Our hormones are essential for keeping our bodies running as exactly as they should be and with over 200 of them at work they’re responsible for regulating everything from our blood pressure to our sex drive.
Unsurprisingly, when they’re out of balance they can cause real issues to our health and wellbeing. While some causes of hormonal imbalance are obvious, like certain medications and stress, others might not be so clear. For example, did you know that your diet can also affect your hormones? Or that a hormone balancing diet could be just what you need to help you look and feel your best?
Let’s explore the hormone diet; the foods that support your hormones and which ones you should most definitely avoid.
Best Foods For Hormone Balance
It should come as no surprise that the best hormone balancing foods are the ones we traditionally view as ‘healthy.’ We’re talking lots of natural, whole foods packed full of nutrients and vitamins, lots of healthy fats, good quality protein and eating the right amount of calories every day.
A diet rich in the below hormone balancing foods will help support your hormones, keeping them, and you, healthy and working as you should. All these are foods that balance hormones in females and are essential for an effective hormone-balancing diet.
In order to create hormones, our bodies need lots of healthy fats of which the avocado has plenty. Not only that but avocados can help regulate blood cholesterol levels, balance cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and reduce the body’s absorption of estrogen while boosting testosterone levels, the two hormones that affect our fertility and menstrual cycles.
Salmon & Tuna
Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fish like salmon and tuna are great for supporting healthy levels of progesterone, the hormone which helps to regulate our menstrual cycles and prepare our bodies for pregnancy. These also help stabilise the hormones that control our appetite and the good fats are great for helping build and maintain hormone functions.
Nuts & seeds
Another source loaded with omega 3 fatty acids nuts and seeds are great foods that balance hormones in women. Nuts like walnuts are great to snack on throughout the day and chia seeds can be sprinkled on things like salads and cereals. Hemp seeds are another great option that can be added to things like smoothies and salads; they’re rich in omega-6 called gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which is great for balancing progesterone levels.
Protein is an essential part of any hormone diet by helping to build cells and repair tissue in our bodies. It is also the main framework for hormones, helping to keep them healthy so they can accurately relay information throughout the body. Aim for a diet rich in lean protein, such as chicken breast, eggs and beans, peas and lentils.
Fruits & vegetables
Make sure you’re getting your five a day by including lots of fruit and vegetables in your hormone diet. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale help metabolise the estrogen hormone and stop estrogen dominant cancers from developing and are great foods that balance hormones in females. Rich in vitamins, oxidants and minerals, fruit and vegetables are also great sources of fibre and support good gut health.
Speaking of gut health it’s a good idea to incorporate good quality probiotics into your diet as part of your hormone-balancing diet. Probiotics are good bacteria that help support gut flora and help balance your gut microbiome. With more than 20 hormones secreted in the gut, including those that control our appetite and metabolism, a healthy gut will help improve and regulate hormone production. Fermented things like kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha are great sources of probiotics and easy to incorporate into your diet.
The Worst Foods For Hormone Balance: The Diet That You Need To Avoid
Now we know some great hormone-balancing foods, what about the ones we should avoid?
Try to avoid artificial sweeteners which can negatively affect our gut bacteria, leading to inflammation to the gut wall and intestinal problems. As we now know, the gut is an important place for hormone production and such imbalances can affect the hormones that regulate our appetite and tell us when we’re hungry.
It’s probably no surprise to learn that alcohol does not support healthy hormones; it interferes with the production of several hormones including those that control our blood sugar levels and estrogen production. You can learn more about alcohol’s effect on our hormones here.
In order to have a long shelf life, processed foods are packed full of preservatives and additives which can disrupt hormone production by lowering testosterone levels and creating an imbalance of estrogen in the body. They can also cause inflammation to the adrenal glands, which can lead to weight gain and autoimmune issues.
Fried foods high in fat
As we mentioned earlier some healthy fats are essential to build and maintain hormones but fried, fatty foods will have the opposite effect. Fried foods are high in trans fats which our bodies struggle to break down. They are associated with the increased risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. They affect the hormones that regulate our appetite and how our bodies store fat which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Many of us start the day with a cup of coffee, relying on caffeine to help us start the day. But caffeine can actually have a negative effect on your hormones, particularly insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Caffeine also increases our blood pressure which can stimulate the release of stress hormones, like cortisol.
Although some dairy, like greek yogurt which is high in protein, supports our hormones, there are some who claim dairy does more harm than good. Some research suggests that cow’s milk is rich in bovine hormones which can disrupt the production of our own, stopping them from working as they should.
Our hormones are tricky old things and identifying and rectifying a hormonal imbalance isn’t always easy. If you think you’re suffering from a hormone imbalance then it’s important to get tested by your doctor. You can also learn more about misbehaving hormones, and how to bring them back into line, here.