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Time for a hormone check-up?

We need to talk about hormones...

For a while now, I’ve noticed that we’re seeing more and more hormone-related health issues in the clinic. I’m guessing it’s no coincidence that as our lives get busier and more complicated, we’re putting our bodies under more stress, and then suddenly we have an issue (and let’s face it, your body is pretty good at making you pay attention and deal with it, whether you want to or not).

The problem is, as women we’re often taught to put up with less than optimal health, or worse still we’re told it’s all in our head (that old chestnut!) Hormone-related health issues also have a way of slowly sneaking up on us, so we don’t realise there’s a problem until our bodies are doing the equivalent of using shouty voices at us, and while there are a few relatively easy fixes, it’s always easier to deal with it before it becomes a major health issue. Also, I’m hoping that for any people out there who don’t realise that their health complaint is hormone-related, there may be a few life-changing ah-ha moments as you read on and we may be able to offer some simple answers when you’d given up hope.

So, I want to have a quick chat about hormones (& I promise it will be quick and easy, because I guarantee I could (and do!) talk about hormones all day long.)

Firstly, a really good indicator that it’s time to check in on your hormones is this; ask yourself how you’re feeling lately? Like, really feeling?? If the answer is not 100%, not great, not myself, there’s a chance your hormones are out of whack.

Here’s a quick checklist to see if your hormones need a tune-up:

  • Do you often feel tired?

  • Do you have trouble sleeping (either trouble falling asleep or waking through the night)?

  • Do you often feel tired throughout the day but then wide awake and wired at night?

  • Do you have frequent mood swings or suffer from moodiness or irritability?

  • Do you suffer from PMS symptoms?

  • Do you have problems with weight gain, especially around the stomach and upper thigh area?

  • Do you have sugary or salty food cravings?

  • Do you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines?

  • Do you have skin issues like acne, rashes or hives?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, chances are you have a hormone imbalance.

Let's look at some of the sneaky health problems hormones can cause:

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety & Depression

  • PMS symptoms

  • Painful periods

  • Irregular periods

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

  • Infertility & miscarriage

  • Insomnia

  • Low sex drive

  • Hair loss & Alopecia

  • Excessive hair growth

  • Brittle bones

  • Brittle nails and hair

  • Skin conditions

  • Acne

  • Brain fog

  • Hot flashes

  • Night sweats

  • Carpal Tunnel

  • Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis)

  • Hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease)

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Temperature intolerances

  • Tender breasts

  • Sugar/salt cravings

  • Psoriasis

  • Arthritis

  • PCOS

  • Endometriosis

  • Adenomyosis

  • MS

  • And many more…

The thing about hormones is, the pesky buggers affect us throughout our entire lives, young or not so young, so we really need to look after them through every stage of life. And when it comes to menopause and perimenopause, we’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s normal to absolutely struggle through this stage of our lives in a miserable, grumpy and sweaty state but the fact is, if we had balanced hormones, we’d breeze through this stage. Also worth noting is the fact that only 10% of Asian women experience noticeable menopausal symptoms compared to 75% of Australian women ( I know I've mentioned this before but I find it completely fascinating). It seems that Western diet, lifestyle and health education tend to fail us in this area. We really should be educating our teens on how to take care of our hormones, so they can avoid health issues later in life.

So what causes our Hormones to become out of whack?

  1. Diet - things like caffeine, alcohol, fatty and processed foods, a high sugar intake, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, gluten and dairy intolerances.

  2. Stress - unfortunately, stress can wreak havoc on hormones and it’s also one of the most difficult factors to control. Let’s face it, most of us can’t just turn off the issues that are causing us to feel stressed, but we’ve listed some tips and tricks to try to reduce the impact stress has on our bodies in the next section.

  3. Smoking - this one seems kind of obvious, inhaling all kinds of chemicals is a stress your body doesn’t need to deal with.

  4. Exposure to chemicals - this is a biggy. There are so many hidden toxins and hormone-disrupting chemicals that we come into contact with on a daily basis and we often don’t realise that they're taking such a huge toll on our health. We’ve listed a few of the worst offenders in the section below.

  5. Medications - hormone-disrupting medications include the contraceptive pill (which ironically is so often prescribed to mask the symptoms of hormone imbalances, which in turn make the hormone imbalance worse - doh!), and many more medications that are prescribed every day. While many people don’t have an alternative and have no choice but to take hormone-disrupting medications for serious illnesses, we can still counteract some of the damage caused to hormone balance.

  6. Sleep - this is where it can become tricky. If you’re not getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night, it’s negatively impacting your hormones. Often we can’t sleep because we’re stressed, but the lack of sleep then causes cortisol to spike, which in turn raises our stress levels even more which then stops us from sleeping. It can be a tough cycle to break but it's definitely do-able (and acupuncture can provide a sneaky shortcut here.)

Here’s where acupuncture can help…

The beauty of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is that it addresses the root of the issue rather than trying to mask the symptoms. Acupuncture restores balance throughout the entire body via the meridian system and resets and regulates your hormone function which helps your body start to function properly again. By treating minor imbalances, we avoid major health issues in the future.

So the good news is, acupuncture can help provide relief and there are also some easy steps you can take at home to keep your hormones happy.

Quick tips your hormones will thank you for:

  1. Stop cooking in vegetable and seed oils - also start checking ingredient labels for vegetable oils and avoid them at all costs

  2. Replace processed and fatty fast foods with fresh and nourishing meals and snacks. Eating a clean and varied diet with lots of protein and plenty of veggies is the best bet. Also, make sure you don't skip brekkie as this sets our hormones up for the day.

  3. Check for food intolerances - so many health issues can be traced back to food allergies like wheat and dairy intolerances so if you’re trying to get to the root cause of health issues, this is a good place to start.

  4. Cut out or replace sugar - if you've struggled to quit sugar cold turkey, honey is a good alternative (buy from your local beekeeper, not the supermarket) or organic maple syrup is a good option to use for cooking.

  5. Limit alcohol - we don’t want to be the party police, but if your alcohol consumption has crept up on you, it’s worth getting it back in check. A good way to do this is to take note of what triggers your need to grab a drink and see if you can retrain your brain to do something else instead eg; if you routinely reach for a drink after work, maybe try a cup of tea instead, have a glass of soda water with grapefruit juice, go for a walk, take a relaxing bath, etc. Another good tip to cut down your alcohol intake is to add 1/2 soda water to your drink, (old-school spritzer style) so you’re only getting half the alcohol per drink. It often doesn’t take long for these new tips to become healthier habits.

  6. Reduce caffeine - replace coffee with a delicious organic chai or herbal tea. There are so many delicious coffee alternatives available now. Think delicious turmeric, matcha, purple carrot and beetroot lattes that are available in most health food stores and they taste divine. Coffee and caffeine are horrible for hormones.

  7. Use natural beauty, body care, hair care, tanning products, and perfumes - moisturisers, nail polishes, skin creams, make-up, shampoo and conditioners often contain nasties (and dry shampoo is a shocker). There are so many good options available now that we shouldn’t be using anything artificial on our skin.

  8. Try to reduce your stress levels – easier said than done, I know, but there are plenty of proven methods that can help. Things like yoga, meditation (try a meditation app; there are some amazing apps available that make it so much easier than going it alone and even a 10-15 min session will make a huge difference to your day), get out into nature to ground yourself, take a dip in the ocean, start journaling to get anything that’s bothering you written down on paper and off your chest, and add more movement into your day. Even a 20-minute walk will make a huge difference to the way our bodies deal with stress. Getting creative and having fun can also work wonders when it comes to reducing stress. Taking a ceramics, dancing, or sewing class or just making time to paint, draw, knit or write is so therapeutic and can help unblock stagnant energy and reduce cortisol levels.

  9. Avoid non-stick cookware – I’m sure we all know this but sometimes convenience clouds our judgment. Don’t do it! Stone or ceramic cookware makes a great alternative.

  10. Minimise exposure to toxins and chemicals in the house – Use natural home cleaning products, or better still, make your own. Using baking powder as a general cleaner and deodoriser; lemon juice as a mild bleach; salt mixed with lemon juice or white vinegar to remove stains; or white vinegar as a deodoriser and mild disinfectant are great options. We also have some great options available in The Pod Shop -

  11. Eat organic fruit and veggies if possible and if not, wash your fruit and veg in apple cider vinegar.

  12. Drink filtered water and plenty of it. There are so many nasties in our water. Heavy metals can be found in tap water and this is a huge culprit in causing hormone distress.

  13. Avoid eating out of plastic containers or storing food in plastic containers. Replace your plastic containers with glass options if you can and avoid anything that’s not BPA free.

  14. Try cupping – ever wondered what those red circular marks on athletes’ bodies are? They’re cupping marks. Cupping is a method used in Chinese medicine and it's very effective at calming the nervous system, relieving stress and anxiety, and helping stagnant energies to flow again. It’s surprisingly relaxing and you’ll feel lovely and floaty afterward.

  15. Get into Qi-Gong – this is my fave. If you’re not sure what it is, it’s a form of low-impact exercise used in Chinese medicine, and it's amazing! I'm semi-addicted. It’s similar to Tai Chi and promotes a healthy flow of energy throughout the body using slow and simple poses and breathing patterns. It's also ridiculously easy. It has a healing effect on all the internal organs and bodily functions, and it leaves you feeling amazing. There are a few classes in the Geelong region and plenty of tutorials and videos on YouTube and as little as 10-15 mins is really beneficial.

  16. Take magnesium – I’m not a huge advocate for taking supplements, in fact, I’m quite the opposite but I strongly advise taking a magnesium supplement every day. Believe me, you’ll thank me later.

  17. Avoid waterproofing and stain-repellent chemicals, use natural pest control, natural carpet-cleaning products and never ever use toxic weed killer - boiling water or natural weed killers are good alternatives.

  18. Search up hidden toxins in your home so you can start replacing the main offenders - you'll be both amazed and horrified.

These are just a few tips and I’ll talk about this topic more in the coming weeks as well as the specific foods we should incorporate into our diets for the happiest hormones, some hormone friendly recipes, plus a list of great chemical-free products that are available (and way better than their chemical-laden buddies).

Hopefully this quick run-down helps or even serves as a friendly reminder for those already all over the quirks of hormone health, (I know I need a reminder from time to time to keep me on the straight and narrow). If less than happy hormones sound like something that might be affecting your quality of life and you'd like to know more, please get in touch, or book in for a session to get the journey to better health underway. We all have the right to live our best lives, and hopefully, we’ll never need to be told ‘it’s all in your head’ again.

Take care and hope to see you soon,

Petra x

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