Most of us don’t think too seriously about our health over the Christmas holidays, maybe a slight hint of guilt that we might put on weight, or a sideways glance to our liver when we have a few too many glasses of champagne, but in general we push these reasonably acceptable worry’s to the side, and pick them up in the new year. One thing that doesn’t get given a first thought, let alone a second thought, is your hormones, so I thought I would bring to the surface your beautiful biochemical messengers racing around changing as we dive head first into the the Christmas season.
1. Firstly and understandably adrenaline is one of the most obvious hormones to rise. Our rushing, busyness, worry, stress, anxiety, all trigger the same ‘fight or flight’ automatic nervous system response. Despite living in one of the safest times to be alive these behaviours and emotions send signals to our body of danger. Its automatic response, survival.
Adrenalin kicks in and rising dramatically, shutting down organs, systems, dragging glycogen stored in your muscles and liver into the blood stream as glucose, spiking blood sugar, giving you a rush of energy so the body has a quick fuel to ‘fight or flight’. Think paper on a fire, quick high intensity flames that burns quickly and goes out.
Now if you are fighting or fleeing you will use this fuel and then get hungry, tired, or maybe a bit foggy headed usually within a couple of hours – if you are not fighting or fleeing, the body will move the excess glucose back into storage, but usually as fat not glycogen. Adrenaline is a short term hormone, that serves to get you out of danger and then drop back down again. if you are relying on this hormone long term this can lead to adrenal fatigue.
This is touching the surface of some of the consequences of burning this candle at both ends, so to support you over Christmas, notice your heart racing, breath getting shorter and shallower, tension in your body, feeling wired in the evening and make a conscious decision to intervene.
Take some time out to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, yoga, walking, meditating, but even if that feels too much, just breathe. Breathe out longer than you breath in, or slow your breath, or do diaphragmatic breathing, or any breathing practice really, just change your breath as much as you can to activate your healing and switch off fight or flight. You can also do some progressive muscle relaxation in the evening before bed to retrain your cells to chill!
2. One hormone you probably haven’t considered over Christmas, but you may notice it in the new year with some heavier or more painful periods, pms or menopause symptoms is Estrogen. Your liver is responsible for regulating Estrogen and if you load your body with caffeine, sugar, medication, alcohol over Christmas, your liver is going to get a bit backlogged. If you liver is backlogged well estrogen and cholesterol move to the back of the queue and can just get recycled back into the body leading to high levels than normal. Symptoms of high estrogen are those lady like symptoms.
So you can support yourself this Christmas, by one, reducing the burden on your liver, or two, supporting your liver to detox through practices like coffee enemas, detoxes or having fasting days.
3. One hormone you may not have even heard of but you can expect to go up over Christmas is Ghrelin. This hormones gives you hungry feels and is regulated by the stretch of your stomach. Now when I say the stretch of your stomach and Christmas in the same sentence its easy to understand the connection right?! More food in and out of the stomach, in particular sugar and carbs means the stomach gets empty more often and quicker if the fuel is short lived (ie sugar and carbs). This hormone is linked to weight gain so it would be great to keep it in check. If you want to support yourself this Christmas have some good quality fats with your meals.. These reduce ghrelin and make you feel fuller for longer and will also reduces your cravings for sugars and carbs. Think avocado, nuts like macadamia and brazil nuts, maybe some olive oil on your salad, if you eat meat don’t be so quick to cut all the fat off and if you have dairy pick your full fat options instead of light. Poor sleep also increases ghrelin so make sure you prioritise sleep over the Christmas season too!
4. Last but not least one of the hormones that causes some of the biggest problems I see is insulin. This is hormone is the gate keeper to the metabolic pathway of your fat cells. In its presence it locks and stores fat, in its absence you can burn fat. What bumps up insulin? Stress (aka worry, busyness, anxiety, anger), sugar, carbs, are some easy examples, so just know the more of these you do the more you will store and lock up fat. Add some of the strategies above for stress, as well as choosing good fats with your meal to make it easier to reduce carbs and sugar. When you have carbs and sugar pick slow release unrefined ones so you at least get some nutrients and the sugar spike it not so high so you don’t get on the sugar roller coaster. Think sweet potato, fruits like cherries, apples, grapefruit, peaches and plums. You may also like to have a tsp of ACV before your meals to support your stomach acid levels and balance the blood sugar of your meal. This is general info so remember to check with your health practitioner before making changes as I don’t know your personal circumstances.
If you want more hormone support, I delve into a few more strategies in my Balance Your Hormones and Biohack Your Metabolism Fast Track Video Series Here which will open your eyes to a whole new world of support for your metabolism, hormones and multi-dimensional health. Just pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pop the details through to you.
Much love and unlimited health this Christmas, we are only scratching the surface of our body, health and life potential, its so exciting whats to come!