Hormone imbalance is extremely prevalent in current times, and any hormone-related condition may be due to multiple factors, such as diet, lifestyle, and genetics (genetics determine only about 5% of our health destiny). Risk factors that disrupt optimal hormone ratios are also involved with the development of other common chronic conditions, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.
By Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND
Our nutrition choices are responsible for a large part in determining both present and future health including hormone health.
Common symptoms of hormone imbalance include:
- Weight gain
- Low libido
- Low energy
- Skin conditions
- Menstrual issues
- Hot flashes
While poor diet is a main contributor, a broad approach to care also extends to addressing stress levels, past history of birth control or other hormone therapy, blood sugar issues, and beauty and cleaning products laden with chemicals, all of which can impact our bodies in various ways. Our reproductive organs and adrenal glands (two glands on top of the kidneys) make hormones; yet, other parts of the body can also affect hormone health. Proper gut health allows optimal digestion of vitamins and minerals to make hormones; liver-supportive habits enhance this important organ’s ability to detoxify; and improving any thyroid issues helps ensure effective metabolism control.
A whole foods diet, rich in many vitamins and minerals (especially magnesium and B vitamins), can help with ideal hormone production and metabolism while nourishing other organ systems that indirectly influence hormone health.
Some of the best foods to help promote hormone balance include:
- Dark leafy greens (e.g., kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach)
- Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower)
- Olive oil
- Organic meat and poultry
- Wild caught fish
- Nuts and seeds
Dining out and sticking to a certain diet may seem overwhelming, but restaurants and servers are usually happy to satisfy special requests.. Adding these foods to your meal may come at an additional charge, unless ordered separately as an appetizer, such as cooked vegetables with olive oil on the side, avocado slices, or guacamole. Substitutions may include more vegetables or a salad instead of a carbohydrate (e.g., potato, rice, pasta, French fries), or olive oil with a few squeezes of lemon instead of the suggested salad dressing. The menu can help guide you on what’s available in the kitchen and what you can ask for, instead of asking your server to list all the ingredients in a particular menu item.
Cooking foods personally can provide the most control over what we eat; and yet there are times when we do like going out to restaurants, whether for social or other reasons, or ordering in. Regardless of where you choose to eat, understanding how to substitute and add in the foods listed above will not only help promote hormone harmony but also help protect against many chronic diseases that are so prevalent.