Hormones play an important role in our lives and can affect our mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s normal for hormones to change throughout a woman’s life; however, the smallest of imbalances can leave us feeling below parr.Hormones
Our nutritional intake and daily habits can have a huge impact on this. That’s why choosing the right foods is essential to restoring or maintaining your hormonal balance. Not only that, but eating these hormone-balancing foods will also help support the symptoms experienced during the perimenopause and menopausal years.
What do hormones do in our body?
Our bodies contain over 50 types of hormones that act as chemical messengers that impact the way that our cells and organs function. They’re responsible for several important functions such as metabolising food, growth and development, controlling our thirst and appetite, maintaining the body’s temperature, regulating our moods and cognitive functioning as well as initiating or maintaining our reproductive system.
Some of the most commonly known hormones are oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone, insulin, cortisol, ghrelin, leptin and thyroid hormones are the most known. These are associated with metabolism, mood, and fertility. So, with these hormones playing such essential roles in our bodies, it’s easy how an imbalance can affect us so strongly.
Signs of a hormonal imbalance
A hormonal imbalance results from having too much or too little of a hormone in our bloodstream. Our hormones are produced by various glands in the body, which is why the symptoms of hormonal imbalance can vary so widely. Below are some of the typical symptoms experienced by women:
- Mood swings
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Low libido
- Abdominal or lower back pain during menstruation
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
How can you balance your hormones naturally?
Your body is naturally meant to generate the right amount and type of hormones to keep you happy and healthy. But can you balance female hormones naturally on your own? The short answer is yes; there are many habits you can implement to help improve your hormonal balance.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by following a hormone-balancing diet. Now, before you start panicking, this is by no means a typical fad diet. Rather, it’s about finding and eating the right foods that can help with hormonal imbalances.
What are the best foods that balance hormones in females?
Luckily, you’ll find that you can consume a variety of foods to balance your hormones. So, even if you’re a picky eater and don’t like some of these hormone-balancing foods, you don’t have to worry because there are several options for you to choose from.
Get that protein in there
Protein-rich foods provide our bodies with numerous nutrients, such as amino acids, which are used in the production of hormones and in regulating several physiological processes. Experts recommend that you should consume at least 20-30 grams of protein with each meal.
Eggs, chicken, lentils and fish are all protein-rich foods. However, if you think you’ll struggle with this, you can always add protein smoothies to your diet.
Cruciferous vegetables support healthy hormones
Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, sprouts and cabbage, are part of the brassica family. When they are cut or chewed, a phytochemical known as isothiocyanates and Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is released. I3C improves liver function which plays an essential role in balancing hormones and filtering out exhausted hormones.
Note: Heat destroys these special chemicals. If you are cooking cruciferous vegetables, chopping them first and lightly steaming them will help to retain as much of their powerful nutrients as possible.
Some women have oestrogen dominance; this happens when the level of oestrogen outweighs the level of progesterone in the body. This can be aggravated by chronic stress and sluggish liver detoxification. Eating cruciferous vegetables can help to balance this imbalance.
Some cruciferous vegetables you can include in your diet include:
- Swiss Chard
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok Choy
Eat the rainbow to support hormones
Aim to eat 7-8 portions of colourful fruits and vegetables every day. The vibrant pigments in fruit and vegetables ensure that you will get a wide range of vitamins and minerals for optimum health and hormone balance.
Eat Mushrooms for healthy hormones
Mushrooms help to regulate the amount of oestrogen in the body. Studies have found that consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. In one study, women who ate 10g of mushroom daily (that’s just one small mushroom) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer.
This number is increased to 89% during perimenopause and 82% post-menopause if these women also included the compounds included in green tea in their daily diet.
Healthy fats for healthy hormones
Good fats are used by the body to produce hormones and also reduce inflammation. Healthy fats include those found in olive oil, flaxseed, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, and nut butter and can easily be added to any meal.
Flaxseeds are particularly beneficial as they contain lignans, a type of phytoestrogen that helps to balance oestrogen levels by supporting healthy levels and ridding the body of ‘spent’ oestrogen. They can be added to smoothies, porridge, muesli, and soups.
Eat fibrous whole grains
Wholegrains are slow-release carbohydrates. Including a daily portion of whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat will give a boost of fibre and ensure that you are consuming vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for hormone harmony.
Spice up your diet
Certain herbs and spices are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties. Add garlic, sumac, ginger, paprika and sumac to promote hormonal balance. They also contain numerous other nutrients that will promote overall body health.
Eat fruit in moderation
While eating fruit is good for you, it’s important to know which ones are better for you than others. Eating low sugar fruits whole will give your body a fibre boost and help reduce the rate that natural sugars are released into your bloodstream.
These fruits include berries, apples, pears and citrus fruits (without the peel). Avoid dried fruits and fruit juices as they have a higher sugar content which will result in higher levels of sugar in your blood.
Eat magnesium-rich foods
Magnesium helps our body regulate our blood sugar levels by improving our insulin sensitivity. It also regulates our nervous system, which influences a woman’s PMS symptoms.
Avocados, legumes, dark leafy greens, seeds, tofu and whole grains are all magnesium-rich foods you can add to your diet.