As you gear up for the feast and holiday tomorrow, I wanted to share an experience from a very special trip I was on this Fall.  I came back from my honeymoon in Italy in early November and although I had heard about how good the food was, I hadn’t expected to dive right into the world of sustainable agriculture.  One of my favorite experiences was staying at an old farmhouse in Tuscany on 71 acres of land where the owners grew and cooked almost ALL of their own food.  Wow.  They cultivated wine, olive oil, and nearly all of the fruits and vegetables you would find in a grocery store.  They also had boar, duck and hunted game on their property.  Everything was grown in the spirit of “systemic” farming, where the entire property was considered an integrated system and they listened to the land for guidance as much as their own farming knowledge.  The meals I had on this farm are etched in my taste buds for life, and it was amazing to experience true sustainable living in graceful action.  It’s encouraging to know that with the local and clean food movement, we’re cultivating farms like this right here at home.
This week’s newsletter is a continuation of the Food-Hormone connection and this weeks’ hormone is progesterone.  Whereas estrogen is so often high for many premenopausal women, progesterone seems to have a tough time staying up at normal levels.
If you’re experiencing infertility, heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue, PMS, anxiety, perimenopausal symptoms or painful, lumpy breasts you may have low progesterone.  Other conditions that are associated with low progesterone are PCOS, early miscarriage, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. 
Progesterone is one of your sex hormones.  It has a lot of functions in your body, but three that I find most interesting are that it:

  1. Prevents miscarriage, supports healthy pregnancy and is absolutely necessary for balanced menstrual cycles.
  2. Keeps estrogen in check and prevents “estrogen dominance” symptoms and the conditions that come along with it.
  3. Is used to make cortisol (a stress hormone) and many, many other hormones including estrogen. 

Woah!  That’s 3 pretty important roles.  So, you might ask, why is progesterone so low for so many women?  I think part of it has to do with how much stress we’re under today.  Stress eats up your progesterone levels because your body steals it to create more stress hormones.  Also, diets today are often low in omega 3 fats and healthy sources of cholesterol, both of which are needed to make progesterone.  And lastly, the same environmental toxins that act like estrogens in your body (xenoestrogens), can suppress progesterone activity.
Some simple things you can do with your diet:

  • Eat plenty of omega 3’s – cold water fish, flax seed, walnuts, kidney beans and navy beans, and extra virgin olive oil.  Seasonal tip – winter squash is also a great source.
  • Eat a snack/meal with protein every 2-3 hours – yes…here I go again talking about steady blood sugars!  When you’re hungry, your stress levels spike and you may be siphoning off your precious progesterone supply to make cortisol. 
  • Increase intake of foods that contain Vitamin B6 – wild salmon, molasses, organic grass fed beef, cod, sunflower seeds.  Your body can’t make vitamin B6 and it’s one of the most important vitamins for your overall hormone health.

These tips are gentle and will benefit EVERYONE, whether you know you’re progesterone is low or not.  To get started today (Yes, even with Thanksgiving tomorrow!) I suggest you pick ONE tip that interests you for the week.  If you choose to add more Omega 3’s or B6 Vitamin foods, write the list of foods down and keep with with you for when you eat out, meal plan and/or are at the grocery store.  If you choose to add a snack between your meals, remember to include a little protein.
Have fun with it and I wish everyone a truly wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!!
All the best,
Dr. Viv