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Foods that Help Balance Hormones

Hormones are the body's chemical messengers and play an important role in controlling various functions, like metabolism, mood, and reproduction. Hormonal imbalances can cause a wide range of health issues, including irregular periods, mood swings, and even more serious conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders.

Thankfully, the foods you eat have a large impact on how your body makes and uses hormones. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best foods that help hormone balance.  

Main Hormones

For the sake of this article, let’s define the role and function of four specific hormones that affect overall health. Food can play a big role in how well these hormones work.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and its primary role is to regulate blood sugar levels. Your pancreas releases insulin after you eat a meal containing carbohydrates. Insulin helps transport broken-down carbohydrates (i.e. glucose) from the bloodstream into your cells, where it is used for energy or stored for later use. High insulin levels are often seen in conditions like PCOS and type 2 diabetes.

Testosterone

Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by both men and women, but with higher levels normally seen in men. Testosterone plays a role in muscle growth, bone density, libido, and mood. Low testosterone levels can result in fatigue, decreased muscle mass, and low libido in both men and women. Excess testosterone in women can lead to symptoms like facial hair growth and acne.

Estrogen

Estrogen is another sex hormone primarily associated with female development and reproductive health. It's produced in the ovaries and, to a lesser extent, in the adrenal glands and fat cells. Estrogen plays a vital role in regulating the menstrual cycle, supporting pregnancy, and maintaining bone density. Too much or too little estrogen can lead to various issues, including irregular periods, fertility problems, and mood swings.

Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones are made by the thyroid gland. These hormones play a role in nearly every bodily function. For example, they help to control body temperature, metabolism, heart rate, and reproductive health. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and heavy periods, while an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can result in weight loss, anxiety, and irregular or no periods.

In the United States, the most common cause of hypo- and hyperthyroidism is Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, respectively. Learn more about the difference between these two autoimmune thyroid disorders. 

Foods That Help Balance Hormones

Your diet, as in the foods you eat, is incredibly important in supporting the health of the four main hormones discussed above. Next, let’s explore a few foods that, when incorporated into an overall healthy diet, can help balance hormones. 

Avocado

Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats that support hormone production and balance insulin and blood sugar levels. Avocados are also high in fiber which supports healthy estrogen detoxification in the gut. Enjoy avocado slices with your scrambled eggs, topped onto a salad, or mashed into guacamole and paired with raw veggies for a filling snack.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are a part of the brassica family. These vegetables contain specific compounds that help the body detoxify estrogen. This is particularly beneficial for women dealing with higher estrogen levels or conditions like estrogen dominance.

Here are some of our favorite cruciferous vegetables: 
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Arugula
  • Cabbage
  • Radishes
  • Turnips 
Ideas:
Use broccoli slaw or massaged kale in your salad base, add frozen cauliflower to your smoothies, or sauté Brussels sprouts for a crispy side.

Berries

Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients. These antioxidants combat oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can disrupt hormonal balance. For example, inflammation is one underlying cause of PCOS and can lead to excessively high insulin and testosterone levels. Add berries into your morning oats, enjoy them with a handful of nuts for a satisfying snack, or top them onto a salad for a pop of color and sweetness.

Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help to lower inflammation and promote optimal blood sugar balance. Fish is also a rich source of selenium and vitamin D which supports thyroid hormone production.  Aim to eat at least one serving of fish per week. If you aren’t a fan of fish or simply want to optimize your omega-3 levels, we suggest implementing an omega-3 supplement with fish oil into your daily routine. 
Root Omega 3

Omega 3

Fish oil that goes down easy and boosts Omega 3 levels
$56.00

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are rich sources of essential minerals, like magnesium, zinc, and selenium. These minerals are crucial for production of thyroid hormones, insulin sensitivity, and healthy testosterone levels.  Eating just ONE Brazil nut meets 100 percent of your daily selenium requirements.

Since all nuts and seeds have a unique nutrition profile, aim to eat a variety of these foods throughout the week: 

  • Make chia seed pudding
  • Add ground flaxseed to your oatmeal
  • Use a variety of nuts in homemade granola
  • Enjoy apple slices with almond butter
  • Top stir fry with cashews
  • Add hemp seeds to your smoothie for extra plant-based protein

Our Thyroid Support supplement provides zinc, selenium, and many other crucial nutrients shown to reduce inflammation and support the conversion of active thyroid hormone.
thyroid support supplement

Thyroid Support

The perfect synergy of nutrients for thyroid health.
$41.00

Root Plate for Meal Planning

While all of these foods provide a variety of nutritional benefits, the way you plan your meals is also key in supporting hormone balance. We use two separate methods to help our members create a meal plan for balanced hormones. 

The PFC Method and Root Plate™

Following a simple formula of protein + fat + fiber-rich carbohydrates at every meal and snack can help you balance hormone levels. Let’s review each of these macronutrients:

  • Protein: supports blood sugar balance, provides essential amino acids for hormone production, rich source of iron, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. 
  • Fat: supports blood sugar balance and healthy insulin levels, provides anti-inflammatory fatty acids, helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins 
  • Fiber-Rich Carbohydrates: preferred fuel source of healthy gut bacteria, necessary for regular bowel movements and estrogen detoxification, provides satiety and curbs sugar cravings 

The next step in planning meals for hormone balance is implementing the Root Plate™. The Root Plate™ is a great way to visualize PFC Balance without having to measure out portions or count calories. With this method, a quarter of your plate contains a protein source, the other quarter contains a source of fiber-rich carbohydrates, and half of your plate is full of non-starchy vegetables for added fiber and phytonutrients. We also recommend a serving of healthy fats, since fat is foundational in making sex hormones, balancing blood sugar, and keeping you satisfied after a meal.
picture of how root plate is divided

Key Takeaways

Foods that help hormone balance include avocados, cruciferous vegetables, salmon, berries, and nuts/seeds. Including these foods into your meals and snacks with the PFC method and Root Plate™ is even more effective in balancing blood sugar levels to support the four specific hormones featured in this article. Keep in mind that sleep, movement, and stress management are all interconnected in maintaining healthy hormone levels as well.
We offer hormone testing for our members and can help you create a plan to treat hormonal imbalance with our team of doctors and registered dietitians. Learn more about our functional medicine membership program.

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