re in need of expert advice.
But there are several other ways in which you can help balance your hormones and give yourself back a decent quality of life.
A few tweaks in your diet will work wonders
If you can, cut back on ‘white’ foods – such as white pasta, white bread, French fries and lashings of food which is packed with refined sugars – like muffins and chocolate chip cookies. The reason for this is that they can send your insulin levels soaring and then crashing, when it’s better to keep blood sugar levels as consistent as possible – which in turn balances your mood and energy levels.
Slow-burning carbs are better as they give you a constant source of fuel throughout the day. Add some green veggies to your diet where possible. This doesn’t have to mean nibbling on lettuce leaves or going overboard guzzling endless green juices – the key here is balance.
Lots of people have happily switched to courgetti or zuccini noodles thanks to the spiralizing craze and, paired with a fantastic fresh basil, garlic and lemon juice sauce, you’ll wonder why you didn’t convert years ago – especially as it takes minutes to make. If you can’t bear the idea of no pasta then you can maybe try half and half? Springtime is the perfect time to experiment and there’s enough recipes available online to last you several lifetimes.
Keep anxiety at bay
It often seems as though stress is something we have all just grown accustomed to having in our lives, but try to find ways to stay calm and tame anxiety – or your endocrine systems flood your body with cortisol when you’re angry, worried, overloaded and stressed – which wreaks yet more havoc on your body’s hormonal systems.
Try going alcohol-free on week nights
Unfortunately for some of us, caffeine and alcohol are not your body’s friends, but maybe cut back – you could perhaps try going alcohol-free for three nights a week and reduce gallons of coffee in the morning to just a couple of small cups? Making daily ‘me time’ is a wonderful priority to build into your day, even if that’s a soak in the bath with a good book before bed – it’s not a luxury, it’s an essential for all of us in order to feel less overwhelmed and stressed.
A good night’s sleep is more than about beauty
Sleep is when our bodies repair and regenerate, so if you can make a point of having several early nights in the week and really relaxing for at least an hour before you go to bed, then your body will thank you for it and your entire quality of life will improve as a result.
A workout will help your hormones feel good
If you can fit in exercise – whether that’s having a half an hour spin on your exercise bike in front of the news when you wake up, or a swim or brisk walk or ten minutes of yoga after work, you will notice a massive difference in how you feel.
Supplement with amino acids and vitamins
Lumity’s creator Dr. Sara Palmer-Hussey, PhD, advises that levels of the body’s master hormone – Human growth hormone (HGH) – decline as we age but that they can be naturally boosted through the integration of three amino acids, glutamine, arginine and lysine:
“Taken just before bedtime, this unique amino acid combination naturally stimulates the youthful release of the body’s own human growth hormone,” Sara explains.
“Youthful levels of HGH regenerate and rebalance our whole body to give us more youthful skin, hair and nails; healthy lean muscle; greater strength and endurance; a stronger, more responsive immune system; stronger energy levels, especially in the morning upon waking up; and improved mental clarity and alertness. HGH also balances our hormonal system. So, it can help with menopausal and peri-menopausal issues and protects bone density as we grow older.
“In the morning, supplementing with vitamins A, C, D and E, turmeric, zinc and magnesium, which are known to alleviate PMS and menopausal symptoms, helps. Flaxseed oil is something else which is important to include. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens – both of these are important for easing menopausal and peri-menopausal symptoms.”
Many women also report fantastic results with acupuncture, which paired with even a few gentle tweaks and changes in diet and lifestyle, often does the trick to diminish those awful symptoms of hormone imbalance.