Hormonal balance, nutrition, and superfoods
Hormonal balance, nutrition, and superfoods
Hormones control cell activity, blood sugar levels, sleep, reactions to stimuli, fertility, hunger, digestion, blood pressure, energy levels, and more. Hormone synthesis and balance are related to the fuel we provide our body: food, movement, rest, stress levels, genetics, age, sex, and life stage. The majority of these factors can be controlled by lifestyle and day-to-day choices.
Nowadays, you may have heard about hormonal balance and its importance for energy levels, skin, emotional balance, and weight loss. Here are some of the most important and related hormones and their functions:
Cortisol. Controls hunger, digestion, blood pressure, sleep pattern, physical activity, and the capacity to cope with stress.
Progesterone. Primarily secreted in the ovaries, it prepares the endometrium for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.
Estrogen. Produced by the ovaries. Its balance is related to the progesterone balance.
Androgen. It regulates the growth and development of the human reproductive system. It also influences systems such as neuroendocrine, skeletal, adipose, and cardiovascular.
Thyroid. Controls metabolism, temperature, growth, and others.
How do I know if my hormones are imbalanced? What are the causes?
The best way is through laboratory diagnostic testing prescribed by your doctor. Consider that hormonal imbalances are linked, and you most likely have two or more imbalances, specifically if the issue is chronic.
Causes: chronic mental, emotional, or physical stress; over-exercising and extreme dieting; food allergies or sensitivities such as wheat,dairy, corn, soy, and sugar
- Feeling tired
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Infrequent periods, known as oligomenorrhea
- Absence of menstruation, known as amenorrhea
- Decreased fertility
- Inability to concentrate or constantly feeling distracted
- Anxiety or nervousness
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
Causes: long periods of high cortisol; Addison’s Disease; experience of significant trauma; congenital Adrenal hyperplasia
- Fatigue,from low-level but chronic to crippling fatigue
- Difficulty staying asleep, waking in the morning, and/or feeling unrested after getting adequate sleep
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness, especially upon standing up
- Decreased tolerance for stress
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Feeling depressed or unable to cope
Causes: long-term stress and high cortisol levels; exposure to synthetic estrogens or xenoestrogens; hormonal birth control; and lack of ovulation.
- Difficulty getting or staying pregnant, known as infertility
- Breakthrough bleeding during the second half of the menstrual cycle
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Menstrual migraines
- Heavier flow during menstruation
- Irregular cycles
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Swollen and/or painful breasts
Causes: high cortisol; excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages; xenoestrogens; having overweight or obesity
- Heavy bleeding
- Breast tenderness or cysts
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Menstrual migraines
- Moodiness and frequent meltdowns
- Depression or weeping
- Mid-cycle pain
- Brain fog
Causes: high stress or high cortisol levels; disordered eating; nutrient deficiencies due to poor dietary practices or poor absorption; over-exercising, especially in conjunction with calorie restriction; hormonal birth control
- Oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea
- Low sex drive,vaginal dryness, and painful sex
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Joint pain, dry skin, and eyes
- Depression and poor cognitive function, especially memory
- Gray-brown patches of skin on areas of the face exposed to the sun, known as melasma
Causes: high insulin levels; using hormonal birth control with synthetic progestins; polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS); high cortisol from chronic stress; excess body fat; congenital Adrenal hyperplasia
- Unstable blood sugar levels
- Infrequent ovulation, menstrual cycles longer than 35 days, and ovarian cysts
- Mid-cycle pain, acne or oily skin, hair growth on the face, and hair loss
Causes: dysfunction in the adrenal glands or the ovaries; ovarian removal; hormonal birth control
- Low libido and painful sex
- Lower self-confidence
- Lack of lubrication
- Less muscle mass and decreased motivation
Lifestyle considerations to rebalance your hormones
Colesterol. Lower your sugar intake by reducing added sugar in your meals and drinks; swap refined flours and packaged foods for whole foods prepared at home or consume ready-to-eat foods with natural and organic ingredients and superfoods; eat dark chocolate to satisfy your sugar cravings; create a nightly sleep routine; swap intense forms of exercise like HIIT for more low-impact, relaxing options like yoga, pilates, meditation, and walking outside. Also, swap caffeine intake for teas like matcha, moon tea, golden milk, or chai tea; add healing foods such as bone broth, healthy fats present in wild-caught fish, macadamia nuts, almonds, almond butter, macadamia nut butter, and our delicious chocolate spread; and add probiotic-rich foods like sugar-free regular or coconut yogurt and kefir.
Progesterone. Incorporate more stress-management techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation; eat more foods that support progesterone production, such as dark chocolate, avocado, and legume.
Estrogen. If you have abnormally high levels, focus on detoxifying recipes that support your body in eliminating excess (high in fiber). If your estrogen levels are low, eat nutrient-rich foods that support estrogen production, namely chickpeas and flax seeds.
Androgens. Adequate hydration, especially between meals, to curb snacking and balance blood sugar levels; including protein, healthy fats, and fiber in each meal; and magnesium-containing foods and beverages Also incorporate a nightly sleep routine; add cruciferous veggies that will support your adrenals, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
Another tip and trick: nutrition and lifestyle
- Fuel your body; caloric restriction leads to a lower metabolism and weight gain.
- Include protein, healthy fats, and fiber in every meal.
- Include 3-6 meals per day. Smaller and more frequent meals (3–4 hours between meals) normalize insulin secretion.
- Limit refined and high-glycemic-index carbohydrates and alcohol.
- Eat whole grain products such as whole oats, whole rice, whole grain quinoa, and many other options.
- Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily (1 serving =4 ounces or 1/2 cup). The healthiest are the ones that are the most colorful and highest in antioxidants, like blueberries, spinach, and arugula.
- Hydrate yourself with at least 2 liters per day.
- Include healthy fats with omega-3 like flax seeds, macadamia nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, soybeans, walnuts, and cold-water fish harvested from the wild.
- Avoid trans and saturated fats present in processed foods, butter, high-fat red meat, and pork.
- Add to your diet low-glycemic foods such as black beans, broccoli, cherries, chickpeas, leafy vegetables, milk, peanuts, peanut butter, pears, plums, soybeans, tomatoes, wild rice, and yogurt. Add moderately glycemic foods like All-bran, apples, garbanzo beans, navy beans, oranges, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Chambers, L. (2020). 28-Day Hormonal Balance Reset Plan So Fresh, so Green.
Gottfried, S. (2015) The Hormone Reset Diet HarperCollins e-books.
Greco, S., Pellegrino, P., Zannotti, A., Delli-Carpini, G., Ciavattini, A., Reis, F.M., and Ciarmela, P. (2021). Phytoprogestins: Unexplored Food Compounds with Potential Preventive and Therapeutic Effects in Female Diseases Nutrients: 13(12). doi: 10.3390/nu13124326