Angelique Panagos is a nutritional therapist, writer and health crusader with an immense passion for the healing power of food. Here she shares practical easy ways that women can balance their hormones naturally for better physical and mental health.
Many women go through life never giving our hormones a second thought. At least, not until they’re wreaking all kinds of havoc in our bodies – mood swings, insomnia, weight gain, spots, plummeting libido, PMS, and those niggly symptoms that can come with ‘The Change’. Trust me, I know the feeling having spent most of my teenage years straight through to my early 30’s riding the hormonal roller coaster!
It can seem like a continuous uphill battle with no end in sight. Yet, when we actually unlock the secrets to our hormones, our entire bodies can benefit. We can feel happier, healthier, more confident, and an extra bonus for some – we look slimmer, too!
When balanced, our hormones can create a beautiful, synchronised dance, like a graceful Viennese waltz. But for many of us, that monthly dance is more like doing the hokey cokey, on the wrong feet!
Because there are so many different kinds of hormones (oxytocin, thyroid, insulin, cortisol, oestrogen, testosterone, just to name a few), and as they all work in synergy there are also lots of ways they can be thrown out of sync.
For many of us, our everyday lives can cause inner chaos. Things such as poor diets, soaring stress levels (I am sure we can all relate to that!), a lack of sleep, or menopause can impact our body’s inner workings. Similarly, inflammation in the body and lack of nutrients from food have a major impact on imbalances.
Yet, it is not all doom and gloom – it is possible to restore inner balance, and you can enjoy hormonal harmony. Here’s are my top tips on how to balance your hormones:
1. Balance Blood Sugars
Avoiding blood sugar rollercoasters is crucial in keeping our insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) levels healthy. When there’s too much insulin in our bodies, testosterone and oestrogen levels can go haywire not to mention the increasing tummy fat that comes with it. To avoid this, eat three evenly spaced meals a day, avoid any excess sugars – especially refined ones – and enjoy a pinch of blood sugar-balancing cinnamon in your morning porridge.
2. Eat Balancing Foods
There are plenty of foods which can help to balance hormones naturally. For starters, our bodies need a steady stream of nutrients, healthy fats and protein to keep us creating healthy hormones. I also recommend piling plates high with cleansing, leafy greens (I like to call these my Detox Warriors) such as spinach, kale, broccoli and chard. You could also try adaptogenic herbs, such as maca in smoothie to help balance hormones.
Did you know that exercise can keep our hormones healthy? Getting sweaty can release feel-good endorphins, regulate insulin levels, reduce stress, help us to slide into those jeans, and boost our energy.
4. Manage Stress
When we’re feeling frazzled, we can release too much cortisol, the stress hormone, which can wreak all kinds of havoc in our body. In fact the message of stress takes precedence over any other function in the body. If you suffer with stress, try Yoga, or perhaps a meditation. Meanwhile, get plenty of rest and sleep – aim for 8 hours each night to keep hormones balanced, and to let the body recover.
5. Support Your Liver
Our livers can work all kinds of detoxifying magic in the body. For hormonal balance, it’s important that we take care of our livers – eliminating alcohol from our diets, and eating cleansing foods, such as beetroot, garlic, leafy greens, lemons and turmeric.
6. Minimise Inflammation
Inflammation in the body can worsen many female health problems, especially period pains. Ditch refined sugars and processed foods, and eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and lots of healthy fats and lean proteins. Try to also cut back on milk and red meat, since both contain arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation and stimulates oestrogen production.
I know that it can feel like a lot that you have to do, my advice is always to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time and where its in your control eat a balanced diet filled with nutrients. The remaining 20% you can let your hair down and go with the flow. Balanced hormones come from a lifestyle that is favours consistency above perfection.
The Balance Plan by Angelique Panagos is published by Aster, ?20 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)
About Angelique Panagos
Angelique Panagos is a writer, total foodie and health crusader with an immense passion for the healing power of food. A nutritional therapist with her own successful West End practice, Angelique features in ITV’s Sugar Free Farm and has contributed to I Quit Sugar with Sarah Wilson and publications such as Women’s Health, InStyle and Rude Health.
Angelique completed her nutritional therapy training at the renowned Institute of Optimum Nutrition in London. She is registered and regulated by The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and is a member of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). In addition, Angelique is proud to be an Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) AFMCP™ UK graduate. Discover more about Angelique on Twitter @apnutrition, Instagram @angeliquepanagos and at www.angeliquepanagos.com