Foods that regulate hormones is a topic I often get asked about in my community, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a deep dive on this topic in this blog post.
So, let’s talk about it.
If you don’t know, hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and carried in the bloodstream to other parts of the body to deliver chemical messages.
There are many kinds of hormones like stress hormones, pregnancy hormones, thyroid hormones. These hormones carry their specific messages and help the human body function as it should. Your hormone balance has a huge impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health and wellness. Your hormones also help with growth and development, metabolism, digestion, fertility, stress, emotional and mood management, and much more.
On the other hand, hormone imbalances compromise your ability to live a healthy life and can lead to fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, depression, hair loss, diabetes, infertility, etc. This really depends on the severity of the situation and may require medication.
In this post we are talking about the things YOU have control over when it comes to hormone balance and that is your food, sleep, stress, lifestyle, and exercise. But we will mainly be talking about food today.
Fortunately, the food you eat can affect the production and secretion of certain hormones because certain hormones are diet-dependent.
This means that what you eat affects the production of hormones, and in turn, affects other areas of your health.
So today, I am sharing a roundup of foods that can help regulate hormones to help you feel good and perform your best.
10 Foods That Regulate Hormones
1. Cruciferous vegetables
These are your broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables help your liver metabolize estrogen to keep estrogen levels at a healthy quantity in your body.
Metabolizing estrogen protects you from developing estrogen-dominant cancers like breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial (uterine) cancer.
I love roasting these vegetables with some olive oil. Olive oil is a healthy fat that helps your body increase absorption of the vitamins available in these veggies which amplifies their benefits.
Eating salmon regularly has so many benefits like stabilizing hunger levels, being rich in vitamin D which btw supports female testosterone levels and is very important for your mood, bones and skin.
Also, did you know that the building blocks of hormones are fat and cholesterol?
This is one of many reasons why I do not love low fat diets for losing weight, especially for women. There is so much misinformation about fats that women now tend to buy low fat options and opt for fat-free products. However, you need enough cholesterol and fat to make sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
Of course not all fat is created equal. The important thing to keep in mind is to choose fats that are high in omega-3s and to try and eliminate trans fats. Healthy fats include salmon, canned albacore tuna, walnuts, flaxseed, olive oil, avocados and chia seeds and trans fats are baked goods like cakes, cookies and pies, shortening, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, fried foods, stick margarine, and non dairy coffee creamer.
3. Leafy greens, of course!
These include spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard which are loaded with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Leafy greens lowers cortisol levels and helps balance estrogen, not to mention loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Avocados are loaded with something called beta-sitosterol, which is a type of plant sterol. Plant sterols are similar to cholesterol but are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Beta-sitosterol can lower cholesterol levels and help balance your stress hormone, cortisol. The plant sterols in avocados also affect estrogen and progesterone, which are two hormones responsible for regulating ovulation and menstrual cycles.
5. High fiber carbs
Fiber helps bind and remove unbound active estrogens, therefore lowering certain risks of cancer. High fiber carbs also play a huge role in balancing blood sugar levels.
Some examples of high fiber carbs include: flax seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, berries, whole grains, lentils and beans.
Try to aim for 20-35 grams of fiber per day!
Eggs contain the antioxidant, selenium. Selenium is an important antioxidant which removes free radicals that can cause damage and premature aging to the thyroid glands.
Nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense foods that contain a wide range of phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins. Flax seeds are rich in selenium, zinc, and B vitamins which are important for hormone production and hormone metabolism.
Flaxseeds also have lignans which are a phytoestrogen that improves the health of your menstrual cycle. I like to add a few tablespoons to my morning smoothie or in my oatmeal.
Anyone else LOVE the smell of freshly cut parsley?
Don’t just add this powerful herb as a garnish, add it in your salads or make parsley infused tea. Parsley has been shown to help with fatigue, hormone imbalances, and reduce menstrual pain. Next time you see it in your grocery store, grab a bunch and get creative. I typically add parsley in a salad or when I’m making kafta! (Let me know below if you want this recipe).
9. Eat your prebiotics and probiotics!
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut, while prebiotics are the fibrous foods that the bacteria eat to thrive on. Your gut makes more than 20 hormones that play a huge role in your appetite, satiety and metabolism. The gut is considered your second brain because gut and brain have a special connection! So if your gut is not healthy and happy, neither are you.
Take care of your gut by increasing your intake of prebiotic and probiotic rich foods.
Prebiotic foods: raw garlic, oats, asparagus, dandelion, almonds, apples, bananas, artichokes and chicory.
Probiotic foods: kimchi, pickles, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and kefir.
10. Plant-based proteins
When it comes to hormonal balance, certain protein sources are going to be better for you than others. Protein provides your body with essential amino acids that are used to produce hormones, like estrogen, insulin, and thyroid hormones.
Having said that, aim to eat mostly plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, almonds, quinoa, hemp seeds, and sprouted whole grains. Plant-based proteins are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber which helps your body function optimally.
Even though your hormone levels are highly affected by food, do not forget that your lifestyle is also important. Incorporate exercises like yoga or pilates to help reduce stress, prioritize sleep, and get out into nature more!
The bottom line is, unless you have a diagnosed hormone condition, your hormones are probably where they need to be. However, you may have small hormone irregularities that can cause symptoms like low energy, difficulty sleeping and difficulty losing weight and they can be improved with the foods that regulate hormones as mentioned above.
Small tweaks in your day and in your diet can help balance these small hormone irregularities and if you find that your symptoms are persistent, make sure to talk to your doctor.