Health is something that is really important to all of us and has become a bigger topic as of late, particularly around hormone health. So, ladies, seeing as everyone is talking about it, let’s talk about how your diet and what you eat can support hormone balance.
Ensuring you get those all-important nutrients into your meals and snacks is essential for your hormone balance. Now, let’s found out why these foods are so important and what they do to help.
Hormones and health
We know that when we think about hormones, our minds go straight to sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When actually, there are actually over 50 hormones in our bodies and every single one of them has its own unique role. One most of us know is insulin. Insulin controls our blood sugar (also known as thyroxine), this is then secreted by the thyroid gland to stimulate reproduction and growth. It also excretes melatonin to help regulate circadian rhythm.
Upholding the right balance of these hormones is just as essential to our health as any other bodily function. When our hormones are at the optimal level other systems in our bodies work better, including:
- Boosted energy levels
- Heightened concentration
- Better mood
- Good quality sleep
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So, then, on the other hand, we have when things aren’t so balanced. If this is the case then there can be a whole array of undesirable side effects, including:
- Troubled sleep
- Thinning hair
Of course, there may be occasions when our hormone health is out of our control. However, we need to do what is within our control and ensure that we’re eating the right balance of foods to support our hormones. When we consume all the correct nutrients required for hormone production, as we now know, our bodies work much more efficiently and we’re more balanced too.
Foods to make our hormones happy
Well, now we know what happens when our hormones aren’t happy, we really don’t want that, do we, ladies?
Let’s dive in and find out what foods we need to be eating.
1. Grass-fed beef
You’ll find information all over the internet that completely slates red meat and everything about it. Although, on this occasion, red meat is actually incredibly beneficial, particularly grass-fed beef. This is due to the fact that it tends to be of higher quality and has been shown to contain higher levels of antioxidants when compared to grain-fed meats.
The best thing there is to gain from beef is that it’s rich in iron. Iron is an important nutrient in maintaining consistency during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Not only this but there is said to be a connection between hypothyroidism and low iron levels.
To ensure you’re getting the correct amount, aim to get around three servings of grass-fed red meat into your meals each week.
Salmon has so many great health benefits, especially for our heart and brain; but it can also be beneficial for our hormones. Not only that, but the same omega-3 fatty acids that have those heart-boosting abilities can also help reinforce healthy hormones. Inflammation can negatively affect our hormones; however, omega-3-rich food such as salmon can help prevent this from happening.
To get to that omega-3 goal, aim to get three servings of salmon into your meals each week. There are also many other foods such as mackerel, walnuts, and chia seeds that contain high levels of omega-3. So, if you’re vegetarian or don’t like salmon, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Magnesium is a nutrient that is essential to the production of hormones and pumpkin seeds are loaded with it. Not only that, but magnesium also helps to calm the nervous system, therefore also has a positive impact on our stress hormones, further supporting the production of thyroid hormones and helping to regulate pancreatic hormones.
There is approximately 168 mg of magnesium per one cup of pumpkin seeds, this is over half a woman’s daily intake. When it comes to our daily recommended intake, women should aim for 310-320mg and men 400-420mg.
What is not to love about a nice, warm bowl of oatmeal? It’s nutritious and filling, but there is more, it’s good for hormones too. Oats provide B vitamins which have been associated with hormone balance and expelling spent hormones from the body.
The whole grain also offers up lots of fiber, which supports hormone balance. A study from 2015 discovered that fiber also has a good effect on insulin sensitivity, another hormone that is really important to our metabolic health.
If you get tired of oatmeal and want to make them more interesting, make up some overnight oats and keep them in the refrigerator for the morning. You’re getting out of bed in the morning with breakfast already made, what a great way to start the day.
5. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous veggies are loaded with antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. But, if you’re not sure what cruciferous vegetables are, they’re the likes of brussel sprouts, broccoli cauliflower, and kale. Not only do they help to keep a fine balance, but they also have a great effect on our estrogen metabolism. These particular vegetables contain sulforaphane, a compound that encourages estrogen detoxification.
So, why is this important? Well, there are endocrine-disrupting plastics in our bodies, as well as other chemicals, that we become exposed to that then causes a build-up of excess estrogen. Typically referred to as “estrogen dominance”, this can contribute to a whole array of changes from weight gain to loss of libido.
We ladies have higher levels of estrogen than men, they then tend to benefit more from the veggies on offer. Even though men can benefit from this, there has been some research conducted that suggests there is a connection between high levels of estrogen and prostate cancer.
To support your healthy hormones, we’d recommend eating between 1-2 cups of broccoli every week.
6. Pasture-raised eggs
Eggs, or more specifically, egg yolks, are a great source of vitamin D. Now, this is strange as this master hormone is rarely found in food, but it is required to regulate the production and activity of hormones. So, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, this would have a negative effect on your hormone balance.
To ensure you’re getting all the vitamin D that is on offer, go for pasture-raised eggs. This means that the chickens have had access to the outdoors. Studies have shown that because pasture-raised chickens are exposed to more sunlight, their eggs contain higher amounts of vitamin D.
As well as eating your eggs, we’d recommend ensuring you’re getting into the fresh air and getting some sun, and taking a vitamin D3 supplement if needed.
Eating gut-healthy foods such as yogurt is really important for hormone production. This is because our gut produces certain hormones but also detoxifies hormones too. So, it’s vital that we look after our gut with probiotic foods to help regulate the gut microbiome. It’s not just yogurt, there are other probiotic foods you could get into your meals and snacks such as:
If it’s yogurt you going to opt for, stick to Greek yogurt or skyr as these are both rich in protein and contain less sugar than other standard ones.
8. Sweet potatoes
Root vegetables including sweet potato help support healthy hormones by using fiber to help keep our blood sugars at an optimum level. Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, meaning that eating them won’t cause your blood sugar to rise.
In addition, they also contain lots of vitamin C which we require for progesterone production, particularly in the luteal phase (second half of the menstrual cycle).
To squeeze sweet potato into your diet, swap regular potatoes out of your meals and choose these instead. They are far healthier, have more nutritional value, and taste great too.
The bottom line
Well, ladies, now we know all about how the food we eat affects our hormones. Crazy, right?
We’ve given you a bunch of advice on what foods to get into your diet to ensure you’re promoting those happy hormones. Getting some salmon, veggies, and sweet potato into your diet seems like a relatively easy, noninvasive change to your lifestyle, in comparison to what could happen in the event of a hormone imbalance. You know what to do, and make the right choices.
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