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Blog Nutrition Best Foods For Hormone Balance: 9 Natural Solutions For Mental, Physical, And Emotional Health

Best Foods For Hormone Balance: 9 Natural Solutions For Mental, Physical, And Emotional Health

best foods for hormone balance

The idea that certain foods can balance hormones is not new. For centuries, people have turned to food to help with everything from relieving stress and sleeplessness to strengthening their immune system. But what are the best foods for hormone balance?

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In this article, we will explore the best foods for hormone balance as well as other ways to balance your hormones such as exercise regularly and manage stress. We will also be discussing what foods you should avoid if you want to maintain good hormonal health

How To Regulate Hormones With Food

Diet plays a crucial role in hormonal balance. Here are 9 of the best food types you should eat for hormonal regulation:

best foods for female hormone balance
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Leafy Greens

Leafy vegetables are important low-calorie sources of essential vitamins and minerals. They are also some of the best foods for hormone regulation, for a couple of reasons. 

First, they are low in calories and high in fiber. Since providing nutrition without excess calories is critical to regulating estrogen and testosterone levels, leafy vegetables are a great staple for anyone looking to achieve hormonal balance. Second, leafy vegetables contain phytonutrients that improve liver health and promote efficient hormone processing (10).

Thirdly, they offer an excellent source of vitamin K1. Many studies have shown that vitamin K1 deficiency results in poor testosterone production. Finally, these vegetables provide ample amounts of folic acid. Not only is folic acid important because it helps regulate estrogen levels by improving liver health; it also boosts the bioavailability of testosterone (17).

Some of the best leafy greens to include in your diet are:

  • Collard greens 
  • Kale
  • Spinach 
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Endive and cress (AKA: garden cress) 
  • Lettuce of any type 
  • Bok choy
  • Brussels sprouts

Read More: Hormones And Weight Gain: 7 Hormones That Control Your Weight And How To Balance Them

Root Vegetables

Root vegetables contain a type of phytonutrients called Indoles. Indoles have been found to help with reproduction, breast cancer, and prostate health as well as overall hormone regulation (16).  In addition to Indoles, many root vegetables contain fiber which also helps regulate hormone release from the intestines during digestion (22).

Some of the best root vegetables to include in your diet are:

  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Parsnips 
  • Turnips 
  • Rutabagas
best foods for hormone balance
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Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables contain important phytonutrients which can help improve estrogen metabolism and reduce toxicity. This is helpful for women who have a lot of estrogen in their bodies, which causes estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is especially common for women going through menopause or just stopped taking birth control pills. It’s also highly associated with PCOS, a hormonal disorder that affects about 10% of women (4).

These vegetables are high in fiber. This is great for stabilizing your blood sugar levels, which helps you avoid the ups and downs of insulin. They also contain Diindolylmethane DIM, a compound that’s formed when cruciferous vegetables break down after cooking or digestion. It supports estrogen metabolism and helps women who have estrogen dominance issues like PMS, heavy periods, and breast tenderness (4).

These vegetables have many natural compounds which may help to prevent different types of cancer. They especially affect estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast or ovarian cancer (4).

You need a healthy liver for effective hormone regulation. That’s because your liver needs to break down excess hormones and remove them from your body. Studies show that vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts help to improve liver function and prevent many diseases related to detoxification pathways (5).

Finally, cruciferous vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties that are very important for menopausal women who experience inflammatory bowel conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis (3).

Some of the best cruciferous vegetables to include in your diet are:

  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels sprouts 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Collard greens 
  • Mustard greens 
  • Bok choy
balance hormones naturally
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Fermented Foods

Fermented foods can help to regulate hormone levels through several mechanisms. First of all, they contain an abundance of healthy bacteria that are essential for nutrient absorption and proper digestion. Secondly, these probiotics help to fight inflammation in the gut which means less estrogen is reabsorbed into the bloodstream after passing through the digestive tract. Lastly, fermented foods support a robust microbiome which contributes to overall hormonal balance (12).

Examples of fermented foods include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha tea
  • Pickles
  • Miso soup (fermented soybean paste)
  • Natto (pasteurized soybeans)
  • Tamari (fermented wheat)
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Healthy Fats

Dietary fat has been given a bad rap in the past due to its association with cardiovascular disease and obesity. However, we now know that not all fats are created equal. Different types of dietary fats have different effects on various body systems and functions (e.g., reproductive health). Sometimes producing very positive results when consumed strategically. In fact, recent research is demonstrating how some forms of dietary fat can even promote fertility in certain women when eaten wisely (20). 

Eating healthy fats is crucial for overall hormone balance, especially during menopause. Your body needs these nutrients to quickly respond to insulin spikes and ensure that you’re getting the nutrition that you need. Healthy fats also help your brain produce hormones like serotonin which can improve your mood after experiencing hot flashes or sleepless nights (6).

Some good sources of healthy fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Coconuts 
  • Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds/hearts)
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Raw cacao butter 
  • Grass-fed butter 
  • Eggs (in moderation) 
  • Organic and free range meat (in moderation)
fish
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Fatty Fish

Eating fish twice per week can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and depression in women after menopause. They are also rich in healthy omega 3 fatty acids that help to maintain hormonal balance by reducing inflammation (9). Some types of fish that you should eat often include:

  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Mackerel
  • Black cod/sablefish

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See also  Salt-Free Snacks To Help You Keep Up With Your Low-Sodium Diet Goals
balance hormones naturally
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Whole Grains

Eating whole grains that are rich in fiber can help to keep your intestinal tract clean. As estrogen is reabsorbed back into the bloodstream, it passes through the digestive tract where excess hormones are removed before being sent back into general circulation. Whole grains also support healthy insulin function which prevents spikes in blood sugar levels, ensuring that you have adequate energy throughout each day while curbing cravings for unhealthy foods (11).

Some types of whole grain include:

  • Oatmeal 
  • Quinoa 
  • Brown rice 
  • Millet
  • Wild rice 
  • Buckwheat. 

Organic Fruits And Vegetables

Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are often exposed to harmful pesticides which are known endocrine disruptors. This means that they mimic the hormone estrogen in our bodies which can throw off hormonal balance even further. For this reason, buying organic whenever possible is an excellent idea for optimal health at all stages of life (15).

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Nuts And Seeds

Another great food group to eat during menopause is nuts and seeds. These nutrient-dense, high-fat foods are loaded with healthy fats that help to regulate blood sugar levels while providing amino acids for hormone production outside of the reproductive system (18). Some types of nuts and seeds include:

  • Pecans 
  • Almonds 
  • Macadamia nuts 
  • Hazelnuts     
  • Brazil nuts          
  • Pistachios      
  • Pine nuts      
  • Hemp hearts/hemp seeds   

Herbs And Spices

Herbs and spices can help you regain hormonal balance. For example, a compound found in turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Women with hormonal disorders experience inflammation in their gut lining which is associated with issues like IBS and autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s disease. Using spices like curry powder in your cooking can be an easy way to incorporate this beneficial compound into your diet (1)

  • Turmeric 
  • Oregano 
  • Ginger 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Black Pepper 
  • Chili Powder

Read More: Low Estrogen Diet: Balance Your Hormones Through Your Meal Plan

foods with estrogen
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Foods To Avoid For Hormonal Balance

There are certain foods that you should avoid to promote hormonal balance. These include:

Refined Carbohydrates

Many processed foods are loaded with refined carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar in the body. This can lead to blood sugar spikes that cause hormonal imbalance (23). Instead of snacking on chips or candy bars, choose healthy options like:

  • Celery 
  • Carrots 
  • Red pepper strips          

Sugar

Excessive sugar ingestion is associated with estrogen dominance. This means that your body tries to regulate hormone levels by increasing estrogen production when you eat too much sugar, which can lead to a variety of different conditions like infertility, endometriosis, fibroids, and mood swings (13). You also want to avoid grains because they contain lectins which are toxic compounds that impair nutrient absorption in the intestinal tract. These lectins cause inflammation in the gut which reduces the hormonal balance.

Processed Meat & Poultry Products

Commercial animal products have a lot of what we call “xenoestrogens,” or environmental estrogens that mimic the hormone estrogen in your body. If you’re a man, eating feminine poultry products like chicken breasts and egg whites will decrease your testosterone levels and cause infertility issues down the road (15).

On the other hand, eating processed meats is associated with increased risk of breast cancer among women. These meats are typically from grain-fed animals which have hormones and antibiotics added to their diets. Instead, choose organic animal products from grass-fed cows which have healthy omega 3 fatty acids for improved hormone balance (15).

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Avoid Trans Fats

Trans fats should be avoided because they increase inflammation in your gut which prevents proper nutrient absorption and adds more estrogen into your bloodstream after passing through the digestive tract (21). Remember: healthy nutrients mean less estrogen!

Alcohol

Alcohol is often associated with parties, celebrations, and social settings. Unfortunately, alcohol can contribute to estrogen dominance which causes fatigue, painful periods, weight gain around the hips and belly area, brain fog, anxiety or depression. It may seem like a good idea to have one glass of red wine because it has resveratrol in it which is supposed to help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. But when you drink too much alcohol, the liver converts ethanol into estrogen which leads to hormonal imbalance (8).

Alcohol also affects your sleep quality by disrupting REM cycles which impedes healthy hormone regulation during this critical phase of detoxification that occurs while you catch some sleep (8). 

Avoid Soy Products

Soy contains phytoestrogens which simply means that it contains compounds similar to the hormone estrogen. Soy is often found in edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy nuts, and anything else made from soy. These foods also impair thyroid function, so if you have a family history of hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease, avoid these types of foods. Plus, some studies have shown that those who consume large amounts of soy products have increased rates of infertility as well as breast cancer (7).

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See also  Calorie Dense Foods To Be On The Lookout For

Other Ways To Balance Hormones

While diet plays an important role in hormone regulation, it is not the only solution. Other ways you can prevent imbalances and improve your overall health include:

best foods for hormone balance
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Exercising Regularly

A sedentary lifestyle has negative effects on your hormone balance since it causes inflammation and poor circulation. Plus, physical activity helps to regulate your appetite by making you feel more energetic throughout the day. You can exercise indoors or outdoors depending on your preference.

Be Mindful Of Stress

Stress is a leading cause of all kinds of ailments including hormonal imbalances (2). To relieve stress (and get your body into the habit of releasing cortisol), you can try yoga, meditation, taking a walk outside or doing some deep breathing exercises. Changing your environment is also an effective way to decrease stress; for instance, if you are constantly around people who make you feel uncomfortable, take a step back and remove yourself from their presence.

Avoid Overeating Or Undereating

Eating too much can make you feel bloated and lethargic, leading to chronic health problems. Overeating also aggravates gut dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria) which can lead to inflammation and hormone imbalances. Undereating is just as detrimental since your body needs the nutrients to function properly (19). Eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar balanced and give your body a steady supply of energy. The key is to find a healthy balance between eating enough calories and maintaining lean muscle mass!

best foods for hormone balance
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Get Consistent High Quality Sleep

Quality sleep is vital in preventing hormonal imbalances and allowing your body to repair itself. It also helps you manage stress, balance your appetite, and boost energy levels throughout the day. Aim for 7-9 hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

The Bottom Line

Your diet plays a significant role in hormone regulation! That means that the food you eat either causes or prevents hormonal imbalances. To prevent imbalances, avoid processed foods and sugar, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and start consuming more greens and fruits! Also, make sure to exercise 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes and get plenty of high-quality sleep for 7-9 hours every night.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 5 Spices with Healthy Benefits (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
  2. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress (n.d., nih.gov)
  3. Cruciferous Vegetable Intake Is Inversely Correlated with Circulating Levels of Proinflammatory Markers in Women (2014, nih.gov)
  4. Cruciferous vegetables, Cancer and Estrogen metabolism (n.d., stevegranthealth.com)
  5. Dietary Broccoli Lessens Development of Fatty Liver and Liver Cancer in Mice Given DiethyLnitrosamine and Fed a Western or Control Diet (2016, nih.gov)
  6. Dietary fat intake and reproductive hormone concentrations and ovulation in regularly menstruating women (2016, nih.gov)
  7. Eating Soy May Turn on Genes Linked to Cancer Growth (2014, breastcancer.org)
  8. Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System (2014, nih.gov)
  9. Fish Intake Is Associated with Slower Cognitive Decline in Chinese Older Adults (2014, nih.gov)
  10. Health Benefits and Therapeutic importance of green leafy vegetables (GLVs) (2020, researchgate.net)
  11. Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses (2017, nih.gov)
  12. Health benefits of fermented foods (2019, nih.gov)
  13. High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Disrupts the preovulatory Hormone Surge and Induces Cystic Ovaries in Cycling Female Rats (2017, nih.gov)
  14. Human health implications of exposure to xenoestrogens from food (2005, core.ac.uk)
  15. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review (2017, nih.gov)
  16. Indole-3-carbinol: a plant hormone combatting cancer (2018, nih.gov)
  17. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline (2018, nih.gov)
  18. Nuts and seeds (2021, vic.gov.au)
  19. The Effects of Under-Eating (2018, eating-disorders.org.uk)
  20. The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States (2018, nih.gov)
  21. Trans fats-sources, health risks and alternative approach – A review (2011, nih.gov)
  22. What Are the Health Benefits of Root Vegetables? (2020, webmd.com)
  23. Your Blood Sugar May Be Driving Your Hormone Imbalance (n.d., hormonewellnessmd.com)
Eve Chalicha

Eve is a freelance writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She has a passion for promoting good health and well-being and believes that education is the first step towards changing lives for the better.
For the past few years, Eve has been writing about topics such as nutrition, fitness, natural remedies, and more.
Thanks to her background in Legal studies, she has a knack for research and always prioritizes scientific facts over hearsay. She is also very socially conscious and ensures that her pieces inform and empower readers.
When she's not writing, Eve enjoys watching documentaries, going on nature walks, or just hanging out with friends.

J. Paul

Jovial is from Dubai, and is a Head EMS Instructor/Fitness Manager/Nutrition Consultant for REMS Fitness. He is certified by the Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute and Registered as a Gym Instructor.
Jovial specialises in HIIT training, Rehabilitation/injury recovery, Strength and Conditioning, Kickboxing, Body Weight Training and Weight Training, and practices each discipline himself. His approach is to focus on improving his clients’ lifestyle by motivating them and setting an example.

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