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Healthy Hormone Lifestyle Tips

The Lifestyle Habits You Need for Healthy Hormone Balance

Lifestyle habits are a huge component of healthy hormone balance. We live in a go-go-go time where we forget to honor ourselves. When we have poor stress-management, lack of movement, and a toxic environment it’s a recipe for hormone imbalance; manifesting as skipped periods, infertility, mood dysregulation, and general malaise. The five areas I look at that fall into ‘lifestyle’ include your diet, your exercise routine, your self-care, your sleep, and your environment. Poor performance in any of these areas can contribute to hormone issues that manifest as physical symptoms. Here are 5 categories of lifestyle habits for healthy hormone balance. 1 – Diet Your diet has a major impact on hormones. Start by eliminating any suspected food sensitivities or food allergies. If you’re not sure how to do that on your own, check out my Elimination Diet Guide. Next, start to evaluate the overall nutrient density of your diet. Choose real, whole foods. Eat plenty of high-quality protein, fats, and fiber. Do your best to ‘eat the rainbow’ daily to cover an array of phytonutrients. Incorporate Hormone-Healing foods like seeds, oysters, leafy vegetables, and legumes. Even when your nutrition is on-point, it may be useful to supplement with certain vitamins that are difficult to obtain from our diet. Things like Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Folate can fall in this category. Learn more about my top recommended supplements here. Lastly, make sure you stay hydrated! Aim to consume half your body weight in ounces or more, and drink to thirst. 2 – Movement Do your best to make movement a priority in and out of the gym. A successful exercise routine is any activity that you enjoy doing! This could be yoga, HIIT training, rowing, swimming, weight-lifting, or hiking. Don’t be afraid to change things up. There’s big power in listening to your cycle and adjusting workouts depending on how you’re feeling (a concept known as Cycle Syncing). A good start is adding movement after meals. Even a short, brisk walk can support cortisol and insulin balance. These hormones are tightly regulated by the liver and adrenal glands. Cortisol and Insulin are both involved in the endocrine system and will have downstream effects on sex hormones. Use your in-the-gym time to focus on resistance training. Even if it is just bodyweight resistance, this is important to increase/maintain muscle mass and support bone health. The more muscle you can build and preserve, the ‘hotter’ your metabolism will run. 3 – Stress Management / Self-Care Re-engage with yourself. Strive for balance, but recognize the natural cyclical changes that hormones bring. Get in tune with when you are at your highest energy (typically at ovulation) and when you need a slowdown (before menstruation). By leaning into your natural rhythm, you’ll be less frustrated when you do feel emotional. Find a regular self-care routine. This could include breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, yoga, time outside, prayer, art, or anything else that brings you joy. Not sure where to start? Kristen Milliron, LCSW, shares her tips for starting a journaling practice here.  You may never have a ‘stress-free’ life… but how you manage your stress makes a difference.  Also in the self-care realm: finding a way to connect with yourself (or your partner) is essential for hormone health. Oxytocin, the hormone of connection, is released during orgasm, breastfeeding, as well as massage, holding hands, and hugs. Sexual intimacy is not just important for trying to conceive, but also helps to regulate your menstrual cycle and improve moods. 4 – Sleep Get in bed. You likely need 7-8 hours of quality sleep to feel your best. Make this a habit by setting a bedtime alarm that says, “hey, time to get IN bed” in addition to your usual morning alarm. If you can establish a regular routine, your body will adjust.  Optimize your sleep environment. Turn off screens a few hours before bed, wear blue blocking glasses, sleep in a dark room, and perfect your evening routine. The better control you take over these manageable habits- the better quality sleep you will achieve. Ask for help. If you find yourself waking at regular intervals through the night, unable to fall asleep, dealing with negative thought patterns, or having physical symptoms preventing good sleep (night sweats, restless legs).. ask for help. A Mental Health Therapist, Functional Medicine Doctor, or Nutritionist can evaluate your symptoms and offer intervention. 5 – Environment A big part of Healthy Hormones lies in making an effort to decrease your toxic burden. We live in an increasingly toxic world and it seems to be closing in on us. Our personal care products, makeup, cleaning products, and food storage likely contain harmful chemicals that CAN be avoided. Do a deep dive of your environment by considering these questions: Do you buy organic food and/or avoid the Dirty Dozen? Do you use glass/stainless steel for food storage and avoid plastics? Do you drink filtered water? Do you buy pharmaceutical grade supplements? Do you use clean makeup and skincare products? We can best support detoxification in the liver by staying hydrated, pooping daily, and consuming adequate protein & fiber. ((Learn more about detox here)) Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber Changing Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Hormone Balance takes time. These habits are things to slowly adopt to get you more in tune with yourself. One day at a time. Free Managing Stress & Anxiety Cookbook: Want 20 recipes to manage stress & anxiety? Click here to get Kate’s Stress&Anxiety Cookbook that includes recipes that supply adequate magnesium, B6, iron, and fiber!  Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!

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Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips for Supporting Brain Health

Brain health is the foundation for some of today’s most prevalent health concerns, including memory, focus and other cognitive functionds; mood and behavior; stress and anxiousness; and sleep issues. Daniel G. Amen, MD uses the BRIGHTMINDS mnemonic as a way of organizing 11 major risk factors that threaten brain health. Here’s the breakdown of the BRIGHTMINDS Risk Factors: B – Blood flow This includes poor circulation, poor blood pressure control, lack of exercise, and sedentary lifestyle. We can support bloodflow nutritionally with arginine-rich foods like beets, turkey, chicken, beef, salmon, watermelon, and spinach. Vitamin C rich foods also support healthy circulation and include cherries, citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, and broccoli. R – Retirement and/or Aging Age is an inherent risk factor in diminishing brain health; but it is heightened when individuals over 65 are working less than half-time, limiting new learning, or expereincing social isolation. Antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, cacao, acai, pomegranate, walnuts, and oregano can be helpful. Also, choline-rich foods support acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter and include eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, chickpeas, and lentils. I – Inflammation I’ve written loads about inflammation. It can be exacerbated by poor gut health and low antioxidant or omega-3 intake. Therefore, probiotic-boosting foods like kimchi, saurkraut, kefir, and pickles as well as prebiotic-rich foods can help support microbiome balance. Prebiotics can be found in chia seeds, beans, cabbage, psyllium, artichokes and root vegetables. The omega-3 rich foods to include are salmon, sardines, walnuts, and avocado. Further, spices like turmeric and saffron can boost antioxidant status. G – Genetics There is certainly a genetic component to neurological dysfunction. A close family member with memory issues is a sign that you need to be very careful with your environment and lifestyle as you age. As they say, “Genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger” meaning just because you are predisposed to a disease does not mean it will manifest if you priortize your health. One way to do so is including polyphenol-rich foods like dark chocolate, green tea, blueberries, apples, and sage. H- Head trauma The ‘head trauma’ risk factor is defined as one or more concussions and/or any change to senses, including loss of smell. With any history of brain injury, we consider high-dose fish oil, and consumption of fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel. T- Toxins Toxins can refer to any number of exogenous chemicals that have a deleterious effect in the body and impact brain health. Often, it comes down to load: how much can your body handle before you see symptoms? Toxins include alcohol, drugs, smoking, pollution, mold, and personal care products. In order to support liver health (detoxification), eat brassica vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and bok choy. To support kidney health, adequate hydration, beets, and citrus are helpful. To support the gut, plenty of fiber. M – Mental Health This one is almost a “gimme” as a risk factor for brain problems. However, unaddressed stress, emotions, and mood disorders certainly contribute to further brain inflammation and dysfunction. It’s best to support the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin with high-quality proteins, leafy greens, spices, and mineral-rich nuts and seeds. For more specifics about eating for your mental health, see Eating for Mental Health. I – Immunity With immunity, we think of autoimmune conditions as a particular challenge for exacerbating likelihood of brain issues. Brain fog and mental impairment go hand-in-hand with immune challenges due to systemic inflammation. Often, a specific protocol is needed for addressing the root cause of the autoimmune disease. However, for natural immune supporting foods you can include allicin-rich foods like garlic, onions, and shallots; Vitamin D rich foods like fatty fish, mushrooms, and grass-fed beef liver; and zinc-rich foods like oysters and pumpkin seeds. N – Neurohormones Our hormone systems are directed by our brain (without the help of exogenous drugs, like birth control). This includes our thyroid hormones, our sex hormones, and our adrenal hormones. Any imbalance in these systems can increase the likelihood of poor brain health and symptoms. Specific estrogen-boosting foods include fiber, flaxseeds, beans, yams, and licorice. Testosterone-boosting foods are pomegranate, olive oil, oysters, coconut, Brassica vegetables, and garlic. Thyroid health relies on selenium-rich seaweed and brazil nuts; as well as roots like maca. D – “Diabesity” Yes, you read that right. “Diabesity” is a catch-all term to include metabolic syndrome associated with poor blood-sugar control and being overweight. Because of its association with metabolic issues, Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes referred to as “Type III Diabetes“. To address the impending crisis of Type II Diabetes (leading to TypeIII), at-risk individuals should focus on low-glycemic, high-fiber, nutrient-rich foods. Protein and fat at each meal can help stabilize blood sugar and cravings. S – Sleep The sleep risk factor includes poor quality sleep, sleep issues (snoring, sleep apnea), as well as the use of sleeping pills or other medications. There are some foods that can help with getting better quality sleep, such as tart cherry juice, walnuts, and ginger. However, improving sleep often needs more of a lifestyle intervention than a nutrition intervention. I like this podcast by The Huberman Lab with Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep. What are the Key Nutrients in Maintaining Brain Health? While the BRIGHTMINDS breakdown of risk factors is helpful for specific issues. There are certain key nutrients to include in your diet to maintain brain health for the longterm. Download my Brain Health Meal Plan which has the following features: Healthy Fats Good quality fats are associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. This plan is rich in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat from olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts, and seeds. It is lower in saturated fat, meats, and dairy products. Olive oil is the main source of fat and contains tocopherols, polyphenols, and a balanced linoleic/alpha-linolenic acid profile, which is beneficial for the immune system and inflammatory responses. Antioxidants The antioxidants in berries are thought to benefit brain function by protecting the brain from oxidative stress. Berries reduce inflammation that would

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