An A-E Approach to Health: The power of Hormones & Connection

It’s a while since I have written a blog, but I feel more inspired than ever to share my learnings with you.

A huge part of my work is continued learning but I feel strongly that I learn most from the people I meet along the way, and last week’s Supper Club was without doubt a wonderful example.

We were very privileged to have the brilliant Dr Amie Burbridge as guest speaker and I am so grateful to her for sharing so much wisdom with us all. She shared her heartfelt approach to life both on a personal level as a busy A & E consultant.

She is passionate about lifestyle medicine and empowering patients to take back more control of their own health and wellbeing, and she takes great pleasure in De-diagnosing her patients as much as possible. She feels strongly that people do not want to be told what to do, but instead benefit from learning how their lifestyle choices impact their health and wellbeing.

During the evening she explained her A-E approach to health in a really simple and actionable way that was brilliantly memorable for people and went on to explain them all in turn. They were:





Empowerment/ Encouragement.

Amie began by describing how important activity (such as a walking) is to engage our muscles to pump blood to the heart, improving the function of the heart muscle and improving lung function. She also described the power of consciously slowing down our breathing and extending the exhale for switching on our parasympathetic nervous system and reducing stress. She then explained how important it is to drink 2 litres of water a day because water enables every organ in your body to do its job effectively. When you are dehydrated you will feel fatigued and find it difficult to think clearly.

Walking, breathwork practices, and drinking water are clearly all very practical things that are accessible to us all and have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing.

However, what I loved most about her talk was how she explained that focusing on our hormones has such an impact and this has been somewhat of an AHA moment for me.

I heard another Doctor on a recent podcast about weight management explaining how people are focusing on the wrong thing, and that people should focus on hormones rather than calories. It was such an empowering podcast that I have gone on to share with many of my clients.

So, to be reminded again how we can influence our hormones really struck a chord.

Amie has learnt this from all her 17 years of listening to and working with patients and from her own journey with her own health,

She explained how activity and mindful movement has a huge impact on our hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. Movement increases production of both mood-enhancing serotonin and dopamine.

She also explained how eating healthy diet also impacts our levels of serotonin as most of our serotonin in produced in the gut. Eating a diet rich in fibre from plant foods is crucial to the health of the microbiome and the production of serotonin. She also shared how she regularly eats small amounts of dark chocolate again because the cocoa in dark chocolate triggers feel good endorphins serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

However, what she has discovered to be the most impactful of all for both her and her patients is connection, and part way through her session she invited us to move around and connect with someone new, which was wonderful to witness. Connection drives everything I do and indeed what I wrote about in my previous blog, so I was thrilled when she described later that this was the most fundamental principle to her both her own health and wellbeing and to that of her patients.

Later in the evening she went on to describe the power of kindness and compassion and encouragement. It was wonderful to witness the deep power of friendship first hand, as her closet friends were there on the night to support her. We all know that when we have someone cheering us on and supporting us everything is so much easier, and she is quick to acknowledge what an important role her friends play in her life.

I am reminded again of how both connection and kindness impact our hormones by the work of Dr David Hamilton that I share often. His work explores the mind- body connection that Amie says often gets overlooked in modern medicine.

David Hamilton explains that the opposite effect of stress in the body is not relaxation but kindness.  Both connection and kindness release oxytocin, which has the opposite effect of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.

Spreading kindness is clearly a win-win and spreading random acts of kindness is something Amie practices regularly, which again was so inspiring to learn.

I am so grateful for this inspiring talk, and I will continue to spread these empowering messages as much as I can in my role as a coach.

When I pause to think for a moment, much of my work can be related to hormones. the success of the tiny habit change approach I use with my clients is due to the dopamine effect. when people feel successful it releases dopamine in the brain which helps them to repeat the behaviour and create a sustainable habit.

I also often invite my clients to consider ‘how will it make you feel?’ when they are struggling to make the healthier choice, and it is so incredibly powerful. For example, if they remember how much better they feel after they have done some exercise, (which releases all those endorphins and happy hormones), they are much more likely to choose to do it because they will want to feel like that again.

However, Amie’s brilliant talk has inspired me to focus more on explaining the power of hormones in other areas of my work.

Our lifestyle choices clearly have such a huge influence on our hormones. This is because they have the power to increase or reduce inflammation in the body, and chronic long-term inflammation has the power to disrupt our hormones.

The function of the hormones is to send important messages between the brain and all the other organs in the body and they control our body and emotions. However, if they are disrupted and out of balance due to chronic inflammation, they cause horrible life disrupting symptoms.

This is especially relevant to my work as I work closely with women in the perimenopause and menopause who are experiencing huge fluctuations and decline in many of their hormones, so it is even more important to make lifestyle choices that help to reduce inflammation in the body. Sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats and stress cause huge amount of inflammation in the diet, whilst reducing or managing stress and choosing a natural wholefood diet, rich a wide variety of colourful fruit and veg has such a powerful anti-inflammatory effect!

Lifestyle medicine is not complicated but it is clearly very powerful, and this is a message both Amie and I are passionate to share.

Please do share this blog with people so that Amie’s wonderful work continues to ripple out and reach more people. Also, if you would like to learn more about Amie’s work, please also click on the link to listen to Amie’s Podcast, ‘The home of medicine.’

Thank you, Amie, for such an inspiring an empowering supper club. It is certainly one that will stay with me for a very long time. It is truly heart-warming to think of all the thousands of lives you have changed and continue to change with your work, and I am very grateful that you made the time to share your important messages with us all.

Thank you all for reading. I hope you took some inspiration from Amie’s brilliant teachings!

Please do feel free to get in touch to share any tiny action step you are planning to put into place as a result! It would be lovely to hear from you.

In the meantime, take good care of  yourself, and I hope to see you soon,

Harriet x

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