Ovarian Shutdown and Stress
Do you have a tendency to wake up at 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. and find that you are unable to fall back to sleep? Do you suffer from insomnia?
If the answer is “yes” then you should read this article.
Once women are postmenopausal (the stage of our life when you have not had a period for 12 months or more) ovaries slowly cease production of their main hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
As these hormones have protective properties against production of cortisol (stress hormone), low estrogen and progesterone levels in women increases stress sensitivities, depression and anxiety.
As you adapt to the new reality of low estrogen and zero progesterone hormones, you should start thinking of the way to decrease the effects of stress on your brain and body.
There are many steps you can take to help yourself to feel great.
The following are some of the important ones:
1. Identify and eliminate the stressors.
This is the most important step you have to take. First of all, you need to identify internal and external sources of stress. External sources are not only toxic emotions (marital, family, relationship, or financial problems), but the less obvious ones such as food intolerance (inflammatory stress), molds, viruses, GI infections, and oral infections. Internal sources of stress include by-products of oxidative stress, side effects of prescriptive medications, and digestive malabsorption. These should be taken into account when seeking to identify the underlying cause or contributing factors to your symptoms complex.
It is important to go to sleep by 10 p.m. because physical repair takes place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. when the adrenals (producer of cortisol hormone), work their hardest to repair the body. We should also try to sleep in until 8.30 a.m. or 9 a.m. if possible. Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks. Coffee and tea act as stimulants and interrupt sleep pattern. Herbal tea is acceptable because it does not contain caffeine.
3. No sugar.
Those with excessive stress often report symptoms such as dizziness and weakness, as the blood sugar level drops below a comfortable level for the body to function normally. To overcome this, the quick fix solution usually is to take food that is high in refined sugar such as cake or sweets, or drinks that are stimulatory to get the adrenal to put out more cortisol, such as coffee or cola drinks. The sugar level tends to increase after each quick fix, but drops after a few hours. If that process is constantly repeated, by the end of the day, the body is totally exhausted. The solution is the diet that contains foods that release sugar slowly to sustain the body during and between meals.
One of the most effective ways to prevent or reverse stress is to balance the amount of carbohydrates and proteins that are eaten with each meal. The proper ratios are approximately 2 parts carbohydrates to 1-part protein by weight. For example, 20 grams of protein with 40 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, 20% of each meal should consist of one or more high quality fats such as olive oil, almonds, avocado or flaxseed oil. Healthy fats play a major role in helping to maintain blood sugar by slowing down the release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream.
Do not skip breakfast. If you are low on sugar, the adrenals are instructed to secrete cortisol that help to increase blood sugar level and allow the body to function. It is therefore important to have a healthy breakfast soon after waking and not later than 10 a.m.
The best time for lunch is from 11.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m., then a nutritious snack between 2.00 to 3.00 p.m. will be needed to sustain your body through the dip in cortisol levels that occurs between 3.00 to 4.00 p.m. Evening meals should be around 5.00 to 6.00 p.m.
A small healthy snack should be taken just before the bed time to prevent dropping the blood sugar level during the night. If the level is too low the adrenals start to secrete cortisol. Hence the reason of you waking up in the middle of the night.
Women with ovarian shutdown should not exercise the traditional way that forces you to work out harder if you are not getting results. That can stress the female metabolism, disrupt your sensitive thyroid and adrenal glands and make you feel worse. The answer, instead, is to workout smarter. Intense workout with no breaks will flood your body with cortisol. Too much cortisol can break down muscle, bone and connective tissue. It can also encourage fat storage, especially around the belly. Short burst of intensity, followed by plenty of rest and recovery, then another short burst of intensity is the ideal way for you to get the best results in the shortest time.
Walking is a great exercise but you should walk slow enough that your body doesn’t feel like it’s exercising. That way you produce less cortisol and keep your body’s fat-making hormone in check.
6. Nutritional supplementation.
The use of nutritional supplementation always needs to be individualized, based on each person’s history, background, and body metabolic system. One person’s nutrient may be another person’s toxin.
However, the one medicinal herb I can recommend for everyone that suffer with stress is Ashwagandha. It provides numerous benefits for your body and brain such as boost brain function, lower blood sugar and cortisol levels and help fight symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Daily doses of 125 mg to 5 grams for 1-3 months have shown to lower cortisol levels by 11-32%.
Ref: Insider’s guide Adrenal Stress Index Protocols by Ron Grisanti, D.C. & Dicken Weatherby, N.