This month I am launching a special clinic for adolescent girls, and I want to explain why.
I believe that everyone, in any age group and of any gender, can benefit from enhancing their diets to include whole, fresh, health-promoting foods. But I strongly believe that adolescent girls are one of the groups that can benefit the most.
From the onset of puberty, a woman’s body undergoes tremendous changes. Some girls sail through this period without a bother, but for others it can be a tricky time. As someone who has experienced some of the less pleasant side-effects of maturing into a woman, I know first-hand how it feels and, how what you eat can have an enormous effect on mitigating the hormonal storm going on in our bodies.
For both males and females, the onset of puberty is signalled by the release of sex hormones testosterone and oestrodiol. These hormones introduce changes to the body and manifest as physical changes and growth, behavioural changes and psychosocial changes
As a person matures, so their bodies require specific nutrients to ensure that growth and development take place properly. For that reason alone, it is important to eat a balanced diet, but teenage years often throw other challenges into the mix: acne, menstrual pain or irregularity and fluctuating moods. It is unclear why some suffer from hormone imbalance more than others.
There are a handful of medications used to treat female teenage problems, including antibiotics, oral contraceptive pills and isotretinoin (Roaccutane). While these are effective for some, all come with a list of side-effects ranging from nutritional deficiencies and thrush to more severe issues such as birth defects and liver problems.
Can a natural approach compete?
Natural methodologies generally look to address the underlying imbalance causing the complaint, and look to restore the body’s homeostasis, rather than treat symptoms. When it comes to hormone-related issues, a nutritional therapist will work on a number of systems, including:
- The digestive system: ensuring used hormones are promptly excreted and that there is the right balance of good bacteria in your gut. It’s also important to establish whether you are properly absorbing nutrients from the food you eat;
- The liver: ensuring that you have the right vitamins, minerals and other co-factors for optimal detoxification and hormone metabolism;
- The nervous system: for many, acne flares up during stressful periods;
- The endocrine system: this is the system responsible for manufacturing hormones. Proteins, fats and other nutrients are required for proper hormone development.
The good news is that nourishing your body with clean, whole foods is an effective way to get the hormones in balance. Nature provides its own dispensary of nutrients that ensure that the systems above are operating effectively.
How long will it take?
For many health conditions, people are often looking for a quick fix – prompt relief from their symptoms. This is completely understandable. For the most part, pharmaceutical drugs are able to deliver quick results as they often target the symptom, not the cause.
However, in the case of balancing hormones, especially associated skin conditions, even pharmaceutical interventions could take a minimum of three months to see results. When it comes to the pill, many are advised to stay on it long-term (as ceasing results in the reoccurrence of symptoms) and Roaccutane treatment generally lasts 8-10 months.
A natural approach, can also take 3-6 months to show results, but the upside is that the root cause is addressed, meaning reoccurrence is less likely.
Everyone is different and has a unique set of health requirements, but these five food heroes are a must for getting those hormones into balance:
- Water. Sounds obvious, but without it you will struggle to eliminate built up internal and external toxins.
- Good fats. Did you know that hormones are made from cholesterol? Good fats are essential for the manufacture of hormones and some, like omega 3’s, are anti-inflammatory. Avocados, oily fish, nuts and seeds all provide excellent sources of good fats.
- Berries. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, especially berries, contain high amounts of antioxidants which are anti-inflammatory.
- Broccoli. Perhaps not as glamorous as cherries or avocados, but broccoli and related vegetables (cauliflower, turnips and kale) are the go-to foods for hormone balancing due to their powerful liver-supporting compounds.
- Flax seeds. These lovely little seeds work in a number of ways to help bring hormones into balance. They provide fibre for good digestive health, omega 3’s and important polyphenols, called lignans.
Blossom, for adolescent girls
So, my new clinic for teenage girls is up and running. First and foremost, I would like to help young ladies take control of their health by educating them on how diet (good and bad) and small lifestyle changes can impact their overall wellbeing.
Established dietary guidelines already exist for women going through menopause, so it makes sense that young women are also eating correctly for their life stage.
This is not about going against conventional treatments. It’s about trying an approach that has the fewest side effects and long-term results.
At the very least, a focus on fresh, whole foods will never do you or your health any harm!
Drop me a line if you have any questions or would like some more information.