Essential Foods for Optimal Hormone Balance
© Pablo Merchanmontes
Hormone imbalance happens when one or more of the key hormone players: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and/or cortisol, fall out of proportion to each other, manifesting in excesses of one hormone and deficiencies of another. Without being properly addressed, these unwelcome but inevitable shifts in hormonal milieu can seriously disrupt our moods, memory, mojo, and zest for living.
Hormones are our body’s function keys to our human, biological operating system.
Therefore, testing your hormone balance (ideally in saliva), making informed lifestyle upgrades, and practicing the essential principles of balance, helps nudge hormones back into proper working order within our biological makeup.
For starters: consider the positive impact that healthier nutrition can make upon your overall wellbeing. Doctor of integrative medicine, Andrew Weil supports finding our way back to “true foods,” (fresh, local, sustainable & organic), in combination with an anti-inflammatory diet. Unfortunately, too many of ‘the flavors we savor’ are artificial and too many of the foods we have become accustomed (or addicted) to, are loaded with hidden sugars and additives. Add to that the over processed, hormone-fed, genetically modified “fake foods” that have infiltrated our food supply, and one can argue that the standard American diet has lost its power to nourish us.
That’s why it’s important to investigate ingredients in your products before purchasing. Read labels to ensure foods are hormone and antibiotic free. Get familiar with the following list of foods that promote healthy hormone balance!
These are the nutritional powerhouses — rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and plant nutrients that will restore taste buds that had long forgotten natural flavors. Always best organic, reject those sprayed with herbicides and pesticides that bankrupt their nutrient stores.
Examples of superfoods:
- low-fat plain yogurt
- sweet potatoes
- strawberries and blueberries
Pair Superfoods with Phytonutrients for Hormone Balancing
Superfoods make great nutrition partners with plant-based phytonutrient-rich foods known to support hormone balance. These include (in order of phytonutrient density):
- flax seed and breads
- beans and legumes
- soy milk, yogurt and tofu
- sesame and sunflower seeds
- multigrain (in moderation and or gluten-free alternatives) and flax breads
- mung and alfalfa bean sprouts
- dried apricots and dates
- olive oil
- green beans
By adding in healthier fats, you will notice more consistent energy, less brain-fog & reduced cravings.
Our hormones are derived from cholesterol – which means that we need healthy fats to survive and thrive! However, keep in mind that not all fat is created equal. Choose mostly those that promote fat burning and brain boosting like coconut, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Flavoring your veggies with fats makes a huge difference in the taste and the health benefits, and it acts to tame symptoms of hormone imbalance.
REAL, WHOLE FOODS
Eating real, whole foods means staying away from packaged, processed “foods” that disrupt our hormones (i.e. crackers, cakes, sodas, lean cuisines, pre-packaged salads, etc.).
Focus on shopping the outer aisles of the grocery store 80% of the time (meat, fish, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds) and saving the other 20% for those items you can’t live without. The 80/20 rule allows for some flexibility in your diet — while still being mindful — which is the key to balance and longevity!
GRASS FED BEEF & WILD CAUGHT FISH
Make sure to always read labels, looking for meat that is “hormone free” and “antibiotic free” and fish that is wild caught (vs. farmed).
If you’re not eating grass-fed beef then your consumption is most likely coming from a factory farm where they are injected with hormones (to fatten them up which in turn, fattens us up). Plus, these animals are almost always fed GMO corn which is highly-inflammatory. Note: inflammation is at the root of almost every modern disease!
Resources for finding grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish include Thrive Market, Butcher Box, local farmer’s markets. You can also find great options at many large chain grocery stores including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and even Vons.
Eating cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts not only flush xenoestrogens (man-made toxins that mimic estrogen) out of the body, but they also sweep excess estrogens from the body.
Estrogen Dominance, an overload of estrogen in relation to progesterone, leads to a whole host of symptoms like heavy painful periods, weight gain, PMS, lethargy, fibroids and even breast cancer. Thus, consuming these powerful estrogen metabolizers is a real game changer.
It is easy to healthfully prep your cruciferous veggies using steam, sauté or roasting methods. When cooking at high-heat, use a healthy oil with a high-smoke point like avocado or coconut oil and top with extra virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter.
Top off these changes by getting enough sleep and drinking at least 64 ounces (1 gal) of water every day. This flushes out excess fats, free radicals, and other toxins that can thwart your positive efforts!
Remember: making small but steady changes (and swaps outs to your diet) today, will forge new and healthier habits that bring an improved, long term quality of life!
Make sure to check out The Real Food Grocery Guide, to learn more about the amazing benefits of whole foods, how to attack the grocery store with a plan, plus meal-planning tips and tools.