Many people find out that their hormones are out of whack because either they're suffering from acne, PMS, fatigue or other health concerns. Of course, you should see your healthcare professional if you are suffering from any hormone-related health issues, however here are some foods that you should also consider incorporating into your diet. Wellness coach, Betsy Leahy, recommends adding more plant-based foods into your lifestyle, especially when dealing with hormone-related health issues. There are however some foods that you should try to avoid to help balance your hormones.
"The liver plays a role in hormone health and some foods can overload the liver, thereby affecting hormones," Leahy says. "Reducing trans-fats, refined sugars as well as to moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption will help," said Leahy. She also mentioned that even though it isn't a food, stress can have a strong impact on your hormones. Leahy said that stress can really affect cortisol levels causing you to eat certain foods that can lead to hormone disruption. Aside from eating more of the following foods, also make an effort to practice more stress reduction techniques, like meditation, exercise, and measured breathing.
Vegetables recommended by professionals for optimal hormone health:
"These vegetables are known as hormone cleansers' as they have a compound called Indole 3 Carbimol (I3C) that helps the body eliminate excess estrogen," said Dr. Jennifer Pearlman of PearlMD Rejuvenation. Cruciferous vegetables to include in your diet which are high in I3C include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok chou, turnips, and kale. Dr. Jennifer Pearlman said that the best way to increase your intake of I3C is to prepare these vegetables by lightly steaming them.
Low Sugar Fruits Like Berries
I'm sure a lot of you are more excited reading 'berries' than 'broccoli'. Berries are great for hormone regulation and helping with blood sugar. "Berries are packed with loads of antioxidants. Antioxidants are used to protect our cells from damage and to keep our tissues healthy," said Dr. Pearlman. Pick up some strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries to add to your smoothie or salad!
I've routinely added ground flax seed to my smoothies because I heard it was some essential superfood I was missing out on but I honestly never knew what it was used for. Turns out, flaxseed has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes as well as regulate estrogen levels. "Flax is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. It also has a compound called lignans which may have a regulating effect on estrogen levels," said Dr. Pearlman. You can add flax seeds to your oatmeal, blend it into your smoothie, or even bake it into muffins or bread. Dr. Pearlman suggests using ground flax because it oxidizes quicker.
Many women, during their reproductive years, have an iron deficiency. This has a strong impact on hormonal levels. "Only one cup of steamed chard contains four grams of iron and is also packed with vitamin C to help with the absorption of that iron," says Dr. Pearlman. Other good sources of iron include spinach, collard greens, kale, beet greens, and dandelion greens.
Dr. Pearlman said that walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols. "Polyphenols play an important role in fighting free radicals and protecting our cardiovascular system. Omega-3s are known to be one of the fundamental building blocks of the brain, critical for brain health and studied to boost mood, improve memory and brain function," said Dr. Pearlman. Either enjoy some walnut trail mix or banana bread with chopped walnuts. You can also get omega-3s from wild fish, ground flaxseed, flax oil, chia seeds, and grass-fed animal products.
Dietitian, Shira Sussi, said that turmeric helps support the liver which is where endocrine disrupters are detoxified. Turmeric is just as effective doing this whether you take it in a supplement or add it to your food during the cooking process. You can add turmeric to almost anything so feel free to sprinkle some into your soup or onto your eggs.
Rice, Almond, or Coconut Milk
There are many reasons why you should switch to plant-based milk, one of them being that they are high in Vitamin D, which is recommended for mood hormones. "There are so many studies that have demonstrated vitamin D plays a role with most bodily functions including mood with both women and men. If we spend little time outside, we need to supplement with vitamin D since we make it from sunlight," said Dr. Elizabeth Trattner.
Trattner recommends eating fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring as the fats in these fish have a lot of benefits. "[Fish] can help with depression, lowering inflammation, concentration, focus, cognitive function, mood, brain health and almost every other health condition," said Dr. Trattner.
If you find that eating more of these foods isn't helping clear up your hormone-related issue, contact your healthcare professional for personalized help. If you live in the South Florida area, make an appointment at our Smart for Life Clinic in Boca Raton.