By Lynsey Creed.
Lynsey has been working in the health industry for 3 years and currently advises at Wild Oats Bristol. She is also currently transitioning to self employed to allow more time during consultations on more complex matters like hormones and digestive issues.
In this article, Lynsey looks at what you can do to balance your hormones if you have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or if you’re approaching the menopause.
- Hormone Imbalance and PCOS
The hormonal system is a delicate balance. A slight imbalance can cause noticeable symptoms.
PCOS is a condition in which the amount of testosterone is usually elevated in comparison to estrogen and progesterone. This causes a vast number of symptoms, including hormonal acne, hair loss, facial hair, weight gain, infertility and more.
The problem is generally caused by insulin resistance. Insulin is another hormone that is released by the pancreas when refined carbohydrates or sugars are eaten. Its job is to bring down the blood sugar surge and balance the level again, but if we are constantly eating these foods and the blood sugar is elevated, the body starts to become de-sensitised to the insulin released, which causes the issue of insulin resistance and a consistently high blood sugar level.
One of the first steps in reversing this condition is switching to a low glycemic diet. Refined carbohydrates and sugars including: cakes, bread, biscuits, pasta and alcohol, should be reduced to a minimum, or eliminated completely, if possible. A paleo-style diet consisting of a high consumption of protein and plant-based foods, and low in carbohydrates is ideal.
Supplements that help control blood sugar and reduce androgen levels are also helpful. Some examples are:
· Zinc picolinate
· Liquorice root
For the perfect low glycemic breakfast idea…
Serves 2 (makes about 5 small pancakes)
2 cups of buckwheat flour
2 organic eggs
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1-2 tsp organic honey/maple or agave syrup
Dash dairy/non-dairy milk
2 tsp coconut oil
Organic berries, sliced banana… the options are endless!
Whisk together the flour, eggs, flax and honey or sweetener of your choice. The mixture should be quite runny
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan
Let the pancake sit over the heat until you see air bubbles in the top, and then flip and repeat on the other side
Serve with sliced banana and berries, or other toppings of your choice
- Hormone Imbalance in Menopause
Symptoms of hormone imbalance happen at a menopausal age when the sex hormones begin to decline.
Generally speaking, leading up to the menopause progesterone levels drop before estrogen, leaving estrogen as the dominant hormone, which causes heavier and longer lasting periods.
This can be helped by making sure that the elimination pathways are working well; so eating a diet with good amounts of fibre – for healthy bowel movements – and staying well-hydrated with water and cleansing herbal teas, will all help. This ensures that the hormones, once used, get excreted and will not be recirculating in the system, causing an unhealthy build-up or excess.
· Milk thistle
Another way we can support the re-balancing of our hormones during the menopause is by increasing the low progesterone level to balance out the excess estrogen. This can be done with a natural bio identical progesterone cream rubbed into thin areas of the skin for rapid absorption into the blood stream. The cream can be used from ovulation for 2 weeks, until the period starts, and then discontinued until the next month. Seeing a practitioner who is familiar with female hormones who can recommend and monitor dosage of the cream is advised.
When the periods stop and the woman is in menopause, the estrogen will have also declined. This may bring with it vaginal dryness, hot flushes, and mild depression among other symptoms.
To help boost and balance the estrogen level, phytoestrogen herbs and foods can be added. These include:
· Dong quai
· Liquorice root
· Black cohosh
· Red clover
· Sage is a useful herb to regulate temperature if the main symptom is hot flushes.
[You may also be interested in making this Menopause Cake.]