Fall is here, with it’s cooler nights, pumpkin-flavored everything, and that back-to-school-like energy…. at least we should feel like we have ample energy from the summer to get into high gear.
If you’re wrestling with hormone imbalances, that surge of autumnal energy might pass you by entirely. Fatigue is a hallmark of hormonal discord, along with other symptoms that contribute to feeling sluggish, like brain fog and insomnia, and it’s going to take more than cooler breezes to get you feeling energized.
That’s because the endocrine system, which controls our hormones, regulates our energy flow — and when the endocrine system isn’t in tip-top shape, our energy isn’t optimal either.
3 Hormone imbalances that may be zapping your energy
One major factor that stresses and exhausts the endocrine system is imbalanced blood sugar. When you eat sugar or predominantly carb-based foods, your body responds by producing insulin (insulin is one of the body’s master hormones and it allows the glucose to enter your cells, where it is used for energy). But when we overeat sugar and carbs, our bodies produce an overabundance of insulin. So some of the glucose enters our cells, but all that extra glucose (and the extra insulin released to deal with it) remain in the bloodstream.
That is when the hormone problems start. Overexposure to glucose and insulin send your blood sugar levels soaring and then crashing — and it’s that spike that launches a hormonal cascade that keeps you from ovulating—and not ovulating means you’re not producing progesterone, which leads to estrogen dominance and its associated symptoms, including fatigue.
Another common hormone imbalance that can leave you feeling hungover and like you’re sleepwalking through your days is adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is when the stress hormone cortisol is imbalanced.
When cortisol is working like it should, we should get three main surges of cortisol during the day, but no surges at night. The opposite happens with adrenal fatigue: we have low cortisol in the morning, but high cortisol at night. Because cortisol is the hormone that gets your body ready for action, this is terrible timing to say the least. It leaves you feeling tired but wired (and unable to sleep) at night — and ready to nap all day when the sun rises in the morning.
Melatonin is another of the body’s key hormones. It’s released in response to low light (as the sun goes down, melatonin goes up) and it’s responsible for that predictable sleepy feeling we get at night. Predictable, that is, if our melatonin is working like it is supposed to. A whole slew of things conspire to keep melatonin from being released when it should, from the blue light that pours out of our computer screens to not enough exposure to sunlight during the day.
Then there are all the other modern-day impediments to healthy hormone balance, from stress and exposure to environmental toxins to taking certain medication (including the birth control pill), drinking too much caffeine, and getting too few essential micronutrients.
So what is an exhausted, de-energized, brain-foggy girl to do—especially right now, when you want to tap into that increased fall energy?
7 Strategies to Boost Energy Naturally
Here are my secret strategies for having your most energized fall ever:
Block blue light. Computer, phone, and other device screens emit blue light, which can wreak havoc on the production of melatonin. In general, bright light at night can be disruptive to our melatonin production and our sleep cycle. When possible, skip screens of any kind within two hours of bed. When you must be on a screen before bed, consider adding a blue-light blocking app to your computer or device. These apps, like f.lux, dampen the effect of the hormone-disrupting wavelengths.
Get more (safe) sun exposure before noon. Getting even 10 or 15 minutes of sunlight before or around noon helps regulate your circadian cycle and promote healthy melatonin production at night. Take your morning cup of tea out to the backyard or balcony or sit in a sunny south-facing window to support circadian health. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure can help promote healthy vitamin D levels, too. Vitamin D deficiency is a root cause of fatigue and low energy. (But don’t go over fifteen minutes of sun exposure without applying a non-toxic sunscreen. You want to find a balance between making vitamin D and protecting your skin from the sun!).
Manage stress. Yes, blue light can keep us awake at night. But so can stress. Racing thoughts at night can keep us awake for hours, which causes cortisol levels to stay high when they should be subsiding for the night. The key is to find stress management techniques that work for you, whether that’s meditation, movement, connecting more often with your most supportive friends, or making time for self-pleasure. There’s no one right way to relax. The key is to find what works for you and to make room for it in your life. Carving out time to relax will ultimately boost your energy levels
Just say “no” to coffee. Coffee raises cortisol levels, stresses the adrenals, and depletes essential micronutrients that are critical for battling fatigue and brain fog. We think of coffee as an essential energy booster when it really is the opposite. It can make you feel buzzy and productive for 20 minutes —and then leave you in a slump the rest of the day (while messing up your hormones at a deeper level and making it that much more difficult to wrestle your way out of chronic exhaustion).
Nail breakfast. When it comes to using nutrition to promote hormonal harmony, breakfast is your first (and best) starting place. Eating a hearty breakfast — one that is timed to your your 28-day cycle — will set you up for stable blood sugar all day and will help keep your hormones in balance. Specifically, choosing the right kind of carbs during your luteal phase helps prevent energy dips. During your luteal (or pre-menstrual) phase, you need more nourishing and fulfilling good carbs to combat cravings for unhealthy carbs
Get your heart pumping. Cardiovascular exercise can help you have more energy (even though it might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired. But the research shows that regular exercise reduces fatigue.
Maximize your micronutrients. Eating a diverse selection of phytonutrient-rich whole foods is the first step in getting enough of the key micronutrients that support steady energy levels. But, in many cases (and for a variety of reasons beyond our control, like the depletion of micronutrients from the soil in which our food is grown), supplementation is important. Here are some of the nutrients you should prioritize if boosting and balancing energy is your goal:
- B-complex. Flagging energy levels are a symptom of vitamin B deficiency. That’s because B vitamins are essential for so many metabolic functions. When you’re deficient, you really feel it. B6 is particularly important for optimal hormone health because it can help boost progesterone production to counteract excess estrogen relative to progesterone (a condition known as estrogen dominance). There are some great whole-food sources of the B vitamins, including grass-fed beef, eggs, and salmon, but most of us can benefit from supplementation — and it’s especially important if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.
- Magnesium. Magnesium helps promote healthy sleep and, in turn, can be essential for getting our energy back on track. Most of us tend to be low in magnesium because the soil in which our food is grown has become depleted of this essential micronutrient. (Supplemental magnesium can help greatly reduce other period problems, too, like bloating, severe PMS, and hormonal migraines.)
- Nutrients that support liver detox and estrogen metabolism. These include vitamin C, zinc, selenium, turmeric, green tea extract, and alpha lipoic acid. These micronutrients, especially when taken together, help the liver do its critical work of flushing both toxins and excess hormones from the body. The more efficiently your liver is working, the better your hormone balance will be — and the more robust your energy.
- Probiotics. A healthy microbiome is necessary for the management of all hormonal conditions, including the imbalances that lead to fatigue. That’s because, much like the liver, the microbiome helps detox estrogen from the body. A healthy microbiome is also essential for helping your body absorb the other important nutrients you need for hormone balance. You can have a perfect diet and supplement routine, but if your body can’t absorb the micronutrients from your food and supplements, you don’t get the benefit!
- Vitamin D. As I mentioned above, vitamin D deficiency is a root cause of fatigue and low energy. Without enough vitamin D in your body, it can be impossible to feel bright, alert, and energized. It’s especially important to take supplemental vitamin D as fall sets in. We make vitamin D from exposure to the sun, but as the sun’s rays become less intense during the fall and winter months it becomes harder (and in many cases impossible) for our bodies to make enough D.
I designed my Balance Supplements specifically to help women address these key deficiencies, balance their hormones, and reclaim their energy.
If you’re ready to feel energized (finally!), I encourage you to use these strategies to feel like your old self again this fall.
To your FLO,
Introducing the BALANCE by FLO Living Hormone Supplement Kit
You’ve been asking me for hormone-friendly supplement recommendations, and I finally have created a solution that I am so thrilled to be able to offer to you on your hormonal balancing journey:
Balance by FLO Living Supplements is a complete package that works together to keep your hormone levels healthy. They include a 2 month (2 cycles) supply of the following formulations so you’re never caught short in any phase of your cycle.
When you take these 5 supplements daily, you’ll be giving your body excellent micronutrients to support healthier hormone levels. Which means that you’ll start to see your worst period symptoms get better… and even disappear after a while.