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Tag Archive low mood

10 Signs You May Have a Hormone Imbalance

10 Signs You May Have a Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are like chemical messengers, and govern nearly every cellular action in our body.

While very important, our sex hormones like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are actually not essential for our survival.

They’re responsible for sexual functioning and fertility, as well as in more of a “beauty” capacity – keeping our skin, hair & nails vital and youthful looking.

On the other hand, stress hormones (like cortisol & epinephrine, also known as adrenaline) are critical to our survival because they synthesise proteins, maintain cellular electrolyte balance, regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, and transport glucose into our cells – essentially feeding our brain.

These hormones are so crucial, that in times of chronic stress, cortisol (the “hormone of stress”) will be made at the expense of sex hormones. No wonder we can start feeling whacked out at certain stages of life!

SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HORMONES STOP PLAYING WELL TOGETHER?

We can often experience a ripple effect, LIKE MOOD SWINGS, even when there’s a slight hiccup in hormone function.

Also, due to the fact that the interconnected nature of your endocrine system, one hormonal imbalance can lead to an additional one, causing multiple symptoms and overlapping health issues.

The 10 signs you may have a hormone imbalance

  1. Poor sleep – not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
  2. Fatigue that’s not alleviated by sleep
  3. Night sweats and hot flashes
  4. Resistant excess weight and body fat, especially around the belly
  5. Low libido or sexual dysfunction
  6. Acne or other skin issues
  7. PMS symptoms
  8. Foggy thinking (brain fog!) and difficulty concentrating
  9. Mental health issues – depression and anxiety in particular
  10. Mood changes like irritability and anger

THE MAIN CAUSES OF HORMONAL IMBALANCES

While there are many causes, here are the most common ones that have been identified:

  • Age and stage of life
  • Chronic stress
  • Medications (e.g. the Pill)
  • Toxins and endocrine disruptors like xenoestrogens
  • Poor nutrition and lack of adequate key nutrients
  • Blood sugar regulation problems
  • Disrupted circadian rhythm
  • Chronic inflammation (e.g. leaky gut & digestive system inflammation)

SIMPLE WAYS TO SUPPORT AND REBALANCE YOUR HORMONES NATURALLY

Eat whole foods: processed, packaged foods offering little to no nutritive value will also offer little to no fuel for your hormones.

Be sure to eat fresh over packaged foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and quality sources of free range and grass fed meats and eggs. Also, if tolerated – nuts, seeds, and legumes in moderation.

Grains and dairy may cause or exacerbate hormonal problems for some people.

Eat more good fats: Good fats are essential for hormonal health because sex hormones need fat as a building block – and your body can only use the ones you give it.

Opt for sources of good fats from whole foods, such as avocados, raw nuts & seeds, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, real butter or ghee (grass fed preferable), wild-caught salmon, and free range eggs – yes, you can eat the yolks!

Exercise daily: Working out on a regular basis, engaging in resistance (or strength) training, and incorporating a specific workout called HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been proven to be especially beneficial for keeping our bodies AND our hormones fit.

Better sleep: getting deeper, more restorative sleep can be the key to supporting your hormones, above all other measures (but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the other ones!)

Stress management & self-care: the truth is – stress can be devastating for hormonal health.

We need to equip ourselves to manage the stress and “business” of everyday life through the actions that bring back balance and wellbeing to our bodies AND our minds – like good nutrition, exercise and sleep!

Learn better coping mechanisms (like breathing techniques), practice mindfulness and be sure to engage in daily self-care.

References:

https://draxe.com/benefits-high-intensity-interval-training/
https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/hormonalimbalance/what-is-hormonal-imbalance.aspx

Hormone-friendly Cho-Coco Fat Bombs Recipes

Ingredients:

½ cup almond or other nut butter, no sugar-added (if nut-sensitive, use sesame tahini or pumpkin seed butter)
½ cup virgin coconut oil
3tbsp raw cacao powder
stevia, xylitol or monk fruit to sweeten to taste
silicone candy mould or mini-muffin pan

Optional add-ins:

  • splash of real vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • cinnamon or ginger
  • pinch of Himalayan pink salt or Celtic grey salt

Instructions:

  1. In a large pan melt the coconut oil and nut butter over low heat.
  2. Stir in cacao powder and desired sweetener.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla (+ other add-ins), if using.
  4. You may want to pour mixture into a “spouted” cup to make pouring easier.
  5. Pour mixture into silicone candy molds or mini-muffin pan (about 1 Tb of mixture)
  6. Put in freezer or fridge until set.
  7. Remove from molds and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Be mindful that each fat bomb is considered a full serving of fat – great for curbing the appetite, satisfying a sweet tooth and supporting your hormones with the building blocks they need!

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain connection. If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

Yes, it’s true. The gut is considered the “second brain.”

There is no denying it any more.

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain.

I find it amazing (but not too surprising).

What exactly is the gut-brain connection?

Well, the gut-brain connection is very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning lots about it!

There seem to be multiple things working together. Things like:

  • The vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain;
  • The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain;
  • The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut;
  • The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body; and,
  • The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes.

This is complex. And amazing, if you ask me.

I’ll briefly touch on these areas, and end off with a delicious recipe (of course!)

The vagus nerve

There is a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain.

And after reading this so far, you’ll probably get a sense of which direction 90% of the transmission is…

Not from your brain to your gut (which is what we used to think), but from your gut up to your brain!

The enteric nervous system and neurotransmitters

Would you believe me if I told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord?

I knew you would!

And that’s why it’s referred to as the “second brain.”

And, if you think about it, controlling the complex process of digestion (i.e. digestive enzymes, absorption of nutrients, the flow of food, etc.) should probably be done pretty “smartly”…don’t you think?

And guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called “neurotransmitters.”

In fact, many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! e.g. a whopping 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, not in your brain!

The immune system of the gut

Because eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defence system would be located there too, right? 70% of our immune system is in our gut!

And you know that the immune cells can move throughout the entire body and cause inflammation just about anywhere, right?

Well, if they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc anywhere in the body. Including the potential to cause inflammation in the brain.

Gut microbes

Your friendly neighbourhood gut residents. You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!

But more and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and even other, more serious, mental health issues.

How do these all work together for brain health?

The honest answer to how these things all work together and make the gut-brain connection is that we really don’t know just yet. More and more studies are being done to learn more.

But one thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain!

So, how do you feed your brain?

Of course, a variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone.

But two things that you many consider eating more of are fibre and omega-3 fats. Fibre (in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds) help to feed your awesome gut microbes. And omega-3 fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp) are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.

If you’re struggling with brain fog, fatigue and low mood and would like to know more about foods to feed your brain, click HERE to book a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call!

Recipe (Gut food fibre, Brain food omega-3): Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup oats (gluten-free)

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 banana, sliced

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Blend blueberries in the food processor until smooth.
  2. Mix blueberries, oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds in a bowl with a lid. Let set in fridge overnight.
  3. Split into two bowls and top with cinnamon, banana, and walnuts.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Your gut microbes love to eat the fiber in the blueberries, oats, seeds, and nuts. Meanwhile, your brain loves the omega-3 fats in the seeds and nuts.

References:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-probiotics
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them