We are living in unprecedented times. We are connected 24/7, are berated with bad news, social media rants and the load, both mental and physical, most women are carrying is immense. We care for our partners, our children, our parents, our job, our community and maybe ourselves. This stress can be obvious, but it can also be low-level hiding beneath the surface wreaking havoc on our hormones and mental well being.
Cortisol is our stress hormone- the one that aids in fight-or-flight response. It also controls how your body processes carbs, fats and proteins. It wants to protect you during times of stress, increasing your appetite, promote fat storage and break down muscle for energy. Great for having to outrun a bear, not so good for continual exposure to cortisol over time…think packed schedules, care-giving, less than ideal diet and lots of coffee and wine. You know, the picture of every busy mom in the Western hemisphere.
I’m Stressed, So What?
This continual exposure to cortisol can lead to increased abdominal fat, bone loss, a suppressed immune system, fatigue and a heightened risk for insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and full blown depression. In addition, your body will always make cortisol first for survival over your reproductive hormones, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
So now, you may be thinking “wait, is it peri-menopause or menopause symptoms, or am I stressed?” The symptoms can be similar:
- Mood Swings
- Hot Flashes
- Irregular Periods
- Low Mood
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Fat Accumulating at Waistline
- Low Libido
The answer is likely both, but you cannot address your hormone health without first addressing your lifestyle and nutrition choices. In my Part 2, I will give you 4 small changes that can lead to big results in balancing your stress and in turn, your hormones.