Statistics show that 80% of women suffer from hormonal imbalances. And many don't even realize it—since symptoms of imbalance are vast, and the discomforts are so common, unclear health problems are often chalked up to "just being a woman."
Hormonal imbalance commonly manifests as acne, depression, anxiety, insomnia, sluggish digestion, weight gain (or loss), hair thinning, fatigue, infertility, and night sweats.
A healthy diet is integral to balancing your hormones, so here are 10 foods to add to your plate for better hormonal health.
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High-fiber keto foods, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli help to promote healthy and regular bowel movements. They also help process and remove excess estrogen from the body, reducing the possibility of a hormonal imbalance.
Avocados are rich in healthy fat and help to keep you satiated without overeating. Healthy fats found in whole foods, such as avocados, can improve overall hormonal health and boost brain cognition. In other words, they can help to boost your mood.
Naturally occurring chemical properties in avocado may also help to balance cortisol levels and promote the healthy regulation of estrogen and progesterone, the two primary hormones responsible for regulating your cycle.
3. Wild Salmon
Fatty fish, like salmon, trout, and sardines, are rich in healthy fats and easily digestible protein, which, according to the American Heart Association, is necessary for staying satiated and stabilizing hunger hormones.
Fatty fish is also a good source of vitamin D, which is vital for hormone balance. This is especially important during the darker winter months when we get less vitamin D from the sun.
If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid fish that are higher in mercury, like tuna, swordfish, and shark.
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Leafy greens like spinach are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
They are also a great source of minerals like magnesium. These minerals can help you better deal with stressors and lower cortisol levels, which can wreak havoc on your hormones.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Have you ever heard of seed cycling? Seed cycling is the holistic practice of eating specific seeds during the two main phases of your menstrual cycle to help promote the healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone levels.
Seed cycling advocates recommend enjoying 1-2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds during days 1-14 of your cycle. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which is needed for the production of progesterone.
Flaxseeds contain lignans which bind to excess estrogen. When excess estrogen is left circulating in your system, it can leave you feeling "out of sorts."
During days 1-14 of your cycle (from the first days of getting your period until ovulation), enjoy 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseeds. Flaxseed is also an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and can promote regularity. Proper digestion is important to rid your body of excess hormones.
I like to sprinkle flaxseeds into my smoothies, and I also enjoy them over oatmeal.
7. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds also play a role in seed cycling. High in vitamin E, they support progesterone production. They are also a good source of zinc and selenium, an essential trace mineral that can help detox the liver of excess estrogen. Selenium and zinc are also vital for healthy thyroid function.
Seed cycling advocates also recommend enjoying 1-2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds during days 15-28 of your cycle (from the start of ovulation to the start of your period). Even if you're not entirely on board with the idea of seed cycling, these seeds all have hormone-balancing properties.
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Unfortunately, processed carbs are off the table, as they can spike blood sugar and affect gut health.
Lentils, on the other hand, are a slow-digesting carbohydrate, high in protein, and rich in magnesium. This combination may help to regulate blood sugar levels, improve sleep, and lower cortisol levels.
The liver works to break down excess hormones and toxins that are then excreted through the bowels, urine, and sweat. This makes food that aids and supports the liver in natural detoxification vital for hormonal balance.
Artichokes support liver health and are a great source of fiber, ideal for healthy digestion and elimination. Fiber binds to excess hormones for proper elimination through stool.
Including artichokes in your weekly meal planning may help support liver function, improve digestion, and balance hormones.
Apples are a good source of vitamin C—essential in the production of progesterone—and quercetin, a potent antioxidant that helps combat inflammation.
Apples are also a great source of fiber and contain pectin, a prebiotic that supports gut health for superior digestion and elimination.
Simple Ways to Balance Your Hormones
There are many external factors and foods that can contribute to hormonal imbalances and even worsen menopause symptoms, including alcohol consumption, excess caffeine, soy, dairy, BPA found in plastic, and chronic stress.
I used to experience panic attacks, bouts of depression, and embarrassing breakouts all throughout high school and college, and It wasn't until I changed my diet that my symptoms dissipated. As always, consult with a medical professional before implementing new lifestyle changes.
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