(Last Updated On: May 14, 2020)

Top 10 Foods for Hormone Health

By Ashley Gish, WHNP

 

Hormones play an important role in just about everything your body does. As women, our hormones fluctuate quite a bit throughout the month and many of us have been led to believe that symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, and breast tenderness are normal to suffer through each month.

The truth is that what you eat is a powerful way not only to improve hormone function during this time but also to keep you feeling great all month long. Below are 10 of my favorite foods to help you maintain hormone balance and three to avoid altogether.

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1. AVOCADO – This one is at the top of the list and not by accident.

Not only because it’s delicious, but also because of its long list of health benefits. The good old avocado is an incredible source of fiber, healthy fats and is low in carbohydrates with helps to stabilize insulin levels.

Stable insulin keeps your energy levels steady throughout the day and prevents your blood sugar from crashing.

It is also a rich source of beta-sitosterol, which decreases the stress hormone cortisol, helps to lower cholesterol, and regulates hormonal health by boosting testosterone and encouraging proper elimination of estrogen.

That’s a long resume for something you put on toast.

2. MACA – Maca is a Peruvian root that works as an adaptogen. If you’re producing too much of a hormone, it decreases production, and if you’re not producing enough, it bumps it up. Maca has been used for fertility, sex drive, and energy levels for centuries. It also tastes delicious in smoothies in case you were wondering. 

3. NUTS – In general, nuts are an excellent source of fat, fiber, and protein. My favorite trio! They also pack a healthy punch of vitamins and minerals like magnesium and Vitamin E to help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. Nuts like almonds and walnuts also contain polyphenols, and omega-3’s to fight inflammation. Pass the trail mix, please. 

4. SALMON – Fatty fish like salmon are high in omega-3’s, B vitamins, protein, and antioxidants. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that gives salmon its red color and is linked to several powerful health effects, including decreasing LDL or “bad” cholesterol and boosting HDL or “good” cholesterol. Its good fats are also essential building blocks for hormones and help to promote brain health and function. 

5. BROCCOLI – Just one cup of broccoli supplies your recommended daily dose of vitamin C and brassicas (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) are rich in sulfur.

Even though this important nutrient is most famous for its rotten egg smell, it promotes collagen production to help keep your skin clear and your hair strong.

Sulfur is also a component of glutathione, one of the most potent antioxidants in the human body and a potent detoxifier, so what’s not to love? 

6. BLUEBERRIES – The deep blue color in blueberries makes them one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants on the planet. Plus, they are rich in vitamin C AND absolutely delicious, so that’s a win in my book.

Smaller is better in this case, so go for those tiny wild blueberries rather than the big juicy ones for less sugar and more inflammation-fighting polyphenols. 

7. POMEGRANATE – Pomegranate has long been touted as a superfood for women. In fact, Iranians believe that Eve was actually tempted by a pomegranate and not an apple in the Garden of Eden! This beautiful fruit contains several antioxidant compounds, including polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins that fight inflammation, as well as a powerful mix of vitamins and minerals.

Some research has even shown it may help to fight against breast cancer. 

8. FLAXSEED – Flaxseeds contain lignans, which are essential compounds that help to stabilize estrogen levels by binding and eliminating excess hormone and stimulating its production at the same time when needed. Try to grind it yourself to get the most benefit and include 1-2 T daily. 

9. LEAFY GREENS – the OG superfood. Greens like kale, swiss chard, and spinach are some of the most potent and powerful foods on the planet, and yet also the least consumed food in the standard American diet.

Greens boost iron levels, fight inflammation, and are rich in fiber, which helps to improve hormone metabolism. Plus, they are delicious, so eat up!

10. WATER – Ok, fine, so water is not a food – but it does help prevent constipation and promote cellular health throughout the body.

And by eating foods that are water-rich such as cucumbers, melons, and fresh berries, you’re also getting the benefits of phytonutrients and fiber so you’ll stay hydrated even longer. 

 

And about those to avoid…

ALCOHOL – Though binge drinking appears to be the most detrimental in terms of hormone health, as women age, drinking alcohol can cause a rise in estrogen and a decrease in progesterone.

It can also decrease testosterone in both men and women having a negative impact on sex drive, energy levels, and ability to maintain lean muscle mass. 

SUGAR – Inflammation is an immune response that happens when your body perceives a threat. Highly processed foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugar increase inflammation by disrupting digestion.

And when your gut is not working well, it makes hormone balance and production difficult. 

TRANS FATS – When it comes to balanced hormones and fat consumption, the important thing is to focus on healthy fats and eliminate man-made fats like margarine, shortening, and those in packaged, processed foods.

Trans fats do not behave the same in the body as natural fats.

They have been implicated in severe health complications, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, immune dysfunction, and can be detrimental to brain health. 

You need hormones to be balanced for your body to function optimally. Consuming the above nutrient-dense foods, engaging in moderate exercise, and managing your stress can go a long way toward improving your hormonal health. For more detailed recommendations, be sure to follow up with your provider or contact Shift Functional Medicine today!

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