Even in the best of times, our hormones can leave us feeling “off.” But when our hormones are imbalanced, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost control over your own body completely.
Hormone imbalances can also be really tricky to address since there are so many potential causes. Fortunately, there are just as many treatments out there to bring your hormones back into balance, and it can all start with the basics: optimizing your diet.
How Changing Your Diet Can Affect Hormone Levels
Hormones control everything from our appetite and the way that we store fat to our reproductive systems. Since they play such an important role in keeping your body functioning as it should, when they’re out of balance, you can really start to feel that something’s not right.
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact causes of hormonal imbalance. Some things that cause hormonal imbalances can include:
Your diet can also be a root cause for hormonal imbalances. Luckily, this is one of the easiest things that you can change to help fix the issue.
The nutrients that you get from your diet can work as building blocks for your hormones, and they can also play roles in how your hormones are released. This is why eating a balanced diet can lead to a balanced hormone profile! And on the other hand, a poor-quality diet could cause hormone fluctuations.
In addition to all the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that you get from your food, there are also herbs that can help balance hormones. Herbs have been used throughout history for treating conditions like menopause symptoms, and 21st-century research is proving that many contain beneficial compounds that act on the systems releasing your hormones.
Even more exciting, the right diet can take effect very quickly, and you can start to balance your hormones in as little as a week once you make the right corrections that your body needs.
Supplements and Foods That Balance Hormones In Females
Some foods to eat and herbs to take that can help balance your hormones include:
- Salmon: Fatty fish like salmon are great sources of omega-3s, a healthy fat that provides the starting “building blocks” for many different hormones and has even been shown to help with estrogen imbalance.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are a great plant-based source for ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid.
- Chia Seeds: Another plant-based omega-3 fatty acid source, chia seeds are an easy way to add more healthy fat to your diet. They’re also rich in fiber and protein, both of which can help with weight loss and hormone production.
- Broccoli: These cruciferous veggies are rich sources of diindolylmethane (DIM), a compound that is especially useful for balancing elevated estrogen levels.
- Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts are another great cruciferous veggie to include in your diet for DIM. Even better, a high intake of these sprouts has also been linked to decreased risk of certain cancers!
- Yogurt: Your gut is populated by a colony of bacteria known as the gut microbiome. Good bacteria can help with the production of hormones, while “bad” bacteria might inhibit or otherwise negatively affect them. Probiotics like the ones found in yogurt can increase your good bacteria to leave less room for the bad.
- Kombucha: Probiotics are also found in other fermented foods like kombucha. This tea is made from tea and sugar, and the resulting fermentation creates a brew called “SCOBY” that has helpful bacteria and yeasts to boost your gut health.
Flax seeds: Flax seeds are another good source of omega-3s. In addition, they also have phytoestrogens, plant compounds with a similar structure to human estrogen.
The effects of phytoestrogens on your body are debated because of the worry that they can increase estrogen levels in the body and lead to breast cancer. However, there’s no solid evidence for this. Instead, they can actually be beneficial for blocking the effects of high estrogen and can even act as a weak version of estrogen when levels are lower. Either way, phytoestrogens are not recommended for women with breast cancer.
- Miso: Miso is a fermented soy product, and the combination of fermentation and phytoestrogens can help to bring hormonal balance especially when it comes to estrogen.
- Avocados: It’s everyone’s favorite healthy fat, and for good reason! Besides its store of healthy fats, avocados are also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to reduce elevated estrogen levels.
- Organic Beef: Eating a good amount of protein is important for hormone production, muscle support, and keeping your hunger at bay, but not all protein sources are made equal. Traditionally farmed cows receive antibiotics and hormones that can go on to increase your risk of hormone imbalance when you eat them. Stick with organic beef and dairy products from cows that don’t receive hormone treatments.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen, or herb that can be used to manage stress. This means that taking ashwagandha can help to reduce your stress hormone cortisol, and studies have also found that it may have an effect on reproductive hormones like testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormones. It is important to mention long term use can cause irritation to the gut lining, so remember to consult with your doctor for the right usage.
- Wild Yam: Wild yam contains diosgenin, a chemical that can do estrogen-like activities in the body and is often used to help lessen the effects of hormonal imbalance.
- Black cohosh: One of the most popular natural supplements for balancing hormones during menopause is black cohosh. This plant is from the buttercup family and has been historically used to help with common menopause symptoms like hot flashes.
- Red clover: This is another popular supplement taken by perimenopausal and menopausal women to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. Studies have shown that they can have an effect on various sex hormones including estradiol and testosterone.
- Maca: The maca root is another adaptogen that has been shown to have a positive effect on your endocrine system, the system that is responsible for creating and releasing hormones.
- Motherwort: This herb also contains properties similar to estrogen and has been used to help treat menopause symptoms.
- Chasteberry: Otherwise known as Vitex, berries from the chaste tree can increase your progesterone levels to help combat the decline from menopause, if that is what is causing you hormonal imbalance.
- Dong quai: Dong quai is another herb that mimics the effects of estrogen and can also have an effect on other hormones. It’s such a popular herb for menopausal symptoms that it’s often called “female ginseng.”
- Fenugreek: If you have elevated blood sugar and/or diabetes, the herb fenugreek can help minimize the effects. It has a similar effect to insulin, which allows sugar into your cells and minimizes blood sugar levels.
- Raspberry Leaf: Drinking tea made out of raspberry leaves can help increase your progesterone levels, which are important for combatting the effects of estrogen dominance, especially in menopausal women.
Getting all the nutrients you need is fundamental for building hormones, and taking supplemental herbs is a natural way to bring your hormones back to where they help you best.