I remember when I began to feel the changes. I really think saying that “I began feeling changes” is putting it mildly. These changes weren’t subtle. Nope, they came on in break-neck speed like Secretariat at the Preakness in ’73. I wasn’t prepared.
I mean is anyone, really? But take heart, hormonal changes are a natural and normal part of life. The problem comes in if you haven’t taken care of your organ systems throughout your lifetime, then these hormonal imbalances can have a major impact on your health.
A lot of things can alter the delicate balance of your hormones and diet is definitely one of the factors that can do this. Unexplained weight gain, tiredness, bad skin, sleep problems and, PMS can all be subtle signs that your hormones aren’t as balanced as they could be. Looking at your diet can be one of the simplest ways to start to balance your hormones and improve hormone health.
There are foods that have certain healing properties and “energy” that can make your hormone transition run smoother and help you gain control over your symptoms.
Protein is a really underrated way to balance your hormones, especially insulin and estrogen. Try to focus on seafood like salmon, mackerel, clams, oysters, mercury-free tuna, etc. They are super smart protein choices as they contain anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and are nourishing to the kidney.
Nuts & seeds, like walnuts, pine nuts, and black sesame seeds are especially beneficial.
Beans are another great option. Black and red beans are best. Soybeans are ok but go easy on Tofu as it’s more difficult to digest.
Red meats and processed meats tend to increase inflammation, be full of more toxins and hormones which, you guessed it, can raise the risk of hormone imbalances that are linked to inflammation. If you’re a meat-eater, then lamb is the meat of choice, followed by free-range chicken. Remember, you have enough hormone issues so you don’t want to add fuel to the fire (figuratively speaking) by adding more into your diet from eating commercially raised meats.
Eat carbs and healthy fats too
Alongside protein, you’ll also want to include some carbs and healthy fats. These three macronutrients are super important for balancing your hormones. Ideally, try to include protein, carbs and healthy fats every mealtime. For fats, choose walnut or sesame oils over vegetable oils, for example. Vegetables oils and margarine are full of inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.
All deep green vegetables are going to be well worth adding to your plate. Broccoli & spinach are heavy hitters in the hormone department, as well as mushrooms and scallions.
A little extra something, something
There are some condiments that are great for your digestive system, which we all know if connected to the brain AND plays a huge role in how well you are absorbing nutrients. Some of the top-notch condiments to put on your shopping list and your foods are garlic, ginger, fennel, parsley, clove, and cinnamon.
Eat plenty of fiber
Eating lots of fiber isn’t just great for your digestive health. It can also bind to estrogen and help to reduce some of the effects of excess estrogen.
High glycemic foods raise insulin levels
Foods that rank highly on the Glycemic Index increase insulin levels and alter the way that your body uses estrogen. They’re also inflammatory and can raise your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Refined carbs such as white flours are a big culprit for hormone imbalances, partly due to their inflammatory nature. Eating more low GI foods helps to balance hormones.
Soy can be a problem
I know I mentioned soy as a possible protein option, but if you already have an excess of estrogen, soy can be an issue. It contains some natural estrogens so it stands to raise your levels of this hormone even more. This is good news if you have low estrogen levels but it can be a big problem if your levels are already on the high side due to factors such as contraceptive pills and hormone-mimicking toxins from your lifestyle.
Soy contains isoflavones, which can increase the effects of hormones such as estrogen. The end result? You can end up with much higher estrogen levels than you realize, and this can present itself in problems such as heavy periods, bloating, acne, chronic headaches, and mood swings.
There’s another problem with non-organic, GMO soy products too. They can often contain a chemical called glyphosate. And guess what? This is another known hormone disruptor.
You might find soy to be an issue if you’re a vegan, as many vegan-friendly foods are packed with soy and you can easily find yourself eating a lot of it.
If you suspect that your levels are already high, soy may be something you decide to stay clear of completely.
Processed foods are another one to avoid as they can significantly raise estrogen levels. Experts suggest eating a diet rich in processed foods can lead to estrogen levels that are as much as double the “normal”, healthy levels. If you’re worried that your estrogen levels are on the high side, cutting back on processed and sugary foods is super important, along with “bad” fats and alcohol. Eating more fiber, especially from fruits and vegetables, and following a low GI diet can also help to bring estrogen levels back in balance again.
Ditch caffeine and alcohol
Don’t shoot the messenger…but caffeine and alcohol can both affect hormone production. Drinking a lot of caffeine can raise cortisol levels and can also have an impact on the adrenal glands. Sis, that large cup of coffee-bean goodness you need in the morning to get you going, or in the afternoon to keep you going can do some major hormone re-routing. It can have an effect on lots of areas of your health, from sleep to digestion. Alcohol has been linked to “estrogen dominance” and can potentially increase insulin resistance and lower testosterone levels. The latter can be a factor in low libido, vaginal dryness and, impotence. It can lead to places you just don’t want to go.
Don’t skip meals
Last but not least, don’t skip meals. It’s not just what you eat that affects your hormones; when you eat can be super important too, especially for insulin. Skipping meals is a surefire way to mess with your insulin levels.
Remember, you’re not stuck with having a miserable experience with hormonal changes. Girlfriend, you have tools to use that start with your next trip to the grocery store.
Until next time. Health and hugs.