Ep 06 - Perimenopause or Adrenal Stress? Supporting hormones with Sarah Nankervis
Sarah Nankervis is a nutritionist and naturopath and the founder of Luxton Wellness. Sarah helps women balance their hormones using a holistic approach. I’m so excited Sarah is joining me in this week’s podcast to talk about adrenal stress and why it’s important for women to slow down.
Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.
Broadcast: March 24, 2021
Here’s a snippet of our conversation…
Helping women rebuild.
Amy: What I really appreciate about my consults with you is this beautiful sense of holistic support. There's always some wonderful takeaways that touch on diet and lifestyle shifts…
Sarah: I'm very much focused on food and using food to restore imbalance in the body and creating symbiosis, which is balance. I work with predominantly women with hormonal issues and also gut health and autoimmune diseases. I'm very passionate about women's health and making sure that we're all looked after because we're also so busy and our lives are so full. And I love helping women rebuild.
Amy: I've experienced extreme fatigue as a result of my illness history, but also just this tiredness where I just want to go to bed every afternoon. Which was quite unlike what I'd experienced previously. So I decided that was it: I was in perimenopause and came to see you and it turns out as a result of some blood tests that it actually wasn't the case. So I'm really keen to chat to you about that to shine a light for other women who might be experiencing some similar symptoms.
Perimenopause or adrenal stress?
Sarah: So many women go ‘Okay, I'm getting hot flashes. Maybe my periods are fluctuating a little bit. Oh, I must be in menopause or perimenopause.’ And we don't really talk about it and we just suffer through it. But over the years of working with so many women who are probably in their early forties or up until their fifties, they think it's just menopause. We dig a little deeper and we do some testing and we actually discover that it's probably not anything to do with menopause. But it's actually stress and their adrenal glands telling them that they're tired. And then we have another hormone, which isn't talked about very often. That's DHA. DHA is a hormone that's also produced by the adrenal glands. And I call it our anti-aging hormone. It's a hormone to decrease aging or slow the process of aging. We produce a lot of DHA when we're young.
And it slowly declines after we turned 30. So about 5% of our DHA depletes every year. And if we're also highly stressed, or we are on the Go Go Go. We don't rest. We don't restore. Then our adrenal glands are like a battery that runs out. And so our DHA levels start to deplete. And so when we have lower DHA levels and maybe our cortisol levels are disrupted because we're constantly on the go, our adrenal glands start to get tired, and then we start to develop these symptoms.
Running out of battery…
Amy: So, you said that your adrenals are like a battery. So once they are flat, is the DHA reducing at the same rate? DHA is made in the adrenal glands?
Sarah: Yeah. So if we think about it, like your phone, if we constantly are on 5% on our phone and plugging it in and pulling it out - we never fully recharge our phone battery. And so if our adrenals are working at that sort of red zone of our phone battery, we don't have the capacity to top up our normal supply of things like DHA. So if we're constantly churning through that, because we are running on adrenalin and high levels of cortisol. Cortisol because we're stressed. Maybe we've got a full-time job. We've got a couple of kids and we have life stresses, financial, relationship… If we don't have time to rest and restore, they can't naturally rebuild.
Amy: It’s like this feeling of being a rat on a never-ending kind of wheel. Such a difficult cycle to break out of. For me personally, it is something that keeps popping back up. So we actually need to make the decision to make some pretty profound self-care choices and changes in our lives.
Start by saying No.
Sarah: Teaching people how to say No is a really big one. Trying to say to someone to say No to piling on their workload is really hard because they don't want to be seen to be lazy or to not doing their job properly. Because we have this mentality where we have to thrive and be really good at our job and be busy.
It can be quite confronting for people to slow down because they have to actually sit with themselves and maybe get to know themselves or actually sit with some uncomfortable things that maybe they don't want to address like they're lonely or their relationship's not amazing... So, that's a big one. And also you need energy to address those sorts of things so that you can make decisions to change your life as well. So using some herbs and nutrients is really great in that process because it helps to support them while they're trying to change those lifestyle things.
Listen closely to your body and slow down.
You have meditation, mindfulness, general practices throughout the day that you can do to try and calm and slow the mind. And they're amazing tools that we can use to help bring us back to being present and just calm down. Exercise is a big one. So even just going for a walk every day is a is a big part of supporting your adrenal glands and making sure that we're having some deep breaths. Getting more oxygen in, getting our blood supply moving. That's really important. But obviously not pushing ourselves too hard. We have to listen to our bodies and go ‘Why am I getting up at 5.30 in the morning? My periods have gone, or I'm starting to feel hot flashes, or I'm starting to gain weight. I need to look at what I'm doing.
Then there’s self-worth…
Amy: Plus lots of things out there are around self-worth. You know, that's what comes up for me. It's like, what is it that's holding you back from really taking a good look at your lifestyle and making significant changes? That's self worth.
Sarah: Totally. And it's also about how we've been programmed to function. And personality types. I'm a type A personality. I love having lots of projects and I think it hasn't been until later in my life, I'm turning 40 in February, that I’ve stopped and looked at my life and gone ‘Do you know what? I need people that lift me in my life. I love what I do, but I need to make changes in how I'm doing that to support my body so that I'm healthy and able to function the way I want to function for the next 40 years.’ Sometimes that takes a long time, even for say someone like me who works in this industry, because of my personality and maybe the way I've been brought up. I just have this ‘Go, Go, Go’.
Take something off your schedule.
Amy: I thrive on having lots of projects, but yes, pulling back a little bit and still having those projects, but just not saying Yes to everything. And pacing ourselves a little bit better.
Sarah: And then you look at your day and you think ‘Gosh, I’m not going to achieve any of those things. Just going to rush from one thing to the next, to the next to the next. And if you just took one thing out, then your day would probably be a lot easier.
Amy: You can find Sarah’s amazing work at luxtonwellness.com.au. Thank you for being here.