Can you relate to this photo?
We’re stressed out, right? Well, the increased cortisol produced by stress makes us hungry - hungry for carbs, sugar and fat (and not the good kinds, okay?). If we follow suit and eat like this all the time we start to feel fatigued (and in desperately hoping for a caffeine boost), moody and may even start to find that we don’t think as clearly (some will call this ‘brain fog’). And stress forces our body to utilize a significant amount of nutrients to produce the energy we need to respond - even if our stress is created by sitting in front of a computer all day.
Inflammation is also a biomarker of stress. Hänsel, Hong, Cámara, and von Känel demonstrated that the following all contribute to stress and therefore impact proper functioning of the immune system: work-related stress, stressful events experienced during childhood, stress associated with living in poor socioeconomic conditions and stress associated with caring for another. (1)
One of the best ways to address stress?
Use food as medicine.
To start simply, lower your red meat (beef, pork, lamb, goat) intake, eat complex carbs instead of simple carbs, ensure appropriate protein intake, and incorporate more healthy fats. Even mechanically, crunchy, raw vegetables can help release a clenched jaw as you chew. (2)
Stress is so multi-factorial - but you have way more control than you give yourself credit for.
(1) PMID: 20026349
(2) PMID: 25455067
Photo credit: @dribbble
If you’re anything like me, you’ve excused yourself from exercise because of your period. The last time I did this, I pondered it. Would it make me feel better? Or would I actually just continue hanging out with Aunt Flow in misery?
Mittelschmerz – the lovely, weird name for the physical sensation experienced during or directly after the release of an egg from an ovary (ovulation). This pain is felt in the lower part of your abdomen and is often one-sided (but can alternate between sides, month-to-month). Some women will experience this ovulatory pain as a mild, dull, aching sensation and some women may even experience even greater discomfort. Some won’t experience it at all.
Androgens are often referred to as ‘male sex hormones,’ but they’re present in both men and women. When it comes to women, we hear the most about testosterone, DHEA-S and DHT.
Birth control is NOT the only option for painful (dysmenorrhea) and/or heavy periods (menorrhagia). And before jumping on a medication or supplement your HCP should always look into potential causes of extreme cramping – ie. endometriosis, fibroids, etc.
Prostaglandins are a major factor in menstrual cramps – once a month (when Aunt Flow comes to town) they cause uterine muscles to contract in order to release the uterine lining (endometrium). Prostaglandins aren’t bad (they are important for blood clots, inducing labour, etc.), but if certain prostaglandins are high in your cycle – this can predispose to more painful menstrual cramping.
I have seen great variation in the amount of time it takes for a woman’s period to return and regulate. To start, prolactin is the main hormone responsible for milk production. And when elevated (hence, for breastfeeding) it works to prevent ovulation.
Amenorrhea: the absence of your period.
And then amenorrhea is divided into 2 categories: primary and secondary.
We’re going to talk about secondary amenorrhea, which can be observed as: the absence of a period for 3 months in women who had previously had REGULAR cycles, or the absence of a period for 6 months in women who had already been experiencing IRREGULAR cycles.
I talk a lot about cortisol, but it doesn’t exist as a lonely hormone. If you look closely, you can see that the thyroid (see TSH, T4, T3 and rT3) and adrenal glands (ACTH, cortisol) are tightly connected. The (+) and (-) icons indicate positive and negative feedback throughout this entire axis – how fascinating.
So - the liver is responsible for detoxing alcohol. But it’s also important for metabolizing estrogen. In women, more than one alcoholic drink per day has been shown to increase circulation of androgens (ie. testosterone) and estrogens (1, 2) – this predisposes you to symptoms of estrogen dominance.
When you have healthy, restful sleep, cortisol levels are reduced to their lowest levels (typically around midnight). If cortisol doesn’t drop appropriately, this contributes to fat production and provides very little fuel (glycogen) to the muscles. So, you’ve got weight gain. And you’re tired.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes BURN-OUT as an occupational phenomenon. “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”