Everyone passes through different ages and stages, but as women, many of these times are punctuated by changes in our hormone balance. This can affect how we feel, our energy levels and can have different effects on our physical selves.
The two main hormones we take on this journey are oestrogen and progesterone, which start to appear as we reach puberty. Oestrogen is used in many areas of our body, where it binds to receptors to exert an effect. It supports heart health, development of the vaginal and breast tissues and healthy bones; to name a few functions. Progesterone as a hormone also supports bone health, as well as maintenance of the uterine lining and supports feelings of calm.
At some time in their lives women may need additional support for these hormones to maintain smooth menstrual cycles and to support healthy mood. There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are important for hormonal health and many herbs that can be supportive at times of change. However, there are some key areas that every woman can work on to support a happy hormone balance.
- Look after your liver
The health of your liver is one of the most important factors in smooth menstrual cycles and hormonal balance. It is the liver’s job to process our hormones, and its ability to carry this out depends on our genetics and more importantly how we look after our liver, as this can impact its effective support of healthy hormone levels.
When looking at healthy liver maintenance make sure the diet is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. These provide antioxidants for the liver to support the removal of toxins. Smoking and alcohol will obviously increase the burden on the liver. Also, of importance is caffeine. Caffeine can affect hormone metabolism and some women may be genetically more susceptible to this. One to two cups of caffeine containing drinks is generally ok, but more may impact hormone processing.
Cruciferous vegetables support the liver pathways for smooth hormone processing, for example broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale. They are used to bind toxins in the phase 2 liver pathway. Sulphur containing vegetable like onions and garlic also support this detoxification pathway.
- Fat balance
The low-fat diet days have passed, and we now know that fats can be beneficial for all aspects of our health. However, there are different kinds of fats with good and bad benefits. A diet high in saturated or trans fats (denatured fats from frying or margarine). can affect healthy oestrogen balance, so should be eaten in moderation.
Omega 3 oils from seafood and plant sources can support healthy circulation in the body, including the pelvic area, where some women may experience discomfort and congestion around their cycles. Omega 3 oils also supports healthy mood and mental clarity.
- Hormone disrupters
There is growing evidence that chemicals in our environment may affect our hormone balance or even mimic our own hormones. Plastics contain xenoestrogens, which have been shown to affect normal oestrogen balance. Avoid heated or warm plastics in contact with food or drinks e.g. water bottles in the sun or microwaved plastic. Other chemicals include pesticides and other sprays that we may come into contact with. Be careful of cleaning products and other chemical use in your home environment or what you put on your skin.
Clinicians offer a range of supplements to support women’s health, like Women’s Hormone Support (DIM), PMT Cycle Balance and Evening Primrose Oil 1000mg. Shop the full range of Clinicians products online now.
Author:Jane Cronin, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist.
Jane is a qualified Naturopath and Medical Herbalist and is the senior product specialist with Clinicians.
Dietary supplements are not a replacement for a balanced diet. Always read the label and use as directed. Do not exceed the recommended daily dose. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Douglas Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Auckland.