Foods That Help You Balance Your Hormones
Hormones keep us stable. They are substances secreted by glands in the body. Hormones, along with our nervous system, keeps our bodies in a balanced state. They do this by acting as messengers that help coordinate the systems of the body. Together, the many hormones of our body, form a web, a lovely hammock for us to rest in. A gentle sway as we relax is expected and fun, but that’s it.
Hormonal imbalances are jerks in this system that can harm our mind and body. Some common imbalances involving food are related to Cortisol, Eicosanoids, Leptin, Thyroxine, Insulin and Sex Hormone levels. A vegan diet, by itself is protective against imbalances of Thyroxine, Leptin and Insulin.
Be in the lookout for these jerks in your hammock. Hormonal imbalances will manifest gradually through symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues, migraines and headaches, skin problems and changes in appearance, altered appetite, irregular periods, reproductive problems, weight loss or weight gain, irritability and anxiety. While on the lookout, you can still relax because minor variations in these hormone levels can be addressed by your diet.
Cortisol is called the stress hormone. Increased levels of it puts you at risk for mood imbalances, reduced immunity and increased blood pressure. So, if you want to keep cortisol down and stay cool as you are, add fruits like avocados, bananas and pears and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and vegetables into your diet. Treating yourself to a meditation and starting your day with a warm cup of herbal tea works as well.
Eicosanoids are signaling molecules that are involved in inflammatory reactions of the body. They are built using fatty acids. An imbalance in eicosanoids can lead to a hyperactive immune system and cause chronic diseases. This can be prevented by foods containing Omega 3 Fatty Acids such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Berries contain antioxidants which help reduce inflammation.
Imbalances in functional Insulin levels is what eventually leads to Type 2 Diabetes. While, the vegan diet itself protects against diabetes, if your lifestyle or genes/ family history predisposes you to develop the condition, you may take special precautions. Including berries, radish, bitter melon, ginger, cinnamon and fenugreek in your diet will help.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the sex hormones. They are all present in both the sexes. Higher levels of estrogen and progesterone are present in females while the testosterone levels are higher in males. The balance between these hormones determines their final effect and this is of particular importance in females because of its influence in the menstrual cycle. Therefore balance of these hormones is important in maintaining regularity and normalcy of periods and a healthy sex life. Modern food habits can lead to the dominance of estrogen. Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips reduce estrogen levels as it promotes its removal by the liver. Increasing progesterone levels by adding primrose and borage oils, cinnamon and hemp seeds in your recipes will also help the fight against estrogen dominance. Cinnamon also reduces testosterone levels which helps prevent hirsutism in females.
Many plant based products are all-rounders in the game of hormone balancing. Probiotic foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, and prebiotic foods such as onion, leeks and chicory roots increase the good gut bacteria that contribute to hormone balance in general.
With a steady diet, a steady mind and a steady physique, keep calm and rock on!
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