Sometimes your hormones can become imbalanced. Hormones are really important for your bone health, your brain, your skin, your reproductive organs (including puberty), your cholesterol levels, your fat stores (yes – too much oestrogen encourages the body to store food as fat vs use it for energy!), for your mood, your insulin levels (think blood sugar control and fat burning). With imbalanced hormones you can feel overly stressed, moody, depressed, experience acne, weight gain, fatigue, and reproductive issues.
Don’t forget your hormonal teen. A balanced diet full of the below nutrients are really important to help them as they navigate the enormous hormone swings during this time (and acne, mood swings, depression, energy swings etc).
We might produce insufficient progesterone due to poor diet and stress, or estrogen becomes the dominant hormone due to excess production or not being able to break it down and eliminate it from the body properly. The main contributors to hormone imbalance are stress, excess weight, the environment (pollution and toxins), lack of sleep, not enough fibre to remove excess hormones, poor liver function.
For many women, it’s excess oestrogen which can cause an imbalance. Excess estrogen is broken down in the liver and eliminated via the bowel along with your body’s other waste products. So both the liver and gut need to be working well to remove excess estrogen from your body.
– Ensure you are eating enough fibre as it attaches to estrogen in the digestive tract and aids in it’s removal from the body. Fibre in the form of leafy greens, flax and bran are best for this purpose. Berries are a great source of fibre, as are avocados, oatmeal, LSA mix in your morning oats or smoothies, multigrains and beans.
– Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choi, brussels sprouts, mustard, and turnip greens) contain a compound (Indole-3-Carbinol/ DIM) which increases estrogen breakdown in the liver. Eat several servings per day. This is great for pre menopausal or menopausal sweats when your progesterone is dropping faster than your estrogen levels (which are also sadly dropping, just slower).
– Eat good amounts of protein especially the types found in meat, fish, dairy, eggs, beans and sesame seeds, as it can improve estrogen breakdown and improve liver function. Nuts are a great source but don’t overdo it due to their fat content.
– Eat plenty of foods high in B6 which reduces estrogen and increases progesterone (salmon, tuna, bananas, spinach, walnuts, beef, chicken, beans) reducing the imbalance/ gap.
– Eat Avocado’s ! They contain plant sterols which can block estrogen receptors in the body.
– Eat more Omega 3 fats as they will improve the body’s efficiency at breaking down estrogen and combat oestrogen damage. These are found in fish (salmon and tuna in particular), free range meat, dairy, eggs, chia seeds, healthy seeds and nuts and oils.
– Reduce sugar intake as increased insulin reduces the breakdown of estrogen
– Watch your alcohol intake, as the liver is really important when it comes to breaking down oestrogen to remove it from the body. Alcohol competes with this function as the liver needs to break it down also. Go alcohol free a few nights a week, and stick to just a glass or two on the nights which you do drink.
Too much estrogen can also result in deficiency of zinc, magnesium and B6 – which are all important for hormonal balance. B6 = beef, chicken, liver, fish. Zinc = beef, pumpkin & sesame seeds. Magnesium = spinach & dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, almond, yoghurt, kefir milk.
For more information on achieving healthy hormone balance through good nutrition, check out my healthy happy hormone nutrition guide, which contains over 10 downloads, including the 13 page Getting started guide to healthy happy hormones. All for the same price as a cup of coffee !