Nutrition and gut health are essential puzzle pieces when it comes to optimising hormonal health in women. Women's Health Physio Emma Brown explains why, gives us some top tips on how to optimise our nutrition and gut health, tells us how the FitRight team can help, and even gives us 3 of her favourite healthy and nutritional recipes!
Written by Physiotherapist Emma Brown from FitRight.
Working in the field of Pelvic Health, I have the opportunity to see women at various stages of life such as the prenatal, postnatal, perimenopause and post menopausal periods. As the demands of life vary through these stages (such as caring for newborns or small children, work stress, caring for older family members, etc) our hormonal balance can vary also!
Our hormones, which can be influenced by nutrition and many other factors, play a crucial role in our mood, energy and vitality. I feel passionate about Women being the best version of themselves by achieving optimal hormonal balance, so that they are able to navigate through all of the adventures and challenges that life throws at them. And a great way to achieve this is through nutritious and delicious foods!
Let's hear from Emma about Nutrition in the area of Women's Health...
Why is nutrition important in Women's Health?
Nutrition has a powerful role to play in achieving optimal general health and wellbeing. A healthy diet has multiple benefits throughout a woman's life span, and is important for boosting immunity, supporting muscles, strengthening bones, digestive function, maintaining a healthy body weight, supporting healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding, as well as maintaining hormonal balance and healthy menstrual cycles.
But many women aren't meeting the nutritional guidelines...
Did you know...
Less than 1 in 10 Australians meet the recommended x 5 servings of vegetables daily.
1 in 2 people in Australia don’t eat the recommended x 2 servings of fruit daily.
The importance of nutrition and gut health for achieving hormonal balance in women
This is an important area to discuss as hormonal balance can vary throughout different life stages from pregnancy to menopause and beyond.
Hormonal balance can affect metabolism, fertility, menstrual cycles, sexual function, sleep and mood.
Research indicates that good gut health, which can be achieved with good nutrition, has been linked with stabilising hormone levels. Poor gut health, such as gut dysbiosis, can alter oestrogen levels, and inflammation of the gut can also affect hormone imbalance.
Top Tips for maintaining hormonal balance
Eat at least 3 meals per day
Eating breakfast kickstarts your metabolism for the day
Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables and aim for 5 portions of vegetable and 2 portions of
fruit per day. A portion is a fist size.
Aim to include protein with every meal such as eggs, tofu, nuts.
Cut down on refined sugars and high glycemic index carbohydrates such as white bread.
Include healthy fats into your daily diet. Essential fatty acids help support the brain and nervous system such as eggs, walnuts, flaxseeds.
Magnesium assists in blood sugar regulation aswell as regulating our nervous system. Magnesium can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Fermented foods allow our gut bacteria to thrive, which is necessary for optimal gut health. Try to include kefir, olives, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut and probiotic yoghurt into your diet.
Adding herbs and spices to your food is anti-inflammatory and can assist in achieving hormonal balance such as ginger, turmeric, garlic and paprika.
In a nutshell - if you are concerned about your hormonal health, try to eat the rainbow by increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, and try to avoid refined sugars.
How can the FitRight team help you?
Emma explains that if a woman was booked in for a Women's Health Physiotherapy consult with her, she would ask about hormonal symptoms, bladder and bowel habits as well as nutritional intake.
"I like to take a holistic approach to my assessment as bladder and bowel habits can be influenced by nutritional and fluid intake, while nutritional intake may be influencing hormonal symptoms. We may be able to improve bladder and bowel symptoms by addressing dietary intake such as increasing fibre or by modifying fluid intake."
You can book in with FitRight GP’s for further hormonal and nutritional advice here.
Bonus! Here are a few of Emma’s favourite nutritional recipes!
One Pan Baked Chicken, Broccoli and Pumpkin
500g of skinless chicken thighs
¾ head broccoli
4 cups of pumpkin cubes
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
3tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
½ tsp salt, dash of pepper
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Chop the chicken into medium sized cubes, the broccoli into florets, the onion into wedges and the pumpkin into cubes. Crush the garlic.
3. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
4. On the pan, combine the broccoli, pumpkin, onion and garlic. Then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian herbs, salt and pepper, toss to coat. Spread evenly amongst the pan, cover with foil and bake for 12 minutes.
5. After 12 minutes, remove from the oven and add the chicken, toss around and then place back in the oven to bake for a further 8 minutes. Then, remove from the oven again, toss once more and place it back in without the foil this time, for another 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the pumpkin is soft.
Berry, Chia and Mint Smoothie
1 cup of strawberries
1/3 cup of raspberries
1/3 cup of grated beetroot
1/3 cup of mint leaves
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1. Place all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2. Serve in 2 tall glasses.
Chocolate Avocado Mousse
2 large avocados peeled and stoned
1 tsp of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of runny honey to taste
50g of raw cacao powder
1. Blend the avocados in a food processor until smooth.
2. Add the vanilla extract, honey and cacao powder and blend until smooth.
3. Spoon the mousse into 8 small glasses and refrigerate for 1 hour.