A couple months ago I attended a really awesome event at a friend’s home. It was a Women’s Gathering filled with catch up conversations with old friends, beautiful cocktails, yummy food and an amazing presentation by Heather Woodruff a Certified Nutritional Practitioner & Digestion Guru. Heather had so much to offer about how to heathfully prepare food and use it as a key player in a holistic approach to health. I asked Heather if she would share some of her enormous expertise with Red Shoe readers. Happily she said..Yes! I’m happy to share a guest post from HEATHER WOODRUFF.
What, you may ask, does a random island in the South China Sea have to do with digestion? Or hormones? Or anything health related for that matter?
Well, it’s not the island itself that I will be highlighting today but its amazing habitants. The Okinawan people are believed to be some of the healthiest on the planet. They are 5 times more likely to live past the age of 100 and healthfully thrive well into their elder years.
Some health issues we consider as a ‘normal’ part of aging such as; fatigue, poor memory, low libido and depression are rarely reported by aging Okinawans. And Okinawan women often experience an easy transition through menopause, lacking in the usual hot flashes, sleep disturbances and mood swings North American women are frequently so familiar with.
I bring these amazing people to light for you today so perhaps we can look at our health in a different way. Maybe the intense cramping, bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings and skin issues around our monthly menstrual periods were not just part of being ‘a women’. Maybe the hot flashes, poor sleep, weight gain and mood changes as we transition through menopause are not just something to deal with as we get older. Maybe it’s our body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance.
Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) said, ‘All disease begins in the gut’ and as a nutritionist this is my main area of focus and where we are going to start today.
3 Ways Digestion Can Disrupt Hormones
- Serotonin (our feel good hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone which is made from serotonin) are produced in the gut. Poor digestion can result in mood & sleep issues due to insufficient levels of these hormones.
- Excess estrogen and harmful xeno-estrogens are normally eliminated through the digestive tract. If our body cannot eliminate these estrogens, they are reabsorbed and can cause estrogen dominance. This results in a lifetime history of symptoms such as; PMS, breast cysts, early puberty, anxiety, headaches, endometriosis and higher risk of hormone related cancers – breast, ovarian, uterine.
- Thyroid hormone conversion (T4 to T3) happens in the gut. When we do not convert this hormone, hypothyroid or symptoms of this nature can develop; hot flashes, low energy, weight gain, anxiety, depression and a history of heavy periods, amenorrhea, PCOS, PMS are all signs of this. Basic medical tests only test T4, so if the T4 to T3 conversion is an issue it will not show up on the standard test unless your doctor orders a specific T3 test.
Many cultures around the world view menopause much differently than we do.
Women are excited by this transition and to be viewed as respected elders in their community. With all the research now backing the mind-body connection, when it comes to our health, perhaps changing our perception of this sacred time in a women’s life is key to releasing the negative energy that may contribute to these symptoms.
Here’s an easy smoothie recipe to balance low or high estrogen levels.
HORMONE DETOX SMOOTHIE
Serves: 1 large or 2 small smoothies
1 cup coconut water
1 cup mango, chopped (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup cucumber chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tasp ginger, fresh grated
1 tbsp flax seed, ground
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
FLAXSEEDS FOR HORMONES
Healthy fats are a necessary component when creating healthy balanced hormones and flaxseeds are the richest plant source of amazing Omega 3 fatty acids. They are also an excellent source of phytoestrogens which balance our estrogen levels when they are too high or too low. Try including 2 tbsps of ground flax seed per day to help balance hormones.
How to work on your gut?
Digging deep and getting to the core of our digestive issues may help balance our hormones and help us to thrive! Want to give your troubled tummy some much needed TLC? Try my FREE ebook: 6 Ways to Beat Bloating. Or suspect unconfirmed food sensitivities may be inflaming your gut? Book a FREE 30 min discovery call with me and find out if my Elimination Diet Program is a good match for you.
Meet Heather Woodruff, CNP RNCP ROHP: Digestion Guru and Certified Nutritional Practitioner (aka: Holistic Nutritionist).
I love helping others take control of their food sensitivities through deep digestive healing. It is so empowering to truly understand your unique body and discover the abundance of delicious nourishing food you CAN actually eat! You can eat the healthiest food on the planet but if you’re not absorbing any of its goodness, you simply can’t benefit from it.
When I am not perusing the farmer’s market you can be sure to find me practicing my asanas at a Vancouver yoga studio, surfing some north pacific waves, hopping the globe on another travelling adventure or simply puttering in the kitchen, (usually in company with my brilliant husband and spunky little girl.)