By the time you have settled into being a teenager your periods should have started to find their own rhythm. Nutritional therapist Susie Perry Debice shares her top tips for all phases of womanhood.
You maybe fortunate and be pretty ‘textbook’ meaning your cycle follows a 28 day pattern, your periods are a steady flow and last 5-7 days and you experience some signs that your hormones are changing in the week leading up to your period - but everything is fairly manageable. Or you might be someone who’s cycle is shorter(21 day cycle) and more extreme or you could be experiencing a longer cycle (35 day). But overall your body has found it’s own natural hormone fit!
Hormone balance across the decades
So what lies ahead of you? These next few decades which span your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s are your fertile years and each decade needs to be handled slightly differently. In your 20’s you are still very young and for most women (unlike our Victorian ancestors) rearing children is not the first thing on your to-do list! Finding the right type of contraception and discovering which lifestyle traits tip your hormones out of balance and which lifestyle habits keep your hormones on an even keel is what your 20’s is all about!
Over zealous 20’s
As you leave school and head to college, university or make your first career move you face the beginning of your life as an independent young woman. Your new found independence could also be reflected in a more zealous lifestyle with less sleep and more alcohol. Put all of these factors together and you might find that your 20’s diet and lifestyle are not conducive to hormone balance! Skin issues, mood swings, irregular periods and a troublesome week before your period might start to become your new hormonal pattern. Fortunately, for most young women, reverting to a healthy diet and lifestyle quickly brings the cycle back into balance!
Family planning 30’s
Once you hit your 30’s the fertility clock starts ticking. Statistics tell us that a woman’s chances of conceiving ‘naturally’ take a nosedive after the age of 35 and become very tricky after the age of 37. This is why the trend of women postponing starting a family until their late 30’s to early 40’s has seen an increase in the services of IVF clinics across the country. Sadly, these clinics often offer false hopes with a high price tag. To give your fertility longevity and to give yourself the best possible chance of having a baby naturally it’s important to keep your BMI within healthy parameters during your 30’s. Having a high BMI will automatically rule you out of IVF through the NHS as there is a direct link between body weight and fertility issues. Reducing alcohol, increasing your exercise and eating a nutrient-rich diet full of fresh, natural foods is all good fertility advice.
Preparing for change 40’s
During the early part of your 40’s you are likely to be looking for ways to reboot your energy and vitality in an attempt to recover from the emotional, physical and metal roller coaster of parenting young children! Will you go back to work or won’t you? While you are busy trying to reconnect with who you where before you had children you also become aware during you late 40’s that things are changing on the hormone front! After a few decades of feeling like you know your body, you recognise your premenstrual hormone changes and you are very familiar with the way you body reacts in certain diet and lifestyle circumstances you are now very aware that you are sailing through unchartered waters! Days of sudden fatigue, episodes of feeling hot under the collar, emotional outbursts and the inability to burn calories like you used to and the appearance of a bulging belly alarmingly draw your attention to rightly believe that you have hit the peri-menopause!
Healthy foods for healthy hormones
There are certain foods and drinks such as coffee, energy drinks, alcohol, salty snacks, sugary treats, starchy and refined carbs and foods high in saturated fat that have a reputation for playing havoc with hormone balance and are best avoided! Fortunately, there are also an array of natural fresh foods capable of assisting the body in maintaining hormone balance. Foods to includes are those that contain natural phytoestrogens such as lentils, chickpeas, fennel, cucumber, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, soya yoghurt, miso and alfalfa. Raspberry leaf tea has traditionally been used as a women's tonic throughout the ages and fennel tea is helpful too.
Nutrients for all phases of womanhood
There are a handful of nutrients that help to support your hormone cycle regardless of the phase of womanhood you are in. These can be taken as supplements when you feel like your cycle has become irregular, erratic or the week before your period has become so bumpy that it interferes with your normal life.
The quality, tone and youthfulness of your skin is heavily influenced by hormone balance and vitamin B2 and omega-3 oils such as krill oil help support healthy, blemish-free skin. Mood and emotions are also impacted by monthly hormone fluctuations and the vitamins D, B1 and B6 all work together to help support normal psychological function. Episodes of tiredness and fatigue are common during times of hormone imbalance and it’s the B-vitamins tat once again come to the rescue – B1, B2 and B6 all contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism.
As women, looking after your bone density is phenomenally important whatever your age and vitamin D is a real bone hero since it contributes to the maintenance of normal (healthy) bones. A good idea is to source a supplement that contain a combination of all of these nutrients such as Cleanmarine for Women, an easy way to support hormone health throughout all phases of womanhood.