I hear it all of the time, “I’m just going to change my diet.” But I have to be the first to share that being skinny doesn’t always equate to being healthy. Health is a well rounded creature, and the cravings you will continue to have are directly related to that inner health issue.
When I work with a client I have them record their meals, even if they only do it via photo. I need to know what they are eating. They think I just want to make them stop eating all of the things they love, and I admit that sometimes I will do that. But what it all really is about is getting to the core of what is going on functionally inside of that body of yours. We all have more going on than we think when it comes to how we are eating, and how that relates to our hormones. I think that for women that means Estrogen often enough, and so that is going be the first focus as I go into talking about this more in depth over the next month.
Hormones, Nutrition and Fitness
Hormones – we all have them, we joke about them and women hate them. They are an ever present part of our lives and yet we don’t really as individuals know very much about them or how they relate to our overall health. When you exercise your body then has some increased energy needs.You need to be able to have the ability for the increase muscular, metabolic, respiratory and cardiovascular demands when you step up to the plate. When you finish you will still have needs for metabolic stimulation, repairing muscles, restoring cortisol levels. Without proper nutrition you body may see an increase in blood pressure, start eating away at the muscles instead of the fat, or even slow the metabolic rate. There are so many hormonal responses you could be having if you are not eating properly while trying to reach your fitness goals, and I want you to start thinking about this hormone connection.
For women there is more to it. Young women after they’ve had their cycle will be at the lowest level of estrogen in their month. Women closer to menopause may see a spike or bursts in their estrogen levels. Estrogen determines if those carbs you’ve had or the fats are going to be fuel your body during your HIIT or Turbo cardio session. There are over forty estrogen metabolites and they become good or bad estrogen. It is all depending on where you are at with your hormones really that will determine the type of fitness program you should be looking at, as well as the types of foods to use as part of your wellness lifestyle.
You can’t just expect a one solution all of the time to suit your health. That means having a variety of good, healthy meals and snacks around to support your system. There is more to it that I’ll go into tomorrow, but just know that working out will lower your estrogen, and for some of you low estrogen may be a problem.
What I eat for support
I have found personally that if you have a higher level of estrogen in your body then you need to eat your kale, your raw juices, apples, ginger, lemon. You want to boost your gluathione which is a requirement to break down the excess estrogen in your body. You also want prebiotics not just probiotics.
Also foods in the Brassica family like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, collard greens and cabbage should be considered for someone looking to break down extra estrogen, but I like to cook it to reduce the thyroid imbalance properites. And who here doesn’t love some cauliflower rice or roasted brussel sprouts?? Or a yummy kale salad or kale chips in the afternoon? The reason why is that indole-3-carbinol is produced by these yummy foods through our bodies and this gets absorbed as DIM (diindolylmethane) in the small intestine. This has been shown to selectively bind to the estrogen receptors in your body. What that means is that these foods will help detoxify the excess estrogen, halt some of the conversions to estrogen into those dangerous metabolites and bring a more balanced hormonal system into play.
Root vegetables are great to help your liver naturally process estrogen. The more estrogen you are dealing with, the more root vegetables you may want to include. Stay away from the bag, sluggish fats that you may want to pile on those because that will slow down your liver and slow down the body natural processes.
Lignans can interfere with the natural production of estrogen, and if your body can’t handle the estrogen it’s already dealing with, this can be a problem. This is why soy is so bad for those women with metabolic issues as well. Women with estrogen dominance should stay away from over indulging in nuts. Those that are high in phytoestrogens are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachio. Also almonds are a little higher, too. Women with major metabolic issues may even want to steer clear of walnuts, hazelnuts and dare I say cashews. Sorry, ladies. Flax seed and other seeds and nuts can also be added to your diet, but don’t over do it. You can also add in some soaked legumes, pea protein, cold washed soy protein, good fatty fish like wild caught salmon, and make sure if you are lower in estrogen you get plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially after a hard workout. Vitamin C and complex B vitamins are essential in raising your estrogen levels back up after a workout and keeping headaches, daytime fatigue, dry skin and an inability to focus in on tasks at work.
For women going into menopause with those major bursts of estrogen foods like bok choy, swiss chard and then those soaked and sprouted quinoa and buckwheat items are actually great here as well as the complete shake. This is where you are going to get the nutrients and the fiber your body needs to flush the estrogen out of your body quickly and efficiently. And when you are dealing with those mood swings you need to make sure you are getting enough of those essential fatty acids. You can eat avocados, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, beets to help with some additional vitamin A to support your hormonal swings.