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Women's Hormone Health - Teri Cochrane

Women's Hormone Health

As March 8th is the International Women’s Day, I wish to celebrate this holiday which rejoices in women – the mothers of all human life on earth – with some guideposts for being our best and most empowered selves. As women we have multifaceted opportunities to embrace all that we are.

We are multilayered beings on this planet. We give life, share in sisterhood, motherhood, partnership and community. We create, and as creators, we cycle.

Our monthly cycles begin at puberty and end with menopause. This is the body’s mechanism of making sure the reproductive system is ready to accept and sustain a healthy pregnancy. For those of us who do not choose motherhood, the same mechanisms are working to sustain a healthy hormone metabolism, supporting many important functions in the body such as body composition, bone health, mood, weight and sleep.

Today, women in the US are dealing with an ever-increasing hormonal burden due to both internal and external factors. This can cause the monthly cycle system to become dysregulated and potentially lead to a variety of conditions, ranging from PMS and bloat to more complex concerns such as PCOS, endometriosis and infertility.  Just what are some of the associated symptoms and how can we mitigate them?

Prevalence of hormone mimickers and endocrine disruptors in our everyday life:

Many of the products we use daily contain chemicals which disrupt our endocrine (hormone regulating) system. Items such as plastic packaging, canned goods, store receipts and personal care products. Each one of us, whether male or female, should take common sense steps to minimize exposure wherever we can. The steps are simple. Use glass to store food. Avoid drinking water in plastic bottles. Choose organic and clean personal care products. Purchase household cleaning products which don’t affect our hormones. Ask stores to email you receipts instead of printing them out. Avoid canned and packaged foods unless you know the containers are BPA-free. For more information on the worst offenders, consult the EWG guide to the top 12 endocrine disruptors….

  • Proliferation of hormones in commercially raised animal products. Much of the meat and dairy we consume today is riddled with hormones. These are given to speed up growth and increase the amount of meat available in animals prior to slaughter. Hormones are routinely injected into dairy cows to increase milk yield. When we consume these foods, we ingest the hormones and expose our endocrine system to their unintended effects. Consuming organic, pasture-raised animal products can alleviate many of these issues. Wild game is always best as it offers higher omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation and is generally higher in zinc and iron than domesticated, commercially produced meats.  Best part is that game meats are lower in indigestible proteins called amyloids, which have been linked to many health conditions.
  • Increase in the use of hormone-based prescriptions. I am referring to the variety commonly prescribed medications such as the BCP – Birth Control Pill, artificial hormones used to manage menopause, infertility medications, agents commonly used for sexual dysfunction and those which help boost testosterone. Many of these prescriptions are not bio-identical – the chemical signature of the hormones used does not match those which can be found in the body. And others, even if bio-identical, can easily dysregulate hormone metabolism pathways and cause imbalances.  I recommend that you and your doctor evaluate the pros and cons of such prescriptions and use them judiciously.
  • Abundance of endocrine disruptors in pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in food. Hundreds of different chemicals are used on non-organic food to increase yield, speed the growing process, lower agricultural costs and increase shelf life. Chemicals such as atrazine, a commonly used herbicide, can turn male frogs into female frogs after exposure.  Yikes! Organophosphate pesticides can interfere with testosterone metabolism and lower levels of thyroid hormone. These chemicals place an additional burden on the endocrine system and can cause widespread hormone dysregulation. Eating organic can minimize our exposure.
  • Genetic and epigenetic insufficiencies in hormone metabolism.

Each one of us has a different capacity to metabolize hormones, whether endogenous, or those entering the body from the outside. Some of us don’t make enough hormones, while others can’t get rid of the ones the body makes. Researchers have identified key genetic markers involved in hormonal detoxification. And while genes are set at conception, we can change their expression through the process of epigenetics – the science of how our lifestyle affects our genes.

One great practice which can support better hormone metabolism is for women to reduce the amount of dietary fat mid-cycle and during their period – times when more hormones are circulating in the body. Sex hormones derive from cholesterol, which is a fat. So, eating less fat at those key times in the monthly cycle can free up the body’s fat metabolism pathways to deal with the increasing hormone levels. Another easy way to help the endocrine system is to support the body’s detoxification pathways by drinking green juice, such as my BYOJ (Build Your Own Juice)  – recipe found in the The Wildatarian Diet: Living As Nature Intended book.

As women, we have access to many tools to optimize our health and wholeness. Women around the globe are standing up, stepping forward, and speaking out…

We are reclaiming our voices, our bodies, and our power. We are co-creating spaces to nurture, nourish, and heal.

As we redefine what it means to live a meaningful life, we follow in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before us… as we become trailblazers ourselves. Join me for the Inspiring Women with Soul Summit as I speak amongst 40+ other inspiring women. On this International Women’s Day, let’s embrace these steps to help us be our best womanly selves.

To The Tru Of You,
Teri Cochrane

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