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Hormones can affect our mood, our weight and even our sex drive. Stress, poor diet and trauma are just a few of the contributing factors to hormonal imbalances, but Dr. Sara Gottfried, a gynecologist and author of “The Hormone Cure,” says you can reset your hormones to improve your overall health and lose stubborn pounds.
Go Sugar free: for insulin reset
Insulin is critical to the body. It helps to convert food into energy. Consuming sugar several times a day can increase your body’s demand for insulin and create insulin resistance. When this occurs, insulin instructs the body to convert unused sugar into fat. Insulin resistance can also cause glucose to build up in the blood and put you at risk for diabetes and prediabetes.
“What you want to do in this reset is get off of sugar and get off of the sugar substitutes– the artificial sweeteners,” Gottfried said.
Removing sugar for minimum 21 days gives your body the opportunity to detox and reset. In addition to the obvious sources of sugar, don’t forget alcoholic beverages, wine and flavored water (check the labels–some don’t have sugar). Know that for the first few days of discontinuing sugar, you can feel an increase of fatigue, irritability, and malaise. Persist! You will feel great as soon as you push through this initial withdrawal.
Go caffeine free: for cortisol reset
Sodas and coffee are two of the biggest sources of caffeine. On average, Americans consume 170 liters of soda annually with levels of caffeine ranging from 16 to 55 mg. Likewise, coffee consumption in America is one of the highest in the world with an average of 3 cups per person.
Caffeine raises cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone”. Cortisol can cause a lot of damage to the body, including: damage to the gut lining, possibly leading to a leaky gut and gut immune dysregulation; changes to blood sugar regulation; digestive problems like IBS, food allergies, and acid reflux; increases in joint pain and inflammation; increases in the storage body fat, leading to weight gain, especially around the midsection.
Going caffeine free for a minimum of 21 days can help you body detox and reset your cortisol levels. Like sugar withdrawal, caffeine withdrawal can be rough for the first few days. Drink plenty of water and expect irritability, headaches, and fatigue. If you push through you’ll be rewarded with clarity of thinking and possibly the best sleep you’ve had in a long time!
Go meatless: for estrogen reset
Meat eaters have higher levels of estrogen than their vegetarian friends. This can be due to the hormones given to to cattle to promote growth.
Another reason to adjust your estrogen levels, Gottfried adds, is that from age 35 to 50 women tend to make more estrogen relative to progesterone. This can lead to estrogen dominance. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include breast tenderness and irritability, as well as other PMS-related symptoms.
Go Grain free: for thyroid reset
Grains are hidden everywhere. Some of the worst grain-offenders are breakfast cereals, white rice, and pasta. Research has shown that grains can cause inflammation, blood sugar spikes and can lead to the immune system producing antibodies that attack its own organs or tissues in certain individuals who are susceptible to these issues.
Gottfried suggests swapping out your grains for coconut wraps, sweet potatoes, yams and flaxseed crackers.
“Grains affect the thyroid, but gluten is especially the problem here because gluten looks a lot like the thyroid and so it can make your body attack the thyroid,” Gottfried said.
Go Dairy free: for growth hormone reset
Dairy products are mucus-forming in many people and are a common cause of irritable bowel syndrome and bloating. It can also raise growth hormone and insulin levels which may lead to weight gain.
“The average cow in the U.S that’s raised as livestock is injected with six different steroid hormones– designed to make it fat, but then were eating that cow and eating the toxic fat and getting some of those bad biochemicals–that’s not so good for you,” she said.
A few great milk alternative are almond milk, coconut milk and coconut kefir.
Go Toxin free: for testosterone reset
We are exposed to toxins every day from many different sources. We have genetically modified foods, hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy sources, pesticides sprayed on vegetables and grains, cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, cleaning products and so much more.
However, one of the most insidious to a woman are the endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including BPA or bisphenol A. These artificial chemicals are found in plastic and can wreak havoc on woman’s hormones by altering testosterone levels.
Detoxing helps remove estrogen-disrupting chemicals, improves thyroid functioning and boosts metabolism.
With these strategies, you can reset your hormones in as little as 21 days.
While many women will show massive improvements after this 21 day detox, there may be some long-term work to do depending on the severity of symptoms.
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Dr. Julie Briley
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Jen Miller, MSN, RN, FNP-C Functional Nurse Practitioner
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Expertise: Hormonal balancing, hormone replacement, menopause, thyroid problems, autoimmune disease, fatigue
Clinical Experience: 12+ years practicing functional medicine