Post Birth Control Syndrome + 5 Steps to Balance Your Hormones After the Pill

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If you recently quit hormonal birth control, you’re probably going through a bit of hell right now. I know it’s not fair, but you are going through something called Post Birth Control Syndrome.

This withdrawal process from hormonal birth control (HBC) lasts anywhere from 6-12 months, and it peaks at month 6 (1). It’s usually around this time that you might feel like giving up and going back to the pill. But please stay strong and power through this phase, because if you do you will be rewarded.

So why is this happening?!

The reason you are suffering is because your body is detoxing from synthetic hormones. This also usually causes a surge in androgens which can cause acne and other PMS symptoms.

To make matters worse, since you haven’t ovulated or had a period all these years while taking hormonal birth control ( HBC shuts down ovulation, so you’ve really just been having a “withdrawal bleed” or “pill bleed”) you’ve been robbed from making the hormone progesterone.

Progesterone is literally nature’s chill pill, so trust me, you want this!

Calming you down is not all that this super hormone can do! Progesterone nourishes our hair and nails by reducing androgens (male hormones), as well as boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and the metabolism. And recent research has found that women who don’t ovulate experience bone loss at a faster rate than women who do ovulate, so progesterone is also a crucial component of preventing osteoporosis.

And since you haven’t been ovulating while taking hormonal birth control, it might take some time before your body starts ovulating and menstruating again.

So what is a “pill bleed”?

Pill bleeds are pharmaceutically induced bleeds that involve no hormone production on your end at all. So all of the “periods” you had while on hormonal birth control were just for show. Let me repeat, these “periods” were completely fake (exception being the Copper IUD and Mirena IUD. Read below for statistics).

Shocking, right?

When a women ovulates without the use of hormonal birth control, she creates progesterone and estradiol. These hormones have a multitude of benefits for your mood, bones, thyroid and metabolism. They’re pretty much essential for a women’s physiology. This means that women who take a form of hormonal birth control are robbed of these crucial hormones that keep us healthy and happy.

It’s one of the largest injustices to women’s health today, and it’s no wonder many women who take a form of hormonal birth control experience depression.

In October 2016 JAMA psychiatry released a study conducted by researches from the University of Copenhagen. In the study, titled “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression” they tracked one million women over the course of 13 years and concluded that women who use hormonal birth control are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression (2).

The fact that hormonal birth control is the most widely used form of contraception used today is infuriating. The practice is antiquated, and it’s time this harmful trend comes to an end.

Now is the time to take our reproductive system back into our own control. For the sake of our health, and the next generation’s. 

Common Symptoms of Post-Birth Control Syndrome Include:

  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation)
  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Infertility
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Acne
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Anxiety
  • Gas or bloating
  • Changes in bowels
  • Inflammation and other immune imbalances

So now the road to recovery begins.

Your 5 Step Plan When Coming Off The Birth Control Pill (or any other form of hormonal birth control):

1. Reestablish your natural hormonal rhythm.

Your hormones fluctuate during different times of your cycle.

There are four cycles:

  1. Menstruation–  Estrogen begins to increase and progesterone is low.
  2. Follicular Phase- Estrogen peaks, progesterone is low.
  3. Ovulation–  Estrogen begins to fall and progesterone peaks.
  4. Luteal Phase– Both estrogen and progesterone dip.

Even if you are not yet ovulating on your own, it is important to encourage the production of estrogen and progesterone at the right times of the month. This will help you eventually start to ovulate on your own.

Two methods to reestablish natural hormonal rhythms:

  1. Seed cycling. Seed cycling is one of the simplest and most effective holistic remedies for balancing hormones.This ancient technique helps restore the balance of  the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone by rotating certain seeds into your diet during the two different phases of your menstrual cycle (follicular and luteal phase).
  2. Vitex– Vitex is an herb that promotes ovulation by protecting your hypothalamus gland from stress and from preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Basically, it increases your levels of dopamine, which lowers your levels of prolactin, which makes your luteinizing hormone go up, and then makes you ovulate and make progesterone!

A note of caution about Vitex: Please do not use vitex until you’ve been off of hormonal birth control for at least three months. I recommend 1,000mg a day taken as a single dose first thing in the morning before breakfast. Stop taking it on days 1-5 of your cycle, and then start again. Discontinue use after six months. If you have PCOS please talk with a health care practitioner first, because it might not be the best choice.

2. Replenish nutrient stores.

Hormonal birth control causes leaky gut, preventing your body from absorbing all the nutrients from your food. As they say in Ayurveda “you are what you digest.”.

This is why women who come off hormonal birth control are deficient in nutrients and minerals such as zinc, B12, magnesium, D3, iodine and selenium-all nutrients necessary for ovarian health. So it’s imperative to replenish these levels ASAP.

3. Support detox pathways.

It’s important to open your detox pathways, as this is how you will flush out excess estrogen in the body, as well as all the synthetic hormones you’ve built up from the use of hormonal birth control . Ways to do this are by going on a cleanse like my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Program . Dandelion root tea, taking Glutothione, chlorella, and/or activated charcoal. NAC is also a great supplement. And of course, drink lots of water and eat plenty of liver supporting foods like broccoli sprouts, dandelion greens, beets, and cauliflower.

4. Rebuild your gut.

Most women’s gut post hormonal birth control is in a state of dysbiosis due to leaky gut. You must get your microbiome to a healthy state in order to start digesting and absorbing your food properly. Do this by taking probiotics, eating 2-3 servings of fermented foods daily, and drinking gut healing bone broth and collagen.

5. Nourish your thyroid

If you’re thyroid is not operating properly, it can prevent you from ovulating and having a healthy period. To support your thyroid, take 150 mcg of iodine daily (nothing more unless advised by a trained practitioner), and replenish your stores of selenium, 1-3 brazil nuts a day will do the trick, or 150 mcg in pill form daily. I encourage you to take a serum ferritin test and if your levels are too low (you want a level of 50-90 ng/ml) then supplement as needed.

Okay, I know this is a lot of information to absorb, and it might be overwhelming at first. But please be reassured that although it might seem like the end of the world, you can and WILL get through this.

And know that you are not alone. Please contact me today for a 30-minute consultation, so we can get you on my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Detox to get your hormones back on track, so you can start feeling the way you’re designed to- healthy, happy, and PMS free!

With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

* exceptions being the copper IUD which uses no hormones, and the Mirena IUD which has low levels of hormones. In the first year the Mirena suppresses ovulation in 85% of cycles , and in the second year 15% of cycles.

Sources:

  1. Briden, L. (n.d.). Period repair manual. p.34.
  2. Skovlund CW, Morch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard O, Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 1;73(11):1154-1162.PubMed PMID: 27680324.

Why a Juice Cleanse is Not the Answer

The new year is a great time because it inspires so many people to get healthy. Many of you might decide to kick off the new year with a juice cleanse. To be honest I’m not a big fan of juice cleanses as they’re very high in sugar. A few days might serve you but anything longer then that might not be the best option in supporting your weight loss and health goals.

I have clients who come to me wanting to try out different fad diets or expensive juice cleanses in the new year, and to be honest, I’m just not too thrilled about these at all. I like to pick a food plan based on the individual and their specific needs.

So what makes a successful new year health plan? One with the goal of DETOX.

But detoxing doesn’t just happen by doing a seven-day juice cleanse once a year. Sorry to let you down!

Why we have to detox:

If we aren’t properly detoxing on a daily basis by having 1-3 bowel movements a day (ideally at least 2), then excess estrogen builds up in the body creating a hormonal imbalance that leads to weight gain, painful periods, and if untreated manifests into even bigger health issues. Detoxing is important because it allows the body to cleanse of toxic metals or chemicals we are exposed to from our food, toiletries, plastic containers, etc. These metals and chemicals are stored in our fat, which is why losing extra fat is part of the process.

When it all boils down, the less fat you have, the fewer toxins.

But as I said earlier, following a juice cleanse once a year for one week is not going to do the trick. This is because there are two different detox pathways which need to be supported in order to cleanse. And a juice cleanse is only supporting one of them.

The Two Detox Phases:

Phase One:

In phase one, oxygen and enzymes oxidize toxins. Over 100 enzymes are involved, and the results are STILL toxic until flushed out by Phase Two of the detox phase.

This means that if you are only doing a juice cleanse, then all of those toxins are now even more toxic, and even worse, still hanging out in your body doing damage!

This is why it’s important to follow a plan that also supports Phase Two.

Phase Two:

The damaging chemicals from Phase One are now combined with sulfur, amino acids, plus organic acids to be excreted as bile. We get these elements (fiber being one of the key ingredients) from eating whole foods.

So what would an example of a Phase One and Two Detox Look like?

Day 1-3 PHASE ONE: If you are doing a juice cleanse, keep it short. I recommend 3 days max. Or even better yet, just do a simple fast that incorporates Bulletproof coffee , water and apple cider vinegar, and/or bone broth for the first 3 days. You can still have full-fat coconut milk, coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee in your tea or coffee. This will help keep you full.

Days 4-10 PHASE TWO: After your days of fasting, you will then begin to eat gentle, whole foods. Think plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, moderate protein, and lots of water. Nothing from a package, no sugar, and absolutely no alcohol or pain medicine (headaches are common during detoxes, but you just have to be strong). Notice I didn’t say you have to cut out caffeine! I’m a big fan of coffee, matcha, and green tea (if it’s organic and high quality) as they are full of polyphenols and antioxidants. But if you wish to cut out the caffeine then please do so! But if you are suffering from HPA Axis Dysfunction, it’s best to cut out caffeine entirely.

Methods to get better results from your detox:

1. Supplement with Glutathione or NAC.

2. Drink dandelion root tea (drink this everyday for 14 days) This will support your liver.

3. Take chlorella

4. Take epsom salt baths and/or sit in an infrared sauna to help draw out toxins.

5. Take one tablespoon of grass fed ghee or coconut oil in the morning, and two tablespoons of high quality olive oil before going to bed. This will help carry toxins out of the body.

And if you are looking for a cleanse program that is already planned out,  with all the products mailed to your home, and includes whole foods and my support, then I encourage you to sign up for my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Detox, or 40-Day Ultimate Nutrition Program.

xxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Cleansing Cucumber Juice

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Cucumber juice is one of the most effective ways to hydrate, cleanse and alkalize the body. It’s the perfect tonic for losing weight and alleviating digestive problems like bloating, heartburn and indigestion. Sometimes I juice straight cucumber and add it to my water throughout the day with a squeeze of lemon.

Today I made a sweet potion with cucumber, lemon, ginger and apple. I recommend this juice any time you are feeling bloated, or feel the need for cleansing after a day of indulgence. It’s a great juice to have daily, as it will keep you hydrated and feeling groovy, and is the perfect juice to add to any detox.

Ingredients:

  •  2 large peeled cucumbers
  • 1/2 green apple 🍏
  • 1 lemon 🍋
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger

Happy Juicing!

Health Coach Jenna

 

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Energy Zinger Juice

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI’m not a coffee drinker anymore!! I know I feel just as weird typing it as it sounds..

I started drinking coffee at the age of 5 when I would sneak the last sips of my mom’s cup. It was love at first sip, and I was drinking a cup every morning by the time I was 9! This carried on and coffee has always been a huge part of my life. It took an even bigger role when I became an Ashtanga yoga practitioner, because it helped provide energy for waking up at 4 AM.

But just this year, at 30, I had a huge WAKE UP call. My hormones were not balanced. My cortisol levels were high and my progesterone low. No Bueno. So I had to have an intervention with myself and stop the coffee.

I transitioned to green tea for 3 days, then cut all caffeine out for 10 days, and coffee for a complete month. I’m not gonna lie, the headaches were AWFUL. But after 3 days I was fine. And you know what? I have more energy now then ever! An energy that just feels natural, not artificial. I now drink hot cacao or matcha before my yoga practice, and my magic drink in post practice.

The juice pictured here was a saving grace when I was having withdraws from coffee, and I still drink it almost daily in lieu of a cup of Jo. I call it the Energy Zinger.

Energy Zinger Ingredients:

  • 4 -6 carrots depending on size
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 1/2 green apple
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger root
  • 1 inche piece of peeled turmeric root
  • 1 lemon or lime

Juice and enjoy the natural buzz! I like to enjoy mine in the afternoon, as it gives me a nice little pick me up.

Have you recently quit coffee? What are some methods that helped you with the transition? I would love to hear any tips, so put em’ in the comment section below!

xx

Health Coach Jenna

Your Quick Guide To Juicing

I love juicing. So much so, that I actually think I could drink my body weight in cold pressed juice. As a health coach, juicing is one of the top practices I would love to see my clients adopt, as it is the ideal way to consume the recommended daily serving of vegetables, and is a fast track to an overall sense of wellbeing.

Why should you juice?

1. Nutrient Dense

Juicing eliminates all the fiber and pulp, leaving you with a glass of nutrient dense vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Think of it as a shot of goodness that is instantly absorbed into your bloodstream. Store-bought juices do not offer the same benefits, because most of the nutrients are lost during the pasteurization process.

 2. Health Benefits

Juicing improves your energy levels, digestion and mental clarity. You will also notice clearer skin, weight loss, an improved immune system, and an overall sense of feeling groovy.

Added bonus, juicing is alkalizing.

 3. Efficient

Juicing is an efficient use of your body’s energy, as it separates the fiber and pulp from produce, which gives your digestive system a break from processing all of the fiber and pulp. This is a good thing, because it gives your cells time to rest and repair.

It’s also an ideal way to get a variety of fruits and veggies into your diet.

Okay, so I get it. Juicing is awesome. But should I juice fruit or veggies?

If you only take one thing away from this article, please take away this:

You should juice your veggies and eat your fruits.

I mentioned earlier that juicing separates the fiber from the juice. This is a good thing in the case of veggies, but for fruits it is not. The fiber in fruits makes it possible for the body to process the high amounts of sugar found in fruits. Without the fiber, your body is getting a shot of sugar that is instantly absorbed, resulting in a spiked blood sugar level. You do not want this.

However, it is okay to juice a few low glycemic fruits to sweeten the taste of your veggie juice. The golden rule is 1 part fruit to 3 parts vegetable.An example would be an apple with celery, kale, lemon, beet, and ginger root (click HERE for a list of  low glycemic fruits).

As for veggies to juice, think rainbow foods. I recommend as many dark green leafy vegetables as possible. Beets,carrots, cucumbers, broccoli stems, ginger root, and celery are excellent as well. Buy your produce fresh and juice within three days. A great way to keep your leafy greens fresh is to rinse right before consuming. Another trick is to line your refrigerator’s crisper drawer with paper towels to absorb excess moisture, which will keep them fresh longer.

What juicer should I use?

I recommend a cold press juicer because it lasts longer with enzymes staying active for up to 72 hours. Although more expensive, cold press juicers offer a higher juice yield (up to 35-50%), which ends up saving you money over the long run. Additionally, cold press juicers operate at a lower speed, which preserves more nutrients and enzymes. Another perk is that the juicing process is quiet.

I personally like Hurom juicers; they are the original and best slow juicer on the market hands down. Hurom juicers naturally press fruit and veggies without heat or friction, resulting in healthy, fresh juice that tastes divine. They are also durable enough to make nut milks, are 100% BPA free, and come with a 10-year warranty.

Of course, any kind of juicing is better than no juicing at all. So if the Hurom seems like too big of an investment right now,  I suggest finding a juicer that fits into your current price range and starting out there (Williams- Sonoma has a good variety of juicers starting  at US$100). Chances are you will become hooked and will want to step up your game in the long run.

Happy juicing!

Health Coach Jenna

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The Kiwi Kick!

TheKiwiKickGreen smoothies don’t have to be boring or taste like a garden! The Kiwi Kick is packed full of nutrients, vitamins, greens, and healthy fats that will provide your mind and body with a steady stream of energy throughout the morning, and keep you satisfied until lunch. Even better, the ginger, cayenne pepper, chia seeds, and greens work to eliminate toxins from the body.

Yes, please!

The Kiwi Kick:

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen kiwi
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • handful of ice cubes
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 2 cups spinach or kale
  • 4 half pieces of walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

For an Optional Power Boost Add:

  • 1 scoop plant based protein powder (Non-GMO please!)
  • 1 teaspoon of chlorella powder which alkalizes the body, resulting in more oxygen giving you better skin, easier weight loss, and more energy.

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients into a blender, pour into your favorite smoothie glass, and enjoy.

Cheers!

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Kitchari

kitchari copyKitchari, a combination of rice and mung beans, is used in Ayurveda for cleansing the system. It is easy to prepare, and its balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat makes for an easy-to-digest yet highly nourishing meal.

In addition to being delicious, kitchari is also used to cleanse. To find out how to start a kitchari cleanse click HERE.

Kitchari:

Bean soaking time: 2 hours

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 4

  • 1 cup basmati or brown rice
  • 1/2 cup mung beans
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (if your dosha is pitta leave this out)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water

1. Soak the beans in a bowl with water for 2 hours, then drain and rinse.

2. Boil the beans in water for 30 minutes and drain excess liquid.

3. Heat the ghee or oil in a deep pan over medium heat.

4. Add mustard and cumin seeds and stir until they pop, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the rice, beans, turmeric and salt and stir.

6. Add the 4 cups water and bring to a boil.

7. Reduce heat, cover most of the way, and simmer 25 minutes, until rice and beans are cooked.

Tip: Add any vegetables you like to the pot while the rice and beans are cooking.

Chia Seed Pudding

This delicious breakfast treat (or after-dinner snack) includes chia seeds, a  plant food that helps to draw out toxins from the liver. Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, and Omega 3’s so they make you feel full and satiated.

It’s the perfect breakfast meal for those on the go!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yields:  3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄4 cups coconut milk (I prefer coconut milk) or nut milk (homemade nut milk recipes here: www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/delicious-nut-milk-recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • goji berries, cocao nibs (optional)

Directions:

  • In a large jar, combine all of the ingredients and shake well.
  • Pour the mixture into 3 small bowls or glasses and refrigerate until it thickens into a pudding-like consistency, about 30 minutes.
  • Garnish with goji berries, cocao nibs, or whatever else you fancy! Have fun with it.

This is a delicious treat and keeps in the fridge for 1 week.