This week is the Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week which is dedicated to helping woman across Australia focus on their health, and learn about their health and ways to take action. This is the fourth year this event has been held and it was started in 2013 when the Jean Hailes for Women’s Health foundation realised there was no event dedicated to women’s health in Australia.
If you don’t know about this not-for-profit foundation, it was formed in honour of a pioneering medical practitioner, Dr Jean Hailes, and the work they do reflects the enduring legacy that she made to women’s health. Jean’s vision was to improve the quality of women’s lives and give them practical information based on the best available evidence.
I encourage you to visit the web site – jeanhailes.org.au – as there is lots of useful information on the site. This week’s theme is “Am I normal” and the foundation is running a series of webcasts on this topic looking at weight, body image, mental health or sex. These are all very important topics no matter what age you are.
Hormones, especially oestrogen, play a big role in how a woman feels and in her physical health. Without adequate levels of estrogen, women may experience mood changes, feelings of fatigue, weight gain and other “unwell” symptoms. Oestrogen is essential for a healthy reproductive cycle but also plays an important role in physiological functions such as libido, vaginal health, skin health, triglyceride regulation, and metabolism.
Eating the right foods can have a potent effect on a woman’s hormones. Eating a fresh, whole foods diet (and avoiding processed and refined foods) is essential and this includes incorporating specific foods that can support hormonal balance. Some of the most potent hormone balancers are seeds – flax, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds! They contains natural plant compounds called phytoestrogens that are structurally similar to oestrogens, and have very mild oestrogen-like effects when consumed. Including these foods as part of a healthy diet has the potential to decrease the severity & frequency of peri-menopausal symptoms and can also help to balance female hormones, reducing PMS symptoms such as bloating, mood swings and breast tenderness. Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are also high in zinc and Vitamin E, and they are all great sources of protein and healthy fats. So include a couple of tablespoons of these seeds in your diet daily for extra hormone support! Or you can try this super seedy protein ball containing all these lovely hormone balancing seeds!
Super Seedy Protein Balls
8 pitted Medjool dates
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup pepita/pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup almonds
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Add sunflower, flax, pumpkin seeds and almonds into a processor and process for a minute or so until it resembles a coarse flour. Add dates into processor and process for a couple of minutes until dates break down. Add cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Process until thoroughly combined. Add coconut oil and maple syrup and process again for 30 seconds. The dough should be sticky when pressed between your fingers. If it’s not sticky enough to shape into balls, add a small amount of water (a teaspoon at a time) and process until it comes together. Shape dough into small balls (about 16). Roll in sesame seeds and refrigerate for a couple of hours until firm. Store in the fridge.