Hormones are responsible for many of the strange activities in our bodies including mysterious weight fluctuations, bloating, thinning hair and skin concerns to name a few. Derived from a Greek word meaning ‘to spur on’, hormones are chemicals that perform a number of different functions in the body by carrying messages to designated tissues. Naturally, a misbalance of these delicate hormones can have undesirable effects yet getting it right can have multiple benefits for your overall health.
Good fats such as omega-3 are a vital part of creating hormonal harmony alongside antioxidant rich vegetables and a sprinkling of healthy protein. Additionally if you’re experiencing peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms, your oestrogen levels will have dipped so it’s a good idea to stock up on plants rich in isoflavones and lignans such as soy products and sunflower seeds that mimic this hormone. There is a vast wealth of information out there that can be conflicting and confusing so here’s our pick of the bunch to help you navigate hormonal imbalances the natural way.
Healthy fats are a good place to start when it comes to balancing hormones and they are easier than you think to incorporate into your daily routine:
Coconut oil - the oil of the moment, hailed by beauty bloggers as a miracle worker for everything from your hair to your toes, however adding it to your diet can also be beneficial. Simply add a few teaspoons to an array of sweet and savoury recipes to add flavour and health benefits. Alternatively, for those short on time, try adding it to your daily cups of tea or coffee.
Olive oil packs a similar nutritional punch although it can lose some benefits when heated. Try drizzling it over bruschetta or adding it to dressings instead.
Add some avocado
Another Instagram-worthy food, avocado is everywhere at the moment with Amsterdam opening a café purely dedicated to the fashionable fruit and an Australian coffee shop even serving their lattes in it. Thankfully there is good reason for the hype, avocadoes are rich in monounsaturated fat which has many health benefits including for your heart, lowering inflammation and for hormone imbalances. They also contain many other essential nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, iron and B-vitamins. Moreover, avocadoes and their oil can boost skin health thanks, in part, to soothing vitamin E. Now go forth and explore the thousands of avocado recipes out there…trust us, there’s something for everyone.
Nothing fishy here
It’s a well-known fact that fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular salmon which is also rich in protein. If fish isn’t your thing, there are plenty of supplements out there to top-up your omega levels and if you’re vegetarian try flaxseed oil supplements, which are a rich source of omega 3, as an alternative.
Literally, go nuts as these are packed full of health benefits and can help level out fluctuating hormones. Small but mighty, nuts are rich in omega-3 which aid normal hormone function and production. Some of the best nuts to munch on for hormone health include almonds, Brazil nuts and cashews. Enjoy them as a mid-morning or afternoon snack or sprinkle over salads, curries and even breakfast.
Don’t discount seeds - these little powerhouses can be added to almost anything for a delicious crunch and can aid a number of hormone related concerns including hot flushes and inflammation. Flaxseed and sunflower seeds are particularly beneficial for this.
The dark side
Dark, leafy, green vegetables are high in many vital vitamins and nutrients including calcium, zinc and iron along with all-important fibre and folic acid. The likes of broccoli, spinach, kale and cabbage are antioxidant-rich to help balance hormones and boost our moods. We admit, green vegetables may not look the most exciting or appetising but there are plenty of ways to jazz them up; try some crunchy kale chips or for an Italian twist, parmesan roasted broccoli.
Soy products are one of the greatest sources of isoflavones which have similar properties to human oestrogen. Incorporating soy foods such as tofu or soy yoghurt into your diet can help offset some menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Tofu is not to everyone’s taste but switching to soy milk or soy yoghurt can be less of a challenge. Try making a tasty berry smoothie with soy milk or sprinkle some flaxseeds over your soy yoghurt for a delicious morning treat.
Keeping your hormones in check may feel like a bit of an uphill struggle at times but with simple changes to your diet, it can become easier to feel reenergised whilst helping to reduce health concerns and keep your skin glowing. You don’t need to necessarily restrict or deprive yourself when it comes to your favourite foods but introducing more beneficial foods can undoubtedly help you regain a bit of balance in your life.