Are you constantly on the go, go, go train with never a second to slow down? (Puts hand up). Are you enduring life while dealing with regular skin breakouts? (Puts another up, whelp). Are you taking the pill, but looking for an alternative? (Yes, and always).
These are the burning questions millions of women today want answers to, and yet surprisingly we always seem to put our own self-care last. Why is this?
Surely our own health and wellness should be front of mind, yeah? As Cardi B says, “you do you boo.”
In a bid to seek meaningful solutions we chatted to one of Australia’s leading biochemists, Dr Libby, to dispel myths surrounding happy hormones, your period, being on the pill, acne breakouts and the importance of breathing diaphragmatically. (And yes, it’s important).
Dr Libby’s solutions are surprisingly simple, easily to implement but ultimately, empowering. Just remember, treat yourself as the precious person you are.
On what a nutritional biochemist is:
My first degree was in Nutrition and Dietetics and then I did a PhD in biochemistry. I spent 14 years at university and since then have worked with clients for 20 years. I have combined my education with my clinical experience to create what I refer to as my three-pillar approach to health. These three pillars are the biochemical, the nutritional and the emotional. So, in the context of how I apply biochemistry, it’s in the way nutrients interplay with the important biochemical processes in our body (think production of sex hormones, stress hormones, digestion, thyroid function) that keep us alive, create exceptional health and give us energy.
On the most common health concerns you see with patients in their 20s:
I see so many people in their 20s who are churning out stress hormones on a daily basis either due to a perception of pressure or urgency, worrying about what others think of them, or simply never slowing down. The best way to address this is to explore our emotional landscape including our beliefs about ourselves and who we are in the world.
On what’s the primary cause of unhappy or unhealthy hormones:
There are many different ways we can reach a hormonal imbalance but primarily it’s either the regular and consistent output of stress hormones or an unhappy liver resulting from lifestyle choices that don’t support our best health.
On how important good hormone health is to women in their 20s:
Exceptionally! In our 20s, we might notice little whispers from our body in the form of symptoms that are irritating but maybe not yet hugely problematic. But by the time we reach our 30s or 40s those whispers might have become shouts and we may start to experience significant challenges that are much harder to address. What we do in our younger years will set the scene for the years to come. In saying that, there are many women in their 20s suffering with severe period pain, PCOS, endometriosis, pre-menstrual migraines and the list goes on. My work offers a way to address these.
On how you know if your hormones are unhealthy:
Your body doesn’t have a voice, but it communicates to you with symptoms. In relation to sex hormones, your period is supposed to just show up every month without all the fanfare. Monthly symptoms are common but they’re not how it is supposed to be and they’re a way our body lets us know that something needs to change, usually with the way you eat, drink, move, think, breathe, believe or perceive.
On the link between the pill and acne:
Many women are put on the pill as a way to stop acne. It can offer relief from skin issues as it takes over the job of producing sex hormones (instead of your ovaries doing so), stops the pituitary gland in the brain communicating with the ovaries and provides a regular and consistent dose of synthetic hormones to your body.
On the one thing Dr Libby wishes women in their 20s knew about the pill and acne:
The pill doesn’t resolve the underlying cause of the skin challenges you’re facing. So, while it may resolve it for you while you’re on the pill, when you come off it, it’s likely you’re still going to need to figure out how to address the underlying problem. Generally, it’s to do with your sex hormones, the over-production of sebum and the liver’s efficiency in clearing sex hormones from the body once they have done their job. Correcting a zinc deficiency might also be necessary.
On skin problems and if your hormones are to blame:
This is a common reason we experience problems with our skin. It can be the result of low progesterone, high estrogen or an excess of androgens, such as testosterone. These imbalances are typically due to the relentless output of stress hormones and/or a poor quality way of eating with too many processed foods.
On keys signs that indicate you could be struggling with a hormone imbalance:
Heavy clotty painful periods, breast tenderness, mood swings such as irritability or immense sadness, anxious feelings, recurring headaches, unexplained weight gain (especially around your hips and thighs), irregular periods, skin breakouts at certain times each month, fatigue.
On 5 ingredients you need to eat every day for beautiful skin:
Get plenty of colourful plant foods including green leafy vegetables (especially broccoli), make water your main drink, eat oily fish such as salmon which contains omega 3 fatty acids which are highly nourishing for the skin, eat berries (particularly blackcurrants) as they are rich in antioxidants which the skin loves. And avocado for the 19 nutrients it contains as well as the nourishing fats.
On the one thing all women in their 20s can do today to slow the process of aging:
Too many people of all ages are just go go go with never a moment to pause. Consciously slow your breathing down numerous times across the day. You might like to integrate some restorative practices such as a regular breathing practice, meditation, restorative yoga, Pilates, Stillness Through Movement. Better yet, simply scheduling in time for solitude where you let your body catch up with the pace of your life and listen to your heart. Of course this is made even better if we are nourishing ourselves with plenty of antioxidant-rich foods as they pair up free radicals that damage the tissues inside the body which then becomes visible on the outside.
On the one recommendation you could make to women in their 20s about their health:
Take the best care of yourself and your body as you don’t want it to take a health crisis to wake you up to the fact that, without your health you have nothing. Treat yourself as the precious person you are.
On what Dr Libby would tell her 20-year-old self today about life, health and beauty:
You are precious exactly as you are, no matter what. Learn to care less about what other people think and focus on doing what sets your heart and soul alight.
If you want to catch Dr Libby in person she is currently on a national speaking tour titled The Hormone Factor. All the details are here for upcoming dates and for information about Dr Libby’s book, The Beauty Guide, please check here.
Want more beauty? We've rounded up the best cult pharmacy beauty buys for every budget here.
Image credit: Supplied