The types of carbohydrates you eat, the amount of protein you include and the types of fats you include (or don’t include) in your diet can have a significant impact on your hormone balance.
The common western diet which tends to be high in refined carbohydrates and sugar and low in fibre can wreak havoc with your hormones, affecting things like cycle length, ovulation, PMS severity and even how much pain you experience throughout your cycle.
The good news is there is much you can do naturally to help re-balance your hormones without having to resort to ‘the pill’ or other medication to try and manage common conditions like PMS, irregular cycles, acne, heavy bleeding and those crazy moods.
Restoring balance between the two main female hormones estrogen and progesterone can go a long way towards reducing the severity of PMS symptoms, regulate cycle lengths, result in lighter periods and reduced pain and cramping.
If you know it’s time to do something about those hormones that seem to be taking over then ensuring you include some (or all) of the following foods in your diet each day is a great place to start!
Brassica family vegetables
These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, rocket, bok choi and kale. Brassica family vegetables contain two very powerful phytonutrients, sulphoraphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C) both of which help to detoxify oestrogen via the liver and have even been shown to halt the progression of cancer (1). Try to include one or more of these family of vegetables both raw and cooked in your diet daily.
These include sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir, kombucha, yoghurt and miso. They promote healthy gut flora balance which aids in the elimination of oestrogens via the bowel. Good levels of healthy bacteria inhibit an enzyme known as beta-glucuronidase which would otherwise contribute to the reabsorption of oestrogen back into circulation, contributing to oestrogen excess!
Bitter foods and drinks
Stimulating the bitter taste buds with bitter tasting foods has a reflex action on the liver prompting an increase in bile production and flow. Bile acts like a natural emulsifier and is an important vehicle for carrying excess oestrogen (and other toxins) out of the body via the bowel. Bitter foods to include daily are rocket (arugula), dandelion greens, artichoke, kale, dark chocolate (yum) or try drinking dandelion root ‘coffee’.
Foods high in fibre
Fibre binds to oestrogen in the bowel and ensures its elimination by preventing constipation. Increasing your daily intake of ‘plant foods’ by including a wide range of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes will help you meet your fibre requirements. Aim for 2 – 3 serves of fruit and 5 – 7 serves of vegetables a day. Try swapping a meat meal with a vegetarian meal once a week to boost your ‘plant food’ intake.
Foods containing phytoestrogens
Certain plant based foods contain nutrients known as ‘phytoestrogens’ which have a very similar but subtle effect on our own estrogen receptors in the body. Including phytoestrogens in your diet can help regulate estrogens levels that are either too high or on the low side (for example menopause). Try to include a dessert spoon of ground linseed in your diet each day and try to include sesame seeds, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils too (if you can tolerate these).
Omega 3 fats such as those found in fish, raw nuts and seeds such as chia, flaxseed, walnuts and almonds are so important for healthy hormone balance. Omega 3 fats have an anti-inflammatory effect and can help to reduce heavy periods and cramping, reduce pre-menstural skin breakouts while also supporting a calmer, happier mood. Try to include good sources of Omega 3 fats in your diet daily.
Be sure to include a quality protein source with each meal or snack as this has a positive effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, both of which need to remain stable for healthy hormone balance. High insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance which is a common driver behind hormonal conditions such as hormonal acne (especially around the jawline), heavier hair growth on the chin and jaw (known as hirsutism), irregular cycles and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Adequate protein with each meal will help reduce sugar cravings, reduce mood swings related to low blood sugar levels while also helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
This is really just the tip of the ice-burg when it comes to balancing your hormones naturally. There is so much more that can be done with an individualized treatment plan that incorporates specific nutritional recommendations with personalized herbal and nutritional supplements that can really help bring some balance back to your monthly cycle.
If you are interested in learning how you can balance your hormones naturally then feel free to flick me an email by clicking here, or alternatively head to my website www.wholebodynaturalhealth.com.au