Why should we cleanse?
As women, our relationship to cleansing is a daily one. This is because our liver, and other organs such as our kidneys and gut, act as systems of detoxification. Just like a factory that never closes, these organs are designed to manage the levels of circulating female hormones that enable us to stay balanced.
Once our body has finished using these hormones it's essential that we are able to effectively excrete them. Don’t forget – this isn’t just about the removal of hormones we naturally produce, but also chemicals in our environment that can have a negative effect on our body.
Here are five ways that an effective cleanse can be beneficial for balancing our hormones:
1. A balanced cycle
A build-up of the hormone oestrogen may result in us experiencing an irregular cycle or cycles that are too long (more than 36 days in length), heavy periods, painful periods, PMS, weight gain or acne. Hormone imbalances longer term may affect other hormone glands such as the thyroid.
2. Gut and bowel regularity
A cleanse can help to support more regular bowel movements, as there is a great emphasis on fibre, hydration and dietary oils. Regular bowel movements (one to two a day) are necessary to ensure those old oestrogens are finally moved out of the body. This is especially important to avoid ‘hepatic-enteric reabsorption - where oestrogens that cannot effectively exit the digestive tract get reabsorbed back into the system causing further unwanted hormone build up.
3. Prioritising nutrients for your hormones
Specific liver detoxification pathways called sulphation, glucuronidation and methylation work on processing unwanted old oestrogens but they do require specific B vitamins, minerals and amino acids (smaller broken down proteins) to do that job. Yet those nutrients are also required to detoxify toxins such as alcohol or pesticides from food. During a cleanse you can focus on removing unwanted substances from your diet allowing your body to prioritise using those nutrients to work on hormone balance.
4. Female gynaecological conditions
Female conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis really benefit from hormones being kept in check. This is also because an excessive build-up of hormones can affect our corresponding organs and systems that play a role in supporting symptoms of PCOS and endometriosis. For example, the female hormone relationship to the thyroid, adrenal and immune health – all of which are also affected by poor detoxification.
To prepare to conceive is a little like cultivating our own beautiful garden. This means our focus should be on nutritious soil, sunlight, hydration and the best quality seeds or bulbs that can be nurtured to grow into healthy plants!
Cleansing is as much about the removal of unwanted substances as it is about using the time to focus on being really conscious of our health. Fertility preparation is a time to include extra nutrient-dense foods, especially those rich in antioxidants that protect immature oocytes in women and support the liver to ensure a correct balance of hormones that are required for ovulation.