As women we often hear that our hormones are trying to kill us or at the very least disrupt our lives. And as women get older that narrative intensifies. But what you might not realize is that your hormonal imbalance is communicating with you when you experience symptoms. Your body is trying to tell you that what you’re doing is not working for it.
Symptoms are just the alarm bell of an underlying problem. Why is there a problem you ask? It can have everything to do with the foods you eat which can be inflammatory, how hydrated or dehydrated your body is, the amount of rest/sleep you get or don’t get, the levels of stress you experience on the daily and how you handle that stress, the state of your adrenals based on your lifestyle, your alcohol and coffee intake and how much movement and exercise you give your body. Yes, it seems like a lot of factors but you have to think of your body maintenance like you think of car maintenance. Your body is a machine and without the proper fuel and care it will lack alignment.
Let’s take the foods we often mindlessly eat. Processed foods such as cookies, bread, and other packed foods are high on preservatives, sodium, and sugar. This dangerous combination increases inflammation and stresses the adrenal glands, putting you at risk of weight gain and severe hormonal imbalance. Not to mention that sugar plays havoc on insulin levels.
I’m a former coffee lover but at one point I realized that my gut was raising red flags over even one cup of coffee. The bloat from the beans was clear. It turns out that consuming too many cups of coffee can disrupt more than just your sleep cycle. It can also affect your body in several ways. Caffeine present in the coffee increases the cortisol production in the body. Cortisol, famously known as the stress hormone, causes your body to go into a state of high alert.
Let’s talk about alcohol consumption and the need for serious moderation as women age. A review of studies published in the medical journal Alcohol and Alcoholism found that, for women in their 40s and 50s, even just “moderate” consumption of alcohol (one drink per day) can affect the hormonal system.
In fact, according to research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, drinking alcohol can cause a spike in estrogen levels and a decline in progesterone in premenopausal women.
Symptoms of high estrogen include:
- swelling and tenderness in the breasts
- decreased sex drive
- irregular menstrual periods
- mood swings
Meanwhile, low progesterone levels can make it difficult for women to get pregnant or carry a baby to full term, and symptoms include:
- low sex drive
- hot flashes
- abnormal uterine bleeding
Sometimes in order to restore or have balance in your life you need to be an adult and give those very things that are making you feel bad a swift kick to the curb. Personal accountability plays a large role here..As women we are intuitively connected with our bodies and yet for some reason when it comes to hormonal imbalances we can be tone deaf and then we blame the hormones we ourselves are disrupting.
Yes, there is a lot of maintenance that is required for us to function efficiently but it’s not impossible you just have to decide how much that cookie or that third glass of wine means to you vs what your metabolism and endocrine system are aching for. Balance is key for a healthy life.
Being 41 now I have the same struggles but I make my body my priority. This is my temple and my vessel that will hopefully carry me for the next 40 years so I fuel myself and take care of myself like my quality of life depends on it. Which it does. In addition to a clean diet (mostly free of grains, sugar, processed food) lots of water intake, my barefoot practice, my grounding and movement bring balance to a hectic life.
I absolutely have the occasional glass of wine or ice cream but for the most part I listen to my body and the signals it sends me if or when I over indulge. The older you get the louder your body screams at you for the balance it craves. Lean in and Listen to it. It might be time for some life changes.