Would you believe me if I told you that every trip to the grocery store is also an opportunity to balance your hormones? Sure, it might sound crazy that food can have such a significant impact on your hormone health — but it’s true! Your diet, including the foods you pick up on your weekly run to the grocery store, can influence both your hormone production and hormone detoxification.
While optimal hormone health isn’t as simple as swapping out your regular grocery cart for a bundle of fruits and vegetables, the way you shop for and consume food can certainly help improve your overall hormone balance. Take a look at why your diet is so important for hormone regulation, as well as how to improve your diet with fool-proof techniques for a hormone-healthy meal.
Why is Diet Important for Hormone Regulation?
Hormones are your internal chemical messengers. They’re created in special endocrine glands located throughout your body and travel via your bloodstream to tissues and organs, where they trigger reactions like growth and development or digestion. When your diet does not include the proper nutrients, it cannot provide your body with the proper building blocks for hormones.
Your body primarily relies on a diet rich in healthy fats and protein for general hormone production as well as to enable your hormones to travel wherever necessary in your bloodstream. Similarly, your body also requires the nutrients from your diet to help your liver detoxify hormones. Hormone detoxification is an essential process to keep your hormonal balance in check.
When your hormones become unbalanced, there are a host of different symptoms you can experience, from acne and hair loss to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) side effects like tender breasts, mood fluctuations, and even weight gain. Fortunately, there are simple steps to help get your hormones back on track, starting with the food you choose to eat on a regular basis.
What Can Impact a Hormone-Happy Diet?
When it comes to food that impacts a hormone-healthy diet, it all starts with the items you keep in your home to create your daily meals. It’s one thing to tell yourself you need to eat healthier, it’s another to actually shop for healthy options. If the options at the grocery store seem endless, you’ll be happy to know the foods that can impact a hormone-happy diet are pretty easy to spot.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s food that lies in the middle aisles — pre-packaged foods and items rich in chemical additives — that are major hormone disruptors. Likewise, if you look at a food label and have to either question what an ingredient means or struggle to pronounce it, it’s probably something that should not go in your body. Ingredients like sodium benzoate or monosodium glutamate are flavor enhancers that can ramp up taste but really negatively affect your hormones.
Instead, stick to the outskirts of the grocery store that are full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Diversity in your diet, especially among fresh produce, is what will keep your hormones happy. Of course, it’s not always possible to rely on fresh fruits and vegetables alone to keep your diet healthy (especially living in Canada winters!), so just be sure to keep an eye on ingredient labels.
3 Fool-Proof Hacks for a Hormone-Healthy Diet
A common question I receive from my patients is, “Does a hormone-healthy diet have to be boring?” No, far from it! Just because fruits and vegetables make up the primary part of your diet, it does not mean that it needs to be boring. Natural flavors like garlic, cayenne, and citrus can pack a punch of flavor, and various veggie-based sauces can be equal parts delicious and hormone healthy.
When your body becomes accustomed to chemical flavor enhancers, it might be a little boring when you first start eating fresh vegetables because real produce won’t have the same flavor profile as an additive. It’s important to get comfortable in the kitchen to find a way to maintain a diet that’s just as good for you as it is tasty. Three of my daily fool-proof hacks for a hormone-happy diet include:
- Lemon water in the morning. Squeeze one-eighth of a lemon into a glass of water right when you wake up to promote the detoxification of your hormones through the liver. Then, switch to regular water for the rest of the day to protect your teeth from the lemon’s natural acidity.
- Leafy greens with every meal. Incorporate a variety of kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and mixed greens with each meal throughout the week to give your body the nutrients it needs to support proper detoxification of your hormones.
- Cruciferous vegetables every day. Cook down an assortment of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts with each meal to give your body the necessary nutrients to detoxify the liver. Don’t eat too many raw cruciferous vegetables, as they can be hard on your digestive tract and thyroid.
How to Build the Optimal Plate for Hormones
While the above tips are an awesome starting point for a healthy daily diet, they don’t exactly create a wholesome, balanced meal. If you want to begin shopping for and cooking healthier meals, I recommend serving three categories of food groups on each plate: healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats, and healthy proteins. Here’s how to incorporate those into hormone-balancing meals:
- One-half of your plate should be carbohydrates. Healthy carbohydrates are primarily found in vegetables. Aim to include three different vegetables of three different colors (think broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers), or an assortment of brown rice or quinoa.
- One-quarter of your plate should be fat. Avoid trans fats and processed foods in favor of healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado, nuts and seeds, and nut butter like almond butter to receive the proper hormone-building nutrients.
- One-quarter of your plate should be protein. Include protein options like chicken and cold water fish or plant-based protein like rice and beans, lentils, and tofu to give your body the nutrients it needs to help hormones travel throughout the body.
Need help with hormone health?
Nearly half of women have experienced the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, but the vast majority are unaware of the potential implications. Let a naturopath in Calgary help.