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Women, respect your hormones with these lifestyle practices

Danae Cornford, founder of Healthywhenfit, personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach gives us advice on how women can use diet and lifestyle practices to regulate their cycle.


Use diet to your hormones advantage

Sitting next to stress management, our diet is the most underestimated prevention tool we have in regards to any health issues, especially our hormones. The increase in processed foods, artificial ingredients, exposure to plastics, use of pesticides and other chemicals on our food, antibiotics fed to our animals (and then to us). Combined with the decrease in nutrient rich soil to grow our food in, has all contributed to a huge increase in hormone related health problems. You only have to look at the most recent statistics on couples infertility rates, which have scarily increased to a one in four ratio according to the World Health Organisation.


Women also need to make sure they are eating enough to keep at a healthy body fat ratio. Paul Chek, holistic health specialist and CHEK Institute founder, suggests that for optimal hormonal function, women should be no lower than 13% body fat. This is a challenging fact to get across to women in a culture that is constantly challenging a healthy body image by pushing the latest diet or weight loss trend. Something that would benefit all women is a change in mindset from eating for body size and shape to eating for whole body nourishment. Food is not just a weight loss tool. I highly recommend checking out Naturopathic doctor, Lara Briden’s website and blog, where you will find some specifics on diet and hormonal health. She is often referred to as the ‘Period Revolutionary’ for her natural approach to treating the no-so-pleasant symptoms of out of balance hormones.

I would suggest considering the very basics of eating for hormonal health using the JERF (Just Eat Real Food) principle. This means sticking to a mostly whole food diet, reducing refined and processed foods, limiting sugar intake, and where possible sourcing nutrient rich organic fruits and vegetables and organic or grass fed and finished meats. As a starting point, this could significantly reduce your exposure to the toxins messing with your hormones. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with a need to change your whole pantry and fridge now, why not start with the ‘dirty dozen’ – click on this link for a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticide residue. Making these your priority, organic or spray free purchases will help you make sure that you’re spending the extra money on organic produce where it counts.

Your diet should also be something you monitor with your training over the course of your cycle. Adjusting your macronutrients to suit your training and energy needs will not only improve your results, but keep your hormones happy.

Something that would benefit all women is a change in mindset from eating for body size to eating for whole body nourishment

Protect your hormones with natural products

It’s difficult to escape the amount of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. Before women walk out the front door, they have probably already come into contact with more than 100 toxic chemicals. Makeup, perfume, deodorant, hairspray, shampoo, moisturiser, body wash, plastics and home cleaning product. The list goes on with products that have scarily been accepted  as a ‘normal’ part of an everyday household and a woman’s daily routine. The beauty industry has a lot to answer for! Not only do they put their ‘must have’ products in and sometimes on our faces all day, they are also not telling us what is really in that long list of ingredients on the back. Or even what those words mean in relation to our health. Check out The Toxin Free Tribe website for some more information and ideas on how to reduce your exposure to toxins in beauty products and around the home, beginning with the top 10 ingredients to avoid.

Before women walk out the front door, they have probably already come into contact with more than 100 toxic chemicals


Regulate your sleep, regulate your cycle.

The effects of quality sleep go way beyond the energy and focus we need to get us through the day. Lack of sleep can cause metabolic disorders, hormonal imbalance, weight gain, insulin resistance, mood disorders and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Hormonally, poor sleep largely affects your endocrine system, responsible for the control and secretion of many essential female hormones. The down side to this is that it can start a vicious merry-go-round, where by the lack of sleep throws the hormones out of balance which makes it hard to get to sleep. In relation to training, Human Growth Hormone is an example of a hormone that can dramatically affect your training ability and results. It is essential for repair and recovery of muscle post training and for the energy you will need to back it up the next day. 7-8 hours of sleep is suggested as the optimal amount for fat loss or muscle gain. From this perspective, sleep is actually a vital part OF your program. It should not be considered as a separate component when considering your desired results. Sleep is the finisher to your program that makes all the difference!

Be aware of your cycle for improved performance

Having an awareness of what stage you are at in your cycle will not only assist your training, but also your lifestyle. More than anything, it’s about becoming in-tune with your body and intuitively knowing how to modify your training, diet and self care practices to support your physical and emotional health. Your friends and family will thank you for it too!

There are apps now that allow you to easily track what phase you are at within your cycle, as well as log important information to help you become more self aware in relation to your moods, cravings, symptoms, etc. I personally use the app ‘Flo’ which has been fantastic for getting me in tune with my body signals. I know approaching my period to use the opportunity to de-load in training, which benefits me in the long run anyway with increased strength, stamina and energy to perform at the intensity level I am capable of. When you consider that your hormones control your mood, weight, sleep, strength, energy and overall picture of health, it’s pretty clear that some awareness and proactive steps in supporting them will filter through to positively impact all areas of wellbeing.

 

Try this hormone loving chia seed pudding from a qualified nutritionists 


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