Many of us know our daily diets and food choices can affect things like our energy levels, mood, and sleep, but did you know certain foods can also affect things like our hormone health? Photo by Brooke Lark.
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They help control practically every physiological process in the body including appetite, body temperature, growth, immune health, menstruation, metabolism, reproduction, and stress levels. This is why it is important to pay attention to what you are eating and how it could possibly be affecting you and your daily lifestyle.
There are specific foods that influence our hormones, especially in women as they age. (Hello menopause). Think of foods like caffeine, dairy products, overly processed foods, red meat, and soy. Now, these foods are not being villainized here, all foods can be enjoyed in moderation if you choose to eat them, but there are certain foods that may have a larger impact on your overall health and well-being. Here are some of the foods that may be impacting your hormones.
*Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals, so if you think your daily food choices may be impacting your overall health, including your hormone health, please contact your primary care physician, endocrinologist, or registered dietitian to schedule an appointment and have a deeper discussion about your own unique health journey.
We love a good cup of caffeine just as much as the next person, but drinking too much caffeine can not only affect your sleep cycle, but it can also affect your hormone health. Caffeine stimulates the release of cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and thereby brings the body into a high-alert state. If you want to quell your hormones and keep them in balance, avoid caffeine altogether or enjoy it in moderation. Photo by Mike Kenneally
Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, but a high intake of dairy can affect overall hormone balance. Eating too much dairy can lead to gut inflammation and irritation. Dairy products are also said to increase sebum production and aggravate acne-prone skin, so if you are struggling with any skin issues and a clear complexion, you may want to decrease the dairy. Some sources of dairy may also contain growth hormones which may affect the liver. If you dread giving up your beloved dairy, consider swapping out your usual go-to options for plant-based options like coconut yogurt, nut cheese, or seed-based milk. Photo by Shawn.
Overly processed and refined foods, like cookies, pastries, and ready-to-eat meals, usually contain higher amounts of extra additives and ingredients like preservatives, sodium, and sugar. Unfortunately, a diet higher in these types of foods has been linked to adverse health outcomes that can lead to ailments and disease.
Overly processed and refined foods can affect hormone function by increasing inflammation and stress, specifically to the adrenal glands, which may ultimately put you at risk for hormonal imbalances and perhaps even unintentional weight gain. The moral of the story is you can still enjoy these foods, but stick to serving sizes and enjoy sparingly or avoid them entirely. Photo by No Revisions.
Red meat contains high amounts of hydrogenated fats and saturated fats, both of which are considered unhealthy. Consuming too much red meat can disrupt hormonal balance and it may increase the production of estrogen in the body, which may throw off the delicate balance of all of the other hormones in your body. (Hormones are small, but oh so mighty).
Not saying you cannot enjoy red meat, but perhaps do so in moderation. If you are really looking to decrease your red meat consumption or abstain from it entirely, look to other foods like eggs and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. These are all naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids that contain anti-inflammatory properties. Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade.
Soy products like soy milk and tofu contain a bioactive substance known as phytoestrogen, which acts like estrogen in the body. When soy is consumed in high amounts, the body may think it already has an ample supply of real sex hormones like estrogen, which may ultimately cause it to produce less estrogen on its own. Something so innocuous as eating soy may affect the ovulation cycle, which can cause an impact on overall reproductive health. Photo by engin akyurt.
If you are focused on eating for healthy hormones, what should you eat instead? Well if you are focused on hormone health, always consult your primary care physician or registered dietitian before making any dietary or lifestyle changes, but include more mindful foods like:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale
- Fatty fish high in omega-3’s like albacore tuna and wild-caught salmon
- High-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains (Oatmeal anyone?)
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Prebiotic and probiotic-containing foods
Photo by Kelly Sikkema.
Foods can affect many areas of our health, including our hormone health, so if you are looking for a more balanced diet to support your hormone health, enjoy some of these foods in moderation and start incorporating more of these others today.
- Stay Healthy and Happy
Need some new recipe ideas to better support your own hormone health? Check out @MBVeganandvegetarianShare or join our CEO live @itsnolasnacks every other Sunday when she shares some delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. Do not worry, even if you are not vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.
Tag us @itsnolasnacks so we can see all of your favorite hormone-balancing meals and snacks.