Stubborn weight gain, puffiness, mood swings, anxiety, sleep issues, bloating, breakouts, PMS?....
It could be that your hormones are out of whack! When our hormones are in balance, we feel balanced. When they are not balanced, neither are we!! One of the most common hormone issues today is Estrogen Dominance - which is when there is too much estrogen in proportion to the other hormones like progesterone and testosterone.
We should not underestimate the power that foods can have in helping us to balance hormones. Here are 5 superpowers when it comes to our hormones.
5 Foods that can Help Balance Your Hormones & Estrogen Levels:
Carrots. You know the old adage 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away?' Well, you could say that 'a carrot a day, keeps the hormone doctor away.' Raw carrots contain a unique type of indigestible fiber that is known to bind to toxins (including excess estrogens), help to lower bacterial overgrowths, and reduce inflammation. This study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming 200 grams of carrots each morning for just 3 weeks lowered cholesterol levels by 11%, increased bile acids and fat excretion by 50%! Just remember, that in order to get the hormone benefits, the carrot has to be raw, as cooking the carrot changes it's sugar and fiber properties. You can just rinse off your carrot and eat it plain, or you can grate the carrot and make a delicious carrot salad by adding a splash of apple cider vinegar, some avocado oil, salt, pepper & seasoning (and a touch of honey is nice too). Another way to consume raw carrots is to eat them fermented - which in addition to the fiber, you will get the natural probiotics from the fermentation process. The best time to eat the carrot is about 30 minutes before a meal.
Flax seed. When the bowel is sluggish, and if there is constipation, over time this can have a negative effect on hormones. So it is very important to make sure we are 'regular' every day. Getting enough fiber in our diet can help to keep things 'moving.' In addition to being rich in fiber, which is very important for hormones, flaxseed contains lignans, which are phytoestrogenic compounds, which may bind to and help remove excess estrogens in the body.
Cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale – all fall into a category of veggies called 'cruciferous', which are rich in sulfur, which is helpful for detoxification of the liver. The liver plays a critical role in our hormone balance, if the liver is congested then it is not as able to detoxify the body - which can lead to a build up and recycling of estrogen. Cruciferous vegetables also contain a compound called indole-3 carbinole, which supports healthy levels of estrogens. Several studies have found that high dietary intakes of cruciferous vegetables have been associated with a reduced risk for many types of cancer, including bladder, breast, colorectal, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, and renal cancer. However, some experts are concerned that cruciferous vegetables can be goitrogenic, which means they can interfere with the thyroid. It appears that cooking them or fermenting them can reduce possible negative thyroid effects. So eating a raw fermented saurkraut would be an option - that would also benefit digestion. But talk to your doctor if you have questions about your specific case.
Sea vegetables. The thyroid gland is very important for our metabolism and health - in fact, every single cell in our bodies rely on the thyroid! One nutrient that is important for a healthy thyroid hormone production is iodine. It is estimated that 40% of the population could be iodine deficient. Seaweed and other sea vegetables are rich in iodine, and so they can be very supportive to the thyroid hormones. Note: if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition such as Hashimotos or Graves, iodine may be too stimulating for your thyroid- talk to your doctor if you have questions about your particular situation.
Chocolate. Many woman find that they crave chocolate at certain times of the month - there could be good reason for that. Chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, which has a calming effect on the body and mood. Chocolate is also high in phytochemicals that help to boost and balance mood and lower the body's release of stress hormones. Dark chocolate also helps to thin blood and improve blood flow, which makes it beneficial for the heart and brain. It also has a compound called stearic acid which may have an appetite suppressing effect. A 2009 Swiss study found that subjects who consumed 40 g of dark chocolate every day for a two-week period had reduced stress hormones, including cortisol; and improved gut bacterial composition. Just make sure to always get at least 70% or higher cacao content - because the lower cacao content and milk chocolate is much higher in ingredients that work against our hormones like sugar, and inflammatory ingredients like milk. My favorite brands are Theo Chocolate's 85% dark Black Rice Quinoa Crunch chocolate and Lily's Chocolate (which is sweetened with stevia). You might also like these chocolate donuts recipe that I created too.
Hormone imbalances are more common today than ever before because there are so many hormone interruptors in our environment. Choosing eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products is an important step for hormone balance, as is reducing your exposure to plastics and pesticides. Avoiding excess sugar in the diet is also critical for hormone balancing - diets high in sugar cause aromatization - which is a conversion of hormones - often testosterone into estrogen. Sugar also is very hard on the liver, and when the liver isn't working well, our hormones aren't optimal.