50 Small Ways to Transform your Hormonal Health

Woman in field of lavender
These are practical actionable’s & mindset shifts. Think of this like a checklist for the year, or health bingo! Choose one small thing per or week, without trying to do-it-all, for sustainability. It’s the small things that in combination, can and will make a massive difference in your health trajectory.
  1. Drink more water. It seems simple, but for most women whom I work with, this is a first step. Ensure to be drinking 1.5-2 litres of water per day. If you aren’t hitting that goal, this is your reminder to slowly increase your water intake.
  2. Eat slowly, chew your food. Do you really, truly chew your food? Or, are you eating in a rushed state? Slow down. Take your time and chew each mouthful to optimise digestion and improve your gut health.
  3. Focus on abundance not scarcity. When it comes to eating, focus on nourishment and getting as many good whole real foods in that you can, as opposed to a focus on restriction; leading to a scarcity mindset.
  4. Stop restricting food groups unless you have an intolerance. Cutting out major food groups is not ideal and is not sustainable. Balance and everything in moderation.
  5. Try drinking lemon water in the morning to help the liver cleanse itself and kickstart digestion.
  6. Remove guilt when it comes to eating or missing a workout. I once had a client label this the ‘Fuck-it mentality’. I encourage you to adopt this mentality as the guilt itself inside is worse than missing that workout or the treat that you ate.
  7. Look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘I love you’, just do it, trust me.
  8. Limit your screen time by using tools on your mobile phone. I personally use all of the tools available for the benefit of my own mental health.
  9. Add a greens & reds powder into your daily routine to get extra nutrients in with a quality organic food-based supplement.
  10. Throw out all of your old supplements & simplify your supplement regime to 1-2 things. Just because it’s in your cupboard, doesn’t mean it has to go into your body. Taking too many supplements isn’t ideal, speak to a professional about what you actually need.
  11. Turn off social media and email notifications on your phone, set a specific time to check them, you could even start a brand new email account with no spam or sales emails.
  12. Say no to things or events that you really don’t want to do or go to, to things that don’t serve your nature. Saying no is more authentic than an untrue yes.
  13. Start drinking green smoothies. Simply blend 1/2 a banana or an apple, organic dark leafy greens, coconut or filtered water, zucchini or cucumber together and voila, a nourishing green smoothie!
  14. Make your bed each morning. If you don’t already, this one small simple thing will have a big impact on your bedroom environment and how you feel.
  15. Stop drinking alcohol for a month. I recommend reading Quit like a Woman by Holly Whitaker if you’re curious about pausing drinking in a society in which social alcoholism is so deeply ingrained.
  16. Remove all accounts from your social media platforms that don’t serve you and replace them with ones who inspire you. After all, you are the sum of who you surround yourself with, even digitally.
  17. Cut your coffee intake down to 1 per day with food. Too much caffeine is not ideal for your female hormones, but one per day with food is ok.
  18. Season and roast a big tray of vegetables for the week ahead and have them in lunches, just add greens, grains and a form of protein.
  19. Eat dinner at the table, not on the couch. If you’ve fallen into habits, try migrating back to the table at dinner time so that you can focus on what you’re eating.
  20. Turn off the TV and your phone for no screen time an hour before bed. This will help you to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.
  21. Develop a simple morning routine. 1-2 special little grounding things that you can do to set your day up each morning.
  22. Develop a simple night time routine. 1-2 little special restful things that you can do to support your body to wind down.
  23. Make big servings of soups, curries or stews and freeze the leftovers for lazy nights. Your future self will thank your past self!
  24. Put your clothes away to remove chaos. If you are a clothes-all-over-the-floor kind of person, spend an hour putting them away and maintain the tidiness.
  25. Present your meals in an aesthetically pleasing way, because you deserve the restaurant quality presentation and the care factor from yourself.
  26. Cry. Have a really good cry, whenever you can or need to, and feel the release. No one gets a medal for suppressing their tears.
  27. Reassess your diet and eating habits, you don’t have to stick to a way of eating that doesn’t work for you. I you have committed to a new way of eating, you can quit and reassess this at any time.
  28. Meditate, do this by walking, sitting down or lying down in silence and stilling the mind for 5 minutes.
  29. If you haven’t done so in a couple of years, go for a blood health check with your general practitioner to see where your nutrient levels are sitting, especially things like iron & vitamin D.
  30. Have a raw green side salad with lunch or dinner like rocket leaves dressed with EVOO & balsamic vinegar. This will support digestion and liver detoxification.
  31. Start a journal, write anything, let it be messy and unkempt, and lean into that. Try it and see what comes out when you put pen to paper.
  32. Shop at the local markets to get your hands on seasonal produce. This will ensure that your food is fresh and nutrient dense.
  33. Try new types of exercise or movement until you find something or even better, a community that you absolutely love. Invest in that, it’s priceless.
  34. Invest in personal development when it comes to mental, financial, or hormonal literacy. The most empowering thing that you can do is to invest in your own growth journey.
  35. Go outside for a walk in nature and get 20-30 minutes of sun per day to increase your vitamin D levels by synthesising the nutrient from the sun.
  36. Write a dot point inventory of everything good in your life, big and small, to foster an undeniable feeling of gratitude.
  37. Get creative, do something that the child in you loves like painting or making clay or boogie boarding in the ocean.
  38. Cook a pot of bone broth and use it as a base for your soups & stews to add nutrient density to your meals.
  39. Do something that is absolutely pointless, like running into the rain.
  40. Smile. Do it right now and see how it makes you feel.
  41. Make time to eat breakfast, seriously. It is the most Important meal of the day.
  42. Read a book, then another, then another. When self improvement is too much, lose yourself in a fantasy novel.
  43. Order takeaway when you just can not cook! I am giving you permission to order takeaway because a big part of holistic health is taking it easy on yourself.
  44. Do something random and kind for someone else. A random act of kindness.
  45. Focus on 3 nutrient dense main meals per day and try to cut out the snacking to support healthy blood sugar regulation and digestion.
  46. Put on a really good song and just dance alone, like no one is watching.
  47. Light a candle or use a warm light at night and stare at the blue sky in the morning to support your circadian rhythm. These simple practices active Serotonin (your wake hormone) and Melatonin (your sleep hormone).
  48. Listen to an inspiring podcast each week. Check out Chloe’s Clinic!
  49. Get professional help when you need it, this is easier said than done but there are so many people in this world that are here to support you.
  50. Work with me! There are several different capacities in which we can work together towards your thriving health. Learn more here.
I hope you are inspired to make small changes towards the bigger picture. It’s the little things in life!

Gut Health and The Microbiome

gut health

What is gut health?

Whilst ‘gut health’ is not clearly defined in scientific literature, the term has become an increasingly popular concept in modern medicine and the food industry. Gut health is undoubtedly complex encompassing both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts. It is core to overall health and involves five major criterion:

  1. Optimal digestion: normal nutritional status/absorption of food, regular and consistent bowels, and limited bloating/flatulence
  2. Absence of gastrointestinal (GI) illness: no reflux, inflammation, enzyme deficiencies, carbohydrate intolerances, IBD/coeliac, and colorectal/other GI cancers
  3. Stable, resilient, and diverse microbiome: no bacterial overgrowth, normal composition of commensal bacteria, no infections, or antibiotic-associated complications
  4. Systemic health and immune response: normal gut barrier function and immune response/tolerance
  5. Overall well-being: normal quality of life, balanced gut-brain function, and positive gut feeling

 

What is the microbiome?

Do you ever feel alone? Well don’t, because your gut microbiome (also termed microbiota) is home to hundreds of microbial cells (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that happily coexist in your small and large intestines. These ‘bugs’ are uniquely diverse, have their own DNA, and are susceptible to change depending on one’s diet, environment, medication intake, and more.

The gut microbiome starts evolving from birth with rapid changes taking place in the first two to three years of life. These early changes are predominantly dependent on two things:

  1. Source of dietary intake – breastfeeding/bottle feeding/food
  2. Environmental exposure (including birth delivery)

After three years the infant microbiome becomes the blueprint of the adult microbiome.

Over recent years the gut microbiome has become a hot topic of research, mostly due to the accruing links to a plethora of health conditions. The microbiome can harbor both beneficial and harmful (at varying levels) microbes. Microbes have the ability to use what you consume (food) as a source of fuel and in turn produce certain metabolites such as short chain fatty acids, gases, and vitamins. Short chain fatty acids such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate have particularly key roles in influencing various body systems for e.g., immune, nervous, and cardiovascular.

 

What is a healthy microbiome?

Gut microbiome exploration is an ongoing endeavour. Thus far we only have gained a drop of knowledge when it comes to the sea of microbes within the human gut. What constitutes a healthy microbiome is subjective. One person’s considered ‘healthy’ microbiome may not be healthy for another person. A collective understanding among researchers is that ‘good’ microbes need a good amount of fibre as a fuel source. Increased dietary fibre intake has been long-established as an integral nutrient/ingredient with various health benefits. Hence, it comes to no surprise that our ‘bugs’ love fibre too. Low fibre diets have been linked with an altered gut microbiome composition including a reduction in beneficial bacteria and an increase in the production of not so beneficial metabolites.

 

How do we test the microbiome?

Thanks to rapid advances in microbiome testing technology, testing the microbiome has not only become affordable but also easily accessible. Most companies supply at-home non-invasive testing kits that require a small amount of faecal load. Microbiome testing involves elevated levels of DNA sequencing technology. Your poo has quite the potential; it can tell you a lot about your inner workings, i.e., how your gut microbes may behave, what they love to eat, and ultimately what they can produce. Shotgun metagenomics is top tier when it comes to microbiome analysis followed by meta-transcriptomics and metabolomics:

  • Shotgun metagenomics sequencing: sampling all microbe genes (DNA) (whole-genome) and their potential (species level) – who is there and what they can do
  • Meta-transcriptomic sequencing: sampling of microbes and their functional profile – which genes are collectively expressed under different conditions (i.e., conditions that are present within the host at time of testing) and what they do
  • Metabolomic sequencing: sampling of microbes at specific regions (genus level – e.g., 16s) under different conditions (i.e., conditions present at the time of testing) and their by-products – does not reveal which bacteria produced them, nevertheless a great method of discovering new metabolites

Whilst these tests are not diagnostic per se, they do supply great insight into the community of microbes that exist within you. Each approach in its singular sense provides a substantial amount of information, and a significantly more comprehensive picture when combined. Combined testing is not readily available yet, but it is something to be pursued from both a clinical and research lens.

 

References

Bischoff, S. (2011). ‘Gut health’: a new objective in medicine. BMC Med, 9:24. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-9-24

Cronin, P., Joyce, S., O’Toole, P., & O’Connor, E. (2021). Dietary Fibre Modulates the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients, 13, 1655. doi: 10.3390/nu13051655

The Power of Whole Food Supplements

A large proportion of the Australian population take nutrient supplements with research showing 47% of women and 34% of men reporting that they regularly consume supplements. Supplementation use varies with different populations with the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark being the highest in supplement use, reported at between 35 and 60% of adults. 

There has been much debate over whether synthetic nutrients provide the same benefits as a natural nutrient such as those that are found in whole foods. The recent rise in the interest of supplements that may help to reverse or reduce the risk of disease has led scientists to investigate wholefood supplements and their potential ability to be absorbed better than traditional vitamin and mineral supplements (6).

 

What is meant by “whole food” supplements?

Nutrients (vitamins and minerals) can either come from natural sources or they can be synthesised. Synthetic nutrients are made in a laboratory setting or industrial process and natural nutrients are those found organically in whole foods.

Whole food supplements are typically made with plants that have been concentrated or dehydrated such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, roots, and legumes. 

The important fact to remember about whole food supplements is that they contain “whole” and complex structures that are organically found in foods. This means you are not only consuming a particular vitamin or mineral but also the enzymes, co-enzymes, trace elements and antioxidants that are naturally found together in that plant.

The production method of synthetic nutrients is very different to the way plants and animals naturally create them. This means that even though they may have a similar structure, the body can react differently when ingesting synthetic nutrients. At present, it is still a little unclear how well the body absorbs and uses synthetic nutrients. Some may be more readily absorbed and used than others (7). 

Synthetic versus whole foods- what the research says

Synthetically made nutrients are often produced the way pharmaceuticals are. If there is not enough of the natural enzymes or cofactors in the end-product then the body might not be able to absorb and use the nutrients in that supplement. When we eat real food, we are not eating synthetically made, single nutrients, but instead we ingest an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and co-factors that allow for optimal use by the body.

Recent studies have shown that the natural nutritional state of a plant is believed to be far superior to a synthetic supplement. Evidence is now showing that the best nutrition comes from whole foods; however, when nutritional supplementation is required then whole food nutritional supplements offer a more reliable delivery of nutrients (5). 

In 2014, a review investigated current clinical trials that had compared whole tomatoes with a single nutrient lycopene supplement (lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes) and how each improved the risk factors of people suffering with cardiovascular disease. The research showed that the best approach to improving cardiovascular health should firstly be to consume whole tomato-based foods as they provided more beneficial results than using only lycopene supplementation in this study (1). 

In 2011, researchers set out to compare the bioactivity of broccoli and broccoli containing supplements, specifically in their potential to reduce various forms of cancer. The study used a broccoli supplement that didn’t contain all the enzymes that broccoli in its natural state contains. The study focused on some specific plant chemicals that broccoli contains and found that broccoli as a whole food contained significantly higher levels of these important immune boosting plant chemicals that may help in the prevention of cancer (2). 

Thus, research so far tends to promote whole food sourced products as a more efficient way to deliver health enhancing nutrients to the body.

Choosing the right supplement for you

Choosing high quality supplements can be challenging, especially since there is an abundance of options and that many multivitamin supplements contain chemical preservatives and fillers. Not all supplements are equal and whole food supplements are proving to have a more beneficial therapeutic effect. This is because while synthetically based supplements are made to mimic the same activity of natural nutrients, the body may not be able to absorb or use them in the same way as whole food based, natural supplements (3, 4.)

In exceptional whole food supplements, great care is taken to make sure that the whole foods used in the product are organically grown, are as minimally process as possible, produced at low temperatures (proteins in foods are denatured by high heat levels) and contain the naturally occurring co-nutrients that support maximum absorption, disease prevention and optimal long-term health (5).

References:

1. Burton-Freeman BM & Sesso HD, (2014). Whole Food versus Supplement: Comparing the Clinical Evidence of Tomato Intake and Lycopene Supplementation on Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Advances in Nutrition;5;5,457–485.
2. Clarke J, (2011). Comparison of the response to broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement consumption in human subjects. The FASEB Journal;25; S1, 234.7.
3. Nutri-Con: The Truth About Vitamins & Supplements. (2006). Retrieved from https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/nutri-con-truth-about-vitamins-supplements
4. Liu, R. H. (2003). Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(3), 517S-520S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/78.3.
5. Rubin, Jordan, (2004). The case for whole food nutritional supplements. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients;247-248, Gale Academic OneFile, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.
6. Burnett AJ, Livingstone KM, Woods, JL & McNaughton SA (2017). Dietary Supplement Use among Australian Adults: Findings from the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Nutrients, 9(11), 1248.
7. Yetley EA, (2007). Multivitamin and multimineral dietary supplements: definitions, characterization, bioavailability, and drug interactions. Am J Clin Nutr; 85(1):269S-276S.