In my recent blog, I discussed what toxins, hormones and mood issues have in common. Turns out… A LOT! In this Part 2 I will focus on some steps you can take to survive the holidays and hopefully keep a little holiday cheer.
Just a quick review from Part 1:
Symptoms of depression, anxiety, fatigue and feeling overwhelmed can come in lots of different packages and for different reasons.
1. Hormonal imbalances
2. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
3. Toxic overload (environment, endogenous, medications)
4. Lack of exercise and sunlight (too much exercise isn’t good either)
5. Poor gut health
Before I go further, I need to be honest with you. Some of the reasons listed above will need professional guidance to resolve. But even so, when you address any ONE of those areas, you can expect some improvement!
I am going to say this loudly for the people in the back, balancing hormones RARELY looks like taking a bunch of bioidenticals. There are a few people that could benefit from this approach if done properly… but properly is the key word here. A gentle and thorough detoxification will do the most for balancing hormones although it can’t do it all. For most individuals, giving more attention to the adrenals will be a key component to getting your steroid hormone family more balanced. This is one area that I believe requires more guidance. Do not lose hope if you feel like hormonal imbalances are your main issue, working on the other areas mentioned here will help too.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
There are 2 common deficiencies you can address here. Make sure your vitamin D levels are between 40-80 (test to know for sure) and since the majority of the population is deficient in magnesium… it can be a good idea to add some in! Magnesium is important for the endocrine system and plays a huge role in balancing cortisol and blood sugar. Magnesium can be key if a person has constipation and also help with sleep at night. The tricky part is finding quality vitamins and minerals. For magnesium, at the very least avoid magnesium oxide! I prefer a magnesium that is in a chelated or lactate form. I also love the EZ Mag by Standard Process that is a completely natural concentrated form of magnesium and potassium from organic swiss chard and organic buckwheat. A natural source of vitamin A and D is cod liver oil. But if your levels are too low, supplementation might be required.
Every one of us could take steps to reduce our exposure to toxins and endocrine disruptors. No matter where you live, you will be exposed to toxins! Reduce plastics in your house by using glass containers to store food in or to reheat food. Eliminate scented plug-ins or heavily perfumed candles. Replace plug-ins with oil diffusers or clean burning candles. Look for cleaner products to clean your home and body with… especially skin care and make up! A good resource for additional information in this area is www.ewg.org. You can also look for organic detox teas that will support the body’s natural detox pathways. Drink plenty of clean spring or filtered water. Eat foods that support detox pathways and include plenty of fiber to naturally bind to toxins in the bowels for proper elimination. Dark leafy greens are key here; especially spinach, kale, parsley, broccoli and brussels sprouts to name some of the top foods!
Exercise and outside time
When we think about exercise we really need to focus on increased movement. That movement can be anything you enjoy and hopefully something you will want to do daily! It can be dancing, exercise videos, riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill. Don’t get hung up on WHAT to do! Just pick something and try to do it for 20-30 minutes per day to start. If you can bundle up on a cold sunny day and get outside to walk… even better! If you feel like you experience a form of Seasonal Affect Disorder, consider doing light therapy with a light box or lamp. Make sure you follow the instructions for light therapy to receive maximum benefit without side effects.
Strong digestion and a healthy gut
Saving the best for last because this could be THE most important piece you have the most control over to change! You get to decide what nourishes you or what depletes you. To keep it simple, eliminate processed sugars but DO NOT replace them with sugar substitutes… natural or chemical. Sugar highs and lows creates mood and energy highs and lows… triggers more inflammation everywhere in the body. If you can’t eliminate sugar right off the bat, then limit it to 25 g per day of added sugar. Be careful of foods that are low fat, gluten free… often times they will have added sugar in them to make them taste better. Become a label reader! If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Utilize more bitter herbs and plants in your diet for improved gut health. Bitter greens like kale, spinach, arugula and brussels sprout can be a good place to start but any dark, leafy greens will be good. Use spices like curry, cayenne, ginger and cinnamon. Start your morning with a cup of hot water and fresh lemon squeezed into it to help stimulate a healthy bowel movement. (This could be done at other times too!) Dark chocolate that is at least 75% cacao is a good bitter and rich in magnesium. You can also incorporate teas to support healthy digestion that might have chamomile, ginger, licorice or cinnamon in them. Just look for “tummy teas”. And finally, think “fiber, fat and protein” to help you feel full, stabilize your blood sugar and to improve the microbiome. Fiber and fermented foods will act as prebiotics and nourish your microbiome. And hopefully you noticed some repetition in the detox paragraph with this section about gut health!
I realize there have been books written on everything I’ve talked about. (This might have felt like a small book to some of you!) My goal was to remind you of things you may already know or for someone new to this, give you a few places you can start to live a better and healthier life!
“A healthy outside starts from the inside.” Robert Urich
P.S. Please reach out to a counselor or a friend if you need someone to talk to if you feel like anxiety and depression are taking over. There are some additional herbs that can make a tremendous difference too.
Please set up an appointment to get started if you need a little extra help!