How Our Diet Affects Our Hormones
If you’re struggling with hormonal imbalance, a good place to look at first is your diet. Especially if you’re eating the Standard American Diet (SAD)—the acronym says it all. Rich in processed foods, starchy carbs, sugar, and fast food, SAD leads to symptoms like moodiness, weight gain, fatigue, sleeplessness, wrinkles, and increase disease risk. It’s also a top contributor to hormonal imbalance.
What to expect if you stick to this diet long-term
A poor diet contributes to aging and hormone imbalance by raising insulin levels, increasing cortisol production, and increasing estrogen stores in fat cells. Let’s take a deeper look at what each of these issues means.
- High insulin. If you’re consuming large amounts of low-nutrient carbs—processed foods, sugary beverages, drive-thru meals, cookies, pasta, etc.—you will cause your body to increase its insulin production in an attempt to balance blood sugar levels. This leads to insulin resistance and can cause slower metabolism, weight gain, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
- High cortisol. Cortisol is a crucial hormone for multiple functions in the body like the sleep/wake cycle, blood sugar levels, appetite, food, mood, and energy. Excess levels are problematic as they can impair the function of the body down-regulating key hormones like testosterone and progesterone and increase fat storage and steal energy. Common causes of high cortisol levels are high consumption of sugar and starchy carbs, skipping sleep, and keeping yourself in highly stressful situations.
- High estrogen. Increased fat stores, especially around the middle, raise levels of circulating estrogen, which can contribute to breast cancer. Excess estrogen has been linked to low libido, sluggish metabolism, memory loss, depleted muscle mass, and depression.
Eat your way to better hormones
- Dark leafy greens. Spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss chard, etc. help fight inflammation, lower cortisol levels and increase energy levels. Turn yourself into a lean, green, hormonal imbalance-fighting machine!
- Omega-3-rich foods. Walnuts, salmon, olive oil, flax, and chia seeds all help decrease cholesterol, improve memory, elevate mood, and decrease inflammation. SAD tends to be higher in omega-6-rich foods which can contribute to inflammation, so try and make sure your ratio leans more toward omega-3s.
- Turmeric. Typically used as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, it also helps achieve balanced hormone levels.
- Avocado. A delicious healthy fat that naturally decreases cortisol and cholesterol levels.
- Coconut, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. These guys contain medium chain triglycerides, MCT, which improve blood sugar regulation, and metabolism, and help regulate appetite. If you’re familiar with the bulletproof coffee trend, you’ve probably heard of MCT oil.
- Alkaline water. This water improves the body’s alkalinity resulting in high pH levels in your gut which means less acid. This helps combat inflammation and support hormonal balance.
- Eggs. We know the prices of this incredible protein have spiked recently, but they’re coming back down which is great news. Eggs have a positive impact on insulin and ghrelin, the two hormones that control blood sugar and appetite respectively.
- Cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, etc., all help process and remove excess estrogen.
- Quinoa. This magical seed cooks faster than rice and is a complete protein. It keeps testosterone levels even and helps enable blood sugar stabilization.
- Pomegranates. Packed with antioxidants, this fruit helps block excess estrogen production.
- Cherries. Rich in melatonin and magnesium, which help aid in sleep. Magnesium also reduces cortisol and regulates adrenaline.
Supplements for added support
Understandably, it isn’t always possible to keep up with a diet. Maybe you’re on vacation or maybe you have a jam-packed week and need quick and easy meals. This is where supplementation comes in and we’ve created some great products just for that.
- The Balanced Cycle Bundle: Great for supporting your hormones and your menstrual cycle, this duo gives you better moods, more energy, and fewer cravings, bloating, and cramping.
- 40+ Essentials: Support your metabolic and sex hormones as you enter menopause with this duo that helps create better moods, fewer night sweats, fewer cravings, and hot flashes.
- Pre+Probiotic for Women: The key to a healthy gut and happier hormones, this supplement supports the microbiome and immunity while reducing bloating and soothing the intestines.
Modern medicine is a beautiful thing, but for chronic conditions, lifestyle and diet changes tend to have fewer side effects than taking prescribed pills. We’re not saying these changes are easier, sometimes they even seem harder, but the good news is that having one cookie isn’t going to throw your entire system out of balance. Moderation is key here. Think in terms of the 80/20 rule—eat like this 80% of the time and let yourself indulge 20% of the time. This ensures you keep your hormones in balance without sacrificing your sanity.