12 Hormone Balancing Foods That Support Your Period & Fertility Health
Hormones are our body's important chemical messagers. All the hormones in our body are connected, and when one is too high or too low it impacts all our other hormones.
Stress and sex hormones are a family of hormones called steriod hormones, meaning they are built from cholesterol. Other hormones are proteins built from peptide chains (chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein).
Here are 12 hormone balancing foods that provide essential nutrients for healthy hormone production and metabolism.
1. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, bok choy, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower which are all hormone balancing foods. Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) is the main compound in many cruciferous vegetables. A study found that participants who were given the I3C, had decreased concentrations of metabolites that would activate the estrogen receptor, which shows that it can lower estrogen naturally.
DIM stands for diindolylmethane, and it is a naturally occurring compound in cruciferous vegetables. DIM encourages the decrease of high estrogen levels through the protective pathway 2-OH. If estrogen levels are high and favoring the inflammatory pathway, DIM can help switch it to the less inflammatory pathway. I3C and DIM both encourage the breakdown of estrogen through a less inflammatory pathway.
Salmon is one of the few foods that contain optimal amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat. Omega 3s can increase your luteinizing hormone (LH), which can then boost progesterone production. Omega 3s have also been found to be beneficial in managing PMS symptoms, which are tied to lower progesterone levels.
Flaxseed contains dietary lignans which help to inhibit enzymes that are involved in estrogen metabolism. By balancing out estrogen levels, this will improve progesterone. Flaxseed also lengthens the luteal phase of your cycle. The benefit is that it helps to improve ovulation and decrease premenstrual symptoms like tender breasts, headaches, and cramps.
Additionally, flaxseeds can help with stress management. The stress response is controlled by cortisol, a hormone that can create imbalances in the other hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This is why flaxseeds are one of the hormone balancing foods.
Eggs are one of the hormone balancing foods because they are high in choline. Choline is one of the most important and abundant minerals in prenatal supplements because of its effect on hormones and fertility. Studies show that large amounts of choline are needed in fetal development to promote rapid cell division and brain development.
In the placenta, eggs are also great foods to boost fertility because choline has been shown to promote angiogenesis which is the building of new blood vessels from older ones. Studies show that postmenopausal women have a higher need for choline than premenospausal women because of their estrogen levels being lower.
Curcumin is the bioactive ingredient in turmeric. Turmeric is another one of the hormone balancing foods which is best known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps to reduce inflammation and scavenges free radicals that can damage cells. Moderate or severe cramping can be an indication of inflammation in the body. The antioxidant effects are beneficial to reduce the internal stress response which can balance out progesterone and estrogen, which results in decreased inflammation.
Curcumin is not absorbed well in the bloodstream. Combining turmeric with black pepper or looking for curcumin supplement formation with black pepper or piperine can enhance the absorption of curcumin. Piperine is the bioactive compound found in black pepper that has been shown to increase the absorption of curcumin
6. Organic Lean Protein
Lean proteins are foods like chicken, seafood, greek yogurt, and beans. This is because they have a good effect on balancing blood sugar making them hormone balancing foods. In an unbalanced blood sugar state, insulin is released in high amounts when we eat carbohydrates and then dops. This causes large peaks and lows of our blood sugar.
Insulin is a hormone and needs to be produced in a balance just like every other hormone. When insulin is left in the bloodstream it can accumulate and lead to other hormone imbalances like estrogen and testosterone.
Lean proteins can mend the situation by slowing down the blood sugar spike. Avoid eating naked carbohydrate snacks or meals, this means avoid just eating a bowl of plain oatmeal or just a piece of fruit. Instead, add a lean protein source with your carbohydrate to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Berries contain a host of antioxidants. Oxidative stress damages cells and reduces their ability to function, especially when trying to conceive. Increased amounts of oxidative species cause the body to make an inflammatory response and to raise stress levels. Our body responds by sending antioxidants to get rid of the stress. Managing this oxidative stress through consuming antioxidants from berries makes it one of the hormone balancing foods.
Legumes are hormone balancing foods because they are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, plant based protein, and they are a slow carbohydrate. Legumes include beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas.
Fiber foods help build up fecal bulk and make the excretion process go much smoother. It is important to eat fiber-rich foods because this is one of the mechanisms our body does to eliminate hormones. If we don’t eliminate the hormones, they can build up and recirculate in the body to cause hormone imbalances, a common imbalance is estrogen dominance.
Slow carbohydrates, like legumes, are indicative of their absorption in the body. As mentioned before, you want to maintain a stable blood sugar balance all day with no sharp peaks and drops.
Sauerkraut is one of the probiotic food sources. It is made by mixing cabbage, water, and salt in a jar and setting aside in a dark area for a few weeks. Over time, the microorganisms in the sauerkraut called lactobacillus, initiate the fermentation process by producing lactic acid which drops the pH.
Sauerkraut has been shown to have a very high nutritional profile by being high in fiber, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Iron and vitamin C contribute to improvements in your immune system, which will help with improving the gut microbiome defense against pathogens. Sauerkraut also has been shown to protect against leaky gut, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. The positive effects on the gut will have positive effects on hormone levels because of estrogen detoxification and imporve nutrient absorption.
Almonds are another one of the hormone balancing foods. They are high in vitamin e, a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties, and estrogen detoxification properties. If high estrogen is a cause for your menstrual cramps, consuming almonds as a hormone balancing food is a good idea. Magnesium and zinc are also highly abundant in almonds.
11. Organic Grass-fed Beef
Organic grass-fed meat options are made from animals who were not mass-produced with growth hormones and antibiotics, and they were fed their preferred diet, which is grass. Grass-fed meat is packed with zinc, B12, and iron. All of these nutrients are important to balance hormones and the iron can assist with replenishing lost stores from the blood you lose in heavy menstruations caused by hormone imbalances. The heme iron from grass-fed beef also supports a healthy pregnancy due to the increased blood supply needed to support developing baby.
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