5 simple dietary & lifestyle tweaks to upgrade your metabolism, hormones & health

Healthy Food

Are monthly symptoms wearing you down, such as PMS or painful periods, you are worried about the dreaded perimenopause chaos, feeling run down or bloated?

With spring being just around the corner, you might be tempted to attempt yet another trendy diet or workout that promises the world, only to not be sustainable in the long run.

How about instead eating and living to support your hormones, metabolism and health, to not only look, but also feel great, now and in the long run?

If this is a hell yes, then give these 5 simple tricks a go!

  1. Keep your blood sugar stable
  2. Up your protein, omega 3s and vegetable intake
  3. Move your body – but give it rest too
  4. Prioritise sleep and stress management
  5. Make time for fun & play

How come? Let’s dive into each in a little more detail.

1) Keep your blood sugar stable

There is a ton of hype around blood sugar control at the moment, such as the Zoe app using continuous blood glucose monitoring taking the UK by storm. But this isn’t something new. Research has known for decades that having a steady blood sugar not only helps to beat cravings, lowers belly fat and wrinkles, but is also important to keep inflammation, free radical production, cellular ‘rusting’ and ‘ageing’ (via a process called glycation, where sugar attaches to our cells and creates ‘advanced glycation end products’, in short ‘AGEs’) at bay, plus a stronger immune system. Instead of cutting all carbs out entirely, focus on ‘coating’ your carbs with some protein, veg and fats to lower  a blood sugar spike. Which brings us to the next trick.

Blood sugar swings also play a large role in hot flashes, mood swings, brain fog and stubborn belly fat.

2) Up your protein, omega 3s and vegetable intake

This won’t only aid in keeping your blood sugar more steady, but also give your body the building blocks it needs to thrive. As we get older, lean muscle mass declines unless we eat enough protein to keep it up (plus exercise, more on that in a moment!). Protein is also needed to make neurotransmitter like serotonin and dopamine, that keep us happy, calm and motivated.

Omega 3s such as found in salmon and sardines (or algue supplements if you prefer plant-based) keeps inflammation in check, helping our mood, energy, lowers bloating and assists a killer metabolism, plus helps with inflammatory hormonal conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.

And lastly on the food front: Eat the rainbow in vegetables! They all have wonderful different health properties. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables for example help to break down estrogen and thereby lowering symptoms like tender breasts, PMS and painful periods. Seaweed is high in iodine which is essential for our thyroid (= metabolism!), breast health and more! Keeping ½ the plate full with veggies will also feed your gut microbiome, those little bugs in the gut that have gained a ton of attention in research lately for their many important effects on short term wellbeing, but also long term prevention.

3) Move your body – but give it rest too

You likely are aware that movement is much more than just burning some extra calories. Research shows its role in keeping our heart, cardiovascular system and brain healthy, our muscles and bones strong, but also to balance our mood, keep our blood sugar more stable by keeping our cells insulin sensitive, and burn through stress hormones. Moving, whether that is a strong vinyasa flow, a Barre or spin class, will also assist a better monthly cycle and hormones. But did you know that restorative and stretchy classes like yin yoga are just as important? It is during those rest periods that the body can reap the full benefit of your harder workouts, plus stretching allows the lymphatic system to detox any metabolic waste that might have accumulated in your fascia and reduce joint aches and pains.

4) Prioritise sleep and stress management

Are you one to think that one can sleep when you are dead? Not so fast. It is during sleep that we recover and restore. That’s when we flush out any toxins in the brain, keep our blood sugar more stable, and cells healthy. Research also shows that just one night of lack of sleep makes our body respond entirely different to the same amount and type of food we eat the next day, making us more prone to storing it around the waist instead of utilising it for fueling us, and to top if off, increasing cravings towards unhealthy food choices. Aim for 7.5-9 hours whenever possible.

Another one that commonly gets overlooked, in particular in my A type personality patients, is stress. Are you one to diligently exercise, eat healthy, pop some supplements, but are in constant fight-or-flight mode? This is often the missing link to symptoms and belly fat levels that won’t budge. When we are in fight-or-flight mode (also called the ‘sympathetic nervous system’), the body redirects its blood and efforts towards running away from an imaginary tiger – instead of sending it to our restoring and healing organs. Aim to switch on the vagus nerve more often, which is the main nerve of the ‘rest-digest-heal’ mode (also called the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’). Great strategies are breathwork, belly breathing and mindfulness, such as during a yoga class. But other tricks like saunas or yoga nidra can also help move you into that healing mode.

5) Make time for fun & play

Along the same lines of focusing also on rest and stress reduction, is to make time for fun and play. Again, many start becoming overly focused on healthy living, obsessing about metrics on the various home monitoring tools, food intake and more (it’s even been given a name, ‘orthorexia’). Not only is some fun and play important to lower stress levels, making time for social connectedness in itself has been shown in research to improve health span, hormones, stress levels, inflammation, and even how our body responds to food and sugar intake! I generally advise a 80/20 approach when working with my clients (unless there is something seriously wrong, where a 90/10 might be advisable for an initial time period to get things back to balance). – 80% of the time, ask ‘How can I best nourish my cells?’- and 20% for the little pleasures in life.

Wanting to find out more on how to eat, life, supplement and which tests to run for better hormones, a stronger metabolism, and longterm health, then join Mirthe at one of our upcoming workshops where she will dive deeper into those topics.

Book your spot here.

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