3 Reasons to Supplement with Vitamin D

3 Reasons to Supplement with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins, and one we are most likely to be deficient in as Americans.  Some estimates say anywhere from 80-90% of the population may have sub optimal levels of Vitamin D in the blood.

This is worrying because Vitamin D plays such an important role in health.  From reducing autoimmune issues and inflammation, to preventing disease, Vitamin D is a nutrient we shouldn’t neglect.

Here are 3 important reasons to make sure you’re getting enough, and even supplement if you are at risk for deficiency.

#1 Immune System

The major reason to supplement with Vitamin D is its importance in the immune system- with everything from upper respiratory infections to cancer.

Vitamin D has a protective effect on the immune system, helping T-cells and B-cells to to fight immune threats while also preventing autoimmune issues. 

Several autoimmune diseases (including Lupus and MS) have a high range of deficiency and supplementation with Vitamin D has been shown to improve health in these individuals.

Having sufficient Vitamin has been shown to reduce upper respiratory infections in both summer and winter.  Those with deficiencies of Vitamin D are found to suffer from upper respiratory infections much more often, even accounting for the seasons.  

Fun fact: before they knew about Vitamin D, tuberculosis patients were sent to sanitariums.  They were prescribed lots of sunlight which they believed cured the tuberculosis.

People have also taken cod liver oil for ages for its health benefits.  Cod liver oil is a great source of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D also reduces inflammation in the body, making it important for people with many health conditions like diabetes, infertility, autoimmunity, or metabolic syndrome.  

#2 Bone Health

It’s a well accepted fact in the medical community that Vitamin D is just as important for bone health as calcium because of the role it plays as a calcium cofactor.

Vitamin D helps maintain calcium homeostasis in the body.  That’s why so many calcium supplements now also have Vitamin D.  

Vitamin D promotes mineralization of the collagen matrix in bone.

Both women and men commonly don’t get enough calcium or Vitamin D through the diet and may need to consider supplementation.

Another important Vitamin for bone health, and still relatively unknown, is Vitamin K2.  Many supplements don’t contain all three and may not be as effective.

#3 Happiness

The last and best reason to supplement with Vitamin D is that it promotes happiness and emotional stability.

It is very common for people to feel sad, depressed, or anxious during the winter and to feel happier in summer.

Likewise, those who work outside or have ample sunshine time during the day report happier moods than those stuck in dark offices all day.

There’s something to this besides the fun of swimming and eating ice cream.

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is primarily processed through the skin rather than through food.  During the summer, we wear less and tend to spend more time outdoors, and this increases the amount we produce.  In turn, we get sick less often and feel altogether happier.  

Vitamin D deficiencies are associated with lower mood and decreased cognitive function.

Since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it’s important not to take too much, since the body does store some.

However, Vitamin D needs range depending on specific conditions.  Recommendations for average adults age 19-50 are about 600 i/u a day to prevent deficiency.  This can come from sunlight, diet, or supplements, but it may take up to 1500 or 2000 i/u a day, depending on the individual, to keep blood levels about the recommended 30 ng/ml.

Obese individuals, those with active infections, or those taking certain medications may need twice as much Vitamin D.  Excess fat actually shuffles Vitamin D into the fat so that the body cannot use all of it.

Many in the natural health community recommend even higher levels.  They probably have a point since with the use of sunscreen, we may not be getting enough Vitamin D even during summer and food provides relatively little.

A Vitamin D blood test is relatively inexpensive and easy to order.  I’d recommend asking your doctor to run it the next time you have blood run so you can see where you’re at.  

Also recommended is to get at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight to a majority of skin per day.

If that’s not possible, I recommend taking a supplement like this one which contains Vitamin D, A, and K, all necessary cofactors.  Find it here.

Be careful if you also take other supplements or a multivitamin as these often contain Vitamin D as well and make sure you aren’t taking too much.

When looking for a vitamin D supplement, look for Vitamin D3, the form that is best absorbed by the body.

Do you take Vitamin D?  How has it helped you?

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Women with PCOS Make

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Women with PCOS Make

I’ve been working with women who have PCOS now for more than 5 years. In this time, I’ve encountered hundreds if not thousands of specific cases. Iv’e read just about every blog, website, and article there is out there for PCOS. I’ve spent hours searching through online forums and facebook communities, learning about women’s experiences.

After all this time, I’ve learned a thing or two (or several hundred) about what’s right for PCOS, as well as what isn’t.

To help prevent you from making the same mistakes I see over and over again with women who have PCOS, I’ve put together a list of the 10 most common ones. Hopefully then you’ll be able to dodge the bullet, so to speak, and overcome PCOS quickly and painlessly.

  1. Going on the Birth Control Pill

The birth control pill might be a good way to mask symptoms of PCOS, but it never fixes the underlying problem. In fact, many women who go on the pill find that their PCOS has worsens while on it, but don’t find out until they get off the pill, try to get pregnant, then can’t. Birth Control Pills are one of the most favored “solutions” for PCOS of doctors, but they are completely ineffective in terms of healing, fertility, or long-term freedom from PCOS.

  1. Using Metformin

Due to its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the Western world. Metformin can help alleviate complications from diabetes, as well as help women who have PCOS, especially type 1 PCOS (more on which in video #2). Metformin is a problem, however, since much like birth control pills, in that it never solves the underlying problem causing hormone imbalance and PCOS. It only ever covers it up.

  1. Taking estrogen blockers

Thousands of women take Estro block or other estrogen blockers in hopes of helping their PCOS. However, estrogen is generally not the main problem for women with PCOS. If you’re taking estrogen blockers, you may be targeting the wrong hormones. Instead, consider looking into ways to decrease testosterone and/or DHEA-S levels, especially if you are “type 1 PCOS”. If you are “type 2 PCOS,” more estrogen might actually be what you need.

  1. Taking herbal supplements

Admittedly, some women find great relief from herbal supplements. But just like with Metformin and birth control pills, they don’t  provide permanent solutions. They only help to alleviate symptoms and cover up underlying issues. Also, they are not well studied by the scientific literature, so their effects are not well known. Most supposed “effects” of herbal supplements simply come from people’s stories. So it may be worthwhile to experiment with herbal supplements while addressing underlying issues, but this should be done carefully, and with due acknowledgement of the fact that it may not fix underlying issues.

  1. Doing a lot of cardio

Is more always better? For exercise, the answer is no, especially if you’re spending all your time on a bike or a treadmill. The best way to exercise for PCOS is to shoot for efficiency: short, intense, effective exercises instead of long, grueling, stamina-demanding exercises are best. This is because short and intense work outs (such as lifting heavy weights) help improve insulin levels and hormone balance, while long-distances exercises can help, but not quite as much. Most women do well shooting for 3-4 weight lifting work outs a week.

  1. Failing to investigate underlying causes

Trying to overcome PCOS without paying attention to its underlying causes is like shooting in the dark. Getting your hormone levels tested by a doctor, by a functional medicine practitioner, or with a home saliva test is a great way to get data on what’s going on in your body. If you don’t have access to that, learning about the potential causes and types of PCOS and their symptoms (which I’ll discuss some in video #2) may very well be enough. The more you know about what’s causing your PCOS, the more specifically you can treat it.

  1. Low carb diets

Most women who have PCOS try a low carbohydrate diet. Is this effective? Sometimes. But not all women are helped by it. In fact, more than 20% of women who have PCOS may be hurt by it. If you try a low carb diet, pay close attention to your symptoms and see if they get better or worse. That way, you can stop yourself from doing damage if you are one of the 20% of women who really need those carbs.

  1. Low fat, high protein diets

Common nutritional wisdom says that low fat, high protein diets are best. Nutritionists or magazines might tell you to eat salad with low fat dressing and lean chicken breast. But this is not necessarily best, and definitely not for women with hormone imbalance. Hormones (and other important parts of the body, such as brain matter) are made out of fat. Without it, as you heal from PCOS, your body won’t be able to produce the hormones it needs. Fat is a friend, for all women with PCOS.

  1. Dining out

Unfortunately, dining out in the West is full of potential dangers for women with PCOS. One of the worst dangers is the fact that the vast majority of restaurants use vegetable oil for their cooking. Vegetable oil (including corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil, and more) is rich in omega 6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation. Inflammation is one of the most common underlying issues that women with PCOS suffer from. To help minimize your inflammation levels, consider dining out as little as possible, or specifically requesting olive oil or butter to be used for your meals. Additionally, adding a fermented cod liver oil supplement (fermentation prevents the fats from oxidizing and keeps them healthful) is one quick way to start reducing inflammation levels.

  1. Ignoring potential red flags

Irregular or absent periods, acne, facial hair growth, and difficulty losing weight are all potential symptoms of PCOS. But it’s important when you’re looking for the underlying causes of PCOS to pay attention to other symptoms you experience. Do you have good digestive health? Are you chronically cold? Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Any symptom you experience in your body could help point to underlying causes.

If you’re looking for help on your journey with PCOS – and want to do things like pay attention to red flags, and avoid all the mistakes these women have, I can help you. There are countless posts on my blog about various things concerning PCOS. You can catch a list of the most popular ones at the page labeled PCOS.

You can also, if you’re ready to get serious about healing (did I tell you I overcame PCOS in 6 weeks once I finally figured out what my underlying problem was?), check out my totally risk free program for overcoming PCOS: PCOS Unlocked: The Manual.

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

If you have PCOS, you’ve probably tried a number of things to help your health, and you probably have a number of concerns.

Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, more likely to suffer metabolic disorders and insulin-related conditions, and, alongside the extra facial hair, irregular periods, and infertility, it’s a lot to take.

I care deeply about this condition and have worked in my own way to help those who have it for many years (see my PCOS program: PCOS Unlocked)

But the more prevalent PCOS becomes, the more research is done, and new things are coming out all the time!

I’m so excited to bring you this information on L-carnitine, a very special amino acid that can help women with PCOS lose weight naturally and feel more energetic.  

L-carnitine is a nootropic amino acid found typically in meat products and milk.

Nootropics are types of supplements (like adaptogens) that work with the brain to increase it’s efficiency.  

L-carnitine helps alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, while increasing the mitochondria’s potential to burn fat.

For most people (i.e. those without PCOS) it is not a nutrient of concern and they synthesize an ample amount internally and from lysine and methionine in foods.  However, it has been found that women with PCOS are often deficient in L-carnitine, regardless of their diets.

L-carnitine improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower blood glucose, which is valuable for women with PCOS who are usually insulin resistant.  

This ability, plus the fact that PCOS women are often deficient in L-carnitine seem to make l-carnitine effective in promoting natural weight loss.  

It is also known to increase energy, lower ammonia, enhance energy during cancer treatment, improve exercise tolerance and energy in those with conditions like angina and congestive heart failure, and enhance sperm morphology, in case you were curious!

Although studies regarding weight loss with l-carnitine in general seem to find mixed benefit, studies which look at those deficient in l-carnitine or those with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome find it does help.

In fact, a recent study of PCOS only women found that compared to placebo, statistically significant weight loss occurred over 12 weeks with supplementation.

This is excellent news since it is no secret that PCOS women, with their hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically struggle to maintain a healthy weight.  

Adverse effects are rare but can include gastrointestinal disturbance, body odor, and seizures.  I’ve heard from some women that it causes a “fishy” odor in the urine, which can be unpleasant.  It may possibly interact with anticoagulants and certain thyroid medications so, like with any supplement or diet, you should get the okay from your doctor.  

Typical doses in the studies that showed weight loss benefits ranged from 500-2,000 mg a day, with 2,000 mg. a day being what was used with PCOS women.

Though the evidence for this supplement in PCOS are somewhat new, there’s enough promise that I find it interesting for PCOS ladies looking for weight loss help.  
It’s not a magic pill, and a focus on healthy dietary habits is absolutely still vital for women the PCOS.

But, one of the cool things about L-carnitine is that it is best deposited into muscles in hyperinsulinemic states, or during times when insulin is high (which is almost all the time for most PCOS women).

That means those with insulin resistant conditions would see the most benefit from supplementation.

If you’re interested in trying L-carnintine, give it at least 12 weeks of supplementation.  This is one (find l-carnitine on amazon here) I particularly like because the pills are in 1000 mg amounts so you can just take 2 a day, with meals.  

Find L-carnitine on Amazon here. 

Do you take l-carnitine and has it helped you?  What supplements are part of your PCOS routine?

 

(Here’s the citation for that study, in case you want to check it out- 

Samimi, M., Jamilian, M., Afshar Ebrahimi, F., Rahimi, M., Tajbakhsh, B., & Asemi, Z. (2016). Oral carnitine supplementation reduces body weight and insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Clinical endocrinology.)

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution

Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution

Estrogen dominance and probiotics are two words that don’t typically go together. Estrogen is a hormone. Probiotics are for guts. It seems that simple.

But it is not.

It is possible to cure your estrogen dominance with probiotics?

As it turns out, you very well may be able to.

Estrogen dominance (which I discuss at length in the post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where it’s coming from and what to do about it) is one of the most common health problems to face women today.

It is brought about by many different factors. Birth control pill usage, exposure to estrogens in the environment, having a high body fat percentage, stress, high intake of estrogenic foods (see this post on phytoestrogens: phytoestrgens in the body: how soy interferes with natural hormone balance and also Why I now believe phytoestrogens may be good for you), and an inflammatory diet can all be factors.

Estrogen dominance can be signalled by symptoms such as depression, mood swings, PMDD, PMS, menstrual cramps, low libido, weight gain, ovarian cysts, cystic fibroids, and variants of female cancers.

It can be an incredible challenge to overcome.

Yet emerging science is beginning to demonstrate that probiotics could play a role. In fact, probiotics could be a key component to an estrogen dominance solution.

Here’s how:

Estrogen dominance: Probiotics for reducing Beta-glucuronidase

I know it’s a mouthful, but it’s important.

Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that is produced by  “bad bacteria.” This enzyme breaks the bond between an important molecule the liver creates – glucuronic acid – and a toxin to which glucuronic acid is attached. The liver excretes glucuronic acid specifically in order to attach to toxins and then excrete them out of the body.

When beta-glucuronidase breaks the bond between glucuronic acid and toxins in the gut, these toxins are then freed to be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream through the intestinal walls.

This is extremely problematic.

All sorts of bad molecules count as “toxins.” This ranges from heavy metals to toxic by-products of your body’s metabolism, to excess estrogen.

The liver is the body’s primary way of clearing  “old” hormones out of the body. If you don’t have an efficient disposal system – that is, if your liver doesn’t function properly or if estrogen gets reabsorbed back into your body – then your hormone levels will simply keep piling up over time.

Fortunately, healthy supplementation of fermented foods (such as these: Organic Raw Kombucha, Fermented Natto beansKimchiCoconut Yogurt, Raw Organic SauerkrautKefirPickled Baby Beets) on a daily basis,

OR a high quality probiotic supplement such as my personal favorite Prescript Assist, will help boost good gut flora in your intestines, and replace the bad.

This will reduce the rate at which glucuronic acid is separated from toxins, and therefore help you excrete all the toxins your liver processes. Including estrogen.

Estrogen dominance: probiotics for increasing gut motility

Another powerful effect probiotics can have on estrogen dominance is by speeding up the rate of your bowels.

An unfortunately high percentage of women are constipated. An even higher percentage aren’t necessarily constipated per se, but do not have regular bowels movements – at least once a day.

This is okay, it’s not necessarily a bad thing for your health. But it does mean that you may be reabsorbing more toxins into your bloodstream than you would like.

The slower your digestion is, the more time toxins have to hang out in your intestines and get reabsorbed.

The speedier your digestion is (or, at least, having a health rate of digestion), the more efficiently your body will be able to empty out excess estrogen and other molecules your body doesn’t want hanging around.

The reason probiotics can help with this is that gut flora actually comprise a whopping 30% of the bulk of your stool. The more bulk you have – and of the healthy sort – the better your stool will move along. Gut flora also help process the foodstuff in your gut, which makes that more digestible and easily excretable as well.

Estrogen dominance: probiotics for reducing inflammation

Probiotics are now well known to help reduce inflammation in the body in a number of ways.

This has a number of positive downstream effects. One of them is on hormone production.

When the body is inflamed, it doesn’t necessarily produce hormones in the correct amounts. In fact, the body will often over-produce estrogen in times of stress, as it is a part of the pro-inflammatory response. This is important to note: reducing inflammation can help reduce excess estrogen levels, and reducing excess estrogen levels can help reduce inflammation. Estrogen is complex. 

But it is clear that excess inflammation is harmful, and that estrogen can play a role in it.

So marshalling all your resources – including a healthy gut biome – in fighting inflammation can go a long way towards hormone health.

Estrogen dominance: the probiotic solution

Estrogen dominance can be helped by a number of things. I discuss many of them in this post: The Estrogen Dominance Post: Where It’s Coming from and What to Do About It.

Yet perhaps one of the best (and easiest) things you can do is make sure your gut is in good order.

My favorite broad spectrum probiotic – Prescript Assist – could possibly go a long a way.

I however personally prefer to do it the “natural” way – that is, with food. I keep my fridge stocked with Kimchi and Coconut Yogurt always.

Other good alternatives include Organic Raw Kombucha, Fermented Natto beansRaw Organic SauerkrautKefir, and Pickled Baby Beets.

And please, as ever, let me know if you have any questions, comments, or experiences to share! We all grow best when we learn from one another 🙂

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

5 Signs You Suffer from High Testosterone and the 5 Reasons Why

5 Signs You Suffer from High Testosterone and the 5 Reasons Why

High testosterone in women is one of the most common hormone disorders. Literally tens of millions of women suffer from it in the United States alone. So how do you know if you have high testosterone?

1. Acne

Testosterone is elevated around ovulation cycles if you are menstruating which can lead to hormonal acne breakouts commonly around your jaw or chin. If you have PCOS you may be suffering from breakouts like these most of the time.

2. Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Having irregular menstrual cycles creates a hormonal balance allowing testosterone to become dominant or recessive. Another reason you may be having irregular menstrual cycles could be stemming from PCOS.

3. Blood Sugar Swings

Insulin encourages the ovaries to produce more testosterone

4. Low Libido

Your testosterone levels can be high but if your other primary sex hormones are not balanced, then high testosterone will not result in higher libido

5. Male Pattern Balding and Hair Growth

Another sign of high testosterone hormone imbalance is male pattern balding and hair growth.

 

So why is your testosterone elevated?


 

1. Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

If you have type I or II diabetes or know that you are insulin resistant, high testosterone is probably a problem for you.

Approximately 25% of the testosterone in female bodies comes from the ovaries. This is natural. However, insulin in the bloodstream stimulates the ovaries to produce more testosterone. This can seriously increase the ovaries’ output of testosterone.Depending on the severity of the dysregulation, insulin can lead to a significant increase in testosterone in the bloodstream. This is as much as 2 or 3 times over the optimal and healthy testosterone levels.

This is very often the case in polycystic ovarian syndrome.

2. Thyroid Disorders

Sex hormone levels and thyroid hormone levels are intimately related in many ways.

One important way is through Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). When thyroid function slows — as in hypothyroidism — SHBG levels fall. SHBG binds excess hormones to it in the blood. It is incredibly important for maintaining healthy hormone balance. When hormones like testosterone threaten to increase and there is bountiful SHBG then it can bind the testosterone and minimize its threat. Without SHBG, excessive hormones can become a real problem.

In healthy women, 80% of testosterone is bound by SHBG in the blood. With decreased SHBG however, significantly more testosterone runs free and causes testosterone-related issues.

3. Stress

Stress can have a wide variety of negative impacts on the female body. Many of these have the potential to elevate testosterone levels.For example, stress can cause hypothyroidism and the concomitant decreases in SHBG.Stress can also decrease levels of estrogen and progesterone in the blood. Estrogen and progesterone perform a counter-balancing function to testosterone. Without them, testosterone levels can rise to unhealthy levels.

Stress also causes a rise in DHEA-S, which is a male sex hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is not testosterone – but it is one of testosterone’s closest cousins. It acts in a chemically similar way and will often cause the same hormone disruptions. Read more about this process here, and about how stress negatively impacts hormone production here.

sleep and stress effect testosterone

4. Fasting After Workouts

If you work out frequently and do not eat afterwards, your testosterone levels – specifically as a woman, can rise. After intense exercise, several hormone levels are elevated including Cortisol – the “stress hormone” – and testosterone.

Cortisol levels fall naturally after a workout. But testosterone levels do not. They remain very high and decrease much more slowly if you do not eat afterward. If you do this on a regular or even daily basis this can cause a chronic problem.

testosterone increase from fasting

5. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Finally, the most common cause of high testosterone in women is PCOS.


Read about the in’s and out’s of PCOS


Now, it is not altogether clear what causes what: does high testosterone cause PCOS, or does PCOS cause high testosterone? There is no certain answer. But what is certain is that the two are inextricably linked for many women. It may very well be the case that they both cause each other: high testosterone causes PCOS and PCOS causes high testosterone.

PCOS stands for Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and is the condition of having multiple cysts on one’s ovaries. There are three criteria used in diagnosing PCOS. In order to be diagnosed you must meet two of the three criteria: irregular or absent menstrual cycles, elevated testosterone or other male sex hormone levels, and cysts on the ovaries as demonstrated by an ultrasound.

PCOS affects as many as 15% of in America today, and is actually the leading cause of infertility, by a long shot.

So if you suffer from symptoms of high testosterone, from any of the above conditions such as hypothyroidism, stress, or insulin resistance / diabetes, you may want to investigate PCOS as a potential underlying cause or secondary effect of your condition.

PCOS may be a complex condition but this does not mean that it is insurmountable. I myself overcame my own PCOS (despite receiving terrible medical advice). So many of the women I have worked with on the issue have, too.

To read more of my work on PCOS and find out how it’s unique from what other people have done, check out any of these posts: What is PCOS? PCOS Treatment OptionsThe PCOS Diet, or my program on overcoming PCOS, PCOS Unlocked: The Manual.

 

So that’s it for common causes of high testosterone. Do you have other ones in your own experience? Questions, concerns? I’d love to hear about it – please let me know!

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

This Week in Paleo: The Liver and Your Hormones

This Week in Paleo: The Liver and Your Hormones

When we think about our hormonal health, it’s easy to think of it as a factor in and of itself.

But just like every other process in the body, hormonal health is intricately connected with the other processes of the body, and many of the other organs.

The liver in particular plays an important role in the maintenance of hormonal health and to properly balance our hormone’s we can’t neglect this important organ. 

How the Liver Balances Hormones

The liver is where things go to be filtered.  Anything circulating that is in excess (like too much estrogen or testosterone, for example), anything that is toxic, and waste products are processed through the liver and excreted from the body. 

In a healthy liver, this means that the onslaughts of daily life in the form of toxins and old hormones get processed out and everything functions in balance.

But sometimes, other conditions like PCOS mean that for myriad reasons too many hormones are cycling around the body.

If the liver can’t process them because it’s already overwhelmed with toxin load or poor diet, these excess hormones can reak havoc and cause things like estrogen dominance or exacerbate PCOS symptoms.

Other negative things can occur if the liver get overloaded, including the production of free radicals that the liver can’t then contain and excrete.

(See my article on estrogen dominance here.  For help with PCOS, check out my PCOS Unlocked program here.)

That’s why it’s so important to not only think about balancing our hormones, but about supporting our liver.

Supporting the Liver

A properly supported liver can make the difference between chronic hormonal imbalance and the ability to heal.  

The liver goes through 2 stages of detoxification , called Phase I and Phase II which are each equally important.  Several processes happen during these two phases that break down waste products into less harmful or weaker versions of themselves and eventually excrete them through urine or fecal matter.

If any of these processes gets thwarted along the way, it can cause any of the problems mentioned above.

(If digestion is too slow (constipation) or the gut flora balance is off, it’s possible for some hormones to be re-absorbed.  That’s why it’s also important to work to improve our digestion, making sure to drink enough water and eat enough fiber as well as improve gut health.  Fortunately, many of the steps to take to support the liver are also great for digestion!)

The most important thing to do to support the liver is to avoid foods and toxins that burden the liver.

Don’t tax the liver with toxic substances like alcohol.  As much as it’s fun to have a drink now and then, alcohol is a poison which primarily burdens the liver.  Alcohol in particular steals glutathione which increases estrogen levels in the blood.

Other things to avoid include:

To support the liver, several foods should be a major part of the diet. These foods include the following:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Cruciferous and sufur containing vegetables like brocolli and onions
  • Grass-fed organic meats, especially red meat, and eggs
  • Pure, filtered water

If you struggle already with a slugglish liver or have a condition like estrogen dominance or PCOS, the following supplements help support the liver through Phase I and Phase II detoxification and can be really helpful:

  • Methylated forms of B12 (find it here), B6 (find it here), and Folic Acid (find it here): important for the passing of methyl groups which helps with the excretion of hormones like estrogen and is sometimes difficult in women with PCOS.
  • DIM (I like this one): contains the strongest components of cruciferous vegetables known to help break down excess hormones.
  • Calcium D Glucarate (I like this brand) supports the glucuronidation of  the liver and prevents excess estrogen from being re-absorbed in the bowels.
  • Glutathione (find it here): important for the detoxification of alcohol. Smoking, chronic stress, and infections or inflammatory disorders also deplete this important nutrient.

Doing a liver “detox” that you might find on Pinterest of drinking some kind of miserable lemon-water concoction for 3 days with no solid food is not necessary.

If you’re curious how to do a liver detox properly as well as read the more scientific descriptions of Phase I and Phase II liver detox, read my article here. 

How do you like to support the liver?

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.