Nutrients That Support Healthy Hormonal Balance and Why

Many of us deal with hormonal imbalances due to poor nutrition, stress, lack of sleep or other poor lifestyle choices. Hormonal imbalance has a critical effect on your well being as it influences your overall health condition, can lead to infertility, depression, loss of memory and focus as well as chronic fatigue and loss of muscle strength.

There are no one-size-fits-all formulas or recommendations for a diet that promotes healthy hormonal balance because everybody is at a different situation in their life and everyone has a different attitude towards life which has a significant impact on hormonal release. Stressors are different for everyone depending on our mindset.

But there are food choices that can help balance and regulate your hormones. These can help you reduce irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings, reduce fatigue, and increase energy and mental clarity.

Here are some of the essential nutrients that support healthy hormonal balance.

1. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats that contain Omega-3 fatty acids supply the necessary building blocks for hormone production and function. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for stabilizing the output of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones), because omega-3 fatty acids help prevent adrenal deficiency and fatigue. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids inhibits the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress. Sufficient omega-3 fatty acids also help to prevent post-menopausal depression. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are also very useful in fighting inflammation.

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in chia seeds, Brussel sprouts, algae, hemp seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and perilla oil.

Healthy fats are also essential for the production of cholesterol (which then gets converted into testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and for proper cell function. Healthy fats are also found found in avocados, nuts, coconuts, and olives. Aim to get 15-30g of healthy fats daily.

2. Adaptogens

Adaptogens work to balance out the hormones of the adrenal system and help mitigate the stress response. They also help to support thyroid function and stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels. Adaptogenic compounds are found in foods and herbs that promote hormonal health. Some of them are rosemary, holy basil, Ashwagandha, astragalus, ginseng, and Rhodiola, which can be found in spice or powder form (as tea).

3. Lignans

Lignans are phytoestrogens found in many plant-based foods. The lignin’s from foods are converted by the gut bacteria into metabolites (enterolignans, enterodiol, and enterolactone) which produce a slight estrogenic effect. When estrogen levels are too low or too high, lignans balance the activity of the body’s natural estrogen by attaching to the estrogen receptors. This helps improve some estrogen-induced conditions like osteoporosis, menopausal and menstrual symptoms as well as reducing the risk for certain hormonal cancers. Foods like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and flaxseeds contain lignans, with flaxseeds containing the most lignans from any dietary source. 

4. Fiber

To lower and balance out your blood sugar levels, you need to consume fiber. Fiber helps by stabilizing the insulin response which further contributes to balancing cortisol levels. If your cortisol levels are frequently high from a constant state of stress, it will lead to estrogen dominance, leading to weight gain, decreased sex drive, abnormal menstruation, breast pain or swelling, headaches (especially premenstrually), and mood swings (irritability or depression). With enough fiber, you will reduce your progesterone levels and help the body eliminate excess estrogens. Make sure you’re eating enough legumes, beans, green vegetables, and whole grains for your daily dose of fiber.

5. Probiotics and Prebiotics

Many hormones are metabolized, processed, and excreted through the gut microbiome. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha bring essential probiotics to your digestive system, supporting the friendly bacteria. Prebiotic-rich foods, like onions, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, and onions, are also vitally important because the good bacteria need them as food sources to help them thrive and do their job in the best way. 

 

6. Supplements

You can’t base your diet on supplements, but you can rely on them for support. The majority of nutrients should be taken from fresh whole plant-based foods, but that’s not possible sometimes. At particular times such as excess stress, high athletic activity levels, disease, pregnancy, lactation or menstruation, consider taking a B complex supplement, activated B12, iron when necessary (not for males) and omega 3 fatty acids. Your hormones rely on them, and even on a regular diet, it’s not always easy getting sufficient levels of these nutrients. See also adaptogenic herbs above for other supplements that may be worth taking.

7. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. 

Studies suggest that excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol may contribute to a hormonal imbalance in both the short and long term.

To conclude:

Hormonal imbalance is a road that’s best avoided. Hormones have a crucial role in maintaining all of your body’s vital functions. Follow these tips to include these nutrients that do wonders for supporting healthy glandular function.

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Galit Goldfarb

References:

Masoumi SZ, Kazemi F, Tavakolian S, et al. Effect of Citalopram in Combination with Omega-3 on Depression in Post-menopausal Women: A Triple Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research?: JCDR. 2016;10(10):QC01-QC05. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2016/19487.8597.

Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Dec;21(6):495-505.

Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease, ISSN: 2222-1808, Vol: 2, Issue: SUPPL.1, Page: S480-S490Publication Year: 2012

Quigley EMM. Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2013;9(9):560-569.

 Shi LH, Balakrishnan K, Thiagarajah K, Mohd Ismail NI, Yin OS. Beneficial Properties of Probiotics. Tropical Life Sciences Research. 2016;27(2):73-90. doi:10.21315/tlsr2016.27.2.6.

Delarue J, Matzinger O, Binnert C, Schneiter P, Chioléro R, Tappy L. Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men. Diabetes Metab. 2003 Jun;29(3):289-95.

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