As we step into a new year, it's an ideal opportunity to refresh and recommit to our well-being. Life is full of twists and turns, and sometimes, amidst the hustle, our health goals take a backseat, allowing a few unhealthy habits to sneak in. However, now is the perfect moment to regain control and make a conscious decision for a fresh start. If you're determined to prioritize your health and well-being, let's explore some effective strategies for fostering healthy hormones and cultivating positive habits.
To make these practices easier to implement, we recommend that you start with the things to reduce or avoid and then build on to them with new practices to implement. Or, if it’s easier to add something in, get that boost to your health for the New Year and then ride it to the point of cutting out some unhealthy habits.
REDUCE OR STOP
1. Ditch the alcohol
Consider giving your body a break and reducing your alcohol intake or dropping the drink entirely for a while. Given time, this may improve your egg quality too. Soda is not going to be a super healthy replacement for your hydration, so consider water, seltzer, and unsweetened tea. For the weekends, opt for a healthy mocktail - we have some great ones on our social media posts.
2. Stress less
The festive season often ushers in additional stress, a factor that can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which are detrimental to reproductive health. Inflammation and hormonal imbalances often accompany heightened stress levels. Brief episodes of intense stress may impact a specific menstrual cycle or even a couple of them, potentially causing delays in ovulation. However, prolonged stress can exert consistent pressure on your endocrine functions."
Some practical ways to reduce stress are to:
- Reduce the amount of time spent on social media
- Turning off all devices for a set amount of time every day,
- Getting some time outdoors in the natural light,
- And meditation.
Prayer or meditation can be wonderfully calming, as can a good soak in the tub or a mindful walk outside. In fact, exercise is a great stress-buster, and moderate exercise is excellent for your hormonal health. (Too much exercise or too strenuous exercise isn’t so good for you in that respect, so you might be happy to hear me say "You shouldn’t overdo it".)
START OR ADD
3. Start a seed fund
4. Food is medicine
Maybe you’re not interested in seed cycling but want to look at your diet to improve hormonal health. In general, you’ll want foods with lots of natural folate, vitamins, and healthy fats. Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower are all good contenders for folate. Cauliflower has folate, B6 and fatty acids too, which can also be found in various seeds. (Did I mention you may want to try seed cycling?)
Vitamin D is vital to hormonal health and much of the population has sub-optimal levels. If you’re supplementing vitamin D (as many may want to do especially over the winter), don’t forget you need good magnesium levels to process that vitamin D and avoid muscle cramps!
If you have PCOS and need to manage your insulin levels, make the switch to healthy carbs. Beans, brown rice, apples, and some other whole fruits are examples of healthy carbs, as well as berries. Don’t forget to combine them with protein! Along with fiber, of course, protein with your carbs will help balance your blood sugar.
Do some research, consult with your trusted healthcare provider, and see what healthy foods you can add to your diet. Your body will thank you.
5. Got milk?
This change is especially for those looking to conceive this year. There is evidence showing that the addition of some servings of full fat dairy positively affect cycles and fertility. If you’re lactose or dairy intolerant, this won’t be for you, but if you digest dairy well, then whole milk, whole plain yogurt, kefir and cheese are great options. If you’re due for a sweet treat, you could even consider a little ice cream as your fertility dairy serve of the day. You can look into the Harvard Fertility Diet for a rundown of this approach.
And a BONUS option to consider!
6. Track your ovulation
Did you know that tracking your cycle does more than just help you plan pregnancies? It can also be a useful way of monitoring your health. Charting basal body temperature (BBT) can help clue you in if you’re not ovulating, if you have a fever, or if your thyroid is out of whack. Tracking cervical fluid observations alongside your BBT can give you insight into your hormone levels (specifically estrogen and progesterone levels).
Improving your hormone health starts with knowing yourself. You already know yourself pretty well (you’ve had your body a while now), but tracking your cycle can provide greater self-knowledge in some remarkable ways!