Taking steps to improve your hormone health may feel overwhelming at first. But focusing on small, daily micro habits for hormone health can have an outsized impact. As James Clear, author of the best selling Atomic Habits says, “The habits you repeat every day, largely determine your health, wealth and happiness.”
So let’s take a look at our top 10 micro habits for happy hormones in 2023, according to the FUTURE WOMAN experts.
Our top 10 micro habits for hormone health
1. GET Morning sunlight
Our circadian rhythm is our internal body clock, responsible for making sure that everything happens at the right time, including the release of our hormones. Our circadian rhythm responds to light and dark: exposure to blue light (naturally strongest in the morning) signals to our brain that it’s day time leading to the release of cortisol, and exposure to dark signals that it’s night time, leading to the release of melatonin.
Studies show that a disrupted circadian rhythm, due to poor bed-time routine, artificial light and use of screens, can lead to many health problems including poor energy, poor sleep, low mood and of course hormone imbalances.
2. Jump up and down
Another important internal system that you might not be aware of is your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system acts as a kind of sanitation and recycling system inside the body, clearing out metabolic waste, proteins, vitamins and used hormones. If your lymphatic system is congested, you’re likely to experience low energy, constipation, bloating, headaches and PMS.
Because the lymphatic system doesn’t contain a master pump (like the heart) to move the fluid around, it relies on things like muscular contractions, pulsing arteries and breathing in order to get things moving. So regular movement is a great way of stimulating the lymph.
We recommend our clients try 100 vertical jumps every morning or 2 minutes of skipping in order to stimulate the lymphatic system.
3. Eat protein AT breakfast
Balanced blood sugar levels are vital for our hormone health. Imbalanced blood sugar, as a result of a high sugar or high carbohydrate diet, can result in low energy, cravings, mood changes, weight gain and disrupted sleep. Crucially, it can also put us at greater risk of insulin resistance which can lead to PCOS, worsen perimenopause symptoms and lead to many other hormone imbalances.
One of the easiest ways to balance our blood sugar is to start the day with a high protein, high fat breakfast. Research shows that this simple change has the biggest impact on blood glucose over the following 24 hours.
4. Stick to one cup of coffee (after breakfast)
Coffee can impact both our blood sugar and stress levels, which means it can impact our insulin and cortisol hormones. These are the two most important hormones for women’s health. This is because if insulin and cortisol are out of balance then it is likely that all other hormones, especially reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen, will also be out of balance.
Ideally, we’d recommend cutting out coffee entirely if you’re feeling symptoms of hormone imbalance. But sticking to one cup of coffee a day will minimise caffeine’s disruption to your hormones. And in order to further minimise coffee’s impact on insulin and cortisol, we also recommend to always drink coffee after a high protein breakfast (to ensure balanced blood sugar) and to consume at least 2 hours after waking (to allow your natural cortisol pattern to develop).
5. consume more micro nutrients
We focus a lot on the importance of macro nutrients for hormone health – plenty of protein, healthy fats and fibre are all important. But we pay less attention to micro nutrients, our common herbs and spices, which are full of nutritional benefits.
More and more research is showing that herbs and spices contain powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and glucose and cholesterol-lowering properties, and that they can also impact our mood and cognition.
Here are just a few examples:
- Freshly ground black pepper can increase nutrient absorption;
- Coriander has been shown to lower blood sugar levels;
- Nigella seeds can boost testosterone levels;
- High doses of ginger have been shown to improve symptoms in women with PCOS;
- Sage can relieve hot flushes for women in perimenopause and menopause.
6. Set a bedtime alarm for 10pm
This is one of our favourite micro habits for hormone health. Setting a bedtime alarm on your phone is an easy way to remind yourself when it’s time to start getting ready for bed. This will help you to develop a consistent bedtime routine and ensure that you go bed at the same time every night.
We encourage all our clients to be in bed by 10.30pm (most nights!) with the lights out. This supports good quality sleep, which in turn supports your adrenal glands, where reproductive and stress hormones are produced, and balances your circadian rhythm. A balanced circadian rhythm will help to balance out mood, energy and your hormones.
7. Take 10 deep belly breaths
It may seem simple, but learning to breathe from the belly (or diaphragmatic breathing) is the fastest way to calm your nervous system and bring you back into the parasympathetic state. Research has shown that diaphragmatic breathing can significantly lower our main stress hormone, cortisol.
Focus on taking deep breaths into your abdomen, and pay attention to an expanding or stretching sensation in the stomach (rather than in your chest and shoulders). Repeat 10 times throughout the day, or before bed to promote a quality, deep sleep.
8. DRINK MORE WATER
We often forget why water is so important for us. Here are some of the important reasons that we have to drink enough clean, filtered water each day:
- Water helps to regulate body temperature;
- Water is necessary for healthy hormone detoxification;
- Water helps to deliver oxygen around the body to support clear thinking and concentration;
- Water delivers the nutrients to the bloodstream to be used around the body;
- Water is essential for regular bowel movements which is essential for hormone detoxification and health;
- Water helps to keep the microbiome balanced in the mouth, which dictates the rest of the bodies microbiome and can lead to bloating, gas, food intolerances and much more if imbalanced.
We recommend clients buy a glass water bottle (to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastic) and drink small sips of water throughout the day aiming for about 2 litres. It is so simple but one of the most effective things you can do for your health!
9. MOVE more often
When we think about exercise, we tend to think of an intense spinning class or going for a run. We don’t pay as much attention to how we’re moving throughout the day. But this type of movement – standing up, walking, carrying – is referred to as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and it’s really important for our health. Compared to an intentional workout, NEAT is responsible for a higher amount of your daily energy consumption and is gentler on your hormones (it doesn’t trigger a stress response inside the body like a long session of cardio).
When we workout, often our NEAT takes a back seat – we feel tired and spend more time sitting or lying on the sofa. According to research, this affects women slightly more than men! But when we decrease our NEAT we can cancel out the benefits of the workout we did. Studies have shown that if you run for an hour in the morning, and then sit for 10 hours during the day, you lose roughly 80% of the health benefit from your morning workout.
So prioritise your NEAT. Take the stairs, walk to the shops, do some squats while you’re watching TV. Even fidgeting has been shown to have health benefits.
10. Write down 3 things you're grateful for
We’re nearly at the end of our top 10 micro habits for hormone health, and this last one is all about gratitude. Research from the University of Miami showed that a regular practice of writing down 3 things you’re grateful has a positive impact on not only your mood but also your overall health. Participants who wrote just a few sentences each week on what they were grateful for were shown to feel happier, exercise more and visit the doctor less than the control group.
We recommend a daily practice of gratitude journaling – simply choose 3-5 things you feel grateful for and write it down on your phone or in a notebook.
EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS OF HORMONE IMBALANCE?
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