HORMONAL (IM)BALANCE and LIFE BALANCE go HAND in HAND
From a functional nutrition standpoint, hormone imbalances like PMS, uncomfortable peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms, even bad blood sugar or stress response, can be caused by many factors; High stress hormones, high toxin levels, inadequate sleep, low nutrients, and gut issues being primary amongst them.
Addressing lifestyle factors like these ^^^^^ first can often help to alleviate symptoms.
In fact, you may need no further treatment, if you address lifestyle stuff. But, we need to know what nutrients and actions may aid detoxification in order to improve our health.
I like to encourage women to create lives that are more pleasurable, less stressful. I like to help them to do whatever they need to do to get a better night’s sleep, even if that means helping them with their money issues, not their diet.
And … I always focus on aiding women to lower their exposure to toxins and improve their biotransformation and elimination of toxins. Doing this can result in a proper menarche, comfortable menstruation, optimal fertility, and easy menopause, and beneficially impact their overall health.
WHAT DOES DETOXIFICATION HAVE TO DO WITH IT
Detoxification is a missing piece, in conventional treatment, but it is crucial – we need to clear toxins to balance hormones.
The toxins that are the focus here are the ones that mimic estrogen but act in it’s place in a dysfunctional way – turning off and on things in ways that might shift our metabolism down or our anxiety up – for example, but there are many possible symptoms; Anxiety, depression, irritability, tenderness, cramps, skin issues, bleeding irregularly, fluctuating sexual responsiveness, fluctuating energy levels, etc..
We can feel these symptoms creep up on us slowly over time, especially after certain triggers – hormone changes and stress – during adolescence, pregnancy, and peri-menopause. These changes in our bodies, along with other stress, and especially if coupled with nutrient deficiencies, can cause epigenetic changes – aka changes to our gene expression.
So, you have to clear toxins and manage stress to avoid the big problems.
My preferred approach is to look first at lifestyle factors, especially nutrition, but a full workup should include other lifestyle factors beyond nutrition, such as exercise, toxicity and stress.
There are many lifestyle factors that can lead to hormonal problems.
I am years past the baby making phase. 8 years to be exact. I went through menopause really early, and I am not alone. If you are an otherwise healthy, slim, fit woman, you might be prone to going through it early too. Why do I say that?
If the case of early menopause, there are such lifestyle factors as a history of anorexia and or bulimia, being an athlete/long distance runner, very thin, or a vegetarian, or having low cholesterol levels (such as can be caused by chronic low fat eating).
And it isn’t just early menopause – what about late menarche? I know an athletic, thin, vegetarian woman with no exposure to toxins in any great amount – I mean she was VERY protected and NEVER even had sugar, fast food or alcohol in her whole life – who still had not hit menarche and was going off to college.
So yes, there can be things ASIDE from toxins that can mess with your hormones. Our genetics can be triggered by stresses such as malnutrition, such as was the case for this young lady. What she thought was an ideal diet, her body took for starvation.
But toxins definitely play a role, for many people a huge role. We can feel the symptoms of these things come upon us in an accelerated manor if we get a sudden, noticeable influx of toxins – such as can happen if we get breast implants, or are exposed to mold in an infested home or car.
In the very sensitive, the ones we call the canaries in the coal mine, I can often see toxins slowly dragging them down. If they get get daily exposure to BPA in a job as a cashier, bagging groceries, or if she invests a lot in toxic beauty, such as lip injections, face fillers, keratin hair smoothers, and regular nail treatments, she may have a lot of pain, inflammation, and fatigue.
So I use a functional nutrition approach that looks at the whole person through the lens of systems biology and examines the underlying cause of hormone dysregulation, which can include the effects of endocrine disruptors, aka toxins.
It is now clear that our individual ability to detoxify aka to bio-transform and excrete toxic and synthetic substances is of critical importance to our overall health. We are exposed to a greater quantity and a more complex array of toxic compounds in our air, water, and food than ever before. Understanding toxicity and taking practical steps to improve biotransformation are essential and critical pieces in any integrative approach to health and well-being.
I want to be clear about the concept of detoxification.
We cannot really “do a detox” and force our body to detox. The phases of detoxification undertaken by the liver (there are 3, 2 of them very well recognized) and the clearing of toxins is done by the body automatically, in conjunction with the kidneys/urinary system, lungs, skin, and more, not by any product we take. However, we can give the organs what they need to do these processes, and we can use binders to help to keep some things from recirculating, and we can help them get flushed out faster, which is often called “cleansing”.
The concept that toxins accumulate in the body and are the cause of various health problems has long been a fundamental tenet of traditional healthcare systems around the world. Removal of toxins from the body has long been an integral part of Ayurvedic, yogic, and naturopathic medicine. We know that in Canada, the Ojibwa used an 8 herb formula, drunk as a tea, and in Ayurveda, panchakarma and triphala are some of the methods employed. Naturopaths may use herbs or coffee enemas.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention began measuring human exposure to chemicals in 1976, and more recent science has really taught us a lot about how toxins affect us, where they originate, and how to improve our ability to detoxify. There is a very long list of chemicals we may encounter daily. Biomonitoring of subjects is ongoing and they continue to find new toxins in subjects’ blood and urine. Some of these include pesticides like DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and glyphosate, BPA (bisphenol-A) from plastic bottles, food containers and cash register receipts, and phthalates from toys and shampoos.
Most people are born with chemicals like these in their blood, and then have a persistent, detectable amount of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in their blood most of the time ever afterward. What endocrine disrupting means is that they look like estrogen in the body, but estrogen that misbehaves, even doing evil, like something out of the movie V, or Men in Black, or even American Psycho.
Several of these hormone-f-ing chemicals have been linked to early menarche and early menopause.
Earlier menarche means starting your period young, and it is associated with some bad health outcomes. Around the world, the age of menarche keeps getting younger and is linked to exposure to a common fumigant, according to an analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.
The NHANES researchers measured a single chemical in girls 12-16, but there are hundreds of known endocrine disruptors in our everyday environment, affecting women of all ages. In a different analysis of the NHANES data, 15 known toxicants were identified as contributors to early menopause in women, including persistent organic pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and common endocrine disruptors like phthlates. You are also more likely to reach menopause early if you are unfit, overweight, or if you have irritated ovaries, or pituitary gland problems, or have never had kids, or if you smoke…so again, it isn’t just about chemicals – but they sure don’t help.
WHAT TO DO
First of all, I recommend that you be careful to reduce your toxin exposure.
Filter your water. If you can, filter your air. Change filters often. Open your windows year round.
Say no to paper receipts.
Get better shampoo, or no shampoo. Use natural, clean and vetted body care, and less of it. Refuse to use regular nail polish, or to hang out in salons, or in places with toxic air. Don’t use hair treatments like Keratin smoothers or perms that use formaldehyde. Use non-toxic menstrual products.
Don’t buy new carpets, or sofas, buy second hand. If you buy furniture, like mattresses, check what they might be made with, and then, if you can, plan to sleep out of your house for the first week or two that they are in your house, to let them air out. Air out new dry cleaning for a week outside of the house in a covered area while they off-gas. Try not to move into places right after they are built – give them a year.
Eat cleaner, cook for yourself. Don’t eat canned food. Bring your own containers – don’t get take out in styrofoam and thin plastic – especially things like hot soup. Get organic food, pastured animals, don’t eat animals that eat conventional grains – they eat too many sprays.
Give up the dryer sheets, and beware of anything perfumed. Don’t hang out near the dishwasher when it is running. Use safer soap in the dishwasher, and run the kitchen exhaust fan when it runs, and go into another room. Hire someone to dust and to vacuum, and don’t let your kids play on the floor.
It’s along list, and you might feel crazy at first, but just try to work at it little by little.
You might need to do things even harder than avoiding toxins.
You may need to get a more understanding and helpful and supportive partner. You might need to earn more money. You might need to say no more and get what you need help with more. You might need to go dancing more, or accept yourself as you are, or tell an asshole to f off. You might need to make seasonal detoxification a regular thing you do now. You might need to really eat nutritiously, not just eat to stay thin. You might need to say NO to the beauty treatments, like the lip fillers, the Botox, the Keratin treatment, the toenail polish, that you think makes you beautiful, and realize how beautiful it is to think clearly in your forties, and to feel better then, and to be glad you worked on your confidence instead of your forehead wrinkle. You might need to drink less alcohol and coffee, so that you can go the F to sleep. You might need to adopt a habit of doing a little walking, a little weights, and a little yoga, instead of nothing, or everything, like a maniac.
Start practicing now, and you can avoid a lot of headaches in the future.