Gang, it’s time for a public service announcement. Ready? Food is magic. Not only does it taste delicious and keep you going, but it can also play a huge role in hormone health! Great nutrition helps support the production, use, and excretion of your hormones, keeping you healthier. Welcome to the world of the hormone-balancing diet…
What are hormones?
As you may or may not know, hormones basically control every process in your body. From weight and temperature to cardiac health, mood, and appetite, they’re everywhere. How is that possible? Hormones are, essentially, chemical messengers that talk to the cells in your body, keeping them working as they should.
Hormones are all part of your Endocrine system, and react to the levels in your blood and signals from your Thyroid, Hypothalamus, and the other glands in the system. In general, your body is pretty good at keeping all your hormones at the right levels for you, to the point where you probably don’t notice that they’re there. Unless you have a Menstrual cycle, natch.
That said, hormones can also be quite delicate, and easily upset. If you’ve ever had your periods stop because of stress, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. But hormones can also be unbalanced by underlying conditions, such as diabetes or Thyroid issues. Imbalances can cause all sorts of physical and emotional symptoms, and tests can help rule out or diagnose any underlying issues.
What’s hormone balance?
For lots of people, when they hear the word ‘hormones,’ they immediately think Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. And while they are indeed hormones, they’re just the tip of the hormone iceberg. From Cortisol, AKA the stress hormone, to adrenaline, insulin, and melatonin, AKA the sleep hormone, and many more, there are literally dozens of them.
And they all work together to keep you in a balanced state, also known as homeostasis. That means all of your systems are ticking over nicely, keeping you going in an optimal way. But when something goes wrong, the cascade effect can have an enormous impact on your wellbeing and quality of life.
For women, some of the most common hormone imbalances are based on Estrogen and Progesterone issues. But the good news is that eating an Estrogen or Progesterone focussed hormone-balancing diet can improve all of your hormones.
How do I know I’ve got a hormone imbalance?
Well, that’s trickier to answer than you might think. Symptoms of an imbalance can be as varied as the hormones themselves. That said, there are some general symptoms that can indicate that something might be awry, particularly if they’re ongoing or increase in severity.
If you’re seeing any of the following on a regular basis, please consider talking to a doctor.
- Irregular periods
- Changes in cycle
- Heavier or lighter periods
- Weight gain or loss
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Appetite changes
- Regular constipation or diarrhea
- Dry skin
- Increased allergies
- Sleep disturbance or insomnia
This is in no way an exhaustive list, and chances are, your symptoms will be entirely individual to you. But you hopefully wouldn’t see them all. At the same time anyway.
What is the fastest way to balance hormones?
Good health and nutrition can go a long way to supporting and improving the health of your hormones. We’re designed to eat fresh fruit and veggies, get plenty of fiber, stay hydrated, and move around every now and then. And while that sounds like a boringly large amount of work, small changes can make a huge difference.
Whether you’re living with a diagnosed hormone issue, or just want to help combat the ups and downs of a menstrual cycle, a stressful life or improve your overall wellbeing, diet and exercise will help. We’re not saying it’s a cure-all, but we are saying that taking care of yourself will have a knock-on effect on your hormone health. And there’s nothing boring about that.
What’s a hormone-balancing diet?
Before we start, let’s talk about the word “diet.” Used here, we’re not talking about restricting calories, or only drinking vegetable water. We’re talking about the actual combination of foods you’re eating to support your hormones, not a set of rules you need to follow.
What you eat can affect your body in lots of different ways, some good, some not so good. But knowing which is which and why can help you manage any hormone-related symptoms you’re seeing. And as with all things hormones, what works and doesn’t will likely be individual to you. But some things will help.
What foods help balance hormones?
Eating for hormonal balance involves ensuring you’re getting the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fats, and all the other amazing things that keep your body and hormones happy. So here are a few things to be thinking about…
Protein’s role in a hormone-balancing diet
Protein is an essential part of any meal, and here’s why. It can help reduce ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. But it gets better, because Protein also increases the hormone that tells you when you’re full, also known as Leptin. And as if that wasn’t enough, getting the right amount of protein also helps support balanced blood sugar.
So get yourself some of these:
- Lean meats, including chicken
Mono-unsaturated fatty acids, fats from plant sources rather than animal products, are known to be good for you. In fact, we call them healthy fats because they protect your cells from damage, reduce inflammation, and in the case of Olive oil, can improve the way Insulin works in your body. Others, known as Polyunsaturated fatty acids, can even help regulate your hormone metabolism.
Try one, some, or all of these amazing fats sources:
- Olive oil
- Oily fish
- Rapeseed oil
Believe it or not, Vitamin D is a hormone. But it’s not one we make ourselves, so you either have to live in a super-sunny country, or you need to take a supplement to get it. And it’s important because it helps all your other hormones talk to each other, as well as keeping your bones and teeth strong, reducing inflammation, and supporting your immune system. It’s great stuff.
Other vitamins that are great for hormone balance include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and B-complex vitamins. They help with hormone detox, support Thyroid function, and even reduce cramps. A high-quality supplement will help you cover all those bases, and trust us, it’s worth it.
It’s not just food that can be part of a hormone-balancing diet. Green tea can reduce Cortisol, improve Serotonin, and balance Estrogen. Everyone should try Green tea.
What food should you avoid on a hormone-balancing diet?
Now, anyone who’s ever had a passing acquaintance with weight loss will know all about simple carbs. They include things like white bread, white rice, pastries, candy, pasta… Basically, anything that’s processed. Eating too many of them can cause inflammation and insulin resistance, which impairs your ability to use it properly. And that can lead to diabetes, and affect other imbalances, including PCOS and Menopause.
Animal fats and high-fat meat products can, over a lifetime time and if you eat enough of them, affect your Estrogen levels. Believe it or not, they can actually increase them, leading to a delay in Menopause, an increase in the severity of Endometriosis, and an increase in certain cancer risks. As always, gang, moderation is key. We’re not saying never eat meat, but we are saying don’t eat it all day, every day for your entire life, you know?
Alcohol and caffeine
Yes, even alcohol and caffeine can adversely affect your hormone health. Both can increase stress levels and impact Estrogen and Progesterone balance and production. Plus, they affect how well you sleep, which also has a knock-on effect on the rest of your hormones.
Sugar and salt
Now, a little salt or sugar is fine. But diets high in either can lead to hormone imbalances for Insulin and Coritsol, AKA the stress hormone. Try and avoid highly processed ready meals, takeaways and keep candy to a minimum.
What does a hormone-balancing diet mean for me?
When it comes to eating for your hormones, supporting production and balance, food is key. Cutting down on animal products and increasing your intake of hormone-friendly foods can make a huge difference to your symptoms. But it can also improve your overall health and even sleep.
That said, if you’re concerned that you’re living with an imbalance, please talk to a healthcare type at your earliest convenience. They can help you rule out any underlying conditions, as well as advise on treatment options if that becomes necessary.
In the meantime, we’ve got some incredible hormone-balancing meal plans on the Hormona app – just head to Hormona+ and enjoy!
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