Blog

Going back to basics with nutrition.

In my conversations with women from all walks of life, I often get asked about food and what to eat.  Not surprising, considering my profession 🙂   The question I get asked the most is usually phrased something like this: “what should I eat / what shouldn’t […]

How To Use Your Menstrual Cycle To Your Advantage At Work

Do you ever wonder why there are times when you feel totally on top of your game at work and ready to tackle anything your clients or your boss throws at you?   And why there are other times when it’s a struggle to get anything […]

Hormones 101: Progesterone

 

In the last post, I talked about estrogen, one of our two major female sex hormones.

 

Today, I’d like to have a closer look at progesterone, estrogen’s counterpart.

 

How much do you know about this essential female sex hormone? 

 

There’s often lots of discussion about estrogen, but not enough similar discussion about its partner hormone, progesterone.

 

Although progesterone is most closely associated with pregnancy and preparation for pregnancy, it is also important for a healthy menstrual cycle.

 

So what’s the deal with progesterone? 

 

The majority of progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, a little structure that comes from the follicle of the egg that was released. This helps prepare the body for pregnancy if the eggs gets fertilised.

 

We also produce progesterone in very small amounts in the ovaries & the adrenal glands. In pregnancy, the placenta also produces progesterone.

 

If you think back to the four phases of the menstrual cycle,  your progesterone levels don’t stay the same throughout. 

 

They’re generally at their highest point a few days after ovulation, the halfway point of our menstrual cycle. Your progesterone levels drop  if you don’t fertilise an egg and are at the lowest point on the first day of our periods.

 

If the woman doesn’t get pregnant that cycle, the corpus luteum disintegrates, progesterone drops, and this is the signal for a woman’s period to start.  

 

If a women does get pregnant, then progesterone will help the blood vessels on the lining of the womb grow and stimulate glands that will nourish the embryo with nutrients.

 

It also prepares the womb for the fertilised egg to implant and helps maintain the pregnancy, rising all the way until birth.

 

So what else does progesterone do for us? 

 

Its other major function is to help regulate the menstrual cycle, so you want it to be balanced with estrogen.

 

When you have too little or much, you can experience PMS symptoms such as mood swings, insomnia, bloating, blood sugar imbalance, anxiety, acne and cramps.  Check out my post on the 5 Types of PMS to learn more.

 

Do you notice the ups and downs of progesterone across your cycle? 

 

Have you noticed it dropping as you approach perimenopause and menopause?

 

If you have questions about progesterone  and feel like you don’t know what’s going on with your progesterone levels, get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 


Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Hormones 101: Estrogen

How much do you know about some of the hormones that drive your menstrual cycle?   They do so many things for us, yet can feel like a bit of a mystery, right?   Let’s take a step back and have a look at estrogen, one […]

The 5 Types of PMS

How do you feel in the week before your period?   Do you get a bit anxious?   Maybe a bit bloated or swollen?   Do you doubt yourself more or feel really down or depressed?   The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle when […]

I Tried It: Seed Cycling For Hormone Balance

pumpkin and sunflower seeds for hormone balance

Do you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster throughout your menstrual cycle?

 

Do you suffer from mood swings, acne, fatigue and nausea in the week before you get your period?

 

Maybe it’s time to try seed cycling to address this hormone imbalance.

 

Despite specialising in this area and helping my clients improve their menstrual and hormone health, I realised a few months ago that I had to address my own hormone health. You see, I was ashamed of the hormonal acne I would get like clockwork in the week before my period. I thought to myself, “how dare I give my clients advice, when I’m struggling with the same things myself!?!”

 

Hormone acne is a sign of imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, so I decided to try seed cycling as a way to bring my hormones back into balance.

 

If you’re new to seed cycling, or wondering about the detail behind it, here’s a great guide that I’ve written up.

 

In a nutshell, even though your menstrual cycle is split into 4 phases, the main principle behind seed cycling is splitting your cycle into two – day 1 – 15 (with day 1 starting on the first day of your period) and 16 – 28 (or however long your cycle actually is).

 

In the first part of your cycle, you’ll be taking a tablespoon of flax seed and a tablespoon of pumpkin seed each day. This supports estrogen production.

 

In the second half of your cycle, you’ll be supporting progesterone production by taking a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and a tablespoon of sesame seeds each day.

 

Seems pretty straight forward, doesn’t it?

 

I decided to add the seeds into my morning smoothie so that it would be easy to integrate into my morning routine and I wouldn’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.  Luckily, I had all the seeds already on hand in my kitchen cupboard, so I moved them to my kitchen counter so I would remember to add them to my morning smoothie.

 

So far, I’ve been doing seed cycling for three cycles, and it’s taken 3 cycles to see any difference in my skin. I have to admit that when I continued to breakout after the first round of seed cycling, I was very disappointed. I decided to keep going, knowing that it takes time and patience to bring balance back to sex hormones.

 

So I plunged into the next round of seed cycling, which by this point, had become a habit. As long as I had my morning smoothie, adding the seeds was an automatic action that I didn’t need to think too much about.

 

Cue my disappointment, when my next luteal phase arrived and so did the pimples on my chin and around the lower right hand side of my mouth and cheek.

 

Nevertheless, I persisted.

 

I looked at my skin in the mirror this morning and realised that my usual luteal phase spots hadn’t appeared. And I did a little cartwheel of joy inside!

 

I’m taking a wait and see approach to the seed cycling and will probably continue to do it for at least three more menstrual cycles to continue to balance my hormones and support my skin health.

 

Would you try seed cycling to support hormone balance, skin health and your menstrual cycle?

 

If you want to have an in-depth conversation about way I can help you support your hormone, skin and menstrual health and feel more in control of what’s happening in your body, book a free 30 minute hormone health review by clicking this link

 

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Exercise and your menstrual cycle.

Have you ever thought about how your cycle affects the way you exercise?   The highs and lows of hormones means that at certain times in your cycle it’s better to slow things down and do very light, gentle exercise. And at other times in […]

Eating for your menstrual cycle

  Since I started tracking my period a few years ago, I’ve become much more aware of the different phases of my period, the dips in my energy and mood and what I can eat to support my hormones in each phase.   Menstrual Phase […]

Natural ways to manage mental health

Le'Nise Brothers yoga self care

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK and it’s so important that we continue to have these important conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

 

I know what it’s like to be depressed, anxious and have that feeling that you’re never going to get past it. I now know it’s possible to do this and I do a lot to manage my mental health and wellbeing. That means being vigilant about what I eat & drink, how I exercise, who I let into my life and having an active practice of self-care. I take things day by day.

 

I never used to talk about this side of me, thinking there was something shameful about my anxiety and depression, like I needed to hide it in order to present my best self to the world. Campaigns like this are important because it takes away the stigma and shows that talking about mental health matters.

 

What about you? Are you comfortable talking about your mental health?

 

The impact of food and alcohol on mental health

 

What we eat and what we drink (and what we don’t eat & drink) can have a huge effect on our moods and mental wellbeing.

 

Alcohol, for example, can affect our mental health simply because it depletes B vitamins and these are what we use to produce serotonin, our happy hormone. This is the ‘hangxiety’ that some of us experience after a few drinks.

 

Food can also help us manage our moods. Getting lots of veg, especially leafy greens and cruciferous veg helps feed the good bacteria in our gut and it’s this good bacteria that helps produce serotonin (that wonderful happy hormone!)

 

Yoga, yoga, yoga! 

 

Okay, you might read this part of the post and think I’m a bit biased. Yes, it’s true that I love yoga (I do at least 30 minutes every day!) and I start my yoga teacher training in two weeks time. BUT it really is beneficial.

 

Research shows that yoga can help us better regulate our response to stressful situations and can decrease our heart rate, blood pressure and how quickly we breath in and out.

 

It’s true that yoga can never stop anxiety and depression. However, the research shows and what I know from my personal experience, is that it’s an incredible way to proactively manage mental health and manage symptoms when they crop up.

 

I’ve been leaning on my yoga pretty hard recently, in both the physical and breath practice, in order to help manage the anxiety that a pretty wild family situation has caused. The simple act of being in the flows of the different poses helps my brain shut off and adding in the breathing helps calm me down and bring some perspective. I take my breath work into the rest of my day and it helps a lot.

 

Have you seen the benefits of yoga on your mental health? 

 

Try meditation

 

In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to add in a few minutes of meditation after each yoga practice. I do shavasana and then I go into my meditation pose. On my Instagram StoriesI’ve been calling what I do #reallifemeditation because for me, there isn’t a perfect meditation scenario. It’s about trying to squeeze it in where I can, in my day to day life, and trying not to let my mind wander too much.

 

I got an amazing message from one of my nutrition colleagues, which put what I’m trying to do in perspective. She shared something her dad said to her about meditation: it’s not about having an absence of thought, but merely observing your thoughts and letting them be.

 

So when I meditated earlier this week and thought about whether Meghan Markle was doing okay, whether she does yoga with her mom, remembering to floss before I went to the dentist, these were all thoughts that I now just need to observe, rather than stressing out that I can’t empty my mind.

 

Studies show that mindful meditation that incorporates breath work helps reduce noradrenaline, one of our stress hormones. So whether you can meditate for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, it’s can become a wonderful part of your mental health toolbox to help manage anxiety and depression.

 

Would you try meditating?

 

Get into the sun

 

Do you ever feel a bit anxious or depressed and then suddenly feel your mood lift a bit once you head outside into the sun? Some of that could be vitamin D!

 

Vitamin D is an incredible hormone (no, it’s not actually a vitamin!) that helps improve mood, build strong bones and support our immune system. We have vitamin D receptors on many of the cells in our bodies and the easiest (and cheapest way!) to get it is from the sun! ☀

 

Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood and keeping depression at bay, which explains why many of us feel a little bit better when we’ve got a bit of sun.

 

During the winter, it’s important to get your levels tested at your GP or privately to know how much you need to supplement. During late spring and summer, get outside into the sun! Just 10 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) is all it takes to keep your vitamin D levels topped up!

 

Do you notice a difference in your mood when you’ve been in the sun?

Do you track your menstrual cycle?

Do you track your menstrual cycle?   As you would expect, I’m a huge advocate of this. Our menstrual cycles have been called the fifth vital sign and when you keep track of it, you can get so much amazing information about: the length of […]

Want to start running? Here’s a guide on how to do it!

  The lovely Dorota from Isleworth Running Club has written a post to help anyone who’s thinking about starting to run with all the things you need to know.    Commit! In my opinion, nothing happens for us until we actually commit. You have to […]

Managing endometriosis pain

Did you know that a significant amount of endometriosis pain is driven by inflammation? And this inflammation is typically at its worst in the week you have your period. If you have endo, you won’t be surprised by this at all, right?

 

What do I mean by inflammation? 

 

Inflammation is the body’s attempt at protecting itself by removing something it perceives to be harmful and allowing healing to begin. It is part of the body’s immune response and is initially beneficial when it happens over a short period of time.

 

However, long-term (chronic) inflammation can be detrimental to the body.  Chronic inflammation can occur from an autoimmune response, where the body’s immune system mistakes healthy tissue for something harmful and attacks it.

 

For women with endometriosis, food and supplements can be a very powerful way to reduce inflammation, which can then lead to a reduction in pain levels too.

 

This isn’t a quick fix, mind, but can work really well in the long term.

 

Research shows that turmeric can be an especially powerful way of reducing endometrial pain and inflammation through its very powerful compound, curcumin. Magnesium, fish oils and castor oil packs can help too.

 

Okay, I hear what you’re saying – I need help now!

 

In times when endometriosis pain is at its worst, painkillers can be extremely helpful, especially in instances of severe pain.  It’s worth bearing in mind that research shows that long term use of painkillers can have negative effects on liver function and on the lining of the stomach.

 

With my clients with endometriosis, we take a long and short term approach, looking at diet and supplements to reduce inflammation and pain in the long term, as well as practical ways to reduce pain in the short term.

 

What can I eat to help reduce endometriosis inflammation and pain? 

 

Diet can make a huge difference in managing the inflammation that happens with endometriosis. I always recommend adding in foods that can help you reduce inflammation over the long term.

 

I’ve already talked about turmeric and its wondrous compound, curcumin.

 

Eating lots of green leafy and cruciferous vegetables is helpful too, as these foods help your body remove the excess estrogen that is a hallmark of endometriosis.

 

They also help you empty your bowels regularly, which is an important way for your body to remove excess hormones. If you’re constipated (i.e not emptying your bowels at the very minimum, once a day), there is an increased risk of the excess estrogen being recycled back into the body, which for endometriosis sufferers, can exacerbate your symptoms and increase inflammation and pain. Having a healthy bowel movement in the morning, before breakfast, is a great way to support your body and reduce endometriosis and other symptoms of excess estrogen, including PMS, period pain and mood swings.

 

The research also shows that a higher intake of fruit, especially citrus fruit, can reduce the risk of  endometriosis further developing.

 

If you have endometriosis, have you used food as a way of managing your symptoms?

 

Do you want help improving endometriosis pain? My short e-book, ‘Six Ways To Fix Your Period Pain‘ will give you practical tips to change your period for the better.