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As a woman nearing my fortieth birthday I know all too well about the struggles of hormone health. Almost every conversation I have these days with my female friends touches on the subject in one way or another. I was therefore excited to get the opportunity of a sit-down chat with Nikki of Nikki Harris Women’s Hormone Health who is a specialist in the area and can help shed a light on a big but all too often ignored subject. Here's what she had to say...
My journey to becoming a Nutritional therapist specialising in women’s hormone health has been a long one. I suffered with a lot of bowel and gut issues in my early twenties because I’d been on antibiotics for acne in my late teens. Back then I didn’t know anything about nutrition or complementary health so like many others I simply went to my GP and he put me on antibiotics for eighteen months. During that time my spots cleared up which helped with my confidence but it absolutely ruined my gut health. I went from being able to eat anything I wanted to being really bloated out. My stomach was rock hard and I looked nine months pregnant. Plus I was in so much pain with cramps. It really knocked me sideways. I was in my early twenties so I was going out having a good time, binge drinking and eating all of the wrong foods because I didn’t know any different.
Anyway, I used to pop into the local health food shop every now and again to pick up a health bar and one day I found a leaflet in there saying ‘Are you suffering from bloating?. After reading the leaflet I booked an appointment with the health food practitioner and she told me I was suffering from Candida and had an overgrowth of bacteria in my gut and needed to cut out alcohol, sugar and all the foods I was eating and drink more water and eat more vegetables. I was impressed as to how simply changing the way I was eating and drinking managed to change the way that I felt. It wasn’t a quick fix but over a period of time of following her advice, taking the supplements and sticking to the changes in my diet I noticed a huge shift in the way I felt. The bloating had gone down, my moods were better and the pain had gone.
After that I really got into nutrition and eventually I went to a BANT credited college in my late thirties. During my time at college I was still working in social housing, I was planning on getting married, I was traveling up and down to Bristol every other weekend and I started to suffer with hormonal issues. I had really big bouts of anxiety and low moods. My PMS symptoms started to increase and I had a lot of water retention. Because of what I was learning at college I had the knowledge of how to manage that. I did a hormone test which showed some signs of imbalance due to the stress I was under. I did a thyroid test and looked at my vitamin D and vitamin B12 levels. I also did a hormone dried urine test which was a real eye opener because I was dominant in oestrogen which was going down the wrong pathway. If left unchecked this can lead to DNA damage and more health problems.
When I graduated I started off as a general nutritional therapist but I soon discovered that I really wanted to target my efforts to women’s hormones because there are so many women out there who struggle unnecessarily and they really don’t need to. I founded Nickki Harris Women’s Hormone Health in 2018. I know some women are happy to go on HRT and birth control and that’s absolutely fine. However my expertise lie in a more holistic approach. I am all about women who are committed to making those changes to get themselves where they want to be. It’s not a quick fix, it requires putting some work in, looking at your diet, addressing the exercise that you’re doing and your mindset. It’s not just about taking a supplement. It’s about looking at the body as a whole. You can take all the supplements you like but if you’re stressed out then you’ve just not got the balance right.
That’s what I do with my twelve week program. It encompasses all this together. Women get the whole 360 approach to managing their hormones. Not from a place of just taking some supplements but a place of looking at every aspect of their life. Like sleep hygiene for instance. Are you having good nights sleep? Are you scrolling through Facebook late at night? Are you stressed out to the max? Have you got time for self care? All of that goes into my program. I help women to look at food as fuel and not as an emotional crutch. We look at what you eat, how you eat and when you eat. We address the diet and the lifestyle. We do hormone tests if testing is necessary. After getting the test results, we look at what we need to do to move you forward. It’s about unpicking people’s symptoms. It’s about getting balance. It’s not about getting rid of stress - it’s about managing stress. Absolutely everything in your life has a knock on effect. Chronic levels of long term stress and inflammation can cause a lot of the problems in health that we see today.
Hormone health, when it is unbalanced, can have devastating side effects on women’s relationships, their work environment, their friendships, self esteem and mental health. I want women to understand that they don’t have to feel this way. But in order for them to find relief from their symptoms they have to put in the work to rebalance the body. I love accompanying women on that journey when they’re ready to do so, it’s the most fulfilling job in the world!
If you’d like to know more then take a look at Nikki’s listing on SouthHams.com where you’ll find links to her website and full contact details.
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