Progesterone is a hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle. It also plays an important role in fertility and pregnancy. There are many factors, including age, stress levels, weight gain or loss, and certain medications that can affect progesterone levels.
To increase their progesterone levels, some women take prescription hormones like birth control or hormone supplements, while others try natural remedies using herbs and vitamins. While these are useful, many of these methods don’t work well for everyone. On the other hand, foods loaded with progesterone are a great way to naturally boost your body’s production of this important hormone.
In this article, we’ll explore the connection between diet and progesterone levels as well as the foods that can be ingested to create hormonal balance.
What Is Progesterone?
Progesterone is a hormone that is produced by the ovaries as well as the adrenal cortex (11). It is crucial for maintaining the menstrual cycle as well as preparing the uterus to receive an embryo. In addition to aiding implantation of an embryo into the uterine lining, progesterone also aids in the endometrial blood supply as well as producing fetal membranes like amniotic sacs and chorionic villi.
When a woman experiences low progesterone levels, miscarriage is likely to occur (11). This is why health providers often prescribe supplemental progesterone to women who have had recurrent miscarriages.
How Do Diet & Progesterone Levels Connect?
Many women with low progesterone levels can try to improve their condition through dietary means. Progesterone-rich foods are often recommended for women experiencing anovulatory cycles, menstrual irregularities, and infertility.
The foods with natural progesterone include pomegranates, flaxseeds, and other foods that contain lignans. Lignans are phytonutrients that can act like estrogen in the body (9). All of these nutrients are converted into diosgenin, which is a precursor to progesterone. This process is aided by the enzyme called aromatase cytochrome P450scc (CYP7B1) (3).
In order to avoid adverse effects, it’s important to consume only small amounts of lignans and other foods that contain them. That’s because consuming too much lignan can change estrogen metabolism. Over time, this can lead to hormone imbalances like endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
What Foods Or Supplements Help With Progesterone?
There are several foods that naturally trigger progesterone production in the body.
These fruits have a very high antioxidant count as well as iridoids and anthocyanins. These flavonoid compounds act as phytoestrogens, which help to balance hormone levels in both men and women.
Studies show that pomegranates have the ability to stimulate placental cell growth while also increasing progesterone levels (16). The antioxidants found in pomegranates can help protect against free radical damage to DNA molecules by keeping them from breaking down cells and causing cell death.
Avocados are rich in phytosterols, which decrease sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This leads to higher amounts of free testosterone and thus lower estrogen levels. High estrogen levels can potentially lead to PCOS, uterine fibroids, infertility, and breast cancer. The fiber found in avocados also helps the body detoxify harmful chemicals as well as absorb nutrients from other foods eaten at the same time.
Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help balance female hormones while lowering inflammation levels in women who have symptoms like PMS pain and tender breasts before menstruation begins (22). This seed is also high in antioxidants that protect against free radical damage.
Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as lignans and phytoestrogens that can help balance hormone levels while assisting the body in fighting off cancerous cells. Studies have found that flaxseeds are able to decrease the level of testosterone in men, which can help reduce symptoms associated with hormone levels like enlarged prostate and hair loss (18).
Soybeans contain plant estrogens called isoflavones, which can increase progesterone levels (1). Soy products that include tofu, soy milk, tempeh, and soy flour will help balance hormone levels while reducing inflammation in women. It is one of the foods with estrogen and progesterone.
This blue-green algae is one of the most concentrated food sources of phytoestrogens. These compounds act like natural estrogen receptors to promote a hormonal balance while also improving energy levels and making a person feel more relaxed and focused (15).
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Although this fish is often recommended for men, it can also help balance hormone levels in women. The omega 3 fatty acids present here act as antioxidants that fight against free radical damage while regulating the body’s inflammatory response (6). These compounds have also been found to reduce symptoms of PMS in some women.
This legume is high in phytoestrogens. Citric acid powder is added to canned chickpeas in order to ease their peeling process. Unfortunately, this substance can have harmful effects on hormone levels. Make sure to always rinse your canned beans and legumes.
Fortunately, chickpeas that are labeled organic do not contain this harmful additive. This legume is a great way to help balance female hormones and maintain healthy gut flora.
Any type of nut can help balance female hormone levels in the body while alleviating symptoms of PCOS as well as fibroids, tumors, endometriosis, and uterine cramps. Nuts are also high in plant sterols that can help decrease the level of SHBG in women.
The phytoestrogens present in nuts regulate female hormones by blocking excess estrogen receptors from acting on cells. These compounds may also have an anti-carcinogenic effect (19).
This vegetable contains the phytosterol beta-sitosterol, which helps to block the body’s androgen receptors from absorbing excess testosterone found in meat, dairy products, and eggs. This plant sterol is a natural anti-androgen (5).
This plant is high in phytoestrogens like lignans, which block the uptake of SHBG by the body’s cells. This leads to higher levels of estrogen that can help balance female hormones while also lowering inflammation. Cucumbers also contain potassium and magnesium, both of which help lower blood pressure levels in women.
This leafy green is high in phytoestrogens like lignans, making it a great way to balance hormone levels while reducing excess inflammation and protecting against any harmful free radicals (13).
Vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin E, and selenium are all found in garlic. This powerful anti-inflammatory herb is high in phytoestrogens like lignans that work with the body’s natural enzymes to facilitate female hormone production without triggering any unwanted side effects (1).
This root vegetable helps balance hormones by blocking the production of excess estrogen in women. This powerful antioxidant compound is also high in phytoestrogens that improve female hormone production and protect against any inflammation associated with menstruation (10).
This fruit contains plant compounds called anthocyanins, which help to ease inflammation associated with several chronic diseases (2). The phytoestrogens present in cherries can also help balance hormones by blocking any excess estrogen receptors from acting on cells in the body.
This cruciferous vegetable contains phytosterols that help to block excess testosterone from binding with sebaceous glands, which leads to healthier skin overall. Phytoestrogens present in broccoli also help balance hormone levels by inhibiting any unwanted side effects associated with high levels of estrogen in women’s bodies (1).
The vitamin A found within this root vegetable promotes healthy skin tissue as well as the growth of new tissues and cells to replace old cells that are dead or dying. Vitamin B6 can also be found within carrots, and this compound plays a role in balancing hormones while reducing PMS symptoms. The lignans in carrots can also help to block excess testosterone from binding with sebaceous glands.
This type of melon is high in the phytosterols beta-sitosterol and campesterol, which has been shown to reduce male hormone levels while maintaining healthy female hormone levels in the body. Phytoestrogens are also present in cantaloupe, which help act as a natural progesterone regulator for women trying to balance hormones naturally (8).
In addition to being low carb and high protein, peanuts are full of phytoestrogens that work to reduce inflammation while increasing SHBG production at the same time (14). This allows for higher levels of estrogen in women’s bodies, which helps to prevent inflammation and restore balance to the endocrine system.
This dairy product is high in lignans that help to block any excess testosterone from binding with sebaceous glands, which leads to healthier skin overall. Yogurt also contains calcium and magnesium, both of which help to reduce PMS symptoms (17). This dairy product is also full of phytoestrogens that facilitate higher levels of estrogen in the body for those looking for natural progesterone production while preventing any unwanted side effects associated with a high level of this hormone (12).
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This source of healthy fats contains lauric acid, which improves thyroid function by increasing the activity of T3 thyroid hormone in the body (4). This compound is also known to improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. Coconut oil can also raise progesterone levels and boost immunity while reducing inflammation associated with female health issues such as endometriosis and PCOS.
In addition to the healthy fats in almonds, this source of protein is also full of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that are known for reducing inflammation (7). This fat also helps to balance hormones by reducing toxic estrogens as well as increasing progesterone levels within the body.
These tangy treats have been shown to help with hormonal issues like PCOS, which makes them good foods for women trying to regulate their cycles each month without resorting to synthetic estrogen or progestin treatments.
Dill pickles also contain lactic acid (20). The lactic acid found in pickles helps reduce symptoms of hypothyroidism and amenorrhea as well as improve estrogen metabolism in women with high levels of this hormone. When the liver is able to break down excess estrogen levels, other hormones can work more effectively within the body.
Although several foods have been found to boost progesterone levels, it is important to note that certain foods may also increase estrogen levels. When these two hormones are out of balance, anovulatory cycles and infertility issues will likely arise. Foods that contain phytoestrogens include beans, legumes, soy products like tofu, and peanuts. Beans also contain a compound called coumestrol which has strong estrogenic properties so they must be eaten sparingly as part of a healthy diet.
In addition to eating specific foods to help with progesterone levels naturally as part of a balanced diet plan, supplements can also be taken to help balance hormones (21). Magnesium and vitamin B6 have both been shown to support healthy hormone levels within the body and improve energy levels in women who suffer from PMS symptoms.
There are also progesterone creams available over-the-counter to help manage menopause symptoms. It can eventually travel through the skin and into the bloodstream. Natural progesterone cream can also be applied generously as a preventive measure against PMS symptoms which may help reduce menstrual cramps during menstruation and soothe sore breasts during breastfeeding.
Safety Issues With Progesterone Supplements
Progesterone is often administered as a supplement by prescription for women who are experiencing certain symptoms associated with hormone imbalance. However, there have been some serious side effects reported by patients taking supplemental hormones (21).
Lupron and other medications containing synthetic forms of progesterone do come with a risk of developing osteoporosis in women, so these meds should be taken only with the advice of a physician.
Women who take naturally derived bioidentical hormones should monitor their bodies carefully to notice the development of any signs of osteoporosis. Getting the right dose and keeping up with regular bone density checks is crucial for preventing serious health complications related to low progesterone levels.
How To Regulate Hormones Naturally In Addition To Diet
When trying to achieve hormonal balance naturally, it is important to implement a variety of lifestyle changes all at the same time. Some changes that might help increase progesterone levels include:
- Managing stress well to support healthy hormone production.
- Proper sleep of 7 to 9 hours per night for optimal hormone levels.
- Post workout nutrition, including a protein shake to supply the body with amino acids after exercise.
- Avoiding added sugar and refined carbohydrates to support balanced blood glucose levels, which will also help regulate healthy hormone production.
Other natural solutions that can be used to reduce PMS symptoms include acupuncture and essential oils like lavender and bergamot.
The Bottom Line
Certain foods may help increase progesterone levels while others may prevent toxic estrogen by blocking its metabolism. Balance can be achieved within the body when each organ system is supported properly with nutrients from sources in the foods with progesterone list. Knowing how to regulate hormones naturally is key to restoring fertility issues in women experiencing PCOS or endometriosis.
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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!
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