Updated: Oct 29, 2021
If you think about your hormones, what springs to mind?
Hot flushes, mood swings, pain, bloating, weight gain, periods, menopause, sleep issues?
Balancing our hormones can be complicated!
We need to consider our diet, stress levels, sleep, reducing our toxic load and healing any past traumas. Quite often, nutrition seems to be the most confusing element for many because there are just so many different opinions and advice out there.
Everything from our sleep, our stress levels, our metabolism and the bodies water balance, as well as more obvious things such as our periods, fertility and menopause is controlled by our hormones.
But we forget that all of our hormones are interconnected. I explain hormones and the glands they are linked to as being a human big wheel. They are all part of a whole and link as one to create a continual system that works together affecting the whole. Equally when one part of the whole is ‘unhappy’ it can create an imbalance in the entire system.
When it comes to what we should be eating to balance our hormones, it isn’t really all that complicated.
The first thing to consider is to eat anti-inflammatory foods and balance your blood sugar levels
Chronic, low-level inflammation, which may come from our food choices, can lead to fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, acne, hot flushes, stomach disturbances, period problems and mood swings.
So, what’s an Inflammatory food so we can avoid them?
In a nutshell, pretty much anything in a packet! All processed foods, refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits), sugar, trans fats, foods containing additives and preservatives, cereals, caffeine, alcohol, and for some people gluten and dairy.
Instead, we want to be eating lean protein, healthy fats and getting carbohydrates from vegetables.
Let’s look at what foods we should ensure our diet contains
· Many of our hormones are made from proteins, so they are an important part of our diet.
· Eating protein stimulates the production of leptin, the satiety hormone. So we recognise when we have had enough to eat and will feel fuller for longer.
· Foods like chicken and turkey help with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
· Protein slows down the rate of digestion and therefore can aid in the control of insulin and help balance blood sugar levels.
Sources of protein: Fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, eggs, beans, chickpeas and lentils
Not all Fat is bad for you!
· Fat is essential in the production of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
· Fat is essential to brain function and the working of the nervous system, which is strongly connected to the hormone system.
· Good fat is essential for maintaining healthy weight, healthy joints and skin
· Fat is high in Vitamins A, D, E and K which is important to help absorb calcium and support immunity
Sources of good fat: Olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds and nut butters.
Carbohydrates and fibre
· Aim to eat carbohydrates in the form of vegetables.
· Eating vegetables together with proteins and fat will help to balance blood sugar.
· Vegetables contain high levels of fibre and the energy release lasts longer.
· Fibre is essential for keeping our blood sugar levels in check.
· Fibre will support gut health – some hormones are made in the gut.
· Vegetables will support the liver and the bowels to detox excess hormones.
Sources of healthy carbohydrates: Cruciferous veg – broccoli, cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, leafy greens – spinach, kale, spring greens, collard greens, mustard greens; and any other veg you can think of!
By thinking about what we eat each day, our blood sugar balance won't be something that crosses our minds. And then, you will be moving closer to a balanced hormonal system.