It is interesting to know that the foods have a deep impact on hormonal health. The right quality foods can help create the best quality hormones that have a profound impact on the mental, physical and emotional well-being. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and are produced in the endocrine glands. These intelligent chemicals are constantly telling the tissues and organs what to do. They help in controlling appetite, weight, moods and others.
However, hormonal imbalances have become very common. A healthy diet comprising of hormone balancing foods and lifestyle tools can help improve hormonal health and lead to optimal health boosting performance.
The foods we eat play a big role in hormone balance. Our hormones are made using amino acids from protein and fatty acids from fats. The better-quality raw materials we give our bodies, the better-quality hormones our body creates. Variety is as equally important! Every type of food has a different structure and offers a different group of macronutrients. To keep our systems balanced and optimize hormonal health, we need everything in the right amounts. Too much of one macronutrient can throw off the balance of another and lead to imbalance in the body.
Here are few ways to balance hormones naturally that include hormone balancing foods, exercise and more.
Eat clean protein in every meal: Eating protein regularly helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels and prevents insulin spike. Our body uses protein as raw a material for hormone production. Aim for 15-20 gm protein per meal. Sources are lean meat such as chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, dairy, pulses and legumes.
Consume a moderate amount of healthy fats: Good fats are building blocks for hormones. These help to reduce insulin resistance. Aim for 2-3 tsp for the entire day consumption. And drop trans-fat that are found in packaged and fried foods. Sources of good fats include olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butter.
Eat omega 3 fats: They help to lower inflammation and help in insulin sensitivity. Sources include walnuts, flax seeds and fish. Aim to consume nuts and seeds every day and fish thrice a week.
Eat magnesium rich foods: These help to balance blood sugar levels and get the hormones back in balance. Sources are dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds and cashews.
Exercise: Individuals with hormone imbalance, intense extended exercise can actually make the problem worse in the short term. Sleep and recovery are much more important during the balancing phase, so focus on relaxing exercises like walking or swimming and avoid high intensity workout till hormones are balanced.
Limit caffeine: Too much caffeine can wreak havoc on the endocrine system, especially if there are other hormone stressors involved too like pregnancy, presence of toxins, beneficial fat imbalance or stress. Rather opt for a vegetable juice on waking in the morning and consume caffeine not within an hour of waking and ideally over breakfast.
Say no to plastics: These contain endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA. Choose glass and stainless steel instead.
Prioritize sleep: Without adequate sleep, hormones will not be in balance. While you’re sleeping, your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind, and creating hormones. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every day and avoid late nights. One can also indulge in magnesium salt baths, meditation, prayers, journaling to enhance the quality of sleep.
Get natural light during the day: Spend at least 30 minutes in natural light everyday preferably within one hour of waking. This helps boost serotonin levels which balance melatonin levels at night and helps to sleep better.
Keep your thyroid healthy: Consume thyroid enhancing food regularly such as cooked cruciferous vegetables, iodine rich foods such as eggs, strawberry, fish and iodized salt, selenium foods such as mushrooms, chia seeds and others include whole grains and legumes, lean protein and good fats. Experiment to go gadget free one-hour prior sleep to help your thyroid perform better. A happy thyroid means a happy you.
Take good care of gut: The digestive system has much more of an impact on hormones than we realise. Not only is the digestive tract the source of many vital neurotransmitters in the body, but an imbalance in the gut can translate to an imbalance in neurotransmitter and hormones. Eat gut boosting foods such as foods rich in fiber, whole grains, fruits and veggies, fermented foods such as fermented veggies, kombucha, kefir and curd.
(The writer is a Nutritionist and Lifestyle Educator)