Healthy Habits for Autumn
This past summer, we had the privilege of hosting Hannah Pehlgrimm, an experienced herbalist and natural practitioner, for Health from the Inside Out: Intersection of Water & Hormones.
As our first Facebook AMA, we explored various hormonal health problems, as well as the natural solutions that can alleviate them. Following this educational and insightful conversation, we’ve reconnected with Hannah to share some natural health tips as we head into the gloomier, colder months.
Keep hydration levels up
The tail end of summer may have wrapped up, but that doesn’t mean hydration can take a back seat. Taking ownership of your hydration is a core concept for improved health, as staying hydrated with clean water is a basic prerequisite for the body to function well.
“All organs need proper hydration to be able to have sufficient blood flow. This allows them to detox what is not needed anymore and to fulfill their functions, such as the liver producing bile to process fats and oils from our diet,” says Hannah. “Without sufficient hydration, all organs function at a reduced rate, it’s as if you are cleaning with greasy or dirty rags.”
Of course, hydration during the colder months is just as important as during summer. For a seasonal treat, indulge in some herbal tea, which is known to assist the body in keeping the immune system healthy and at high performance.
As a modern consumer, you’ll be faced with many situations where plastic is an option – an overwhelming aspect, as we know that less than ten percent is recycled. Besides the destruction that plastic pollution adds to our ecosystem, it also has a major impact on humans.
The softeners in many consumer goods that we use daily, from cosmetics containers to water bottles to kids’ toys, enter our body through touch and consumption of the content.
“Unfortunately, these softeners accumulate in the human body and enter into the hormonal system. There, they act similar to female sex hormones, estrogens, and contribute to many hormonal health issues like infertility in men, cyclic imbalances or endometriosis and PCOS in women,” notes Hannah.
Using a glass bottle for your daily water intake is a small but important step to stop increasing levels of “endocrine disruptors” from entering the body and interfering with the hormonal system.
Access to clean water
This one may be obvious, but unfortunately, it’s a dire concern for hundreds of millions around the world. And it’s a growing problem, as upwards of two billion people on this planet do not have proper sanitation.
Even for those in the United States, where water quality is deemed “safe,” millions are exposed to cancer-causing contaminants. And for those currently utilizing at-home filtration devices?
Beware, too, as they do not filter out the hormones and pharmaceutical residue.
“The levels of pharmaceutical and hormonal residue in the water are not monitored by institutions, nor are they regulated as it is the case for pesticides or heavy metals. Nonetheless, they can have a detrimental effect on our health in the long term, again contributing to hormonal health issues in both men and women,” advises Hannah.
“The residue finds its way into the ground water by way of animal and human waste, which contains pharmaceuticals (such as birth control pills) and growth hormones from industrially raised cattle.”
Whether you’re focusing on a specific exercise routine a few times per week or incorporating your “steps” into your endless errands, it’s important to sustain your healthy activity level from summer.
As the days become shorter and colder, there are many impacts to the human body, such as low energy levels, less enthusiasm and difficulty concentrating on personal and work projects.
“Make sure to spend lots of time outside to gather the sunlight, by cycling to work (with proper lighting, reflective clothes & safety) or parking further away to get some light exercise and exposure to daylight,” says Hannah. “Plan for outside activities on the weekends and schedule exercise that you really like to do way ahead, such as that dance or yoga class that you have been thinking about.”
Further, natural herbs and vitamin D supplements can also be a great support during the dark season.
The classic? Ginger tea with lemon. Or how about some St. John’s Wort tea to fight bouts of seasonal depression? In your diet, it’s ideal to incorporate soups and stews during the cold season, with lots of hearty herbs like lovage, oregano, nutmeg, or curcuma.
And we’re not just talking about food! Many clothes are exposed to chemicals during production, which find their ways into our waterways, and even our bodies. Buying organic and seasonal foods is a no-brainer to many people by now, but Hannah has a reminder of why it’s definitely a good idea for your body:
“Organic food is much less exposed to pesticide levels or genetic modification. Seasonal foods can be bought from local sources, therefore having been harvested ripe and not too early, so they can be shipped globally. Clothes are a whole different topic, but they, too, are normally exposed to heavy chemical treatment which is then directly transported into our bodies through skin contact.”
Not only do the workers who produce these clothes become contaminated, but so do the consumers. Buying used or organically produced clothes is the best choice. If you do buy new conventionally produced clothing, make sure to wash the clothes at least twice before wearing them.
Hannah Pehlgrimm, an experienced herbalist and natural practitioner, has been working with women of all ages at her Berlin-based practice for Holistic Women’s Health since 2012. She is an adviser to FEMNA, which combines traditional herbal wisdom with modern research to create essential blends that support women in the different stages of life. For more information about Hannah, please click here.