Let’s talk hormones and food!
In the big picture of health, hormones are a key player. You’ve likely had many moments where you realize hormonal imbalances are the root cause of someone’s complaint.
While the word “hormones” usually makes us think of the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, there are actually many different hormones that play a role in overall health. This is why it’s important to build a good nutritional protocol that supports the adrenals, thyroid, liver, and intestines to keep hormones functioning properly.
Here are the key hormone regulation systems, and how to best support them:
The adrenal glands are the underappreciated masters of our hormonal balance and any amount of stress will affect them. Our adrenals have the power to increase or blunt appetite, drive up blood sugar, stimulate or slow metabolism, stop progesterone production, and convert testosterone into estrogen.
There is no differentiation between physical stress and emotional stress as far as adrenal glands are concerned. Every type of stress is considered an immediate physical threat, so stress reduction and management are highly important. Using adaptogens can help improve stress response and speed adrenal healing.
Adaptogens “adapt” to the unique needs of the individual rather than producing a specific effect across-the-board. They take stress off the adrenals to reduce the amount of cortisol produced in response to stress.
Schisandra Berry: a small red berry, usually sold in the form of dried berries or powder. It has a very strong, tart berry taste so it works best in fruity, blended recipes like our Beet Berry Smoothie Bowl. Alternatively it can be taken in capsules or tincture form.
Maca Root: a tuber similar in looks to a turnip, it’s usually sold as a powder. It tastes of caramel and works well in chocolate flavoured recipes like our Chocolate Cauliflower Shake. Maca is also available in capsules.
Omega-3s: coldwater fish like salmon, halibut, sardines, cod, tuna and anchovies, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds.
Low blood sugar is also a huge stress on the adrenals, so eating frequent meals is key. Healthy protein intake is also important since protein helps slow the digestion of glucose, therefore stabilizing blood sugar. At least 20% of total calories from protein is a good starting point, though biochemical individuality means that it will be different for everyone.
The thyroid gland controls metabolism and regulates heart rate, breathing, body weight, muscle strength, body temperature, menstrual cycles, and even cholesterol levels. Thyroid disorders are extremely common and contribute to further hormonal imbalances.
Iodine: found in foods from the sea, like nori, dulse, fish, and shellfish.
Saturated Fats: found in coconut oil, ghee, butter, full-fat dairy, and red meats.
The liver is a key organ for hormone balance. It produces cholesterol, which is the building block for sex hormones estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone as well as the stress hormone cortisol. The liver is also responsible for detoxifying excess hormones to prevent them from building up and creating imbalances.
Indole-3-Carbinole: found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and mustard greens.
Calcuim D-glucarate: found in apples, grapefruit, garlic, onions, and bitter greens like mustard greens or collards.
Good digestion means better nutrient absorption. But intestinal microflora also regulates so much more including adrenal, thyroid and liver function. Gut bacteria can also play a huge role in mood stabilization and sleep quality, which will further reduce stress on the adrenals.
Probiotics: fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi, probiotic supplements, cultured dairy products.
Prebiotics: legumes, garlic, onions, dairy products, apples, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, quinoa, cauliflower, kale, blueberries.
Fibre: sweet potatoes, lentils, quinoa, flax, greens, and beans.
*Also, keep in mind that many of female’s hormone related health problems can come from not having enough progesteron in our bodies. With time, our bodies does not produce enough progesteron so make sure you introduce in your diet foods that boost progesteron pr
Taking vitamin supplements of B6, can also help reduce levels of estrogen while boosting progesterone production. Good sources: Russet potatoes, salmon, tuna, bananas, spinach, walnuts, beef, chicken, sweet potato, beans and prunes.