When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, I was embarrassed by how little I truly knew and understood about how our hormones work. Likewise, I was incredibly misinformed about how what we eat really affects our bodies. So I went to the experts for answers and was blown away by how inspiring, eye-opening, encouraging and helpful health books could be when it came to my health. Even if you aren't living with a hormone imbalance, I think you'll find these reads to be incredibly enlightening. And if there's one thing I've learned through my journey, it's that prevention is equally, if not more, as important as treatment.
1. Clean Cuisine:
To treat some of the digestive issues I was dealing with, my doctor recommended I eat an anti-inflammatory diet. I had no idea what that meant, so I turned to Ivy Larson's 8-week program for help. I absolutely loved this book and learned so much about what happens in our bodies every time we eat something. Ivy's writing is informative, yet fun and her plan is so approachable and easy to implement. My biggest takeaway from Clean Cuisine was that eating well isn't about cutting foods out, it's about adding good foods in. Though there are certainly foods like gluten, dairy, hydrogenated oils and refined flours and sugars that should be minimized, an anti-inflammatory diet is really about nourishing your body with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood. After reading Clean Cuisine, I started eating an anti-inflammatory diet as part of my 80-20 lifestyle and within the first week, all of my digestive issues had drastically improved. In less than a month, nearly all of my symptoms had completely disappeared and I felt exponentially better.
This was one of those books that when you're reading it, you feel as though the author wrote the book specifically for you. Every time I flipped the page, I found myself nodding in agreement–I couldn't believe how closely author Alisa Vitti nailed my symptoms and experiences, oftentimes verbatim. If you've ever suffered from hormone-related issues (you probably have and not even known they were hormone-related), this is THE book to read. Alisa explains how our hormones work in a way that finally makes sense. I was amazed to learn how related all my symptoms are and how the dots all connect. Before this book, I truly didn't realize how much hormones affect our entire bodies; they are so much more than just PMS and “woman issues”. Even better, I loved learning how I could actually treat my symptoms naturally, through food, small lifestyle changes and safe supplements. Alisa takes this a step further and even talks about syncing your lifestyle with certain phases of your cycle. Be forewarned: if you're currently on birth control pills, this book will likely make you want to change contraception methods. When I first went off the pill, I felt like it was the worst decision (I was gaining weight, breaking out and my cycles were so irregular). But reading WomanCode showed me that it was actually the best decision, as I likely never would've been able to figure out what was wrong with my body if I had stayed on the pill, which was masking my symptoms with synthetic hormones; or it might have been too late.
3. The Hormone Cure:
To get a second opinion on hormones and health, I turned to Harvard-educated Dr. Sara Gottfried's book. A lot of the information mirrored that of the above books, though I was glad to hear all of these experts were in agreement. Dr. Gottfired's book confirmed that health really is much simpler than conventional medicine (i.e. treating symptoms with prescription medication, rather than finding the root cause of the problem) leads us to believe. The Hormone Cure proved that rather than using expensive medication with a host of scary side effects, you can actually treat hormone conditions naturally, through diet and supplements. I particularly liked the sections of this book that talked about blood and lab work, as Dr. Gottfired outlines which levels to check and the ideal ranges they should fall in. The book is broken up by issue (i.e. low estrogen or high cortisol) with a natural treatment plan for each condition. It's straightforward and direct and helps you create and implement a plan for your personal journey.
4. Skin Cleanse:
I've battled acne my entire life, but it was never worse than when I went off the pill after more than a decade of synthetic hormones. Tired of trying everything, from dangerous prescriptions like Accutane and antibiotics to expensive products from Sephora, harsh topical medications and everything in between, with no lasting results, I felt at the end of my rope. Until I read Adina Grigore's Skin Cleanse. The only thing I had never tried, much like Adina, was going cold turkey on products. And just like Adina found when she trashed all of her beauty products for kitchen staples like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar, it's been the only tactic that's shown promise. I loved Adina's funny, lighthearted writing style and her ideas just make sense. We use way too many products, especially women, and most of what we know about beauty is from what million-dollar marketing companies would like us to believe (read: Buy more stuff!). Skin Cleanse debunks many of those myths, and provides great food and lifestyle tips, plus tons of easy recipes for DIY beauty products that deliver big results. I'm a convert and have since ditched almost all of my store-bought skincare products for homemade recipes. My skin isn't perfect yet, but I can see it improving every day. Plus, I'm saving money and nourishing my body with natural ingredients, rather than toxic, harmful chemicals.
After reading Clean Cuisine, one of the biggest changes I made to my diet was drinking a green smoothie every day. So I needed some delicious, healthy recipes that I knew would taste as good as they made me feel. Enter: Superfood Smoothies, the bible on healthy smoothies. I loved learning about exotic ingredients like acai and wheatgrass powder and finding new ways to incorporate the ingredients I already knew worked, like flaxseed and chia seeds. Author Julie Morris' recipes are fun and different, but all easy to make once you stock up on some of nature's best superfoods. Smoothies are one of the best ways to up your intake of fruits and vegetables, and they make it easy and enjoyable to get 2-3 servings in one sitting. I turn to Superfood Smoothies multiple times a week for powerful, delicious recipes.
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.