If you have been on a roller coaster ride lately, it is likely due to your hormones.
They can bring a sense of contentment or leave you feeling miserable. How do you feel right now at this stage of your life? When hormones balance, you look and feel your best.
We go through stages of hormone fluctuation as we age. Our hormones influence our brain chemicals, emotions, behavior, immunity, and metabolism. These become huge factors in our general health. We often hear from conventional doctors to accept feeling off due to our hormones. It does not have to be this way! I have summed up the hormonal changes that happen as we age for you along with tips to help balance them.
This will come in handy for you, family and friends to make sense of things and bring balance to your life.
# 1. Adolescence - Ages 10 - 20
This is when the games begin. Communication between our brain connects to the endocrine glands. This includes the adrenals, thyroid, and gonads - our ovaries or testes in boys. Estrogen makes its debut with girls more interested in social status and appearance.
# 2. The Reproductive Years - Ages 20 - 35+
During the 20’s, our hormonal balance is on point. This is the ideal time according to science to reproduce. Around age 24, if a woman is ready in life her hormones are usually sound. In Chinese medicine, age 21 - 28 is perfect, and this has been in practice for thousands of years. After my first child, I had menopause symptoms during postpartum! Hot flashes, insomnia, brain fog, vaginal dryness, and CRS (can’t remember stuff). When a woman delivers a placenta, hormones go from high to low in no time.
#3. The Roaring Twenties
Often in our 20’s we get enough sleep. Most of us need seven to eight hours per night throughout our lives and don’t realize it. If we master sleep habits, eat nutrient-dense food, and detox the liver detoxes, this stage is easy. If we reduce or cut alcohol, that’s even better.
#4. The Dirty Thirties
When we hit the 30’s, learning not to let stress overpower is key to manage cortisol. This is the hormone that controls estrogen, thyroid, progesterone and testosterone. This stage is when we start to feel more overwhelmed. Look into alternatives to manage stress. Yoga practice, meditation, and finding ways to reduce emotional triggers are excellent.
If you get PMS, this is often due to progesterone and other key hormones going off balance. Progesterone declines as we age usually between 35-45. The GABA and serotonin pathways that make you feel calm and happy can dwindle. The good news is there are simple solutions!
Here are a few ways to manage PMS:
Chasteberry and St. John’s Wort are herbal therapies have shown to relieve symptoms of PMS.
Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 help combat hormone imbalance, bloating, and anxiety. Magnesium is a girl’s best friend when it comes to preventing fluid retention before a cycle.
Here's the magnesium I take.
Women with PMS eat 275 percent more refined carbs than women without PMS. Not surprisingly, this makes mood swings and fluid retention even worse. To avoid this symptom, ditch all processed foods.
You can use something like THIS to reduce carb cravings.
Moderate exercise, acupuncture, and a sugar-free diet all go a long way in alleviating PMS.
# 5 Perimenopause - Ages 35-50+
These are the final ten years before a woman’s last period. It varies for everyone, some earlier or later. Most start to see signs around age 40. Feeling tired, moody, not sleeping as well and a slowing metabolism. It’s like puberty reversed! We don’t care as much about doing our hair and want to wear yoga pants everywhere.
Avoid Personal Global Warming
Between the ages of 40-50, progesterone levels lower and that hormone is like nature’s Valium. When this happens, feeling out of sorts can occur. Night sweats, hot flashes, and some have their cycle less than 28 days, closer to 25. If your cycle is around 21 days, consult your healthcare practitioner.
There could be a serious issue in that case. Estrogen dominance is common as it is a family of hormones. estradiol, estrone, and estriol have changing ratios. The ratio you want is progesterone/estradiol to be in the range of 100-500, with 300 being ideal.
If you’re sensitive to estrogen and need more of it to boost mood and prevent depression. Having too little affects serotonin, which affects mood. My advice is to start balancing your hormones before reaching for a prescription. Seeing a functional medicine practitioner can help with solutions and check out my book for more ideas.
How to Get Relief in Perimenopause
Eat foods with high Vitamin C content. Such as papaya, bell peppers, citrus, dark leafy greens to increase progesterone. You can also take a supplement of 750 mg daily.
Reduce caffeine consumption, and try yoga to balance cortisol. This can relieve mood swings, difficulty sleeping, and lack of energy.
Check your thyroid. You may see losing weight is no longer easy. That may be because your thyroid is slowing down or your testosterone fell off a cliff. Be sure to get your levels checked with your healthcare professional. Follow the recommendations I provide to aim for optimal ranges instead of one number.
Cut out sugar to counteract weight gain and keep your insulin in check.
Make sleep a priority. This allows your growth hormone to repair your body while sleeping.
# 4 Menopause - Ages 51+
All the symptoms of perimenopause are in full swing. Hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia are likely present. Estrogen and progesterone are both low causing the brain to become distracted. It can be like having ADD, and difficult to calm. These lower levels also can cause feelings of depression and cause midsection weight gain a.k.a. muffin top.
Easing the Transition
Here are a few ways to make menopause easier:
Take vitamin E to help with hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings. Doses between 50−400 IU shows to be effective.
Magnesium can help reduce hot flashes, fatigue, and distress.
Maca helps with insomnia, depression, memory, concentration, energy, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness. Maca also improves body mass index and bone density. I love adding Maca to my morning shake. Don’t take it too close to bedtime as it may be too stimulating.
Pueraria lobata is a traditional Chinese herbal remedy for menopausal symptoms, often prepared and consumed as a tea.
Red ginseng helps reduce hot flashes. It improves symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and depression in menopausal women.
What About Bioidentical Hormones?
Everyone is very different when it comes to bioidentical hormones. There is no harm in trying this solution for your body. It will respond in no time with the answer if they’re right for you. Hormone testing is good to get a baseline but they fluctuate. It is like driving on a road trip and checking the speed once. Blood tests are usually best compared to saliva. Genova Diagnostics is one company I recommend.
Natural Solutions to the Rescue
Brazil nuts. These provide 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of selenium. It will keep your thyroid happy. Don’t overdo it: five to six Brazil nuts per day is enough.
Oysters. This is my favorite order at happy hour: a half dozen fresh oysters. They provide the copper you need to boost your thyroid and testosterone levels. If oysters are not your thing, try cashews for the dose of zinc and iron.
Omega 3s are essential.
I recommend eating two to three servings of wild-caught fish every week. On your “non-fish” days, take a high-quality supplement.
Men and women who took 4,000 mg (4 grams) of fish oil a day for six weeks lowered morning cortisol levels. As levels became healthier, they became leaner. I recommend choosing a form of fish oil tested by a third party. It should be free of mercury and other endocrine disruptors.
Here's what I take.
Maca. The magical herb maca has shown to increase estradiol in menopausal. See details above under “Let’s Talk Menopause Help.”
Vitamin B5. Stress-crazed? Also known as pantothenic acid, B5 reduces the hypersecretion of cortisol. This helps people under high stress, and it is a low-risk treatment. If you’re stressed, I recommend taking 500 mg/day.
Lifestyle Effects on Hormones
Drink less. Alcohol raises cortisol, robs you of deep sleep, and lowers metabolism by over 70%. It's best to stop alcohol completely for at least two weeks, twice per year, to give your liver a break.
Find new solutions for stress. Develop a more playful attitude. Laugh more, roll with the punches, hang out with friends, take a hot detox bath with Epsom salt.
Master your sleep. Only 6 percent of the population does well on less than 7 hours of sleep, so chances are you’re not one of them. Sleeping seven to eight and a half hours every night manages cortisol. This prevents the muffin top and accelerated aging.
My secret sleep solution is something I developed called Sleep Tight, if you need extra help, it's what I use.
Burst train. It’s better than cardio. Interval training raises your growth hormone and melts the muffin top.
Activate the positive. Write a nightly gratitude list of three big wins. Practice forgiveness and connect with those you love. Focusing on the positive lowers cortisol by 23% and raises DHEA, a form of testosterone.
Remove estrogen disruptors. More than 700 synthetic chemicals mimic estrogen in a toxic way, and their presence is rising. These toxins are in receipts, canned foods, plastics and pesticides. They lead to early puberty, infertility, ovulation issues, miscarriage, and endometriosis. They also cause male infertility, obesity, diabetes, and an increase in certain cancers.
Don’t let your hormones run your life or believe myths, the media, or underserved by doctors.
You can find more on these topics in my books, Brain Body Diet, The Hormone Cure or Younger. Keeping your hormones balanced throughout your life is possible!