It was slow but sure—fatigue, mood swings, fuzzy thinking, irritability, insomnia, facial hair (what was up with that?!). These exhausting, frustrating symptoms just crept up on me. And I had no idea why.
It occurred to me that because I was over 40, maybe hormones had something to do with it. I did some research, and sure enough, the signs were there. My hormones were out of whack. Yet, I didn’t feel it was severe enough to see my doctor. Instead, I wanted to try to get them in check on my own, using natural solutions—such as diet, exercise and supplements.
For me, the exercise part would be easy. Experts recommend working out at least four times a week, and incorporating strength training into your routine, to ease symptoms of hormone imbalance. It’s not surprising that exercise helps—it releases chemicals and hormones that improve mood, boost energy and encourage better sleep. Staying fit with regular exercise keeps those areas “under control,” which allows your body to use improved nutrition to deal with other issues.
The second thing I needed to address was my nutrient intake. I learned that vitamin B6 plays a part in reducing levels of estrogen and elevating levels of progesterone, while also helping with water retention, mood swings, anxiety, sleep and memory problems. I started taking a B-complex supplement, plus the minerals zinc (also involved in hormone balance) and magnesium (which is important for healthy bones, nerve health and other important body functions).
The last piece of the hormone puzzle was diet—always the hardest! The most important thing I did was to eliminate sugar. Eating sugar and processed carbohydrates (which break down into sugar) disrupts hormone balance. It’s well known that eating the right foods helps stabilize blood sugar and keeps insulin levels low. A good, balanced diet should consist of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats at a ratio of about 40/30/30. (Remember, not eating enough fat makes you want to eat more carbs!)
I found that making these changes made me feel like my old (younger) self again! If you’re looking for healthy foods or supplements, Vitacost is a great place to get them. You’ll always find the best prices, and the best selection. Be sure to look for your lean protein (tuna, beans), complex carbs (whole wheat pasta, rice, oatmeal) and fats (olive oil, walnuts, natural nut butters) in the food section!
Southern States Championships top contender Melissa Transou, a figure competitor, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports nutrition needs of female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com.