Why do we need hormones?
The hormones created and released by the glands in your body's endocrine system control nearly all the processes in your body. These chemicals help coordinate your body's functions, from metabolism to growth and development, emotions, mood, sexual function and even sleep. Their influence goes as far as changing the way we think and act day to day. There is no doubt that hormones are extremely powerful.
Why are women more affected by hormones?
There are quite a few major life events driven by hormonal changes in the female body— puberty, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause. Men have the same hormones as women, they do not experience high levels or intense fluctuations (except at puberty).
Hormone balance is an essential part of wellbeing, especially for women in their 40s and 50s when they experience more sudden and frequent hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause.
If one hormone gets out of balance, the consequences can ripple throughout your body. There are 52 different symptoms women can experience during perimenopause and menopause, such as fatigue, brain fog, sudden weight gain, hair loss, hot flushes, etc.
HRT is one solution to balance hormones, however, there are also plenty of lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your life to help balance your hormones. To get the most benefit from HRT, we recommend making lifestyle changes too.
- Sleep - prioritise good quality sleep by going to bed and waking up at regular hours.
- Exercise – regularly move your body and try some lower impact exercises such as walking, yoga and Pilates.
- Stress - manage stress as best you can, by using mindfulness practices like meditation and journaling when you do feel stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious.
- Alcohol – can wreak havoc on your mood, and alcohol may make your perimenopause symptoms worse. Women often experience new or more severe symptoms of anxiety and depression during perimenopause, and drinking alcohol can intensify these symptoms.
- Diet – ditch ultra processed food and adopt a Mediterranean diet.
Eat to balance your hormones
Diet is one of the most powerful ways you can rebalance your hormones and take back your health. It’s essential to provide the body with raw materials and the fuel it needs to make hormones. If someone’s diet is unhealthy, combined with poor lifestyle choices while leading a stressful life, then it will result in endocrine and hormonal issues. To help get your hormones back in check, try introducing some hormone balancing foods into your diet.
There are some myths out there about eggs and hormonal imbalance, but in fact, eggs are one of the best foods for balancing hormones, as they have a positive impact on insulin and ghrelin hormones in the body. Your insulin and ghrelin levels are lower after you eat eggs for breakfast (compared to a carb-based meal). Like other proteins, eggs are one of those hormone-friendly foods that keep you full for longer.
Fatty fish—such as wild-caught salmon, herring, mackerel, lake trout, and sardines also help stabilise your hunger hormones, helping you feel fuller for longer. They are rich in vitamin D, which helps improve female testosterone levels. Good fats in fish improve overall hormonal communication, which solidifies it as one of the best foods to eat for hormonal balance. The endocrine system uses hormones to communicate with the brain, which in turn boosts our mood and gives us better cognition skills. The healthy omega oils in these fish also keep your heart healthy and your skin and hair glowing.
Chicken breast is high in protein and low in fat. Research indicates that high-protein diets promote the secretion of hormones such as leptin, which provides feelings of satiety. Chicken also has purported positive effects on anabolic hormones (such as insulin and oestrogen) by helping build muscles after workouts, making it one of the key foods to balance female hormones.
EAT YOUR GREENS
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts are loaded with antioxidants and can help prevent inflammation. Green and cruciferous vegetables are high in fibre. A high-fibre diet can help process and remove excess oestrogen from the body. Vegetables are hormone-balancing foods as they can also reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels.
GRAINS, NUTS AND SEEDS
Quinoa is a gluten-free carbohydrate as well as a whole protein. It can be counted as one of the best foods to balance hormones by keeping female testosterone levels even. Quinoa yields this power due to its higher levels of protein that enable blood sugar stabilisation. It also packs phosphorus and magnesium, which can alleviate symptoms and promote sleep.
Flaxseeds are rich in plant-based oestrogens, especially lignans, which promote hormone balance and provide menstrual support. They’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fibre. Fibre is an excellent probiotic, and the insoluble fibre in flaxseeds encourage bowel movements that help detox your body of excess hormones. To reap benefits from this top food for hormone balance, toss a few handfuls of flaxseeds into a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal.
Nuts are rich in poly and monounsaturated fats, which are responsible for aiding in blood vessel health and hormone production. They positively impact your endocrine system and help lower cholesterol and insulin levels while maintaining blood sugar.
Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, a nutrient crucial to hormone balance as it supports overall thyroid health. Next, walnuts are anti-inflammatory and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote good brain health. Both walnuts and almonds are healthy sources of protein and antioxidants. They also improve your metabolism and promote naturally glowing skin.
Not only are pomegranates full of antioxidants, but they’re also known to help block excess oestrogen production. That makes it an important antioxidant-filled food that could be beneficial in the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers, including breast cancer.
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are all hormone balancing foods packed with great nutrients. Berries are rich sources of vitamin C, which regulates your progesterone levels.
Berries are also packed with polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect your cells from stress. Polyphenols decrease inflammation and can help you manage cortisol, your body’s stress hormone.
This tangy little fruit is rich in melatonin, which aids in restful sleep and itself is important for hormone balance. Cherries are also high in magnesium, which is known for its positive effects on our sleep regimens. Additionally, magnesium can help reduce cortisol and regulate adrenaline in our bodies.
DRIED APRICOTS, DATES & PRUNES
These are healthy snacks that are rich in phytoestrogens as well as fibre. The process of drying these fruits increases the number of phytoestrogens, vitamins, and minerals in them.
Avocados are among the best hormone balancing foods. They are low in carbs and rich in heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats. The healthy fats and low carbs promote stable insulin, one of your key metabolic hormones. Stable insulin keeps your energy steady and prevents your blood sugar from crashing. On top of that, the healthy fats in avocados are building blocks for sex hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The plentiful fat in avocados gives your body the raw materials to make hormones it needs.
SOYSoy is one of the highest oestrogen foods. It contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones that affect the oestrogen metabolism in the body. Edamame are the pods produced by a soy plant that affect oestrogen metabolism. Soy milk is also an extremely rich source of phytoestrogens. It is beneficial in providing relief from menstrual problems like cramps or pain by restoring the oestrogen levels in the body. Soy Yogurt, also known as bean curd yogurt, this is made from soy milk, making this yogurt a good source of phytoestrogens.
High levels of isoflavones, potent phytoestrogens and have demonstrated promise at moderately supporting the reduction of menopausal symptoms, like hot flushes and night sweats.
White beans are extremely healthy – rich in phytoestrogens, fibre, and nutrients like iron, folate, and calcium. This helps balance oestrogen levels in the body.
These are so healthy that they can be consumed every single day. They are rich in phytoestrogens and a rich source of protein, fibre, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals.
HRT alone is not enough to balance hormones through perimenopause and menopause, in order to benefit fully from Hormone Replacement Therapy we would recommend making small changes to your lifestyle; get more sleep, reduce alcohol intake, exercise more and find ways to de stress. However the best change you can make is to ditch ultra processed meals and to adopt a Mediterranean style diet with plenty of plant based foods, lean protein and healthy fats.
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