Have you gained a paunch or muffin top, without changing your lifestyle?
Do you feel tired, irritable, and emotionally fragile or bleak, though you can’t understand why?
Is sleep erratic, your belly bloated, your skin teeming with spots, or your brain caught in a fog?
You might have a hormonal imbalance.
Hormones are chemical messengers. They’re released into the bloodstream in order to give instructions to (sometimes distant) cells. But the balance can go awry; yes, in both women and men.
Maybe surprisingly, food plays a key role in maintaining healthy hormones; in keeping your body on a steady path. Some foods can tip the balance against you, leading to unwanted signs and symptoms. Other foods can help restore your equilibrium and your health.
Let’s take a look at both the potentially harmful and the healthful.
The foods research suggests can disrupt your hormones
There are 5 foods that are known to upset the hormonal apple cart: red meat, processed and fried foods, dairy products, alcohol, and sugar.
If you have a fondness for red meat, this might be hard to hear: meat can hurt your hormones. Research has shown that increased consumption can change your hormonal balance.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that those who regularly enjoy meaty meals are more likely to have a high allostatic load. This condition alters neuroendocrine function: the way the nervous and hormonal systems talk and act.
For example, ample meat was linked to lower levels of the hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and elevated levels of a marker for insulin control, hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c).
In short, hearty consumption of red meat can upset hormone balance.
Processed and fried foods
Do you love fried meat, chicken, fish, or shellfish? Or does the convenience of processed, packaged foods often determine your meal choice?
Then it’s important to know the way foods are processed and cooked matters.
Processed red meats are worse for you than fresh alternatives.
A higher consumption of fried foods is linked with an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Both of these conditions have hormonal factors at play. This is particularly true for foods that are also highly processed; fried chicken and fried fish for example. In fact, these types of fried foods increase your risk of premature death.
Processed and fried foods are often packed with sugar and adulterated and damaged ingredients. It’s no wonder they are so harmful!
Do you love a big glass of milk, gorgeous cheeses, and a delicious tub of ice cream?
Dairy products have been shown to contain a range of hormones. Prolactin, corticoids, androgens, estrogens, progesterone, insulin-like growth factor-1 and prostaglandins included. But does this matter to your health?
A 2015 review study noted that, “Steroid hormones are very potent compounds in dairy foods, which exert profound biological effects in animals and humans.” So yes, dairy products add hormones to the human body and can potentially upset our hormonal balance.
It’s one thing to have an occasional tipple. But, regular consumption of large amounts of alcohol is not only hazardous to your general health, it confuses the way your nervous, endocrine and immune systems “talk”. Your hormones can take a beating.
Coping with stress becomes more difficult, reproductive deficits can arise, thyroid dysfunctions occur, as do other physical and psychological disorders related to hormone imbalance.
But it’s not only heavy drinkers who are affected. Moderate alcohol consumption can have negative effects too. How much are we talking? 30 grams per day; that’s just over two standard drinks.
Sugar is everywhere! Even in foods you’d assume to be good for you like many yogurts and “health” foods.
Excess sugar has profoundly horrible effects on your hormones and your wellbeing. For example, insulin resistance (IR) can lead to weight gain particularly around the midriff and make it difficult to shed pounds. IR can alter sleep patterns, lead to tiredness and irritability, promote acne, negatively affect your mood, and trigger brain fog.
Heart disease, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic issues, obesity, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can also result. The important reproductive hormones, estradiol and progesterone, are also altered by insulin resistance.
If there is one ingredient to cut back on, we believe it is sugar.
The foods research suggests can restore hormonal balance and health
As with all things, there is a flip side. There are foods and beverages that aid in the restoration of hormonal balance. These include avocado and nuts, eggs, green tea, blueberries, and protein.
Avocado and nuts
Avocados and nuts are jam-packed with nutrients that have been shown to support health. Their healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals benefit hormone function.
For example, magnesium “exerts a positive influence on anabolic hormonal status, including testosterone, in men.” Supplementation with this mineral has been shown to increase work output, improve endurance, and enhance muscle power and strength. This is thought to be, at least in part, brought about by beneficial hormonal changes; especially testosterone.
Enjoy avos, and choose nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews and pine nuts.
An egg carries the nutrients required for new life because, at one point, it had the potential to itself become new life. Eggs are filled with goodness that promotes hormone health.
An egg contains:
— iodine, which is required for thyroid function
— vitamin D, which in and of itself acts as a hormone
— iron, an important mineral for healthy thyroid function
— folate, which appears to increase progesterone levels and improve infrequent ovulation
Our tip: eat the yolk!
In the US, the popularity of green tea has continued to grow over the past few decades. This could be good news for our hormones.
A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that daily green tea consumption reduced levels of urinary estrone and estradiol — two types of estrogen — by 20% and 40% in postmenopausal women. This may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Another study found that six daily cups of decaffeinated green tea decreased high levels of the stress hormones cortisol, DHEA, ACTH and corticosterone in teen stutterers. One would imagine that age and condition, here, aren’t the key. The reduction in stress hormones appears to provide the treasure.
If you love blueberries, you’re in luck. Dubbed a superfood for a variety of reasons, these delicious berries have benefits for your hormones.
One cup of blueberries has been shown to reduce the level of blood insulin when taken with a high energy drink. As we saw above, insulin resistance is terrible for the body. Being able to moderate this effect is powerful.
Supplementation with blueberries has also been shown to blunt exercise-induced blood lactate. Plus nutrients contained with this humble berry, like vitamin C, appear to be protective against miscarriage and important for the healthy production of sperm. Very hormone-involved processes!
While red and processed meats can negatively affect hormonal balance, healthy protein sources are necessary for your hormones to function well. Fish, lentils, and high-quality protein powder are wonderful choices.
Consuming adequate protein has a variety of benefits. Adequate protein intake can reduce elevated blood insulin levels and so insulin resistance. In women, low protein intake is linked with poorer reproductive performance, including ovulation issues. Yet upping veggie protein intake appears to lower ovulatory infertility risk.
Our Vegan Complete Pro protein powder is 100% plant based. Made from pea, organic brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, with spirulina and artichoke, it has been formulated to provide 24 grams of complete plant based protein per serve. Yes, it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
The food-hormone takeaway
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. This is true for your hormonal balance too.
So, limit or avoid red meat, processed and fried foods, dairy products, alcohol, and sugar. Consume avocado and nuts, eggs, green tea, blueberries, and protein. Prioritize a healthy diet and watch how your body and hormones change. The results might just blow your mind!