By Lizzy Moran
Despite what conventional medicine has taught us, our bodily systems are not “siloed” off from one another. The physical, emotional, and environmental stress we endure on a daily basis has a direct impact on our hormonal health and the optimal function of our reproductive system. That is why it is so important to take a wide lens look at our lives when addressing our hormonal health.
During a woman’s reproductive years, the sex hormones that ebb and flow in her
body throughout a healthy menstrual cycle have an impact on more than just her
reproductive system. For example, estrogen, the sex hormone responsible for building the uterine lining in the first half of our menstrual cycle prior to ovulation, is also responsible for an increase in serotonin production in the brain.
Whether you are facing the painful, frustrating experience of delayed conception
or any other symptom of imbalance, the first step is to understand that you are not
broken and that your body’s biggest desire is to heal.
Below are a few steps to consider when stepping on the path to optimizing your hormonal health:
1. Healthy Stress Management
Life is effing crazy and the speed at which we operate is only increasing. Our lives
are also uniquely complex in terms of our desires, values, and responsibilities.
Therefore, the way in which you manage your stress will look different than your
friend’s, your sister’s, or Oprah’s.
First, identify what brings you to a state of relaxation. That feeling where you can
(almost) let go of all that is on your plate and demanding your attention. This can be
taking three deep breaths, which is scientifically proven to engage your
parasympathetic nervous system. It could be going for a walk or taking five minutes
to laugh with a family member or friend. Identify what it is that allows you to let go
of your daily worries, even if just for a moment. Do your best to incorporate your
chosen technique as often as possible. It does not have to be perfect, just easy to
implement so that it serves as respite and not another chore. Inhale. Exhale.
Again, everyone’s life is different. Maybe you work the night shift or are a single
parent working multiple jobs. Identify what your barriers are for sleep and try to
address them. Are you staring at a blue light past 8PM and having a fitful night of
rest? Maybe when you first get into bed, squeeze in a mini meditation. Insight Timer
is a free app and has many meditations designed to help you drift off to sleep. Stress
management and sleep! Check. Check.
Maybe 8 hours of sleep is a laughable concept for you. My suggestion is to examine
areas of your life that you can shift around or take off your plate in order to make
sleep a priority. And if you can’t, don’t beat yourself up over it! Do your best.
Use other ways to support your body during this time. Focus on nutrient rich food,
incorporate small acts of self-care and be kind to yourself. It’s all about building the
foundation of your health so in times where 8 hours of sleep isn’t an option, you
have other practices in your back pocket to support your mental and physical well
3. Nutrient Dense Food
Everyday there seems to be a new powder or potion toting incredible benefits:
glowing-clear skin, endless energy, or hormonal harmony. Though these natural
remedies may be powerful, we must start with the basics. These potions are like the
goji berry on top of your Vegan Superfood Cheesecake.
- Do you drink water? You should be consuming ½ your body weight in fluid
- Do you consume mostly whole foods? Food that comes from the earth, free
from harmful chemicals, and close to its natural form. Avoid overly processed
food with hidden sugar and other unpronounceable ingredients. I used to
subsist on ice cream, pizza and Cheez-its….and I wondered why I had
hormonal acne and reoccurring yeast infections!
Feel like you can't afford fancy groceries are too time poor to overhaul your diet? Start with one thing! Cut out sugar, or cut back to one coffee a day, whatever one change you make and stick to, will be a step in the right direction.
- And while we’re on the topic, listen to your body! If you eat something and
you don’t feel well after (upset stomach, brain fog, low energy) there may be
a food sensitivity present. A Naturopathic or Functional Medicine Doctor can
help you order labs to find out.
- Have you been on hormonal birth control at some point in your life? Studies
have shown that the pill in particular can compromise gut health making it
more difficult to absorb key nutrients (magnesium, zinc, B6 and Vitamin D)
needed for your optimal health. For those of you who are trying to conceive,
these minerals and vitamins are critical for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
If you are feeling bombarded and overwhelmed by information, start small and
keep it simple. Examine your life and see where you can support your mental and
physical health with small shifts.
Lizzy Moran is a Women’s Hormonal Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Expert. Her training is focused on the Psychology of Behavior Change and Functional Nutrition.
Lizzy is a runner, world traveler, and mediocre caregiver to her houseplants. When she isn’t coaching, you might find her in the mountains or making a mess in the kitchen.
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