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Alcohol and Hormones

3 Ways Alcohol is Messing up Your Hormones 

3 Ways Alcohol is Messing up Your Hormonesby Elizabeth Sergeant, Women’s Health Coach & Functional Medicine Practitioner 

I hate to break it to you ladies, but there’s no arguing that alcohol isn’t good news for our hormone health.

By having a few glasses of vino to unwind, we may unknowingly be contributing to a whole host of unpleasant symptoms - think mood and energy swings, brain fog, fatigue, and intensifying of PMS and perimenopause. Yikes! 

And what’s more, this can easily become a vicious cycle, as often symptoms lead us to drink to feel better. But that sense of relief is typically short lived, and so the cycle continue!

If you’re perimenopausal or experience hormonal symptoms (especially those of you in your 30s and 40s), alcohol may well be playing a big role. In fact, I’ve lost count of the amount of women I speak to who are oblivious to the extent that alcohol is playing puppet master with their hormones. But whilst this may seem like bad news, having this knowledge can actually be a real game changer. 

Here’s what’s going on with our hormones when we drink alcohol

1️- It increases oestrogenAlcohol slows down the breakdown of oestrogen in our liver, and upregulates the conversion of testosterone into oestrogen. The result? serious oestrogen dominance symptoms- think tender boobs, worsened PMS, mood swings, hot flashes.

 2 - It decreases progesteroneAlcohol can reduce our body’s ability to make progesterone. This not only worsens oestrogen dominance (which is to do with oestrogen to progesterone ratio), but can also lead to experiences of low mood, anxiety and self-doubt, especially in our luteal phase or during perimenopause.

 3️ - It dysregulates our blood sugar and stress hormonesAlcohol can interfere with our liver’s ability to release glucose from our body’s energy stores. This can cause our blood sugar to drop very low, causing the body to release stress hormones in response, and disturbing our sleep as a result.

ALL of the above can cause hormonal symptoms, but when you put them together, that’s quite the recipe for hormonal chaos! A combination of mood and energy swings, fatigue, PMS, hot flushes, feelings of overwhelm and self-doubt PLUS disrupted sleep is not a good one! 

 So why not try reducing your alcohol intake, or even cutting it out completely for a few weeks, and see how you feel? In fact, cutting out alcohol completely for a significant period (at least 2 weeks) is the only way to understand fully its impact on how you feel. It can be handy to keep a log of your symptoms (things like mood, energy levels, cramps, hot flushes, sleep quality), beforehand if you can, and then also during your time without drinking, to help you unpick the effect alcohol is having on your symptoms and overall wellbeing.  

If the prospect of going alcohol-free seems daunting, here are a few tips and ideas to help- 

• Try fermented drinks like Water Kefir. These have a tanginess that gives a flavour complexity which makes them a great stand-in for their alcoholic counterparts. Plus, they’re low in sugar and great for our gut health too! 

• Missing the buzz you get from booze? Try adaptogens! These are herbs and plants that help the body to balance the effects of stress, and can help us to feel more mellow, uplifted and relaxed – without the negative health effects. You can now get alcohol-free spirits and wine alternatives that contain adaptogens, which are a great way to try them. 

• Get creative with mocktails! Whilst we need to be mindful of the sugar content in mocktails (this isn’t great for hormone health, either!), mocktails are a great way to have a fun and sophisticated drink that feels like a treat. 

My favourite way to make mocktails is to use water kefir as a base, then add some fruit and botanicals for a sophisticated twist. You can freeze fruit like chopped citrus, berries and pomegranate with herbs like thyme and rosemary into ice cubes. Freeze either with water, or fruit juice such as lime, cranberry or pomegranate. Then, when you fancy a mocktail, simply pop a few cubes into your mixer of choice and voila! A delicious mocktail in seconds. 

Functional Medicine Practitioner Elizabeth is running a retreat with her friends Juliette Karaman - Visibility & Relationship Mentor and Natasha Nicole Harris - Intuitive Business Mentor. 

The Essence Retreat empowers women to understand their hormones, emotional wellbeing and soul frequency to help them enhance their leadership. 

Essence is a day retreat on 27th April in Sussex. For more information head to https://feelfullyyou.com/essence

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