BY ISELIN AMANDA STOYLEN
The Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is a series of natural changes in the female body. It is an orderly process of preparing
women’s bodies for pregnancy. Explained in a very simple way: with each cycle an egg develops and is released from the ovaries, the lining of the uterus builds up, and if conception doesn’t occur, the uterine lining sheds as a menstrual period and the cycle starts again. The female cycle happens as a response to interactions of different hormones produced by the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the ovaries. These hormones are oestrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and testosterone. As a simplification, the menstrual cycle is divided into two main phases, the follicular (or proliferative phase) and the luteal (or secretory phase).
What are hormones?
Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues and organs, carrying important messages. The hormones in our bodies work slowly and are crucial for many bodily processes, including growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction and
Mood. There are actually more than 50 different hormones involved in bodily functions and human health! A certain balance of hormones in the female body is needed to create the menstrual cycle.
Oestrogen levels changes throughout the month, and are highest in the middle of a woman’s cycle, around ovulation, and reaches their lowest at the beginning of the period. Oestrogen is crucial for a well functioning menstrual cycle and fertility, but is also considered important for stable energy levels, sleep, lubrication of the vagina, libido, and more.
Progesterone belongs to a group of steroid hormones called “progestogens”. It is a steroid hormone secreted primarily by the corpus luteum, in the second half of the menstrual cycle. Low levels of progesterone may result in abnormal menstrual cycles, heavy menstrual bleeding and sub fertility (difficulty conceiving). Low progesterone (especially in relation to high oestrogen levels) may additionally cause a decreased libido, weight gain and gallbladder problems.
When the term ‘hormonal imbalance’ is used, it is often in relation to women’s health issues, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cycle irregularities, and symptoms arising with menopause. Now, it is accurate to say that hormones can be out of balance, and this may be affecting a person to a larger or lesser degree. Sometimes it is necessary to test the levels of hormones in the body in order to correctly treat the issue. Hormonal imbalances are usually not a problem in itself, but a symptom of an underlying issue.
General health and wellbeing is at the core of hormonal health, and making sure our bodies have the
right environment is essential all of its functions.
Diet and nutrition
A hormone-friendly diet is one that is rich in plants, based around whole foods, and that incorporates plenty of good fats. Fatty acids are essential for the production of hormones, and this is why it is especially important for women to get enough of them: flax seeds and flax seed oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sesame, coconut, organic ghee, organic butter, avocados, olives and extra virgin olive oil and algae-based omega-3 supplements are some of the sources I recommend to my clients.
3 tips to support your lymphatic system:
The lymphatic system is a network of tiny vessels that collect fluid and waste products from your body, including bacteria, viruses and excess hormones. The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing the body of waste products, which also includes endocrine disruptors that interfere with the delicate balance of our hormones.
- Exercise. The lymphatic system depends on the action of your muscles to pump lymph through and to your organs: to the liver, kidneys and colon where waste is removed. Lack of exercise and movement may be a contributing factor to a weak lymphatic function.
- Hydrate. Being sufficiently hydrated is crucial for the lymphatic system to work properly. Aim for at least 2 litres of water a day: and more if you are exercising or eating a diet low in water-rich foods.
- Dry brushing and lymphatic massages are excellent ways to support the lymphatic system in its functions.
Love your liver
The liver is one of the organs in our body responsible for clearing waste. It is responsible for detoxifying hormones (when they are no longer needed) and other waste products. Liver health is complex, but to start, it goes a long way to be mindful of your alcohol consumption, and how much
processed foods and sugar you eat. Foods that are known to be particularly beneficial for the liver includes dandelion (leaves and root), schisandra berries, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. Processed foods, fried foods and foods that are high in saturated and refined oils tend to overwork the liver and should be consumed only on occasion (or never).
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