Eat Your Way to Hormone Balance
“Every bite you take either fuels disease or fights it.” This is one of my favorite quotes regarding food and health because there is so much truth behind it and it fits well when talking about hormone balance. Did you know that the food choices we make every day affects our hormones? Certain foods are notorious for throwing our hormones out of whack and causing a slew of other unwanted symptoms. Things like weight gain, sugar cravings, and endocrine disruption can occur. We should limit or completely eliminate foods high in sugar, damaged fats (think trans-fats & hydrogenated fats,) foods high in sodium, and anything packaged or processed.
On the flip side, certain foods can nourish our body and promote harmonious hormone balance. Here are some foods that can boost our overall health and help support the endocrine system.
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Coconut oil is an excellent source of MCT’s and can support hormone balance by supporting healthy cholesterol levels.
- Avocados: The healthy fat found in avocados can help support healthy cholesterol levels which is essential in maintaining hormone balance.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate that is also high in plant-based protein that can help balance blood sugar levels.
- Nuts/Seeds: High in healthy fat which can also help regulate blood sugar levels, and may even help to promote healthy weight loss.
- Wild-caught Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids which is great for brain health but is also a building block for hormone synthesis. Salmon is also great for combatting inflammation.
- Pasture-raised Eggs: While many people fear the cholesterol found in eggs, we actually need a certain amount of cholesterol in order to support hormone balance. HDL cholesterol which is the kind we want more of is what we need to create hormones so enjoying pasture raised organic eggs is a great way to support healthy cholesterol and thus hormone levels. Here is a study on how egg consumption can actually help blood lipid levels.
What the Health Experts say About Foods & Hormone Balance
Dr. Axe talks about the importance of eating a variety of foods high in fat to balance hormones. In fact, he talks about his favorite sources of fats for hormone balance on his blog. “My four favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include: coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon.” (1)
The Wellness Mama talks about the dangers of consuming too much caffeine and the affects this can have on hormone balance. She recommends cutting back on caffeine and replacing it with herbal teas but she also says “If you can’t or won’t cut the coffee, use it as a way to sneak in your beneficial fats by adding 1 tablespoon coconut oil to each cup and blending in the blender to emulsify. It is like a latte but with healthy fats!” (2)
Dr. Mark Hyman talks about the dangers of having dairy and gluten in your diet. He states the following on his blog. “Dairy is one of the biggest triggers of hormonal imbalances because of all the hormones found naturally in milk and because of the hormones and antibiotics added to milk. Even organic milk can come from pregnant cows, jacking up hormone levels. In fact, dairy has over 60 hormones that can contribute to imbalances. Dairy and gluten are among the most common food sensitivities that you might benefit from eliminating from your diet.” (3)
Instead of drinking milk or eating gluten try unsweetened almond or coconut milk (bonus points as these contain healthy fats) and cut out gluten with naturally gluten free foods like quinoa, and buckwheat.
Simple Yet Effective Habits to Balance Your Hormones
#1 Add a Healthy Fat to Your Breakfast: Fats are super important for hormone balance. Medium-chain triglycerides are particularly helpful for hormone balance as they are metabolized differently in the body. These MCT’s are used for immediate energy by the liver and may even be able to help lower insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and assist with weight loss. (4) MCT’s are found in coconut oil so try adding some coconut oil to your breakfast and use this as your primary cooking oil. Some other excellent sources of healthy fat include avocados, wild-caught salmon, nuts, and seeds.
When it comes to fat it is also important to know that not all fats are created equal. You will want to completely avoid trans and hydrogenated fats as these are linked to obesity, and even cancer. These fats are commonly found in margarine, and baked goods.
#2 Eat Enough Clean Protein at Each Meal: Protein is super important for overall health. We need to provide the body with essential amino acids (these are the amino acids the body cannot make on its own) in order to maintain proper bone and muscle health. Getting enough protein at each meal can help lower ghrelin levels which is a hunger hormone. (5) This means that you would be less likely to overeat after a nourishing meal. The trick here is to enjoy clean protein sources. Things like plant-based proteins like quinoa, nuts, and seeds are excellent as are animal based protein like organic pasture-raised eggs, and grass-fed lean meats, and wild-caught fish. Skip the conventional animal products as often as you can as they contain added hormones, and antibiotics which is the last thing you want when trying to balance hormone health.
#3 Enjoy One Carrot Per Day: Did you know that raw carrots can help combat estrogen dominance? There was a study done back in the 1970’s by Dr. Ray Peat that found that eating raw carrots daily can help detox the bowel and reduce estrogen levels in 3 days! (6) Carrots contain an indigestible fiber which can bind to excess hormones in the body as well as toxins and then eliminate them from the body. Try adding carrots to your diet for natural hormone balance! Try our raw carrot energy bite recipe here
#4 Eat Raw: Not only will eating raw save you time and money on your grocery bill, but raw foods can also help support hormone balance. Raw foods are not subjected to heat during cooking which means they still retain all of their essential enzymes, phytonutrients and antioxidants all of which can help support hormone balance. The enzymes present in raw foods will also help the body digest what we consume.
#5 Cook Fresh: Homemade meals are best for not only hormone balance, but overall health as well. When you make food yourself, you know exactly what goes into each meal and you can choose what you put into your body. Follow the link to find some of our no fuss 10 minute meals recipe
Rebecca specializes in digestive health, gluten free and dairy free recipe development, weight loss, and working with clients with food sensitives. She is passionate about helping others find their balance and getting to the root cause of their health issues by using food as medicine. When she is not writing or working with clients, she enjoys fitness and experimenting with making traditionally unhealthy recipes healthy in the kitchen.