Keep a Thought for Fertility

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Today more and more women are enjoying a flourishing career and are deciding to put child bearing for a later time in their lives. For women that are hormonally healthy this decision is absolutely fine. But if you are suffering from ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids or abnormal hormone levels then leaving these conditions untreated while you’re on birth control for years can make it extremely difficult for you to become pregnant when you do decide its time for kids. You may think that in a worst case scenario you can opt for IVF,  but studies have shown that hormonal imbalances relating to reproductive health if left untreated can even make conception through IVF harder.

As I’ve mentioned many times there is always a way to do things and preparing your body from now for a healthy pregnancy is never something too early and shouldn’t be something too hard. Firstly, and probably most importantly address any hormonal issue you’ve got to avoid future complications. Following these tips will help your fertility in the long term.

Go Organic and Free Range:

Ensuring that the food you eat is clean and healthy is so important. Unfortunately much of the meat, fruit and vegetables we consume are full of hormones, pesticides and other chemicals that can ruin your hormonal balance. Try to eat organic and free range as much as possible and if you do slip sometimes it’s fine just try to stay healthy.

Get Rid of the Nasties:

Look around your house for any hidden nasties. Take a look in your bathroom cabinet and check for any self-care products that contain chemicals I mentioned in my post. If they do than you’re better off showing them the bin. Chuck out any sauces, condiments, or packaged meals with funny additives and replace then with natural spices, homemade salads, and sauces.

Are you deficient?

Take a blood test and check for any deficiencies in vitamins or minerals and supplement for at least four months before you plan to get pregnant that way your body is in perfect shape for conception.

Know your cycle!

Learn more about your cycle so that you understand your body better and you’re able to conceive more easily. Some great information on your cycle can be found here.

Fertility Foods:

Try and incorporate foods that help with fertility such as leafy greens, chickpeas, eggs, avocados, turmeric and sunflower seeds.

Take your Time:

When you are trying to get pregnant after years of contraception you may feel anxious if you don’t get pregnant straight away. Remember to give yourself time and try to work with your partner to get healthy and de-stress at least four months before planning to become pregnant this will make things so much easier!

How to Stop Being Tired of Being Tired

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By now you would have definitely heard the or read somewhere about adrenal fatigue. You know, the always tried, dry skin, sugar cravings, want to fall asleep but can’t syndrome. I’ve  briefly talked about it in the post on stress and plenty of resources about it are available online including this great post in MindBodyGreen.

As I have mentioned before our adrenals are big players in our endocrine system and as such affect the balance of the rest of our hormones. The thing with adrenal fatigue is that its not enough to just eat well and exercise- you’ve got to listen to what your body is telling you and work from there. So take some time everyday to see how you feel.

Ask yourself these questions during the day:

Morning:

1. Do you feel energized and refreshed when you wake up?

2. After breakfast do you feel heavy, lethargic or sleepy?

During the day:

1. Do you get sugar or salt cravings even if it hasn’t been a long time since you ate?

2. Are you constantly reaching for coffees?

3. Are you putting on weight even when your exercising?

4. After lunch do you feel sleep or lethargic?

5. Is your mind constantly racing with thoughts?

At night:

1. Do you find it hard to fall asleep?

2. Are you tired but feel alert?

3. Do you wake up at night with a racing heart?

Obviously, if you feel tired after you’ve eaten, find it hard to sleep or are putting on weight even when your exercising than you could have adrenal fatigue. Trying these tips can help:

Morning:

  • Eat within an hour of waking up to keep blood sugar stable.
  • Include protein in your breakfast.
  • Don’t exercise on an empty stomach.
  • Take supplements if you have deficiencies.

During the Day:

  • Avoid coffee and black tea.
  • Always eat small healthy snacks in between meals.
  • Do light exercise so you don’t further stress your adrenals.
  • Take time to relax.

At night:

  • Don’t exercise at night as this will increase your cortisol levels.
  • Prepare yourself for bed by switching off gadgets an hour before you sleep.
  • Have a dim light near your bed such as a lamp as this will help release melatonin which in turn helps you fall asleep.
  • Make sure you get 8-9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Try as much as you can to go to bed before 11:00 pm.

How have you been feeling lately?

Starting at Stress

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So you’ve checked your symptoms, done your tests and you know you have a hormonal imbalance, “What now?” I hear you say. Before we dive into any solutions it is important you know that healing takes  time and that its a lifestyle change- you’ve got to be committed because there are no quick fix solutions. Instead I want to provide you with more sustainable changes that will help you manage your hormones without causing any major disruptions to your life.

With so much stress in our lives I think it is only appropriate to start at the very topic of stress.

We often think of stress as something that we’ve just got to accept as part of our daily lives but stress was designed to occasionally be a coping mechanism rather than a chronic condition. At the heart of your stress response is the hormone cortisol which actually regulates many physiological processes including cravings, sleeping, and blood pressure.

When your stressed your adrenal glands release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to prepare you for fighting or fleeing. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, your breathing rate and the blood flow to your muscles while cortisol suppresses your digestion, immunity and reproductive drive. Your body does this because it simply thinks that when their is danger there is no time for you to digest, fight disease or make babies!

Unfortunately our stress response still lives in the stone age, literally, and perceives stress over an exam exactly the same way it perceives stress from a ferocious tiger that is about to attack every bone in your body. So what does that do? Well, being in stress mode 24/7 because of the lurking deadlines, bills that are due and your never ending ‘To do’ list will eventually cause adrenal fatigue. Your body simply cannot stay healthy if you are constantly alarmed. As a result your immunity, digestion and even creativity begin to suffer. But it can get more serious with hair loss, insomnia and diabetes being some of the long term consequences of accumulated stress hormones.

But don’t despair there are many ways  to manage stress and high cortisol from exercise to getting the right amount of sleep. Here are some small steps you can take,

Sleep:

  • Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • The best times to go to bed are 9-10 and waking up 6-7.
  • Try not to do any exercise or stimulating activity before you got to bed as this will increase cortisol and make it hard for you to fall asleep.
  • Read a book or listen to relaxing music before bed to help you sleep well.

Eating:

  • Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and include protein in it so that you have long lasting energy.
  • Eat regularly. Have snacks in between meals so that you keep your blood sugar levels stable.
  • Avoid caffeine, sugary foods and processed foods as these will only make your symptoms worse. I know this may be a hard one but when you keep your sugar levels stable by doing these tips then you won’t crave sugar as much.

Exercise:

  • Exercise. You’ve heard it before but the key is to do something you enjoy even if its a walk.
  • Try different workout combinations such as weight and cardiovascular exercise.
  • Try to exercise in the morning especially between 6-7 if you can. This helps regulate cortisol.
  • Don’t do heavy workout if you can’t this will only make adrenal fatigue worse.

Relax!

  • Read a book.
  • Try yoga or meditation.
  • Get a massage.

Why the fuss over hormones?

So why should we care about hormones?

Well, simply put because they affect everything. Seriously.

In all human beings the endocrine system is responsible for regulating various bodily functions including sexual and reproductive growth, cell metabolism, sugar levels and much more. That’s why it is especially important to maintain hormonal imbalance to avoid potential health problems- and they can be quite serious.

While many of us may think that hormones are something that only menopausal women deal with the reality is that million of women, of all ages, are diagnosed with hormone related issues such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, and Endometriosis. But hormonal imbalances are much more than disorders. They can affect a woman’s sleep, cravings, skin, moods and even weight.

The important thing to know is that no matter what the hormonal disorder a women is going through some simple and easy changes to their diet and lifestyle can help them feel so much better. And the great part about it is that it can be all natural!