Why Your Period is Not the Most Important Part of Your Menstrual Cycle

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Don’t get me wrong, periods are amazing. As a women’s health coach specializing in hormonal health, I’m a huge fan. But sometimes, we get so caught up with our monthly bleed that we forget about the most important aspect of our cycle.

Ovulation.

We only experience a true menstrual cycle after ovulation, and this is only possible when our endocrine and reproductive systems are working properly. This is why anovulatory cycles (a bleed that occurs without ovulation) are an early warning sign of an underlying health problem.

Ovulation usually happens mid-cycle, except for ladies on hormonal birth control. Women on birth control do not ovulate nor have a period; instead they experience what is called a “withdrawal bleed.” The exception to this is sometimes the Mirena IUD, as 85% of women using the Mirena will ovulate by the second year.

Some women who do not take hormonal birth control can still experience anovulatory cycles due to various hormone imbalances caused by factors such as diet, lifestyle, and stress.

Side Note: If your cycle is longer than 36 days, you likely either experienced delayed ovulation, or did not ovulate at all.


3 Reasons Why Ovulation is Critical

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1. Fertility:

You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate, so if pregnancy is on your agenda, ovulation microis a necessity! Even if you aren’t planning for a family now (or maybe ever), you should still want to be fertile because it’s an indicator of good health.

Side Note: I recommend the Fertility Awareness Method (no it’s not the Rhythm Method!) for both pregnancy planning or avoidance. The Daysy thermometer is an excellent device for women not yet fully confident in their charting skills. If you’d like to learn more about charting, then pick up Lisa Hendrickson-Jack’s new book “The Fifth Vital Sign.”

2. Healthy Periods

Each month when you ovulate, a corpus luteum is created and it grows on the surface of your ovary. This is where all of your progesterone is produced.

Cool, huh?!

Progesterone is responsible for lightening your periods, as it counteracts the effects of estrogen. If you are not ovulating, you won’t experience this surge in progesterone, and will most likely be in a state of estrogen dominance, which is a big culprit of heavy and painful periods.

Adequate levels of progesterone are also needed for a healthy luteal phase, and low levels can result in a Luteal Phase Defect (a luteal phase of 10 days or less). Oftentimes, this phenomenon is caused by stress and/or nutrient deficiencies. Stay tuned for some ways to boost progesterone later in the article!

3Healthy Body and Mind

Progesterone is the calming hormone that helps us stay resilient against stress and also healthy1helps us sleep well. This is why women who don’t ovulate (especially women with PCOS) can often suffer from anxiety.

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.

Signs of a Progesterone Deficiency

  • PCOS
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • PMS
  • Hair loss
  • Premenstrual migraines
  • Heavy periods
  • Fibroids
  • Acne
  • Osteoporosis

So how can we boost progesterone?

First of all, by ovulating! But in the meantime, read on for some effective strategies to boost progesterone naturally.

5 Tips to Boost Progesterone

1. Vitamin C

I usually recommend 1,000 mg a day to my clients. Not only has Vitamin C been shown to increase progesterone levels, but it has also been shown to reduce stress, which lowers cortisol. High cortisol will rob the body’s ability to make progesterone, so we really want to keep cortisol and stress levels balanced.

2. Healthy Fats

We need adequate amounts of healthy fats in our diets because all steroid hormones are formed from pregnenolone, which is made from cholesterol. Ideal sources are pasturedavo eggs, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, wild caught salmon, and grass-fed animal protein.

Healthy fats also decrease inflammation, which in turn decreases the release of harmful chemicals in our bodies which can increase cortisol levels and inhibit ovulation.

Bonus: Healthy fats will make your hair and skin glow!

3. Eat Your Greens

We need B-complex vitamins as they are essential for hormone regulation. Leafy greens are high in these B-complex vitamins, so aim to get 2-4 cups of cooked and raw greens into your diet daily. Great options include spinach, watercress, broccoli sprouts, kale, dandelion greens, bok choy and arugula.

4. Vitex (Chasteberry)

Vitex is an herb that promotes ovulation by protecting your hypothalamus gland from stress and preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Basically, it increases your levels of dopamine, which lowers your levels of prolactin. This ultimately makes your luteinizing hormone go up, which then makes you ovulate and produce 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 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.

5. Seed Syncing (Seed Cycling)

Seed syncing is an ancient technique that can be used to bring back the balance of estrogen and progesterone. This method of seed rotation works by boosting estrogen levels in the first part of the cycle and progesterone levels in the second part.

The high contents of zinc in sesame seeds and vitamin E in sunflower seeds have been shown to stimulate progesterone production. By adding two tablespoons of sesame and sunflower seeds per day  in the luteal phase, we can naturally support our body’s ability to produce more progesterone.


 

 

Harmful Chemicals are Destroying Your Hormones. Here’s What You Can Do.

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What we eat is crucial to building balanced hormones, but what’s equally important are our beauty products, toiletries and household cleansers!

Our toiletries and cleansers tend to get overlooked, yet the play a crucial part in causing painful periods and serious hormonal imbalances because of the harmful chemicals they contain called endocrine disrupters.

Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, or elimination of the body’s natural hormones, and they’re seriously bad news bears for all of human kind. These endocrine disruptors mimic your hormones, and cause you to be estrogen dominant.

About 90% of the clients I see are estrogen dominant, and this is due to the increasingly toxic world we live in.

(This is why it’s imperative to do at least one cleanse a year to get rid of built up toxins like glyphosate in the body.)

Signs of estrogen dominance are painful periods, bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, moodiness, PMS, fatigue, weight gain, short luteal phase, infertility.

The majority of toiletries and household cleansing products on the shelves today contain xenoestrogens. These xenoestrogens mimic the functions of our natural estrogens and interrupt our hormone balance creating symptoms such as heavy periods, PMS, estrogen dominance, fibroids, etc.

Our skin has tiny pores all over the body, which are like tiny mouths after all! So it’s important to use natural and chemical free products! It’s also important to use household cleansers that do not have harmful chemicals as well.

Balance Your Hormones by Avoiding these Chemicals:

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Glyphosate

Glyphosate has been shown to cause cancer, research is linking it to autism, and the EU deemed it so dangerous they banned it for use in crops. My hope is that one day soon it will be banned in the U.S., but for now as consumers we must be proactive to avoid ingesting it.

Most tampons and pads are made from GMO cotton, so they contain glyphosate, and you do not want this stuff inside your vagina! Instead, opt for a menstrual cup like SAALT, or period panties like THINX, or organic, non-bleached tampons or pads.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

To avoid BPA we must avoid foods packaged in aluminum and plastic (BPA free is okay but aim for glass or stainless steel when possible). Always opt for glass Tupperware, and only drink out of stainless steel, glass, or BPA free plastic water bottles.

Phthalates and Parabens

The products you use to clean your bathroom and household are potential stressors to your health. New scientific research shows that many of the chemicals found in everyday house-cleaning products are bio-accumulative and very toxic, which means that once in your system, they stay in your system and allow for increased free radical damage, which makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Ready to throw things out now?

Find your bleach products, Comet, Ajax, Windex, Lysol, air fresheners, Glade Plug- Ins, cute toilet bowl cleaners, and talc-based baby power. Throw them in a garbage bag and toss them out!

Safe Household Cleansing Alternatives:

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  • Seventh Generation line of cleaning products. You can find this at some grocery stores, Target, and any Whole Foods.
  • DoTerra On Guard house cleanser
  • Arm and Hammer baking powder in replacement of Ajax or Comet
  • Hydrogen peroxide in place of Windex
  • White vinegar instead of bleach (it’s a great grease cutter)
  • Dr. Bronner’s

White Vinegar All Purpose Cleaning Recipe:

  1. In a spray bottle fill with half white vinegar and half water
  2. Put in 15 drops essential orange oil and 10 drops tea tree oil

Safe Toiletry and Beauty Product Alternatives

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  • Makeup: the average women puts 5 pounds of makeup on her face in a year so it’s crucial that you’re using a chemical free brand such as Beauty Counter.
  • Lotions: Throw them away! Instead try extra virgin coconut oil with essential oils.
  • Toothpaste: swap for natural brands like Earthpaste and Jason’s.
  • Deodorant with antiperspirant: ditch the antiperspirant and switch to a natural deodorant such as Oars and Alps. Their deodorant offers excellent coverage, and I love their Deep Sea Glacier scent!
  • Bodywash- I’m a fan of Oars and Alps activated charcoal soap in peppermint. It also contains spirulina and shea butter so it leaves your skin feeling smooth. It also makes for a great face wash as the activated charcoal is exfoliating.

As you can see, one must be proactive to reducing exposure to these hormone disrupting chemicals. But the good news is if you support your body, it will support you!

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons to Add Turmeric Into Your Diet

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From curing the common cold to preventing or fighting against cancer, turmeric is an essential spice that you should become familiar with. With a long history of being used in traditional medicines such as ancient India’s Ayurveda, it has lately become more recognized in western practices – it’s really no surprise that it is currently the most studied spice on the planet.

Turmeric is one of my favorite natural remedies for treating PMS, painful periods, PCOS, endometriosis, and basically any type of inflammation.

I try to drink a warm cup of turmeric milk (aka “Golden Milk”) everyday. I especially make sure I get my cup in when studying yoga in India, as it’s nature’s best anti-inflammatory, helping relieve any general aches and pains. Plus, it’s really delicious – making it a nice treat before bed. I also put it in my warm lemon water in the mornings.

Healing Properties of Turmeric:

1. Cancer fighter.

2. Reduces symptoms of depression.

3. Cures the common cold.

4. Relieves arthritis pain.

5. Balances Hormones.

6. Relieves general aches and pains in the body.

7. Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

8. Lowers cholesterol.

9. Alleviates allergies.

10. Helps wounds heal faster.

And these are just a tip of the iceberg of all the healing properties of turmeric.

Alright, so now that you know how AMAZING turmeric is, are you ready to get more of this amazing spice into your diet?

(Pssst…if you don’t think you’re gonna eat it everyday you can also take this magical stuff in capsule form!)

One of my favorite ways to get turmeric daily is with turmeric milk, also known as “Golden Milk”.

Turmeric Milk Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of coconut milk (or your dairy-free milk of choice) 
  • 1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder OR one half-inch fresh turmeric thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder OR one half-inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • A dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • Honey to taste (use local if possible – this will also help with allergies and do not add to the milk when it is HOT, as this turns the honey toxic. Wait until it is warm.)

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the honey) into a blender.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute.
  3. Pour mixture into saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Bring to boil.
  5. Turn off heat, cover, and allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Add honey.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Alternatively, if you do not have a blender, skip steps one and two and combine all ingredients in a saucepan. If you are using fresh ginger and turmeric, use a strainer to filter them out before serving.

In addition to drinking turmeric milk, I also cook with turmeric as much as possible. There are tons of delicious recipes out there ranging from coconut curries to lentil soups. Here is a list of some goodies:

Curry Cream of Carrot Soup 

Turmeric Spiced Rice 

Spiced Kale Scramble 

Creamy Pumpkin Curry 

However you choose to get your daily dose of turmeric, make sure to ingest it after it has been heated. This is why drinking it in a warm beverage or cooking with it is best, as the heat activates the turmeric. Also, adding freshly ground black pepper boosts turmeric absorption by 2,000%! You can also increase turmeric’s healing properties by mixing it with a healthy fat such as ghee or coconut oil.

And guess what? Turmeric milk checks off all of the above!

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

Natural Remedies for Fibroids

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70% of women will experience fibroids in their lives before the age of 50 and they are also 2 to 3 times more likely to form in African American women.

Fibroids can be quite painful, while some women don’t even feel them at all.

Symptoms of fibroids:

💥Pressure in the pelvis resulting in constipation or frequent urination
💥Heavy or prolonged bleeding
💥Severe cramping during period
💥Spotting in between periods

So why do we get them?  Well, fibroids are dependent entirely on our hormones!

Yup.

Fibroids have a high amount of estrogen and progesterone receptors. This results in the tissue being very sensitive to estrogen, but at the same time it can’t regulate its estrogen response which is why often times they can grow quite large!

We live in an estrogen dominant world, and most women I see in my practice have this hormonal imbalance.

Note, you don’t have to have high estrogen levels to have estrogen dominance!!!

It’s all about your estrogen to progesterone ratio. So if your progesterone is low and your estrogen is in normal range, you can still have estrogen dominance! .

This biggest culprits to estrogen dominance and fibroids are:

💥Poor estrogen metabolism- if you can’t clear out excess estrogen then this will result in estrogen dominance. Some women have a more difficult time than others due to factors such as the MTHFR gene or fatty liver.

💥High body fat- fat stores and produces estrogen so the more fat you have, the more estrogen you will have.

💥Xenoestrogens- exposure to harmful hormone mimicking toxins that are found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, synthetic hormones as is found in birth control and hormones found in conventional meat and dairy will create excess estrogen in the body.

Natural Remedies for Fibroids:

1️⃣Support your detox pathways

You can do this by cleaning up your toiletries and household products so as to reduce xenoestrogen exposure. Our toiletries and cleansers tend to get overlooked, yet the play a crucial part in causing painful periods and serious hormonal imbalances because of harmful chemicals called endocrine disrupters.

Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, or elimination of the body’s natural hormones, and they’re seriously bad news bears for all of human kind. These endocrine disruptors mimic your hormones, and cause you to be estrogen dominant. About 90% of the clients I see are estrogen dominant, and this is due to the increasingly toxic world we live in.

In addition, you can take a methlated spectrum B vitamin to further support your methylation cycle, and eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables to flush out estrogen.

This is why I always recommend my clients take a fiber blend, as it binds to estrogen to help flush it out. This is my number one go-to for my clients with Endometriosis and fibroids (use the code “HealthierNotions” for $50 off your purchase.)

DIM is a powerful supplement that will flush out excess estrogen and my clients who take this see results in as little as one month, but I recommend talking to your healthcare practitioner before going on it.

Also, make sure any animal products you eat are from clean sources as YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT EATS. So if you’re eating factory farmed animals or animal by products full of synthetic hormones and antibiotics, you’re being exposed to them, too.
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2️⃣Castor Oil Packs- .

These will help improve your circulation which will help break up scar tissue and reduce your fibroids. They also relax the whole body-trust me and try it! They’re like taking a chill pill and hitting the reset button. Do these about three times a week for 30 minutes to an hour.

3️⃣Reduce inflammatory foods

Inflammatory foods are like adding fuel to the fibroid fire!

We want to bring down inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods that give you a healthy ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. So fill up your diet with fish oil, flax oil, avocados, coconut oil, and nuts.

Avoid gluten (this one is non-negotiable!!), sugar, and dairy (butter is okay from grass-fed cows, as is full fat cream but in moderation. Some women are okay with sheep and goat milk products because they are lactose free). Consider adding turmeric into your diet or taking a supplement, but make sure it contains black pepper!

And if you are ready to start reducing those fibroids ASAP I encourage you to join my 20 Day Hormone Reboot Online Program!

5 Ways Stress is Messing with Your Hormones+ How to Manage It

Pensive woman in bedGuest post by Kayla Cluett, CHN

The adrenal glands are amazing. They are small but incredibly mighty and critical for the health of our entire organism. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked when it comes to many of the health conditions we are faced with today.

Adrenal hormones are the major response of the body to stress or trauma from outside or within. The 5 main stressors are mental, emotional, spiritual, chemical, and physical and the body cannot decipher between them. The body sees all stress equally and often we are responding to multiple threats at once. This causes our bucket to spill over and symptoms to occur.

These symptoms show up in the form of reproductive problems, digestive disturbances, cardiovascular and metabolic issues.

The adrenals take priority above all the other hormones in the body.

When the adrenals are needed to respond to stress, other areas of the endocrine system take a back seat. When this becomes chronic, hormone imbalances occur.

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Here are 5 ways stress throws our hormones out of whack:

1. When stress in high progesterone is low. Low progesterone means estrogen dominance. Estrogen is pro-growth which leaves us susceptible to problems such as endometriosis, breast cysts, fibroids, and even breast cancer.

2. Cortisol stimulates an elevation in blood sugar, which over time can create insulin resistance.

3. It stimulates fat deposits. This is what gives us that spare tire and midsection squish that we could live without. Fat is metabolically active and this puts more demands on our hormones.

4. The adrenals become very important during menopause as they become the primary producer of the sex hormones. If the adrenals are fatigued prior menopause, this could leave us prone to menopausal symptoms and susceptible to things like osteoporosis and hormonal cancers later in life.

5. Cortisol slows the conversion of T4 to T3 (thyroid hormones). T3 affects almost every physiological function in the body.

So how do we take care of our adrenal health?

Managing stress is of the upmost importance, and we can do this through dietary and lifestyle strategies.

Here are some dietary and lifestyle strategies to consider:

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Dietary

• Avoiding blood sugar swings by limiting coffee and caffeine products. Switch to green tea instead. Green tea contains L-theanine which provides a calming effect and helps balance moods.

• Limit alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol is a stimulant and not helpful for the adrenals.

• Get plenty of omega 3 in the form of seeds and cold-water fish. Omega 3 is needed to protect against the effects of stress. Omega 3 has been shown to be effective at decreasing epinephrine, cortisol and energy expenditure.

• Get plenty of prebiotic and probiotic foods. These foods help the adrenals by helping to lower cortisol and anxiety.

• B Vitamin-rich foods such as whole grains and legumes. This helps to regulate blood sugar and neurotransmitters. They also nourish the gut which plays a huge role in adrenal function.

• Vitamin C-rich foods such as orange and red vegetables and fruits. Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood serum levels of cortisol and improve cortisol recovery.

• Magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy green vegetables and almonds. Low magnesium increases the release of stress hormones and further depletes it, especially under stress.

• Eat chocolate! Eating 40g of dark chocolate over a two week period was shown to reduce the urinary excretion of cortisol and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism.

• Keeping blood sugar balanced by getting plenty of protein, fat and fiber at each meal. This keeps us fuller longer and prevents the hypoglycemic episodes that put pressure on the adrenals.

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Lifestyle:

• Implementing calming rituals as a daily practice (yoga, massage, deep breathing, connecting to self through movement or meditation).

• Reducing toxin exposures through switching to cleaner cosmetics and household cleaning products.

• Removing emotional and mental stressors.

• Getting plenty of good quality sleep.

• Nurturing relationships and connection.

• Creating space to work on personal development and a sense of accomplishment.

• Having a positive outlook.

• Learning to say no to the things that add stress to your life.

Although it’s not possible to avoid stress entirely, and in fact some stress can be beneficial, there’s many things we can do to be mindful of it and manage it. It’s a matter of creating a daily practice that works for you.

Bottom line though, if we keep trying to pour from an empty cup we leave ourselves susceptible to burn-out and unwanted symptoms. Making dietary and lifestyle adjustments that promote peace and relaxation is a critical step in prevention.

About the author:

E5R5A42991Kayla Cluett is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Practitioner helping women to balance their hormones, so they can reduce the pesky symptoms that come with the demands and stressors of everyday life. She’ll teach you strategic dietary and lifestyle strategies that will help support and balance key body systems to help your body thrive. You’ll lose weight, kick our cravings, improve your energy and mental clarity without feeling like you’re on a diet, deprived or hungry. You can find her at kaylacluettnutrition.com and follow her on Instagram @kaylacluettnutrition.

 

How to Banish the PMS Blues

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As women we are vulnerable to the “PMS Blues”. This is a time when we’re prone to mood swings, bloating, swollen breasts, irritability, acne, headaches, and cramps.

But this can be avoided!

PMS and PMDD happens in our luteal phase (post-ovulation) because our estrogen drops during this time, and it brings serotonin down with it.

Serotonin makes us feel happy and keeps our mood balanced. This is the reason SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used to treat PMS and PMDD.

But there are better solutions!

During the approximate two weeks of our luteal phase, we need to be extra careful to eat less or no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and reduce or exposure to stress, or more importantly control our reaction to stress (I know HA! but where there is a will there is a way!).

What you eat in the last two weeks of your cycle makes or breaks you girls! 

In your Follicular Phase (pre-ovulatory) you can get away with more alcohol, caffeine and salty foods because your high estrogen levels keep you more insulin sensitive which regulates your blood sugar.

In your Luteal Phase you are more insulin resistant and need to be careful with the sugar and carbs, and if you don’t want to feel like the Goodyear Blimp leading up to our during your period, you must dramatically cut your salt intake.

2 Steps to work towards beating PMS in your Luteal phase:

1.Stress Reduction

Schedule in time for an Epsom salt bath, get a massage (or whatever type of self-care you enjoy) as much as you can during the Luteal Phase, especially in the week leading up to menstruation.

2. Eat clean

Your diet will make or break you during this phase. Focus on higher protein and healthy fats (to reduce cravings), and make sure your carbs are coming from complex sources such as sweet potatoes or potatoes instead of breads and pastas. Eliminate sugar, alcohol and salty foods, and keep caffeine intake low.

And if you feel like your period is just one crazy roller coaster ride of PMS, pain, headaches, and mood swings, then let’s put an end to that NOW.  Sign up for my 20-Day Hormone Reboot online program, so you achieve glowing skin, and abundance of energy, healthy digestion, and the hormonal balance YOU deserve!

With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

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5 Foods That DESTROY Your Hormones

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I’m a firm believer that with the right diet and lifestyle, any hormonal condition can be put into remission, and I’m living proof!

I was born with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but with the right diet and lifestyle changes its been in remission for 2 years now! Isn’t the power of food as medicine incredible?!

I’m usually a fan of using positives instead of negatives, but I feel like these 5 foods are so detrimental to your health that they really need to be put on your “no-no” list ASAP if you are currently experiencing PCOS, Endometriosis, adrenal issues, thyroid problems, or painful and irregular periods.

5 Foods To Ditch For Hormonal Health:

1. Gluten

Many people have a gluten sensitivity. And if they don’t, I still don’t think it is the best food for hormonal balance. Gluten contains inflammatory proteins that cause intestinal permeability, which causes food particles to enter into your blood stream, causing chronic inflammation. This leads to weight gain, mood disorders, painful periods, and can lead to auto-immune disorders.

Alternative-whole grains such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and sweet potatoes. If you decide to eat gluten, then opt for spelt or sourdough bread, or Ezekiel sprouted grain bread.

2. Sugar

I feel like I’m a broken record with this one, but it’s the truth. You just can’t obtain balanced hormones if you are eating sugar. That’s because stabilizing your blood sugar is the #1 thing you must do for balanced hormones. And if you eat lots of sugar then your blood sugar levels will most likely resemble that of a roller coaster. Insulin is a hormone, and if you have too much, then it raises your cortisol, which throws everything else out of whack.

And for women with PCOS, this is a biggie, because eating too much sugar causes insulin resistance, and too much insulin causes ovaries to make excess testosterone.

3. Most Dairy

Most cow dairy contains A1 casein which is extremely inflammatory to humans. And all cow dairy contains lactose, which most of us can’t even break down anyways. This leads to leaky gut, digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

If you must have dairy then make it from organic Jersey or Guernsey cows that contain A2 casein, which is not as inflammatory.

Alternative: The only exception to dairy is grass-fed butter or ghee, and cheese from goats, sheep or buffalo. Goat, sheep and buffalo products are lactose free, so they are easy on your digestion. Another great alternative to cow’s milk is camel’s milk. I have not tried it yet, but I hear good things.

4. Alcohol

Sorry ladies. We should really limit our alcohol intake to 4 drinks a week. This is due to the fact that alcohol is high in sugar so it increase insulin, but it also depletes an important anti-inflammation molecule called glutathione. We need glutathione to detox, and if your detox pathways are not being supported then your body can’t flush out excess hormones, namely estrogen.  Alcohol also damages gut bacteria.

Alternatives: If you drink, stick to dry wines and beer, and take activated charcoal and vitamin C with each drink.

5. Vegetable oils

Vegetable oils are cheap and have long shelf lives, which is why you will find them in most restaurants. Vegetable oil in my opinion is the worst thing you can put in your body, and when you combine it with sugar it is like an inflammatory bomb. The omega 6’s in vegetable oils not only cause inflammation all over the body, but they create inflammatory prostaglandins, which you DON’T WANT.  Prostaglandins are hormone like substances that are responsible for your period cramps. So vegetable oils, as well as any oxidized fat, will promote painful periods.

Alternative: Omega 3’s promote anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. So opt for omega 3 rich oils like coconut, avocado, flax, olive, and grass-fed butter and ghee instead.

If you want to heal, you can’t cut corners. You must let these 5 foods go.  Of course, once you are healed, you can reintroduce some in moderation as life is all about balance. But for the most part you should opt for the food alternatives I recommended.

Okay folks! I hope you find this helpful. Also, if you haven’t already, join me on my Hormone Community Facebook page. This is a group for women on their healing journey to support one another and share their success. You’ll also catch me there  posting with articles, helpful insights and of course, live videos!

With Gratitude,
Health Coach Jenna

 

What the Color of Your Period Blood Means For Your Health

Your period is an invaluable indicator of the overall health of your body. Think of it like a monthly report card providing a brutally honest evaluation of your diet, lifestyle, and environment. If you are suffering from painful periods, horrible mood swings, or perhaps not having periods at all, these are all indicators that something is wrong.

Your period is your 5th vital sign.

Your period is so important that the American College of Obstetricians and Gyenecologists (ACOG) recommends that menstrual history be used as a vital sign when evaluating the health of girls and adolescents.

The ACOG states, “by including an evaluation of the menstrual cycle as an additional vital sign, clinicians reinforce its importance in assessing overall health status for patients and caretakers.”

Observing your period blood is the easiest way to get a report on how things are going down there. There is nothing to be squeamish about, ladies. Every woman bleeds; it’s a normal bodily function.

The appearance, frequency, and consistency of your menstrual blood provides a window into your overall health, and if you want to have a balanced mood, clear skin, a healthy weight, and pain-free periods, it’s time you get up close and personal with it.

Ready to get started? Check the guide below to know what category your period blood belongs to.

The color: Bright, cranberry-red

The consistency: Like jello mix that hasn’t set (medium viscosity: not too thin, not too thick)

The length: 5-7 days

What it means: This is what’s considered a normal, healthy period. Continue to eat healthy fats and lots of plant based foods, and to get appropriate exercise.

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The color: Brown

The consistency: Thin/streaky

What it means: Low progesterone. That brown stuff is old oxidized blood that didn’t make it out of your uterus last cycle and it’s caused by low progesterone levels. These low levels may be at the root of your period symptoms and may also cause you to struggle with regular ovulation.

The color: Dark, purple/blue

The consistency: Thick with clots

The length: Longer than a week

What it means: This blueberry color is a sign of too much estrogen. Estrogen dominance causes a lot of the typical symptoms associated with problematic periods, and potentially lead to endometriosis, cysts, or fibroids. Over the long term, excess estrogen can lead to more serious health consequences.

The color: Barely-there pink

The consistency: Too light to tell

The length: 3 days or less

What it means: A super-short period and extra light bleeding may indicate low estrogen levels. Your hormones are made from the food you eat, so your low estrogen is likely due to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies from improper and extreme dieting as well as from HPA Axis Dysfunction.

If you didn’t get the grade you were hoping for on your period report card, then I encourage you to schedule a 30- minute consultation with me today so we can get you that A+ pronto!

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

Why Ovulation is More Important Than Your Period

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Don’t get me wrong, periods are amazing. I’m a huge fan. But we get so caught up with our monthly bleed that we forget about the most important aspect of our cycle.

Ovulation.

Ovulation usually happens mid-cycle, except for ladies on the birth control pill, as they do not ovulate nor have a period, instead they experience what is called a “withdrawal bleed.” Also, some women not on hormonal birth control will experience anovulatory cycles (a bleed that occurs without ovulation ) due to various hormone imbalances. If your cycle is longer than 36 days, you either experienced delayed ovulation, or you did not ovulate.

3 Reasons Ovulation is Critical:

1. Fertility:

You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate, so if that is on your agenda, ovulation is necessary. But remember, the ability to conceive is a sign of good health, so even if you aren’t planning for a family now or ever, you still want to be fertile. I recommend the Fertility Awareness Method  (no it’s not the Rhythm Method!) for those of you both planning pregnancy planning or avoidance.

2. Healthy Periods

Our bodies can’t produce the hormone progesterone without ovulating.

Each month when you ovulate, a corpus luteum is created that grows on the surface of your ovary, and this is where all of your progesterone is produced.

Progesterone is responsible for lightening your periods, as it counteracts the affects of estrogen. So if you are not ovulating you will most likely be in a state of estrogen dominance, and this is a big culprit for heavy and painful periods.

3. Healthy Body and Mind

Progesterone is the calming hormone that helps us stay resilient to stress and sleep well. This is why women who don’t ovulate (especially women with PCOS) can suffer from anxiety.

And that’s not all this super hormone can do. Progesterone nourishes our hair and nails by reducing 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 it’s a crucial component to preventing osteoporosis.

Signs of a progesterone deficiency:

  • PCOS
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • PMS
  • Hair loss
  • Premenstrual migraines
  • Heavy periods
  • Fibroids
  • Acne
  • Osteoporosis

So do you now see why it’s SO crucial to ovulate?

4 Steps to Confirm Ovulation:

1. Check your cervical fluid. When you’re close to ovulation and ovulating, your cervical mucus will look like that off the clear part of an egg and stretch between your fingers.

2. Chart your temperature. There are many apps out there to help you do this. I personally use Kindara . Each morning when you first wake up, before doing anything or eating or drinking anything, take your temperature. After ovulation has occurred your temperature will spike 2/10ths of a degree and will remain elevated until menstruation.

3. Use LH strips.

LH (luteinizing hormone) spikes a few days before ovulation. LH signals a follicle to swell and burst releasing an egg into your fallopian tube. When an LH strip  shows positive, you can expect to to ovulate few days later. If you don’t get an LH surge you will not ovulate that month. Note that women with PCOS might have several LH surges throughout the month, so this might not be an accurate way of determining upcoming ovulation.

4. Note any sensations. Some women feel a sharp twinge in their ovary when the egg releases.

I hope this article has inspired you to start charting, because awareness is the number key to taking charge of your reproductive health. If you are interested in more reading I recommend “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler.

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

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.