I am often asked why I am so passionate about hormone balance in women and dedicate the majority of my work to this.
In my opinion, hormones are the foundation of health. If we use the analogy of building a house, the food you eat, your sleep, exercising and supplements are your bricks, but even with the best bricks in the world, if your foundations (hormones) are ‘shaky,’ then you won’t be able to build the house well.
When we talk about hormones, people often just think about male or female sex hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone – but there are numerous hormones that affect our systems such as cortisol, the stress hormone, insulin which controls blood sugars and is very inflammatory to the body in high levels, and thyroid hormones that can affect mood, energy and weight. All these hormones are part of what we call endocrine systems, and a deficiency or imbalance in one of them can have an impact on the other hormones too.
My work involves assessing patient’s hormone balance by looking at their symptoms and blood tests. I like to look at all the hormones mentioned above as they all interact with each other. My aim is to balance a patient’s blood sugars, sex hormones, reduce inflammation by keeping inflammatory hormones such as cortisol and insulin in balance, and make sure the thyroid hormones are in balance, as this impacts weight and energy. I use nutrition, implementing exercise regimens, improving sleep and methods of managing stress to help improve my patients’ lives and long term health.
Did you know that a large study by the Endocrine Society showed that taking hormone replacement therapy at the point of menopause reduced the participants all-cause mortality by 40% compared to women who didn’t take any hormones? Hormones are good and they can improve your cardiovascular, neurological and bone health, as well as help with energy, sleep, mood, memory, focus, sex drive, hair and skin.
The reason I spend a lot of my time working with menopausal women is because I feel that women are really valuable members of society. A woman in her 50s is probably more valuable than a woman in her 20s, due to her life experience and wisdom. Yet society continues to judge women mainly on their looks and weight in a way that doesn’t seem to happen to men. We need to break down the barriers around menopause and stop seeing women as ‘washed up’ as they age.
I will never forget a powerful woman in her 50s who works in the City of London in Finance. She told me about giving a big presentation to her colleagues when she suddenly had a flush and felt her face turn red and the sweat drip down her forehead. She could see her male colleagues in their 20s sniggering at her. Hearing about this degrading and humiliating experience from a brilliant, bright woman made me vow to help as many strong, powerful, wise women as possible. You should not be judged by age and hormonal state.
Some women feel they have to just suffer at this time of life, or see taking hormones as a failure. Studies show that taking hormones at the start of menopause benefit a woman not only in terms of symptoms, but in terms of cardiovascular health, bone density and neurological health. Hormones should not be feared, but you do need to see an expert who understands the evidence and can help you weigh the pros and cons.
Over the next few months, I will share how to use nutrition and supplements to help hormone balance in women. We will discuss which lifestyle changes will help, and what the different hormones do. I look forward to being of service to you and answering your hormonal questions!
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