As you all know I have made getting my hormones in check my number 1 priority right now (read about that more here) and part of that means shifting my nutrition and eating habits a little bit to promote optimal hormonal balance and happiness. I already eat a very clean diet (duh) and most of what I was already eating on a daily basis was hormone friendly but there are a couple of changes that I have had to make and some things that I am focusing on a lot more now.
The first thing that I did was up my healthy fats! I was already making sure to have a healthy fat source with every meal and snack but sometimes I was taking it a little easy without realizing it (my old calorie counting ways can creep up on me sometimes) but because hormones are literally made up of fatty acids - fats are used in the creation of hormones, specifically steroid hormones like estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and cortisol - I have upped my fat intake to almost double what it was before to promote hormone production. To some of you that might be terrifying but I can assure you that this is crucial to getting my hormones in balance and the excess fat is not going to make me gain weight.
I'm also upping my complex carbohydrates at every meal which is something I was definitely not focusing on at all before. I was having a smoothie every morning that mainly just consisted of fruit, fiber, protein and fat and no complex carbs and for lunch I was having a smaller source of complex carbs as well like chopped sweet potato or yams in a salad. When you are not consuming enough carbs your metabolism slows down which can slow hormone production as well so that is a thing of the past. Now I am making sure that I have a legitimate complex carb source in every meal and snack and am prioritizing it just like my fat sources!
I have added back in more QUALITY animal sources of protein - hold your gasps and comments please. I'm still not eating meat but I am making sure that I have wild salmon or some kind of wild fish 2x per week as well as free range eggs 1-2x per week and collagen peptides every day.
My reasoning for this is;
1. Animal protein is high in Heme-Iron which is the form of iron that is more readily absorbed and utilized in the body. Iron is essential for health and balanced hormones and low levels of iron are also commonly shown in hypothyroidism which is a common hormonal issue.
2. Animal protein (specifically salmon and eggs) have high levels of anti-inflammatory fats like omega-3s (EPA and DHA) as well as monounsaturated fats which are health protective and increase hormone production and balance.
I'm also making sure to include tons of fresh and raw fruits and veggies with every meal. Eating a wide variety of plant foods ensures that I am meeting my intake of all of the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that my body needs to function properly and maintain hormonal balance. Antioxidants also fight free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to cells in the body and help produce detoxification enzymes that can help to detoxify hormones which keeps them in balance!
Last but not least I am making sure that I have an extra fiber source with every meal! Fiber rich foods (like legumes, leafy green vegetables, seeds, etc.) actually regulate levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in the body and reduce cortisol levels by allowing the hormones to be detoxified through the liver and eliminated in the stool. Fiber also feeds the good bacteria in the gut which help to prevent estrogen being reabsorbed from our colon back into circulation!
So now that you have all the information you need to make a perfect, hormone balancing meal all you have to do is put it all together - let's do it..
CREATING A HORMONE BALANCING MEAL
STEP 1 - PROTEIN:
*Should fill 1/4 of your plate*
- Organic, free range, pasture raised eggs - eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals including: A, D, E, B2, B6, B9, iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium and choline - all of which contribute to a healthy reproductive system, hormonal balance and healthy skin, plus the choline and iodine in the yolks are crucial for the production of healthy thyroid hormones.
- Organic, free range, pasture raised meat - chicken, turkey, lamb, bison, beef, etc. - animal protein is high in all of the essential amino acids which help promote protein synthesis, metabolic processes and the creation of hormones. *I don't personally eat meat but if you do PLEASE make sure it is organic and pasture raised to avoid any cross over of hormones given to the animals.*
- Wild caught salmon (or other fatty fish) - high in Omega-3's which are anti-inflammatory, support hormone balance, promote good brain health, boost your mood and reduce PMS symptoms.
- Beans and Legumes - contain Phytoestrogens which are estrogen like substances found in plants that help promote hormone balance in the body. The most beneficial Phytoestrogens are called Isoflavones - soy beans, chickpeas and lentils are all good sources of Isoflavones!
STEP 2 - HEALTHY FAT:
*Should fill 1/4 of your plate*
- Coconut oil/Coconut products - coconuts contain lauric acid which helps to heal the skin and is beneficial for hormone production, it also kills bad bacteria and viruses in the body, it is very easy to digest, provides a quick source of energy and speeds up your metabolism.
- Avocados - the fat in avocados actually helps our body absorb and use nutrients, they are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium vitamin E, B-vitamins, and Folic acid - all of which are important for hormonal balance.
- Flax oil - contains hormone balancing lignans and phytoestrogens which help stabilize our estrogen-progesterone ratio.
- Organic butter or ghee - source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2 which are our key building blocks for hormone production, it also is a source of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which support immune function, boost metabolism and have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties..
- Nuts and seeds or Nut butter - sprouted or soaked nuts and seeds, nut butter, olives and olive oil, fermented cod liver oil, hemp seed oil and flax-seed oil are all sources of Omega 3's and mono and polyunsaturated fats which are contributing factors to hormone production.
STEP 3 - ANTIOXIDANT, NUTRIENT AND FIBER RICH VEGETABLES:
*Should fill 1/2 of your plate*
- Coloured vegetables - beets, broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, burdock root, etc. - contain B Vitamins which are critical for liver detoxification, hormonal imbalances burden our liver and slow down the detoxification process causing further imbalances.
- Leafy green vegetables - these are naturally high in magnesium which can help to raise and balance progesterone levels. Progesterone being too low or imbalanced in any way is one of the major causes of hormonal imbalances.
- Raw carrots - help prevent reabsorption of estrogen from the intestine so that the liver can more effectively excrete estrogen and regulate metabolism.
STEP 4 - COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATE:
*Should fill 1/4 of your plate - I know my measurements don't make sense but match your protein and carbs as the same size*
- Sweet Potato or Yam - high in beta carotene and B vitamins that help your body to make progesterone which will offset any estrogen imbalances.
- Brown rice - also very high in B vitamins to help the liver metabolize hormones.
- Quinoa - high in protein, magnesium and phosphorus which help to balance hormones by keeping steroid hormone levels even.
- Sprouted grains and breads - contain phytoestrogens and many minerals needed for hormonal balance, plus they are high in fiber and easier to digest.
STEP 5 - ADDED SOURCE OF FIBER:
*Should be about 1-2 tbsp - think a little sprinkle on top or added while cooking*
- Chia Seeds - 5g of per 1 tbsp
- Psyllium Seed Husks - 3.5 g per 1 Tbsp
- Ground Flax Seeds - 2.2 g per 1 tbsp
MY CURRENT GO TO HORMONE BALANCING MEALS
- Green smoothie with; serving of protein powder or collagen, almond butter, steamed sweet potato, spinach, chia seeds, 1/3 of a frozen banana and unsweetened almond milk
- 2 scrambled free range eggs, spinach, sprouted bread with half of an avocado and flax seeds sprinkled on top
- Oatmeal with collagen, chia seeds, ground flax, 1/3 of a banana, berries and nut butter
- Spinach salad with tons of mixed veggies, roasted yam, beans, avocado and flax seeds
- Lentils with brown rice, sautéed kale, mixed veggies, avocado and hemp hearts
- Tofu stir fry with, quinoa, mixed veggies and flax oil
- Sprouted toast with nut butter and banana
- Home made protein + fat balls
- Smoothie (same as above)
- Chia pudding with fruit and nut butter
- Raw veggies with home made hummus
- Sprouted nuts
All of these are things that are currently working for me and my body and may not work for you! We are all different, our bodies, hormones and preferences are different and finding what works best for you and does not put you under any food related stress is also SUPER important in finding hormonal balance and balance in life in general.