Fall is officially underway, and I can’t think of a more appropriate time for re-evaluating your health and bringing everything into balance. I see many patients with additional complaints this time of year, from infertility, irregular periods, and low libido to hair loss, digestive issues, and weight gain. Hormones seem to rule the season.
As our bodies acclimate to the changes around us, it is important for us to take a little extra time to look within and determine the root cause of any lingering health complaints. Still not convinced that now is the best time? Here are my top five reasons why fall is the best time to balance your hormones.
1. Look and Feel Your Best for the Holiday Season
Do you notice an increase in breakouts around the time of your period? How about weight gain, bloating, and diarrhea? For most women, the shifts in hormones before and during menstruation can cause a host of uncomfortable bodily changes. If you worry about your holiday plans falling too close to the uncomfortable parts of your cycle, this doesn’t have to be the case!
By balancing your hormones, your body will learn to shift naturally from one phase to the next. Choosing a diet that eliminates or significantly reduces dairy, gluten, sugars, and processed foods will aid you in shedding those stubborn pounds around your waist and will keep you motivated to continue your healthy habits despite the holiday treats that abound this time of year.
2. Rest Well to Restore Your Lost Energy
If you find yourself yawning in the middle of the afternoon, or dozing off as the sun goes down, you’re not alone! Autumn’s shorter days and longer nights can cause a major shift in our energy. Unfortunately, many turn to sugary snacks and high-caffeine energy drinks to get through the mid-afternoon slump. While they may cause a temporary energy burst, they leave us feeling even more exhausted afterward, and often unable to rest well.
Women who are nearing menstruation may also suffer from insomnia due to a drop in progesterone. Balancing these hormones means that you will rest more consistently and avoid quick fixes that cause deeper issues. For optimal health, practice good sleep hygiene by omitting sugar and caffeine from your diet. Avoid screens prior to retiring to bed. Ensure that your hormones are in balance in order to face the fall without the fatigue.
3. Boost Your Immunity for Flu Season
It happens every year. Whether the kids bring it home from the classroom, or your coworker shares it with the entire office, flu season arrives in full swing. Wish you had the upper hand? Balance your hormones! When our hormones are out of balance, they can actually suppress the immune response, leaving us vulnerable to all sorts of illnesses. Viruses, infections, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases are all results of this imbalance!
Adaptogen herbs, such as Ashwagandha and American Ginseng help our bodies to manage stress, regulate hormones, and boost immunity. Consult with your health care provider to ensure you’re choosing the right herbs for you.
4. Clear Your Mental Fog
Have you ever gotten home from the grocery store, only to realize that you forgot the most important thing on your list? Do you constantly misplace your car keys? Blame it on your hormones – cortisol, to be exact. As we attempt to lead more stressful lives, our bodies fight back by releasing the stress hormone cortisol. Celebrated for its powerful energy boost known as the fight-or-flight response, cortisol exists to support us in life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, our hormones cannot differentiate between dead-stop traffic with an impending deadline and outrunning a potential attacker. Without a quick resolution to these situations, cortisol accumulates, leading to a weakened immune system, depression, and damage to cells in the hippocampus which causes long-term memory loss.
The good news is that you can take control of your stress level today! As the holiday season invites more stress into your life, take the time to practice healthy stress-management techniques, like yoga and meditation. A high-quality Omega 3 supplement can significantly affect cortisol levels as well.
5. Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
If depression is part of your yearly routine, particularly around fall, you’re likely suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Like most other forms of depression, SAD occurs because of a hormonal imbalance: dips in serotonin and melatonin. Instead of spending half of the year in a slump, take control of your hormonal balance now to avoid the debilitating symptoms of SAD.
Adding a Vitamin D supplement can help ward off both anxiety and depression. Start an exercise routine, whether it’s a class at your local gym or just a brisk walk around the block. Not only will you benefit from heart-healthy exercise, but you’ll fight depression and release feel-good endorphins. If you find you’re still struggling, reach out to a qualified counselor or healthcare practitioner.
Fall is a wonderful season to look inward and take stock of your health. If you find you’re carrying around a few extra pounds, are often depressed, are feeling fatigued, or are frequently unwell, take the time to bring your body back into balance. I offer a free consultation to help you evaluate your health goals. Together, we will discover the root cause of all of your concerns, and will devise a plan to restore you to optimal health.
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.