When it comes to a diet for hormonal imbalance, there are several factors that you want to consider. Insulin, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, cortisol, and many other hormones act as chemical messengers in the body. We need them to function in harmony to support mental and physical health. Mood swings, brain fog, low energy, and weight gain can be common symptoms of hormone imbalances in women.
What Are Hormones?
Before we go further into how what you eat can impact hormonal imbalance, let’s first understand what hormones are. We hear the word “hormones” used frequently, but exactly are they? Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that can have an effect on one’s overall health. These chemical signals are secreted throughout the body by glands and organs. It is really important to support hormonal imbalances through a healthy diet and lifestyle behaviour. Hormones are the messengers in charge of reproduction and metabolism. They also have an effect on stress levels. Hormones, as you can see, are vital, and it is important that we know how we can support hormonal balance through good nutrition.
What Is Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones may not always come to mind when deciding what to consume to fuel our bodies. Hormones play a critical role in our bodies as chemical messengers that are involved with growth and development, metabolism and digestion, reproduction, stress and mood, to name just a few.
A hormonal imbalance may occur when your hormones are not functioning properly. When hormones are out of balance—when too much or too little of any hormone is produced, when signalling pathways are disrupted, or hormones are no longer communicating effectively —it can be a precursor to blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, weight gain & acne, among others.
Causes Of Hormonal Imbalance
Several factors may cause hormonal imbalance. Some causes include a poor diet, poor sleep, allergies, stress & even exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment. There are however, a number of effective techniques that can support hormone balancing. One of which is a nutrient rich & well balanced diet that incorporates all healthy fats, healthy proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits.
Many things can add stress your endocrine system, leading to disruption in hormonal balance and function. Early detection of symptoms of hormonal imbalance means you start unpacking the underlying issues, support hormonal balancing, four ways you may do this is through diet, lifestyle, movement and supplements.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalance
These are some significant hormonal imbalance symptoms to keep in mind:
Yes, we you get tired sometimes. However, extreme tiredness or fatigue can indicate that your hormones are out of balance. Consider testing your hormone levels if you are constantly tired. Conditions such as hypothyroidism are more common than you might think, and checking your hormones is a good idea. To naturally support tiredness ensure you are getting enough rest, stay well hydrated throughout the day, have consistent bed and wake times, move your body everyday & have daily practices to manage stress levels.
If you’re gaining weight or struggling to lose it, this may signify a hormonal imbalance. Why do so many individuals have trouble losing and keeping weight off? It’s usually because they eat nutrient-deficient diets, have sedentary lifestyle with high levels of stress.
If the body is chronically stressed you are likely to be existing in “fight or flight mode” for much of the time. As a result your cortisol levels may be elevated for a prolonged period of time, which can mean your body ends up storing fat as a type of energy to protect itself from whatever risk or threat it detects.
Do you have difficulty sleeping? Insomnia connects to your primary stress response system that connects both your endocrine and neurological systems. Balancing your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) is key to supporting hormonal balance. Therefore addressing your sleep hygiene and sleep quality is key from a natural health perspective in supporting hormonal balance. Remember that sleep is the foundation of all health.
Skin And Hair Changes
Another sign and symptom of hormonal imbalance is acne. Androgens are one of the hormones involved. Androgens, sometimes known as “male hormones,” regulate sebum production in your skin. Sebum can build up in your pores and cause a break out if your body produces too many androgens. When it comes to hair, hormones can directly impact the quality and vitality of your hair, so we look to naturally support healthy hair through a nutritiously rich, varied & predominantly plant-based diet.
Diet For Hormonal Imbalance – How Diet Affects Your Hormones
Hormonal balance can be supported by eating a well balanced diet. We’ve all heard the expression “food is fuel,” but what exactly does that mean? You, like a car, require fuel to function. So, how do our hormones react to food? Food offers the body the nutrients it needs to keep your body healthy, including hormone production, metabolism, and supporting detoxification. Considering this, gradually moving away from refined sugars, white carbohydrates and highly processed packaged foods and instead replacing nutrient rich fresh vegetables, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds & fruits will support hormonal balancing.
How Hormones Work
So much has been said about hormones and how important they are. But do you know how these hormones work in the body or what they are responsible for? The human body contains about 50 hormones. Some of the most well-known hormones are estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and thyroid hormones.
Let’s categorise them into metabolism, fertility, and mood.
The hormones responsible for metabolism are insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and thyroid.
- Insulin: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that transports sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream to cells for energy. Insulin is also the hormone that causes additional sugar to be stored as fat.
- Leptin: This substance is secreted by fat cells and aids in appetite regulation, weight maintenance, and signalling to the brain that you are full. It’s also known as the “satiety hormone.”
- Ghrelin: This hormone is also called the “hunger hormone” since it stimulates your appetite.
- Thyroid: Weight, energy, temperature, hair, skin, and nail growth, among many other things, are all aided by this hormone.
Two hormones we hear talked about a lot are Estrogen and Testosterone.
- Estrogen: This is the female sex hormone that causes puberty-related changes and aids in regulating the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, cholesterol control, and bone strength.
- Testosterone: The male sex hormone that causes puberty-related changes; it boosts sex drive, bone density, and muscle strength (in both men and women).
Stress And Mood
- Cortisol: Cortisol is a stress hormone that elevates blood pressure and heart rate. It’s often called the master “stress hormone”.
- Adrenaline: When we are stressed, our “fight or flight” hormone is released, which raises our heart rate.
- Melatonin: This hormone is produced in the evening and aids in preparing the body for sleep. It’s also known as the “sleep-inducing hormone.”
Diet For Hormonal Imbalance: 4 Effective Rules For Hormonal Imbalance
There are some rules to follow when it comes to diet for hormonal imbalance.
1. Protect Your Thyroids
Support your thyroid with Magnesium and iodine rich foods. Magnesium can be found in almonds and dark leafy greens, while iodine can be obtained by eating sea vegetables. Thyroid hormone imbalances can be connected to conditions like Grave’s & Hashimoto’s disease; symptoms of these can be weight gain and low energy levels.
2. Reduce Intake Of Sugars
One essential tip to follow to support hormonal balancing is to avoid processed sugar & refined (white) carbohydrates. Try to find other ways of rewarding yourself than sugar e.g. walk in nature, long bath, conversation with a friend. Unmanaged processed sugar in the diet can result in blood sugar imbalances, weight gain & tiredness. Excess sugar consumption can disrupt the body’s insulin balance, and resistance to insulin and leptin may lead the body to store fat rather than burn it.
3. Get Enough Rest
A lack of sleep can impact the body’s circadian rhythm. Aside from your food, a lack of sleep may be having an impact on your hormonal balance. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Simply disrupting your body’s natural circadian rhythm might lead to hormonal imbalances. For example, lack of sleep over a period of time can make us more predisposed to mood changes, cravings & disruption to healthy lifestyle choices like exercise.
4. Enjoy A Warming Tonic
To wake up your mind and digestive system, start your day with a a large mug of warm herbal tea. Here’s an idea to get you started:
- Ginger Tea: Ginger tea may support digestive health. In a mug, add one to two teaspoons of freshly grated ginger, More if you are a ginger lover and like it to pack a punch!
- Lemon Tea: Simply squeeze fresh lemon and add hot water.
Final Thoughts On Diet For Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones impact so many aspects of life, including growth and development, metabolism, digestion, fertility, stress, mood, energy, appetite, and weight. You can naturally support hormonal balance by eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and healthy protein. Your hormones can be imbalanced by a lack of sleep, high stress, too much alcohol, and processed foods to name a few.
If you would like guidance in naturally supporting your hormones through nutrition and lifestyle, schedule a free consultation today. Start your journey today!