Is your body feeling out of whack for no discernible reason? The problem might be your hormones. Imbalanced hormone levels can lead to a host of health problems, from inflamed skin to mental stress and extra belly fat. Getting your hormone levels back under control can clear up these issues, and your diet is the perfect place to start. But what are the best hormone balancing foods for restoring your health? Let’s dive into the details.
Are your Hormones Imbalanced?
Hormones are the chemicals secreted by your glands and organs that send messages throughout your body. Balanced levels of hormones like estrogen, adrenaline, insulin, and testosterone are critical for good health, and your endocrine system is responsible for keeping them in line.
However, millions of people are affected by hormone imbalances each year, most of which manifest themselves as diabetes, thyroid disorders, infertility, low testosterone, and menstrual problems. If you’re suffering from inexplicable anxiety, exhaustion, weight fluctuations, or changes in your sleep levels, appetite or sex drive, a hormone imbalance might be to blame.
18 Best Foods for Balancing Hormones
Health begins with the digestive system, which is why knowing what are the best hormone balancing foods is the right place to start.
1. Red Wine
The skins and seeds of grapes might contain most of their antioxidants, but brewing grapes into wine makes these compounds more accessible for your body. Researchers at Northwestern University Medical School have revealed that wine contains resveratrol, a form of estrogen that helps it reduce your risk of heart disease, inflammation, and even certain cancers. It’s safe for most healthy adults to drink 2-3 glasses of red wine a week, and the drink works as a stellar digestive aid when taken during or after a meal.
2. Dark Chocolate
Here’s another reason to celebrate chocolate - research from Finland shows that babies born to mothers who eat chocolate during their pregnancy show less fear of new situations, smile more, and are generally more active. This is likely because chocolate boosts endorphin levels and contains tryptophan, a compound necessary for creating the feel-good hormone serotonin. To get the benefits without drawbacks, limit yourself to a 1-inch square per day and stick to at least 70 percent cocoa.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts are a boon for your health in most ways, but few people realize how beneficial they can be for your hormone levels, too. Dark leafy greens like broccoli contain sulforaphane and indole-3 carbinol, two natural compounds that improve the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen and put it to use. Research from the University of California at Berkeley found that diets rich in indole-3-carbinol can prevent breast cancer cells from reproducing and slow its spread. Just 2 ½ cups of broccoli a week is enough to make a profound difference for your health.
This ancient grain has been in the spotlight for years, thanks to the fact that it’s a complete protein and is packed with magnesium and phosphorus. Quinoa is a complex carb, which means snacking on it will keep your blood sugar stable and prevent it from spiking your insulin and androgen levels. Best of all, your body doesn’t process it like it does other grains. Switch out a few servings of bread or rice for quinoa each week, and your health will benefit from it.
5. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
The monounsaturated fats in olive oil make it an exceptional way to release leptin, a hormone that works as an appetite suppressant. Likewise, olive oil is known to improve insulin sensitivity and will help your body break down more fat cells than soybean oil. Stay away from highly processed fats like margarine, and embrace olive oil instead.
Eggs are one of nature’s superfoods, and keeping them in your diet will work wonders for your health. The white and yolk alike both keep your good cholesterol levels high, helping it create the hormones that lead to better skin health.
A sprinkle of ground flaxseed adds nutrition to almost every dish, as the seeds contain lignans, a phytoestrogen compound that helps reduce excess estrogen in the body. This means that incorporating flaxseed into your diet can protect you from certain cancers, including colon, breast, and prostate. Likewise, the seed’s high insoluble fiber content means they can get your bowels moving so that your body detoxes from “used up” hormones. Just add a few tablespoons at a time to your smoothies, salads, or oatmeal, making sure to grind them first or chew thoroughly to extract as much nutrition as possible.
8. Green Tea
Green tea extract is a common ingredient in weight loss products for a reason- the evidence shows it works. Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that green tea aids the metabolism and fat-burning process, thanks both to its caffeine levels and cortisol-blocking compound theanine. Plan to drink at least four cups a day to experience the best benefits.
Nuts like almonds are almost the perfect snack. They keep you feeling full and increase levels of the adiponectin hormone, which prevents blood sugar levels from spiking. Thanks to their vitamin E content, almonds stimulate the release of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) a compound that stimulates healthy reproductive systems. Eating at least eleven almonds (one serving) a day is optimal for promoting health.
There’s a lot to like about salmon, especially when it comes to balancing hormones. The healthy fats it contains will improve both hormone and cholesterol synthesis, and salmon’s anti-inflammatory properties are ideal for calming skin outbreaks like eczema and acne too.
11. Organic Soy
Not everyone’s body responds well to soy, but if you find that you can eat it without experiencing gas, bloating or digestive problems, it’s smart to add more of this plant-based protein source to your diet. A few servings of organic soy per week will lower cholesterol, strengthen bones, reduce menopause symptoms, and even protect the prostate.
These therapeutic effects from soy come from the phytoestrogens they contain. Stick with a 1-cup serving size each day for a boost to your health.
This delicious plant-based fat is as healthy for you as it tastes indulgent. Because they are rich in beta-sitosterol, eating avocados regularly will help your body maintain a healthy level of cholesterol, which is essential for normal hormone synthesis. Likewise, consuming healthy fats boosts your skin cell’s lipid bilayers, helping their membranes retain water so that your skin stays plump, not wrinkled. Beta-sitosterol will also help your body raise its DHEA levels, which helps reduce inflammation after intense exercise.
13. Whey Protein
Not just fuel for bodybuilders, whey protein is an excellent source of tryptophan that naturally works to raise serotonin levels and combat stress. Taking whey protein as a powdered supplement will also aid your body with insulin sensitivity, preserve muscle tissue, and promote fat loss.
14. Oat Bran
A meal built around oats will fill you with ample nutrition, including vitamin E, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium, as well as impressive levels of protein and fiber. This means that regularly eating oats keeps your blood sugar balanced, reduces cholesterol levels, and lowers your risk of heart disease. Oatmeal can be added to most baking recipes, or you can start your day with a fiber-filled bowl.
15. Apples (Preferably Organic)
You already know that apples are fiber-rich and keep your teeth clean, but they also contain quercetin, a natural antihistamine and flavonoid antioxidant. Quercetin also has phytoestrogenic properties, meaning that regular servings can reduce your risk of chronic diseases associated with aging, including diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. To lower your pesticide load, stick with organic as much as possible.
Color is often an indicator of health in the natural world, and the ruby-hued pomegranate is no exception. Research shows that pomegranate extract can suppress cancer growth in the skin, breast, and colon. This is because they possess natural compounds that prevent female bodies from converting a weak form of estrogen (estrone) into its potentially more harmful counterpart estradiol. You can get the benefits from pomegranate juice concentrate or from eating the fruit fresh.
Thanks to its ability to balance out your insulin levels, cinnamon works as a natural diabetes aid by triggering your muscle and liver cells to prevent spikes in your blood pressure. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your breakfast cereal or add a dash to your coffee for convenience.
18. Plain Yogurt
Yogurt has earned fame in recent years for being a natural source of probiotics, and regular servings will help you restore your body’s bacteria levels to support a healthy immune system and keep your hormone levels in check.
Eat For Your Hormones, Eat for Health!
Keeping your hormones in balance is a key to good health, and eating a well-balanced diet will work wonders for it. By regularly eating the foods on this list, you can ensure you give your system what it needs to thrive. So when you plan your next menu, take your hormones into account. Your body will benefit from it.
Article Categories: Food & Nutrition Science