How to Treat Hormonal Imbalance with Nutrition – When it comes to balancing hormones, the first place to start is with a healthy eating program. Many foods benefit our natural production and balance of hormones, whereas other foods can decrease the production of beneficial hormones, increase the production of hormone disruptors, and decrease our detoxification pathways.
Quite often you can restore your hormone health just by adopting a healthy eating program. We are what we eat, so if you eat a healthy, balanced diet, your body will also come into balance. By following these guidelines, you can be well on your way to balanced hormones and a healthier body and mind.
By following this general nutrition program, you will notice increased energy, better sleep, weight loss (if not already at your optimal weight), and less digestive disturbance.
This page will give you a set of guidelines to help you have a more nutrient-rich diet so your body can function at its full capacity.
Some people find it helpful to have a “free” day, as this will decrease the urge of wanting what you can’t have. Once a week go out and enjoy dinner with friends or have that food you’ve been thinking about all week.
After following our guides for a few weeks, you will notice a significant decrease in your food cravings. Once our bodies get accustomed to eating healthy whole foods, the desire and taste for sweets and more processed foods decreases.
You won’t feel that same satisfaction you did before when you eat them. So, try your best to stick to the guidelines for the first few weeks to give your body time to get used to the healthier, natural foods and develop its “do not eat” signal for junk food.
Treat Hormonal Imbalance with Nutrition: Foods to Eat Freely
The foods that must comprise the majority of your diet are foods that we have eaten for thousands of years that are found naturally in the environment and have not been altered by today’s manufacturing processes. These foods are organic vegetables, fruits, lean meats, eggs, seeds, herbs, spices, and fish.
Read: Top 50 Weight Loss Tips Using Diet
Vegetables are high in many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. All these are necessary to maintain hormonal balance and overall health. We have been eating vegetables since the very beginning, so our bodies are quite efficient at digesting and utilizing the nutrients obtained from them.
It is important to buy organic vegetables to avoid exposure to the pesticides and herbicides that are so commonly sprayed on them. These chemicals have many health-related risks.
The vegetables to focus on include:
- • Broccoli
- • Brussels sprouts
- • Cabbage
- • Cauliflower
- • Collard greens
- • Turnips
- • Chives
- • Garlic
- • Leeks
- • Onion
- • Shallots
- Leafy greens
- • Beet greens
- • Cilantro
- • Collard greens
- • Dark lettuce
- • Kale
- • Mustard greens
- • Parsley
- • Spinach
- • Asparagus
- • Beets
- • Carrots
- • Celery
- • Cucumber
- • Radishes
- • Red and yellow peppers
- • Squash
Like vegetables, fruit contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. We can easily digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients found in fruit. However, some fruits are also high in sugar and should be eaten only occasionally. These fruits include pineapple, mango, papaya, and other tropical fruits It is important to buy organic fruit to avoid exposure to the pesticides and herbicides that are so commonly sprayed on fruit trees. These chemicals have many health-related risks.
The fruits to incorporate into your program include:
- • All berries
- • Apples
- • Apricots
- • Cherries
- • Kiwis
- • Lemons
- • Limes
- • Nectarines
- • Pears
- • Plums
Organic Lean Meats and Eggs
It’s important to ensure adequate protein intake. Protein is needed to maintain muscle and bone mass, energy, detoxification, and hormone production. However, you must be cautious with meat as many types of meat contain traces of antibiotics, hormones, and nitrates, all of which disrupt hormone balance and the immune system.
Rule of thumb: Eat organic, grass-fed, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free meat in moderation.
The lean animal protein you should incorporate into your program includes:
- • Organic bison
- • Organic chicken and turkey
- • Organic eggs
- • Wild game
Seeds and Healthy Oils
Seeds and oils, such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil, contain healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories, support our immune system, and play a critical role in hormone production. Seeds also contain vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, selenium, and B vitamins, which are vital for optimal hormonal balance.
The healthy fats found in seeds and oils are necessary to build our cells.
membranes, allow for nerve transmission, protect our organs, and support the production of so many different hormones. There are some fats, however, that we do not need in our diet. These are the fats that are superheated, overcooked or burnt. High temperatures change the structure of the fat, making it unhealthy for us, so avoid fats and oils heated at high temperatures.
Rule of thumb: Include healthy, unheated fats, oils, and seeds in your diet.
Seeds and oils you can incorporate into your program include: Oils
- • Coconut oil
- • Flaxseed oil
- • Olive oil
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- • Pumpkin seeds
- • Sesame seeds
- • Sunflower seeds
Fish contains the same healthy fatty acids as oils and seeds. However, fish is prone to mercury contamination, so it is important to eat only fish containing the lowest mercury levels. It is beneficial to focus on small, fatty fish from cold bodies of water, as they have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and lower amounts of mercury.
Rule of thumb: Include small, cold-water fish into your diet and avoid larger fish, like tuna or swordfish.
Fish to incorporate into your program include:
- • Anchovies
- • Arctic cod
- • Catfish
- • Mackerel
- • Perch
- • Plaice
- • Pollock
- • Salmon
- • Sardines
- • Sole
- • Tilapia
- • Trout (freshwater)
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years to treat all kinds of illnesses and afflictions. Some have antibacterial or anti-inflammatory properties, while others work to increase circulation, promote healthy digestion, or elevate mood. Plus they add flavor and color to your meals. Experiment with different herbs and spices to find out which ones you enjoy the most.
Herbs and spices to incorporate into your program include:
- • Basil
- • Black pepper
- • Cardamom
- • Cayenne pepper
- • Celery seed
- • Cinnamon
- • Cloves
- • Coriander
- • Cumin
- • Dill
- • Fennel• Garlic
- • Ginger
- • Mustard seeds
- • Nutmeg
- • Oregano
- • Turmeric
- • Vanilla bean
Water and Unsweetened, Caffeine-Free Herbal Tea
Be sure to drink at least two liters of water or herbal tea per day. If your water source is chlorinated or fluorinated, purchase a highly rated-water filter to filter out those contaminants. There are many different kinds of filters: some attach to your faucet, while others are mounted underneath the sink or sit on the countertop.
Bottled water does not count as filtered water. Bottled water is surrounded by plastic, which eventually leaches harmful chemicals into the water. These plastic chemicals are incredible hormone disruptors and need to be completely avoided.
Coffee and tea plants are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so try to use organic tea as much as possible.
Rule of thumb: Drink filtered water, not from a plastic water bottle, and use this filtered water to make caffeine-free, organic herbal teas.
Treat Hormonal Imbalance: Foods to Eat in Moderation
Red meat should be eaten in moderation, as it has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Red meat contains saturated fats and high amounts of arachidonic acid, a compound that leads to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a precursor to many illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Furthermore, red meat is often contaminated with colorings, antibiotics, and hormones, making it a somewhat processed food. So when you do have red meat, ensure it is organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free.
Rule of thumb: Red meats should be eaten only occasionally and must be organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free.
Nuts and Legumes
Nuts are full of healthy oils, and legumes (such as beans and peas) are great sources of protein. The downside to these is that they are difficult for us to digest. They contain compounds that inhibit the enzymes necessary for their digestion and metabolism. However, if you sprout or cook your nuts and beans, these enzymes are deactivated, making them much easier for your body to digest.
One nut to avoid completely is the peanut. Peanuts are more prone to fungal contamination, which, when eaten, can contribute to the growth of candida (yeast-like fungi) in the intestines. Candida overgrowth can be the cause of gas, bloating, fatigue, and even weight gain. Peanuts, like red meat, also contain arachidonic acid and are great at activating our immune system, triggering an allergic response.
Rule of thumb: Sprout or cook your legumes before eating; limit to three times per week.
Whole grains contain many essential vitamins and minerals, but like legumes and nuts, they are difficult for us to digest. Be sure to cook your grains thoroughly before eating and keep the portion to no more than ¼ cup cooked with each meal.
Rule of thumb: Cook your grains.
Some grains to incorporate into your nutrition program include:
- • Amaranth
- • Brown rice
- • Millet
- • Quinoa
Treat Hormonal Imbalance: Foods to Avoid
Wheat and Gluten
About 85 percent of people have wheat and gluten sensitivities. This sensitivity results in symptoms of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), low mood, weight gain, and low energy. I have seen the elimination of gluten and wheat dramatically improve health.
Foods containing wheat and gluten that must be avoided include:
- • Bread
- • Candy
- • Meat replacements
- • Packaged foods
- • Pasta
- • Pastries and baked goods
Foods Containing Yeast
Any food containing yeast will contribute to the overgrowth of candida in the intestines, which can then spread to other areas, such as the skin, vagina, etc.
Symptoms of candida overgrowth include constipation, abdominal bloating, gas, fungal skin infections, skin rashes, weight gain, and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, completely avoid foods containing sugar and yeast.
The foods containing yeast that must be avoided are:
- • Alcohol
- • Bread
- • Cheese
- • Pastries and baked goods
Coffee and Black Tea
Both coffee and black teas are diuretics, which lead to dehydration by increasing urine output. This dehydration is often the culprit in difficult digestion, constipation, headaches, and dry, wrinkly skin.
Caffeine also stimulates the stress response. Over time this stress response can contribute to a hormonal imbalance by overworking the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are responsible for our cortisol and DHEA production, as well as some testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen production in postmenopausal women. They are crucial for our overall hormonal balance and often need extra support.
Substitutions: You can substitute coffee and black tea with water and herbal, caffeine-free tea.
Alcohol not only contributes to candida overgrowth, but it also burdens your liver. The liver is the main organ responsible for the detoxification of our hormones and waste products. If it is busy dealing with the detoxification of alcohol, it won’t have time to rid our body of these excess hormones or waste products.
Condiments and Sauces
Condiments are often loaded with salt, sugar, colorings, preservatives, and flavorings. There is very little natural about them. Avoid these as much as possible, and when you do have them, ensure it is only in small amounts.
Substitutions: Experiment at home by making your salad dressings (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice), sauces (homemade hummus, pesto, salsa, and guacamole), and marinades; See the “Happy Hormones Recipe Collection” in the Appendix for more ideas.
Sugar and Foods Containing Sugar
Candida loves sugar and will rapidly grow in its presence. Sugar also significantly decreases our immune system, rendering it susceptible to various bacterial and viral infections and cancer. A diet high in sugar also contributes to low energy and an increased risk of diabetes.
High-fructose corn syrup must be avoided at all costs. This substance has been linked with excess weight gain and obesity, as well as diabetes and heart disease. Check all of your condiments for high-fructose corn syrup and, if it contains it, throw it out.
Sugar sources to be aware of include:
- • Galactose
- • High-fructose corn syrup • Honey
- • Lactose
- • Maltose
- • Maple syrup
- • Molasses
- • Products containing sugar • Sorbitol
- • Sucrose
We are not designed to digest dairy products. No other animal drinks milk past infancy, and we shouldn’t either. The enzymes needed to digest breast milk decrease throughout childhood, so as adults, we have an incredibly hard time digesting it.
Because of this lack of enzymes, the dairy products we eat can end up sitting in our intestines for up to three days before they’re fully digested.
This results in an overgrowth of candida and an increase in fermentation. This process creates digestive difficulty with gas and bloating, as well as a state of toxicity.
The dairy industry has us believing that dairy products are the only source of calcium, but this is untrue. You can find calcium in higher levels than many dairy products in the following foods: Foods containing calcium include:
- • Almonds
- • Beans
- • Blackstrap molasses
- • Broccoli
- • Collard greens
- • Dark, leafy greens
- • Figs
- • Spinach
- • Tempeh
- • Tofu
Packaged and Processed Foods
Canned, bottled, boxed, and other packaged and processed foods usually contain refined sugar products, preservatives, and colorings, as well as other harmful hidden ingredients. These need to be completely avoided.
Bread, Pastries, and Other Raised Baked Goods
These all contain high amounts of sugar. Sugar increases weight, energy dips, and hunger, and decreases your immune response to infections, cancer, and injuries. A high-sugar diet will also contribute to blood-sugar imbalances and an increased risk of diabetes.
Processed and Smoked Meats
Deli meats, sausages, and smoked meats contain high amounts of salt, as well as preservatives, colorings, and nitrates. These chemicals promote heart disease and cancer and need to be avoided.
Fruit Juices and Soda
These all contain high amounts of sugar. Canned, bottled, and frozen juices, as well as all sodas, need to be avoided. Freshly squeezed fruit juice is fine.
Treat Hormonal Imbalance With Nutrition: What Now?
In summary, your meals should consist of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and oils, and lean protein. Ideally, half of your plate should be vegetables and the other half should be a combination of lean protein, healthy fats and oils, cooked legumes, and/or gluten-free whole grains.
Include Foundation Supplements
I believe that everyone can benefit from three foundational supplements: a high-quality multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. They all play such important roles and we really cannot afford to have deficient levels in any of them.
A high-quality multivitamin is important to supply your body with nutrients you may not be getting in your diet. I believe that, no matter how healthy we eat, we are still at risk of having some deficiencies because of overused and nutrient-depleted soil, and the abundant use of pesticides and herbicides.
Pesticides and herbicides protect fruits and vegetables from disease, but by doing this, the fruits and vegetables do not have to produce as many of their protectants and phytonutrients. But it is these phytonutrients that supply us with powerful antioxidants, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and ellagic acid, and function to fight particular cancers, decrease inflammation, and prevent allergies. It Having enough of these phytonutrients in our diet is important to prevent chronic disease and illness.
Soil conditions are the other big influence on the amount of umber Phyto nutrients a plant contains. Modern farming practices now allow for soil and fields to be used multiple times in a row for crop production. However, the overuse of these fields results in the soil being constantly stripped of its nutrients (phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, zinc, selenium, etc.) and not having the time to replenish. So the crops grown in these stripped fields are not able to uptake as many of the nutrients as they would have in the past, simply because those nutrients are not present in the soil.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to have in our diet because our bodies are unable to produce them on their own. They are crucial for optimal health and illness prevention. Omega-3s are essential for optimal brain function, nerve cell transmission, and cell membrane structure and function. They decrease inflammation and blood clotting and promote hormone synthesis. Omega-3s are found in high concentrations in fatty fish, flaxseed, and chia seeds, as well as kelp and walnuts. It is best to aim for at least two grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day.
Vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant, anti-cancer, and bone promoter. It helps regulate our immune system, promotes hormone synthesis, and increases mood. I test all of my clients for vitamin D3, and only about 10 percent of them have optimal levels. This decreased level of vitamin D increases the risk of immune disorders, poor mood, particular cancers, and osteoporosis.
The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight; however, cod liver oil, halibut liver oil, and fatty fish also contain vitamin D. In enough vitamin D from sunlight, you should be in the sun for at least 25 to 30 minutes every day with face, chest, and arms exposed.
Avoid Food Sensitivities
I also recommend being tested for food sensitivities. If you have unknown food sensitivities that you are eating daily increased inflammation in your body, possibly resulting in gas and abdominal bloating, acne, eczema, weight gain, migraine headaches, and/or fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, I highly suggest food-sensitivity testing.
Food sensitivity testing is different from food-allergy testing in that food-allergy testing most often involves an allergist’s skin-prick test. The allergist is testing if you have an allergic reaction instead of sensitivity. Allergic reactions can present themselves as hives, eczema, breathing difficulties, and anaphylaxis, and generally involve the IgE antibody and histamine release. People with food allergies typically present with symptoms within a few minutes to a few hours after eating the allergic food.
Food sensitivities, on the other hand, involve the IgG antibody and often do not show symptoms for at least 2 to 48 hours later. The symptoms are more generalized and often hard to trace back to a particular food. This is why it is important to act as a food sensitivity test.
To make this diet transition easier for you, try making extras at dinner and save the leftovers for lunch the next day. See the “Recipe Collection” section for more ideas and recipes. If the diet described here is a dramatic change for you, your body may require a couple of weeks to adapt. Because this program is in part a detoxification program, you may feel tired for the first week or so, but keep with it. It will pay off in the end!
After about three weeks, you will begin to feel much better than you did before. And you will start to see your body, energy, weight, and mood change for good!