Last week we looked at various ways females can support their bodies and hormone health. You can see our blog post, '3 tips for healthy hormone balance,' for how to support this through nutrition and lifestyle choices. We also looked at specifically at pregnancy.
We've received a lot of great feedback and questions about these blogs. So this week, I’m going to expand on this content and look at three key stages in a woman's life where hormone health is critical. These times are during puberty, when you start a family and menopause.
Traditionally puberty would occur at around age 14 or 15, when a girl would get her first menses. Today we are seeing girls as young as 9 begin their menses. Moreover more and more young women are experiencing painful or incredibly heavy periods. All of these issues are a signal of a significant hormone imbalance.
'Today we are seeing girls as young as 9 begin their menses. Moreover more and more young women are experiencing painful or incredibly heavy periods.'
At the BePure Clinic, we are finding that the issue almost always lies in a condition called oestrogen dominance*. In our environment, we are being exposed to increased levels of oestrogen-mimicking chemicals called xenoestrogens.
Xenoestrogens are found in PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) which are man-made chemical compounds, such as BPA in plastic water bottles, parabens and phylates that are found in skincare products, makeup and sunscreen. They're also found in common foods such as soy products, many processed foods and non-organic animal products.
These xenoestrogens then sit on oestrogen receptor sites in the body, creating an excess of oestrogen in relation to our other hormones. Our body has little or no counterbalancing hormone to mitigate its effect in the body and we end up with an imbalance, or oestrogen dominance.
'...our liver function is often compromised because of the nutrition choices we make (or lack of!)'
Normally our bodies would process this extra oestrogen through our liver. However, our liver function is often compromised because of the nutrition choices we make (or lack of!), stress and the liver-loaders we consume – like alcohol and caffeine – and we can’t clear it.
The problem is when symptoms of oestrogen dominance arise, it is a common practice for young girls to be placed on the oral contraceptive pill. This simply masks the issue, allowing the implications of oestrogen dominance to have lasting effects on a woman’s hormonal health for the rest of her life.
While I am not discouraging of contraception, I very much encourage all women understand the full side effects of the contraceptive pill and discuss this with their doctor.
Watch my video, 'Ben Warren Explains Oestrogen Dominance' to learn more about this. You can also read our blog post, 'Do you have oestrogen dominance?' to learn more about the symptoms and get tips for how to deal with this issue through nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Another key phase for a female’s hormonal health occurs when she is of reproductive age, around 25 – 40 years old. At the BePure Clinic, we commonly see signs of hormonal imbalance - especially oestrogen dominance - in women of this age group.
If a woman has been on the oral contraceptive pill in her teen years she has not actually had a real cycle while taking these synthetic hormones. Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor who specialises in period health. She explains this by saying, “you bleed regularly, but ovulation hasn’t actually occurred.”
“You bleed regularly, but ovulation hasn’t actually occurred.” – Laura Briden, a naturopathic doctor specialised in period health.
As I explained above, the oral contraceptive pill masks symptoms such as a heavy period, PMS and irregular cycles and women who come off the pill in their twenties or thirties to start a family are often faced with endometriosis* and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)*.
Another factor to consider with oestrogen dominance is the role of other female sex hormones such as progesterone. In a healthy menstrual cycle, oestrogen is high for the first 13 or 14 days. Ovulation then occurs and oestrogen rapidly drops off. As oestrogen declines, progesterone - another sex hormone - peaks to sustain a fertilised egg. After 14 days, if conception does not occur, progesterone will drop and oestrogen will again surge.
'Women who come off the pill in their twenties or thirties to start a family are often faced with endometriosis* and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)*.'
Progesterone is also affected by our stress hormones. Through a process called pregnenalone steal. High levels of stress, which bring high levels of cortisol and conditions such as Adrenal Fatigue, “steal” the precursor hormones to progesterone. This means in addition to high levels of oestrogen from our environment, modern living contributes to the suppression of progesterone.
You can see the result of these factors in the diagram below.
Diagram: In the graphic above the bold green line indicates where we would like to see oestrogen levels. The dashed green line shows a much higher level of oestrogen and this is where we are actually seeing oestrogen levels sitting at the BePure Clinic. On the flip, side the bold green level shows where we would like to see progesterone levels while the dashed blue line shows where we are actually seeing them fall.
The term 'hormonal balance' does not mean equal amounts of each hormone, but the right ratio between all of our hormones at the right stages of a menstrual cycle.
'The term 'hormonal balance' does not mean equal amounts of each hormone, but the right ratio between all of our hormones at the right stages of a menstrual cycle.'
The last factor to consider in this hormonal interchange is the role nutrients and our liver plays in the processing of oestrogen.
As mentioned, oestrogen normally drops off after ovulation at around day 14. This needs to be metabolised by the liver to clear from our system to make way for progesterone. The lack of nutrients in the modern diet and the prevalence of liver loaders such as caffeine, alcohol and environmental toxins, mean that our bodies natural detoxification pathways are compromised, causing oestrogen to stay high.
Common symptoms include:
If you are concerned about your liver load our BePure Detox Programmes are a great way to start. You can choose either a lighter 7-Day Liver Detox or the full 14-Day Liver Detox Programme that includes nutritional cleanse support. If you have any questions about the programmes, please feel free to give our support team a call on 0800 873787 or email email@example.com.
The final crucial stage of a woman’s hormonal health is the transition to menopause. For some women, this process can be incredibly difficult. Symptoms can range from moodiness, hot flashes, decreased libido, hair loss, weight gain and anxiety just to name a few.
Again a key factor is oestrogen dominance. Women are coming into menopause with high levels of oestrogen. When a women's ovaries are no longer needed to reproduce, they prepare to 'go offline'. At this stage, oestrogen levels should naturally and easily decline, allowing the adrenal glands to pick up the role of producing the necessary hormones.
'Symptoms can range from moodiness, hot flashes, decreased libido, hair loss, weight gain and anxiety just to name a few.'
However, because oestrogen levels are so high and our adrenals are often taxed as a result of high-stress lifestyles and nutrient deficiencies, this process is less of a seamless glide and more of a crash landing.
Because of the extra toxic load from environmental toxins and processed or non-organic foods, plus the stressors of modern day life, it's important to give our bodies extra nutritional support to keep our hormones in balance.
The best way to do this is to nourish your hormonal systems with any missing nutrients, so your body can run with optimal health. I designed the BePure Everyday Health Pack especially for this reason and believe this is the base level of nutritional support that everyone needs, everyday. Read my blog post, 'How does BePure One and BePure Three Support Health?' to learn more about this.
In addition to being an effective multi-vitamin, BePure One also has an incredibly powerful base of greens. Adding in this green formula supports clearing our hormonal pathways and reduces oestrogen dominance for healthy, balanced hormones.
If you feel you are experiencing serious concerns with hormone imbalance, menstrual, fertility or menopause issues, it could also be of interest to visit our BePure Clinic's in Havelock North or Auckland Central for extra support. We also see clients nationwide via Skype.
At the Clinic's you work one-on-one with a skilled BePure Clinical Consultant in one of our three personalised BePure Clinic Programmes to support you and your hormones back to health.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – Symptoms leading up to a women's period which are not present at other times of the month.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – A condition causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts.
Endometriosis - A painful condition whereby tissue of the uterus grows outside of these perimeters.
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