Period problems take many shapes. Here are some of the most common:
Irregular or unpredictable periods
Weight gain and/or weight loss resistance
No matter how period problems show up for you, they disrupt your quality of life. And they point to an underlying hormone imbalance—one that can be addressed with food and lifestyle strategies.
That’s right. There are specific, scientifically-backed strategies that will bring your hormones into harmony and erase your symptoms. You can think of it as a form of biohacking. Biohacking is the practice of using food, lifestyle, exercise, and targeted supplementation to enhance health, and you might have noticed that a lot of the people who are talking about biohacking are men. And that’s just fine… for men! Women can biohack, too, but we need strategies designed for our unique female physiology.
Today, I’ve gathered up the best strategies for women who want to optimize their hormone health, and their overall health. Here’s what I recommend:
Proven Strategies to Erase Period Problems
If you take the following steps, you will notice an improvement in your symptoms within three to six months. (If you don’t feel better, consult a trusted healthcare practitioner to rule out a clinical condition.
Healing Strategy #1: Practice The Cycle Syncing Method™ with food
Eating to ease period problems requires aligning your weekly meal plans with your 28-day cycle. Women have unique nutritional and energetic needs during each week of the month—unlike men, who can thrive by eating more or less the same way everyday—and you will look and feel your best when you match the vegetables, meats, plant proteins, fruits, and legumes you eat to your shifting hormonal needs. Think of it this way: as your hormones change, so does your menu!
If the idea of switching up what you eat each week feels challenging, start with my 4-Week Flo Food Challenge. And if you’re scratching your head (and maybe freaking out a little) because you don’t know what your hormones do or when, don’t panic! Use the MyFLO app to track your cycle and start eating cyclically.
Healing Strategy #2: Practice The Cycle Syncing Method™ with movement
To really optimize your hormonal health, you need to shift your workouts to fit your cycle in much the same way as you do your diet. Your body is primed for different kinds of activity across your cycle, just as its looking for different kinds of nutrition through each of the four phases. Ready to get started? Learn what type of exercise is right for each phase of your cycle here.
Healing Strategy #3: Detox the RIGHT way
If you suffer from hormone imbalances and period problems, it can be tempting to do an extreme detox. The severe restrictions and big promises (Lose 20 pounds overnight! Eliminate all the toxins from your body!) sound like a relief after suffering with hormone-related symptoms for so long. But deprivation plans and strict detoxes backfire for the vast majority of women. Severe calorie restrictions tax our already overburdened adrenal and endocrine systems—and make our hormone problems worse.
Don’t get me wrong: a detox can help, but it must be the right kind of detox, one that focuses on clearing the body of excess estrogen. Excess estrogen in the body (relative to progesterone) contributes to everything from severe PMS to PCOS.
If you want to detox estrogen, don’t do a juice fast or a cleanse. Do a gentle detox that supports the body’s elimination process by giving it all the nutrients it needs. If you want even more support in doing a safe, nourishing detox, I designed a 4-day Hormone Detox to kickstart your hormonal healing.
Healing Strategy #4: Be very careful with intermittent fasting (if you do it at all)
Most studies on fasting have been done on men and/or have shown mixed results for women. One study found that intermittent fasting helped improve insulin sensitivity in men, but women didn’t get the same benefit. (Good insulin sensitivity is essential for balanced hormones.) At the same time, the study showed that women’s ability to tolerate glucose actually got worse during intermittent fasting. Other research shows that fasting can have a negative effect on cortisol, insulin, estrogen, and progesterone— all the major hormonal players in your body!
Studies suggest that intermittent fasting can be very helpful for women (and men) with compromised cellular health (individuals with cancer and/or those going through chemotherapy), but for women in generally good health who are working to balance hormones and heal hormone-related symptoms, I don’t recommend fasting.
Healing Strategy #5: Don’t default to the ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet, which is a high fat-low carbohydrate diet, is all the rage these days, but research suggests that it can mess with thyroid function— and thyroid health is absolutely essential for healthy hormone balance. Here’s where this biohack becomes sex specific: thyroid problems disproportionately affect women. It’s estimated that one in five women have a thyroid issue, and many of those cases are undiagnosed. If you’re trying to bring your hormones into balance, your best bet is to eat in line with your cycle—and leave the ketogenic diet for individuals with other health issues.
Healing Strategy #6: Ditch coffee
Upgraded coffee can work well for those who are efficient metabolizers of caffeine, but if you have period problems chances are more than good that you are not an efficient metabolizer. In my experience, caffeine is a no-go for women who want to optimize hormone health.
Caffeine can increase the development of benign breast disease. For women with PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and fibrocystic breasts, caffeine is a guaranteed way to make more cysts. Plus, caffeine mucks up hormone health in other ways, too. If you’re trying to solve your period problems, it helps to break this habit.
Healing Strategy #7: Ditch sugar
Sugar is bad for hormone health and bad for overall health. Say goodbye to sugary and high-glycemic foods and stick to high-fiber, high-phytonutrient whole foods that are rich in healthy proteins, fats, and complex carbs.
Healing Strategy #8: Supplement like a girl
Women have unique micronutrient needs, and we can’t expect optimal hormonal health—or optimal overall health—when we follow blanket supplement prescriptions. We need supplements tailored to our unique female physiology. Specifically:
While every woman should be supplementing with B vitamins, if you’re suffering from hormone imbalances, you’ll need to be extra aware of your intake. Research suggests that intake of vitamins like thiamine (B1) is inversely related to endometriosis. Another important type of B vitamin, folic acid, is known to be important in managing PCOS.
Magnesium is a must for women with hormone imbalances since it improves insulin sensitivity, which has widespread implications for the entire hormone system. And if you’ve ever suffered from hot flashes (whether you’re menopausal or not even close) magnesium has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms.
If you’re suffering with fibroids or any hormone-related health condition, vitamin D is an absolute must. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that supplementing with vitamin D reduced the size of uterine fibroids. This may be especially essential for African American women since they’re 3-4 times more likely to develop fibroids and 10 times more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than white women. More generally, vitamin D acts like a master hormone in the body, which is what makes it so critical for all women with hormone imbalances.
Probiotics are a must: one study found that in just 12 weeks, probiotics helped significantly reduced endometriosis pain. I designed my FLO Balance supplements with women’s unique micronutrient needs in mind. They contain everything you need to supplement strategically for optimal hormonal health.
Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
Is Your Period Healthy?
How do you know if your hormones are healthy? The answer is in your 5th vital sign – your period.
The color of your flow, frequency of your period, and symptoms you have each month can tell you a lot about your health. There are 5 different V-SIGN TYPES, and knowing which one you have will help you get healthy now and prevent disease in the future.