We are made up of a complex symphony of hormones including insulin, oestrogen, progesterone, thyroid, cortisol, and many more. These are our bodies chemical messengers which must work in harmony for us to experience optimally functioning, health.
However, many women deal with common hormonal imbalances that can lead to mood swings, irritability, brain fog, fatigue, and weight gain. Hormones are produced and impacted by the microbiota, so hormone balance should begin in the gut by eating for your best digestive health.
Here are some tips for eating for hormonal balance:
Add a shot of apple cider vinegar to your diet
This a great way to wake up your digestion. In a small glass, mix together 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons of water. Apple cider vinegar can help with fatty liver and gut health by improving your gut microbiome and helping metabolise fat. Try and choose a brand of vinegar that is raw and organic.
Enjoy a warming tonic
Begin your day with a 1-cup serving of a warming tea tonic to wake up your mind and your digestive system such as fresh lemon tea by adding boiling water to a mug with a few slices of fresh lemon and a teaspoon of honey. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes and enjoy.
Support your liver
Your liver is your body’s master filter and detoxifier, but your liver is also crucial for hormone metabolism. The easiest way to promote a healthy liver is to add a scoop of greens powder to your favourite soup, smoothie, or sprinkled over food. You can also make a green smoothie, packed full of antioxidant-rich fresh dandelion, parsley, and/or cilantro to further support your liver.
Take a digestive enzyme
Digestive enzyme supplements help your gut break down your food into smaller particles, making it easier to process and to absorb nutrients. Look for a supplement that contains amylase; an enzyme that breaks down starch; lipase an enzyme that breaks down fat and protease that breaks down protein.
Include probiotic-rich foods
Probiotics are good bacteria that support your gut which helps balance your hormones. They are found naturally in certain foods such as yogurt, kefir, bone broth, sourdough bread, and kombucha or can be found in convenient capsules. Aim to have a serving of two of these foods each day.
Aim for 60 grams of digestion-friendly protein per day
Avoid red meats, processed meats and fatty meats and maximise protein from chicken, fish, and legumes. Aim to have 15 grams from meals and 7 to 10 grams from snacks.
Don’t forget healthy fats
Healthy fats are the building blocks of all hormones and are especially helpful with stabilizing the production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Aim to get 15 to 30 grams of healthy fats from sources such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, walnuts every day.
Avoid inflammation-causing foods
Inflammation is an immune response that happens when your body perceives a threat. Highly processed foods such as refined sugars and carbohydrates, red and fatty meats, alcohol and also (for some people gluten, lactose, and dairy foods). When the gut is damaged, it switches on an inflammatory response that puts your body on the defensive, which then adversely affects your hormone balance and production.
Protect your thyroid
You can protect and support your thyroid by including the following foods during your day. The key nutrients to look for are magnesium and iodine. Almonds and dark leafy greens are rich in magnesium; you can get your iodine by adding sea vegetables like nori or kelp three times a week or by using pink or iodized salt in your cooking.
Create healthy plates
Use a bowl or plate and then divide it as follows: Half your plate is covered with non-starchy vegetables (dark leafy greens are great choices), ¼ of your plate with a healthy protein (chicken, fish, legumes), and ¼ with a whole grain (brown rice, quinoa). Aim for four to six servings of vegetables each day, and limit fruit to two servings per day.