A diet high in hormone balancing foods is integral to help you feel your best, both physically and mentally. Hormone imbalance can leave you feeling fatigued, anxious, or with insatiable cravings and weight gain that you can’t explain.
And there is more to hormone health than reproductive hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
In fact, hormones truly run the show in your body and are key to optimizing your health. They are the messengers that travel through your bloodstream to make sure everything stays up and running!
Picture them like the post office delivering the mail. You might not notice all the hard work they do until the system is down and something isn’t working right or getting delivered when and where it should.
It’s a bummer to go to your mailbox and a package you’ve been waiting on hasn’t arrived. Or worse, your package went to the wrong place. In the same way, it’s a total bummer when your hormones are off balance and something is lost in the delivery system.
Here are just some examples of the things hormones regulate in your body:
- Metabolism: how your body uses the calories your eat to give you energy
- Blood sugar control: your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic illnesses
- Stress levels: your body's response to stress
- Reproduction: the health of your reproductive system
From cortisol that helps regulate stress levels, to insulin that helps balance your blood sugar to ghrelin, your hunger hormone; these messengers each have their own role.
As you can imagine, with so many of these tiny messengers determining how you feel, it’s important to keep them as happy and healthy as possible in order to feel your best!
At this point, you might be asking yourself how to balance hormones. The great news is that hormone balancing foods and good nutrition has a noticable impact on hormone health.
And it’s not as complex as you might think. “Hormone balancing foods" can sound a little intimidating. Or you might even wonder if your hormones are “out of balance” in the first place.
Chances are, if you have chronically high stress, feel totally exhausted and are experiencing low energy throughout the day, or have unexplainable weight gain or cravings, your hormones might be out of whack.
But a diet high in hormone balancing foods like plants, whole grains, healthy fats, and nutrient rich lean meats can make a big difference.
The list below is a great starting point for hormone balancing foods to eat more of. And since there’s more to hormone regulation than food, I included some ideas at the end of this article for hormone help through lifestyle changes, too!
I hope this post helps you feel inspired. And most of all, I hope it helps you realize that your optimal health and feeling your best is accessible with small changes over time.
Hormone Balancing Foods
- Healthy fats
Healthy fats like olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, salmon, raw nuts and seeds, nut butter and avocados are important for a couple of reasons. For one, they have a role in the production of some hormones. For two, they are anti-inflammatory. The less inflammation there is in your body, the easier it is for your body to produce the hormones it needs to function effectively.
Plus, healthy fats like Omega-3s have also been shown to be heart healthy and good for brain health.
Be sure to fill up on high quality protein in order to help balance your blood sugars. Protein is also important because amino acids are building blocks of many hormones called peptide hormones. Some of these peptide hormones are vital for things like stress responses, energy levels, and controlling your appetite.
You may not need as much protein as you think, though.
Aim for 25-30 gm per meal as a general rule. Plant proteins like seeds, nuts, beans, lentils or animal proteins like whole eggs, poultry, or seafood are all great options!
A breakfast that includes eggs has been shown to help balance blood sugar and keep you full for longer than a breakfast high in carbohydrates like cereal or toast by itself. If you don't like eggs, no problem! Choose another high quality protein to add to your breakfast like some nuts or chia seeds thrown into greek yogurt or oats.
- Cruciferous veggies
These include vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and radish. These foods can help to remove excess estrogen from the body. They are also high in fiber and antioxidants to keep your body healthy.
- Think Mediterranean for improved hormone health.
In general, the Western diet is high in sugar and high fat animal foods which can lead to high estrogen levels. Research has shown that following a diet that is similar to the Mediterranean diet can improve estrogen levels and reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The Mediterranean diet is high in healthy fats, plant foods like nuts, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and herbs and spices that are loaded with antioxidants.
- Cut down on Simple Carbs and increase Complex Carbs high in fiber
As much as you can, ditch the simple carbs like white breads, pastas, and cereals. Instead, add complex carbs like whole grains, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and beans or lentils.
- Eat your colors!
It sounds basic, but sometimes the basics are there for a reason and they are easy to forget. Don’t miss this one! Adding a lot of color to your plate ensures that you are getting a good balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs to keep your hormones in balance.
Think vegetables, fruits, and colorful herbs and spices like turmeric, basil, ginger, or paprika.
- High Magnesium foods
Some examples are dark leafy greens, chickpeas, tofu, almonds and other nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Magnesium is important in management of your thyroid hormones.
In addition to incorporating more of these foods into your diet, it is important to keep your gut healthy, too! If you want to learn more about the gut microbiome and what foods to eat for gut health, you can read my post here.
Other Hormone Balancing Tips
In addition to eating hormone balancing foods, there are other important lifestyle changes you might consider if you want to feel your best with healthy hormones.
- Eat slowly. Be mindful while you eat and be sure to chew your food and take a little bit of time to eat your meal. Then, rest & digest after you finish eating. Give yourself 10-15 minutes after a meal to “rest”. In other words, do some reading, watch a show, do a meditation, or journal. Or just chat with the person you are sharing a meal with if that’s available to you. This helps your body to digest your food and slowing down when eating has a positive impact on your gut health. Gut health is closely tied to hormone health, so it’s a win-win!
- Incorporate movement throughout your day. Try to get some movement throughout your day whether that’s a walk, yoga, or a pilates style strength class. Gentle movement can help to regulate your hormones. If you want to read more about the 7 benefits of walking, read my article here.
- Stress Management. A bit part of healthy hormones is managing your stress levels. When stress is high, hormones like cortisol increase and can lead to an increased appetite, weight gain, and other health issues. So in order to keep those messenger hormones happy, pick up a new stress management technique like doing some breathwork, starting the day with a gratitude prayer, or taking a couple days off work when you are feeling like you’re on overload. There are several well researched health benefits of practicing gratitude.
Hormone health is very important in overall health and feeling your best. Hormones control nearly everything in your body, from reproductive health to hunger and fullness cues and energy levels.
If you want to keep your hormones in balance, focus on eating foods like high quality proteins with every meal, healthy fats, high fiber colorful foods, and a variety of spices and herbs.
In addition to good nutrition, focus on incorporating some gentle movement, managing stress, and slowing down when you eat. There is a strong relationships between hormone health and gut health so focusing on foods that are healthy for your gut is important, too!
Thank you so much for reading my post! I hope you learned something new. Please leave a comment or get in touch with me on Instagram @mallorythedietitian if you have any questions or just want to say hello!
If you enjoyed this post, check out the other articles in my Blog Series, Nutrition Trends 2023:
If you are interested in healthy cooking, check out the below recipes!