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Health First | How to Manage Midlife Hormonal Changes Ep 33

Iva 1:03

We are so excited to have Teresa Pena with us today talking about women's health and how we can manage midlife hormonal changes and challenges and this is such a great topic for all of us moms that are in that space already thinking oh, what might happen with my hormones, so Teresa is so good to have you here. Welcome.


Teresa 1:40

Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is so exciting.


Desiree 1:45

Yeah, so Teresa is a Holistic Nutritionist and also the founder of Balanced Nutrition Lab. She's an educator, nutritionist and an avid yoga practitioner. She started her holistic nutrition studies due to her own health issues and then discovered the power of food her passion for understanding the effect of food on our bodies made her start her own practice. And now she helps motivated women balanced her hormones hit their happy weight and thrive on natural energy and nourishing our bodies really doesn't have to be boring or bland because creating easy but yummy meals is key to long term success. So Teresa's mission is Food Matters. Eat happy.

I love that mission and I hold the concept of being your happy weight. How they How many times have we been ingrained with the ideal weight and this like whole ideal ideal ideal, but really, it's time to shift that and I love that you are moving towards this new shift of it's your happy weight and yeah, it makes you happy. You should be happy, right all around.

Teresa 3:01

The body is quite, very smart, very clever. So your body is always fighting to try to find the right balance. So that's what we aim for your body's constantly fight and making sure that your body is at the right temperature that's something that we don't really understand. But we have a temperature of 36.5 or 37.1 and that is a constant fight of your body trying to maintain the homeostasis that you need. So your body wants you to be on a healthy weight. Yeah, but when we are not and obviously we can really look at the stereotypes of you know, social media or models. You know, they are those are not healthy weights, right? It's about what is a healthy weight is when your body reviews this information and you have good digestion, you feel energized. You feel like yourself, right? And yes, you might have a little bit of you know, you know, fat here and there but that has a purpose with the body for example, when you're producing hormones like estrogen, you're going to have fat around your hips area because you are meant to reproduce. So you have to have that fat and then when you transition into menopause or perimenopause that fat kind of this not disappears, but it slowly disappear from that particular area and goes more to your belly area because your estrogen crops so you don't have that estrogen grow in producing, you know, you don't have as much estrogen than is going to kind of place the fat in those particular areas but more into other areas because that estrogen is gone riot, and it's slowly decreasing. So you know, you have to find a way to accept those changes. And that's fine. As long as it's a healthy way to be is practically fine.


Iva 5:10

And Teresa, I want to just get go back to the bit to the basics because sometimes for some of our listeners and for myself as well when I'm learning about hormones, this is something that I'm slowly starting to learn. And it's so unbelievable how as women we are not really taught this, you know, in a more not formal way but probably with a little bit more understanding about what our bodies are supposed to be doing. And so the whole concept of hormones, just for me, it landed always on a negative note. It was always about like, ‘Oh, you're being hormonal’ or you know, when we get hormonal, and then it means ‘Okay, then I'm going crazy. I guess hormones mean that we're going crazy somehow’ but I know that that's not the case. And so I just wanted for you to help us understand a little bit first of all, a little bit of the basics of hormones in us women in our lives, what function do they do they really help us with but also how not to be scared with that other stage right the menopause and what's going to happen once I'm a certain age and then all this fear around that. So if you can help us navigate that. I think that would be great to create those shifts as well and not be so anxious about it. 


Teresa 6:37

I would say no, and we shouldn't be I mean we need to think that menopause is a time of physical transition. So you during menopause your body works over times as a tries to adjust to the associated hormonal changes as going through in other words, it's like you need to take care of yourself the same way you as an adolescent child, or you're going through puberty, you know, we when we go through puberty, you know, you're like, Oh yeah, he's a teenager right? Yeah, that corner you will grow out of. 

You have to accept that, you know, there are changes. So let's talk about purpose hormones. And then we can talk a little bit about the strength session. Okay. So we have many hormones, but obviously some of the more important ones as women we need to understand are obviously estrogen and progesterone. Those who are the ones that kind of leave in in the sigh ha our menstruation is going to be your estrogen is the sexy hormone is the one that is going to make you look beautiful skin, beautiful hair. You know you're going to have you know, you know, your, your, your, you know, part of your growth as a woman, you know, the estrogen is the one that kind of like determines that. And then we have progesterone and progesterone is the one that is going to think your endometrial lining is one that is going to prepare your uterus for pregnancy is the one that is going to make you feel calm. 

So they both need each other one is the common hormone. The other one is the sexy and wild and so we have to have we have to have a good proportion of them. So you're gonna actually go hormonal, and that's when you know when there is an imbalance is for me to start feeling hormonal. So what is the most important thing to remember we have more estrogen on this as part of your period from day one to day 14, and then we release more progesterone from day 14 onwards. So what happens is if we produce more of one than the other is when we develop PMS symptoms, we develop symptoms such as more bloatedness or tenderness and your breast. You develop moodiness because the proportion of those two are not bright. So we have to be careful with you know the proportion of those hormones. Then we have other hormones like cortisol and insulin and insulin is a hormone. So insulin is also going to help us to avoid you know being tired having to release too much cortisol and cortisol is going to also affect how many how much of estrogen and progesterone you're going to have. So there are things like maintaining your blood sugar levels to stable will be crucial. So your body doesn't have to use more hormones. And then you know, obviously if you have too much cortisol too much blood sugar, and then you need more insulin, then your body's going to detoxify more waste from all these hormones that you're going to use. They produce waste. If the use of sins that your body has to detoxify to. You're gonna feel more sluggish, more tired than other symptoms can appear right? Like we know, cysts, those are growth. Nobody can know excrete you know, these hormones that we prouce. So you know, those for me are the ones that we men need to know the most estrogen progesterone for a good balance and having a good menstrual cycle and then your insulin and cortisol to maintain that calmness and not having crushes in your energy in your mood. And then obviously the thyroids with virus previews for months. And, you know, if we produce too much of one or too little is gonna affect your metabolism the way you do digestion. So, you know, your hair, you know, a health and, you know, many other things. So, those are the ones and they're all kind of work together. They all are in harmony, right? So when you break the harmony, then is when cows and


Iva 13:02

So I would imagine, Teresa, if you find yourself in that part of your cycle and that time of the month, when already as you say your progesterone levels are increasing, you're about to have your period, but you're also not being able to curb your stress level to some extent, right because cortisol is a stress hormone. And then you're also craving sugary things. So you're like snacking on that chocolate or that ice cream because somehow you just want to feel better right in a way right like you're not helping the situation. So what would be some good advice that you would have during that time of the period in terms of what could be some good alternatives instead of reaching for the for the cookies and the treat?


Teresa 13:59

Yeah, so the most important thing to help find a balance and hormonal balance and these can be done at any age is to start by adding protein on every meal. Protein is going to help and it's important to start your meal with protein and then carbohydrates. And so you start for example with maybe some scrambled eggs in the morning with a piece of toast or you know having a good overnight oats with some berries and some nuts, or a chia pudding or a good green smoothie that you can add some seeds some good oils and maybe a little bit of avocado, a little bit of protein powder, some almond milk, soy foods that are going to nourish your hormones, hormones need that. So that's how they that's what they feed on. So without Yeah, your hormones are going to be starving, and then you're going to be exhausted and then your body's gonna have to use the reserve hormones on your adrenals and in this kind of being on this fight or flight mode, so we have to feed our hormones with that. So that is important. We need to understand that as women, we need fat. That's why for example, women that go on extreme diets.


Desiree 15:26

I was gonna say that's why they're so hard for some of these diets. And these women fall into even more of like sort of this emotional. spiral. 


Iva 15:38

Exactly. It's not a test. That's right. That shouldn't be, at least for us women, right? There shouldn't be a test.


Teresa 15:45

No, no. And it's different from men and women the way thoughts affect us. And I don't know if you notice that women that go on very extreme diets, they actually lose their period. The first thing that is just like oh, my periods gone. Yeah, like people that go through, you know, disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. First thing that happens is that their menses are gone because almonds are not being fed. So we have to put a big emphasis on good fats. You're not going to be eating just a huge steak or several sides Bacon and fried food because it's you know, spicy food but we have to find good sources, from nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut yogurts, you know, those are the good fats salmon, sardines, mackerel, those are the good fats that we have to kind of implement, you know, on a daily basis. So if you do that, then your blood sugar will be stable and you won't have the high end crashes that happen throughout the day. Also having coffee mid-morning, very early in the morning can help you avoid the crash in the afternoon. Yeah, so try to have your coffee mid-morning instead of


Iva 17:15

I’m a big advocate of matcha because it doesn't lead to those spikes.


Teresa 17:26

Yes. Right. Not that you know, some people really like their coffee. Grab your coffee. Yes habit mid morning instead of just waking up with a black coffee because your sugar is going to spike like crazy because it's too much caffeine. We have to be gentle. In the morning. Wake up with a herbal tea with lemon water so we can slow wake up our system. It's like we wake up and have a black coffee. It's like throwing a bucket of water ice water. You know? Someone first thing in the morning is gonna be like,


Iva 18:03

Oh, that's a rude awakening. 


Teresa 18:07

I like nice wake up is slowly with warm water, lemon water, herbal teas and then have your coffee mid morning. Right? Yeah, good. protein, fats. And you can still have your carbohydrates but you know complex carbohydrates, whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, and you know those carbohydrates. We can have this not feminized, you know, carbohydrates. 


Desiree 18:36

At this stage, I feel like everything is there's a war on anything and everything when it comes to And just following up from the start. So thank you so much for really allowing us to see our hormones in such a complete different way. Because for me, it has been, I really have so many mindset shifts from from this few minutes into the conversation. And then how do you tie this with the changes that happen as we say, going into perimenopause and menopause that we begin to be a bit like teenagers would the food choices continue to be similar or are there more considerations to have as we are approaching that stage?


Teresa 19:24

So we have to consider that what we do throughout our whole life has an impact on how we it confronts menopause. So if you have both a few years prior, at least from your 30s, eating a diet that is, you know, high in fats and proteins, good carbohydrates, maybe adding some adaptogens to your diet like medicinal mushrooms, Ashawanda, Maccha you know, these are great adaptogens that help us to regulate not just our hormones but also our brain to get your brain into a calming state so you can’t get into that fight or flight mode. Please no more hormones or less than we need. So you know what we do prior to menopause or perimenopause, is crucial because you will have less of those symptoms that not always happen right. You know, we can have an ethical predisposition. We, you know, a can be the stress levels that we have, you know, we have to be very aware that many things affect the way we, you know, consultant a cause. And, as I said, we have to take care of ourselves the same way we would. As a teenager, you're going to have symptoms that go beyond hot flashes, we talk about experiencing brain fog and side to depression, aching joints, brittle nails, headaches, and even low libido have been so there are lots and lots of symptoms. I think there are about 40 different symptoms that have been connected with pairing in menopause. And so what we do is deal with food is important. That also is one way this unfortunately has been the way for many years that we confront menopause is we are on the pill, we are on a contraceptive you know, medication, just so we avoid those symptoms. So what happens is for women that take some kind of contraceptive, you know, until you know, they're, you know they're missing their period is that we actually have put our hormonal system in silence. So we don't know what they're trying to tell us. And so we might have gone through many, many changes, but because you put it in silence, you don't know those things.


Iva 22:08

So I think you're suppressing your signal.


Desiree 22:12

So when you actually get in menopause, for some women is like because they haven't really able to prepare their body right.


Teresa 22:23

Right. Our body is so intelligent and knows what to do. What how to balance and if it cannot, it signals for help.  And I'm also a very, very big advocate of natural living, you know, because we shouldn't meddle with our bodies. We should let our body we can supplement through right definitely through nourishment through food through other natural things, but we should really keep those synthetic things out of our bodies and don't let it meddle with it. And the same stretches them to like toxic things or lotions or all these things that mess our endocrine system. And for some women, when they get to that point of you know, they get to menopause, they suppress their body for so long. They seem to have certain weights too much to handle. 

So for them. Hormonal Replacement Therapy is the right solution for them because they have to leave you know they want to have good quality of life, right? So even chicken helps with those extreme symptoms. But again, if your body is only nourished, you will still face a very uphill battle, right? It can help minimize certain symptoms but you are not killed battle. So now it's when your body needs to be at your absolute optimum. So you have to add foods again, healthy fats that will speed up your metabolism will support brain health and heart health because for women, menopause is that time when heart health we have to be extremely cautious. There's a drop on estrogen at the estrogen helper. We're hard to be healthy when we drop estrogen. Our heart health is compromised. So for some women, it's not just about hot flashes, but it's about your heart health, you know, exactly and that wasn't you


Iva 24:21

We usually think of men and hard problems as the most common thing and women we just really don't pay that much attention.


Teresa 24:32

know our heart health is very compromised, you know during menopause and then also you know, your skeletal system your know your bones, you know, that's why osteoporosis is so  high after menopause because those hormones, the good balance of estrogen and progesterone will keep your bones in good health where we absorbed calcium and phosphorus and magnesium. So that is something that we need to you know, to keep in mind. So the more you look at your body, the better you keep your blood sugar balance, the better you introduce adaptogens and good fats and good protein the better and then more nourish your hormones will be another aspect that we have to keep in check is that you know we are more inclined to develop diabetes after menopause because you know, it's something that you know, we're blood sugar go into a spike and ups and downs. And some people develop diabetes once they reach menopause. Yeah, we have to you know, be clear to you.


Desiree 25:49

Do you feel that women act a bit too quick on that as well. Let's say they do feel that spike they may seek out medical advice, you know, and then they're immediately put on to like, insulin and the shots and this kind of adding synthetically, adding these type of hormones to your body and stead of trying to balance it naturally with food to let it regulate on their own without any external forces. Yet, of course all of these things have their place at one stage, but I feel our body really needs time to regulate an adjuster on its own. 


Teresa 26:28

Right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, when we think about hormone replacement therapy, we shouldn't really replace we are on a different stage of life. So replacing is not the answer because we shouldn't be replacing is a different phase. So I feel more is more menopause or monotherapy. Right? What do we need to do to maintain a good balance through menopause so your symptoms are not as bad and your body is still healthy? So it has to for example, in a way to say which foods if I were someone entering perimenopause or menopause that I will include almost on a daily basis would be soybeans, tofu and crucial for women's health. Chickpeas, broccoli sprouts, pumpkin seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds. Those should be in every pantry of every woman. Yes, going through perimenopause and menopause.


Desiree 27:33

Oh, yes. Yes,


Iva 27:35

thank you, Teresa for sharing that. Yeah. And also it allows us to reclaim our power then to make sure that in a way, we minimize as much as much as we can, allowing our bodies to do what it needs to do.


Desiree 27:48

Exactly. I feel as well that I was able to stay I just went through the whole pregnancy, birth and postpartum stage now, which, of course, there's so many changes, I mean, obviously, but now with I like that you mentioned that with reclaiming your power. Now, I also feel that this was my second pregnancy. And I've felt through my years now doing what I do to be more in tune with my body and listening to the signals. So going through pregnancy, changing the way I eat a little bit then now changing back and really knowing what to reach for and my whole sort of nutritional lifestyle has changed over the years. And I feel that now I am so much more imbalanced, my hormones feel more imbalanced so I can really see how what an incredible effect this has and some people don't even put those two together don't they? Hormones and food


Teresa 28:50

No no. And we have to remember that you know this sooner you are on natural connection with your body when you are not putting any meaningful lockers like you know, or any, you know, inceptive then the more symptoms you can use to hear your body better. You can supplement and do what you need. Like I remember when I was on the field, and it took me a year and a half or more to get my body in balance right now. Oh I don't have symptoms in my brain. My menses you know when I have my period, but I don't feel moody or you know, I'm already 47 And I'm not really suffering. You know, perimenopause, you know, symptoms, because yes, you try to target those before they start so you have some adaptogens like Rhodiola you know, and try to kind of slowly prepare my body for that change, even the right food having the right supplements that can give you know better of course not to match you with your natural way of your body to communicate.


Iva 30:03

Prevention, I guess is the key word then it's a matter of taking into your own hands, this cumulative effect that all your daily choices are going to lead you to as you move to that stage because it's going to happen to all of us. No one is spared. Unless you're a guy right but talking about us women were not spared from entering that stage of her life. So we might as well start taking matters into our own hands controlling what we eat, and what we incorporate in our daily diet. So that little by little or body, it's not going to be I had an adaptogen today and tomorrow. You know, I need this symptoms and I'm fine, right? So it has to be increased, as you say, little by little and this constant and being preventative. 


Desiree 31:00

Yeah, exactly. It's just being preventative.


Iva 31:01

Yes. And I wanted to ask you, for our listeners who might be thinking or sometimes we grew up with this notion of, you know, however it was for my grandmother and my mom is going to be the same for me in terms of the onset of the symptoms or the severity or how early it's going to happen for me going into perimenopause and menopause. Is there a link and he's an if there is, is there anything that our diets and lifestyles can help? In a way, balance a little bit better?


Teresa 31:39

I mean, yes, there is a genetical component. So if your mom or your grandma for example, had early menopause, most likely you will. Obviously, there's not a lot of research done because it's a problem that only affects women, right. So they don't really do a lot of research on those when only as affect a part of the population. But, but they don't really know the cause. That can make someone to start early menopause. But there are ways to help your body to not and it's obviously a stress levels is crucial. The toxicity your body has been exposed to, you know, like endocrine disruptors, you know, they make up that we put on the products that we use at home for cleaning the worker stress from waking up in the morning with your phone, answering emails, doing too much exercise by exercise. Fantastic, and we should all do some form of exercise about you know, intense, you know, training intensive, high intense training or, you know, raises cortisol way too much. And that can also affect the way our hormones you know, produced and the Sleep is crucial as well on hormonal production. So, all these hives are elements of sleep hygiene, right? So, all of that have an impact on our health and definitely on how quickly or late our menopause is going to start. 


Desiree 33:23

Yeah, I mean, tell you more about discipline now. 


Iva 3:31

Yeah, I shouldn't. Because Desiree you know, you've been on this train longer, but I'm just going to complain we haven't slept for like a month and a half


Teresa 33:42

And how much or how little of an effect it has on you is going to depend obviously on your genes and the state and the health of your body, right. Yes,


Desiree 33:55

Yes, exactly. Reset. This has been such a fascinating topic and I have learned so much. I know. Just from this conversation, to have you again, just to like elaborate definitely could talk for hours.


Iva 34:10

And listen to many different like topics to dive deeper into that category. 


Teresa 34:16

Yes. Yeah. I mean, perimenopause can be one, you know, one topic topic on its own. Yeah, let's


Desiree  34:24

Yeah, definitely.


Iva 34:28

And Teresa, you came today, sharing with us a wonderful freebie. So to our listeners, do you want to share what it is and why is it so needed this this amazing freebie that you have?


Teresa  34:43

I mean, it is really important the way that we need to understand what is best for us right individually. And so some people are overwhelmed with all these options out there. They don't know what to cook. What is the right thing? Is it keto? Should I have carbohydrates? Should I have you know more of fats or less that so it's to give our listeners, you know, an example of what a good you know, you know, diet should be so having some samples of recipes and having some, you know, meal plan ideas, things that they can do at home that are easy and quick. So they can actually say, hey, you know, this is not as difficult so, you know, anyone that would like to have like a one week meal plan, they can just join my mailing list if they want and we'll be sending them a one week, one week meal plan, that it's perfect for women that are going through changes in their Hormonal Health, no matter if it's through perimenopause or menopause, or just having really bad PMS symptoms, and they understand that they need to look after their hormone health a little bit.


Desiree 36:08

Fantastic. And this is yeah, we're going to put the link to this freebie. Eat for your cycle meal plan that Teresa is sharing with us and please go and check it out. And also Teresa, any other projects that you're currently working on?


Teresa 36:25

At the moment, I'm working on a project that is going I'm going to launch next year in January, and it's a program for specifically for women. It's a two month program, and it's going to be mostly one on one with through those two months are going to understand their hormonal changes are going to improve their energy, reduce the symptoms that come along with hormonal changes, and for those that need to address, you know, weight loss or they want to get to a healthy weight, then that it will be the perfect program for them is called the balanced method. And it's just a two-month program where people just want to say hey, I want to address my health. I want to really get on top of things and make some changes. So I am on the right track to a healthy you know and so that program will be available from January


Desiree 37:34



Iva 37:37

Yeah, so needed because it's the time of the year where everybody is paying attention to that right yeah, they want to take sadly there Yeah, she said their challenges with regard the weight.


Teresa  37:56

yeah, it just goes to show when you are on a balanced nutritional cycle right nutritional lifestyle. There is there are no such seasons where you need to worry, right or where you need to cut back or be stressed about losing weight. Once you have entered that shift into this more conscious way of eating, for your cycle and all of that you can just go ahead and then enjoy it all around. guilty feelings. It's beautiful.


Iva  38:28

We love having you, Teresa. We want to thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful knowledge that you have about, you know, our hormones, how do they work and also how can we take our power back into making sure that any transition that we're going through in life is done consciously but also allowing our body to do what it knows how to do best. So we want to thank you for chatting with us and if you want to connect with Teresa, you can find her on Instagram. Her handle is @balancednutritionlab. And also we're going to share her Facebook page, her LinkedIn and her website in the show notes as well as the freebie that she's sharing. So thank you, Teresa so much for being here. 


Teresa 39:16

Thank you for having me. This has been awesome.

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Teresa Pena

Teresa Pena is a holistic nutritionist and the founder of Balanced Nutrition Lab.  An educator, nutritionist, and avid yoga practitioner. She started her holistic nutrition studies due to her own health issues and discovered then the power of food. Her passion for understanding the effect of food on our bodies made her start her own practice. Helping motivated women, balance their hormones, hit their happy weight, and thrive on natural energy is what drives her. Nourishing our bodies doesn't have to be boring or bland. Creating easy but yummy meals is key to long-term success. Her mission is Food Matters, Eat Happy.


IG @balancednutritionlab




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