10 Things Every Woman Should Know About Her Hormones
So you go to yoga, drink your green smoothies, and read all the best health news outlets. You should be set and 100% healthy, right?
Well, not exactly. If you still feel like something is off, you might be missing one essential piece that is often overlooked: Your hormones! They affect everything from your moods to your weight to your energy levels and more. So even if you’re health conscious and trying to take the best care of your body, there might be a few key facts you’re missing. Let’s fill in that gap, shall we?
Here are the 10 things every woman should know about her hormones:
1. The pill doesn't fix your problems.
Contrary to common belief, the pill is not actually healing your PMS, acne, heavy flow, or mood swings. It’s just covering up your symptoms in the short term through a cascade of artificial hormones that block your body’s natural rhythms. The only thing that will fix these symptoms is addressing their root causes through diet and lifestyle. (More on that in the following points!)
2. Your hormones are not the enemy, but your best friend ... so lean into them.
Not only do healthy hormonal balance keep your skin glowing, weight stable, mood upbeat, and energy high, but they also help you connect to your creativity and ambition. Knowing how your monthly pattern of hormones affects your brain chemistry and your energy gives you a critical advantage when trying to have it all. Working with them rather than against them will help you plan your life in a way that fully supports you.
3. PMS is not normal.
Although PMS has become a catchphrase for “that time of the month,” if you’re dealing with common PMS symptoms like mood swings, acne, bloating, cramps and more, this does not have to be your reality! Our bodies are made to cycle naturally without feeling so crappy. If you’re having PMS symptoms, it means that your estrogen and progesterone levels aren't balanced and you need to address with simple food changes the root causes of why you are experiencing this.
4. Hormones need fat to survive.
Before you make that egg-white-only omelet, take note: your reproductive hormones can’t get around in your body without fat. Without the proper dietary fat coming in, your body won’t have the building blocks necessary to keep your hormones stable, which can make you vulnerable to many hormonal symptoms. Say yes to the yolks.
5. You can extend and improve your fertility with food.
Years of dieting or extreme food choices can starve your body of the proper micronutrients it needs for a healthy cycle. More and more women are struggling to conceive at younger ages, and this has everything to do with how food affects your hormone levels. Even if you’re not sure about having babies in the future, do your body a favor and take better care of your cycle now.
6. Detoxing correctly requires specific daily nutrient intake.
While the latest fads in cleansing can be tempting, remember that a once-in-awhile cleanse is not going to be effective if your daily habits don’t support your hormones. Extreme detoxes and juice cleansing can actually do more damage than good by setting off an internal stress response and signaling your body to store more fat. Your liver has two key phases of detoxification, and in order for hormones and other toxins to be released properly, it must have key vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants present — all best acquired through food.
7. Most hormonal imbalances are caused by micronutrient deficiencies.
When we want to improve estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and thyroid performance, it all boils down to improving micronutrient (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, EFAs) stores. What this means for you of course is that you have to eat yourself to hormonal balance!
8. Exercise with hormonal patterns, not against them.
Testosterone patterns, metabolism, cortisol and mood all fluctuate in predictable accord with your 28-day cycle. The same workout every day and every week is not going to be sustainable. (You might already be beating yourself up for not sticking to it all the time!) The reason is that your monthly hormonal patterns require different kind of exercise. One week boot camp class might feel great, but the next you’ll be better suited to yoga. More on that here.
9. Digestive and bowel symptoms are connected to hormonal issues.
Don’t keep pushing aside the fact that you only poop once a week, feel bloated after you eat, or that you need antacids more often than not. When your digestion is off, your body is neither absorbing nutrients optimally nor eliminating toxins and hormones efficiently, which can create an internal environment ripe for hormonal imbalance.
10. Orgasm, not climax, provides massive hormonally balancing benefits (a.k.a. ditch the vibrator).
To differentiate between the two, climax is the moment when the nerve endings reach their maximum stimulation, while orgasm is the plateau of measurable sensations leading up to climax. All the hormonal benefits of oxytocin and nitric oxide, which help regulate your cycle, improve your sex drive, increase your fertility, and flush excess cortisol, take place due to the orgasmic build, not simply the climax. This is excellent news for women because we are designed to have as long of an orgasmic plateau as one wants, but in order to support that and not shorten it, you’ve gotta ditch the vibrator.
Check out the newly released paperback edition of Alisa's book, WomanCode!