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Modern life dictates a certain amount of stress factors (work, children, in-laws, remembering your tax return password...) and admittedly, small amounts of stress response are natural and beneficial to us. That's why we have cortisol, an essential stress hormone without which, we'd be dead. But low-lying anxiety, continuous tension and sudden bouts of anger could be the body's stress response reaching overdrive.
Hormone imbalance can wreak havoc with your health. If your hormones are off kilter, you might be experiencing one or more of the following:
Hormones, at their simplest, are chemical messengers that regulate bodily functions and behaviour. Secreted by the endocrine system, hormones are pumped around the body, via the blood and play a role in regulating many of your body’s major processes from appetite and sleep, to mood and immune function.
Perimenopause signals a natural re-calibration of hormones as levels start to deplete. Then, when a woman enters menopause, her endocrine system stops producing the hormone oestrogen which had until then been responsible for instructing the ovaries to release an egg each month. It's the disruption of this delicate interplay between oestrogen and progesterone that can result in low mood, sudden irritability and significant emotional stress.
We have spoken to leading scientists and longevity experts and following the tips below could help you get your hormones back into balance within a week or two.
Many of the most important hormones in the body are produced in the gut and are therefore greatly impacted by the health of your microbiome. So, logically, hormone balance should begin in the gut.
Start by upping your intake of whole foods, grains, green leafy vegetables, and fibre-packed fruits. By increasing the amount of fibre in your diet you're giving your good bacteria something to feed on, while simultaneously encouraging your body to expel the bad guys. The micronutrients, vitamins and minerals in fruits and veg are also vital for keeping your endocrine system happy and your hormones balanced.
Aim to avoid certain foods such as refined sugars and carbohydrates as these can aggravate your insulin levels (the hormone responsible for regulating your blood sugar). If insulin levels are unbalanced it can cause you to feel groggy, fatigued, and put you in a pretty bad mood. If left unchecked, an insulin imbalance can develop into insulin resistance and finally into full-blown type two diabetes.
Try to include a healthy amount of plant or fish fats on every plate to offset the blood sugar highs that can come from enjoying a carbohydrate-rich meal.
Seed cycling is the latest trend in balancing hormones, improving fertility and easing menopause symptoms. But what is seed cycling and - crucially - does it work?
Seed cycling is a naturopathic remedy that involves eating flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds on rotation according to where you are in your cycle to balance certain hormones.For the first two weeks of your cycle you enjoy 1-2 tablespoons per day of flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. It’s suggested that the phytoestrogens present in flax seeds can help to regulate oestrogen levels, and that the zinc found in pumpkin seeds encourages the progesterone production required to advance to the next phase of the menstrual cycle.
Then, during the latter two weeks of your cycle, you consume the same amount of sesame and sunflower seeds. It's said that the special polyphenols present in sesame seeds - called lingnans - prevent oestrogen levels from getting too high, whilst the vitamin E in sunflower seeds is thought to boost progesterone production.
If your periods are irregular or absent, or if you have gone through the menopause, then it is advised that you sync your seed cycling with the phases of the moon.
You can enjoy the seeds in whatever form you like; you can add them to smoothies, sprinkle them on salads, or stir them through your morning porridge or yoghurt.
Scientific evidence is scant at best, but anecdotal evidence does seem to be in seed cycling’s favour.
Working out regularly seems to be a sure-fire way to get your hormones back under control; in one 24-week study of overweight women, daily exercise was shown to both increase insulin sensitivity and to increase levels of the metabolism-regulating hormone, adiponectin.
Most forms of exercise including endurance training, weight training and high intensity interval training can help to keep your insulin levels in check and reduce sensitivity.
Physical activity can also help to keep you stronger for longer by promoting the production of muscle-maintaining hormones such as testosterone that would ordinarily decline with age, thereby helping you to stay fit and lean as you get older.
Because hormones an intrinsically linked to so many physiological functions, it's vital to choose a whole system supplement that reinforces their efforts throughout the brain and body. The LYMA Supplement is ideal for women going through perimenopause or menopause as it can help you to get your hormones back on track in a natural way.
LYMA's unique formulation of ten potent plant-based ingredients works systematically to nourish hormonal activity. KSM-66® Ashwagandha, formulated at 600mg, has been shown to balance hormones, relieve stress, support a healthy metabolism and improve sleep. The world’s number one adaptogen, KSM-66® Ashwagandha is backed by the most extensive research studies and clinical trials.
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound present most notably in turmeric root that supports liver detoxification and enables the body to process and then break down excess oestrogen. LYMA contains HydroCurc™ which is 250% more bioavailable than curcumin in its dietary form and has been clinically proven to reduce inflammation and support detoxification.
Affron® is a fast-acting mood enhancer, shown in independent medical trials to reduce anxiety, increase mental resilience and balance emotional state, perhaps most important during perimenopause and menopause as hormones steadily decline.
There are elements of life that can't help but be stressful and certainly the readjustment of hormones during menopause can amplify that stress. But nourishing your body's adrenal system and actively supporting hormonal function through effective supplementation is a surefire route to a smoother, calmer, more balanced state.