Here in the clinic, we work with a lot of ladies suffering from hormonal imbalances.  Whether it be premenstrual syndrome (PMS), period pain, menopausal symptoms, or PCOS, we find that few women escape their reproductive years unscathed.  In fact, up to 80% of women experience PMS, more than 50% of women will develop fibroids by the age of fifty.  Roughly the same percentage will experience mild-to-moderate menopausal symptoms, with 25% being severe.

The trouble is that somewhere along the line, we’ve come to accept the hormonal see-saw as being normal.  Whilst symptoms may be common – this doesn’t mean that they are ideal.  In fact, you can view your hormonal balance as being a reflection of your overall health – a bit like your body’s ‘monthly report card’ if you will (a term I've borrowed from hormone guru, Lara Briden).

We’ve also come to view these issues as being largely up to chance, and untreatable.  Other than the option of turning to pharmaceutical medication such as the Pill or other hormonal therapies, there really aren't many conventional options available to women to help them effectively manage hormonal fluctuations.  But taking this approach has left a valuable strategy largely ignored – and that is harnessing the power of the food that we eat each day.

I find living in the modern times to be the ultimate puzzle in some ways.  Never before have we had so much food readily available...and never before has such a large percentage of it been so detrimental to our health.  The funny thing is that when I am working with a patient suffering from hormonal imbalance, food is always the first thing we address.  After all, you can’t build a house without a solid foundation.

Feed Your Hormones

The great thing about using nutrition as a starting point is that it is a very simple, yet empowering, way to make positive changes.  Whilst of course a nutritious diet is always a good idea in any situation, there are foods that have been shown to be particularly beneficial for supporting female hormones.  These include:

  • Members of the cabbage family.  Broccoli (particularly broccoli sprouts), cauliflower, cabbage and kale should feature at the top of your shopping list.  Not only are these versatile veggies great for your digestive system, they also help to activate key aspects of your detoxification pathways.  Healthy detoxification of hormones (such as oestrogen) and substances in the environment is crucial to keeping the balance, and minimising the risk of developing hormonally-driven conditions such as endometriosis
  • Foods high in magnesium.  Magnesium deficiency is common amongst the population (in fact, the majority of people do not obtain enough magnesium from their food).  But this super-dooper mineral is particularly important for women during their reproductive years.  Magnesium helps to support healthy moods, energy production and helps to reduce inflammation in the body.  Choose foods such as eggs, chicken, sesame seeds, nuts and dark chocolate (yes, really!) for a magnesium boost.
  • Gut-friendly foods.  Emerging evidence is increasingly showing just how important gut health is to our overall wellbeing – and that includes our hormonal balance.  Your microbiome (your unique collection of gut bacteria) not only plays a role in estrogen levels within the body, but it can also influence other areas you may not realise, such as your appetite, your weight, and how effectively your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat.  So it goes without saying that we want our gut to be in tip-top shape, if we want to have tip-top hormonal balance.  Try to feed your microbiome by including foods that are rich in both probiotics (beneficial types of bacteria) such as yoghurt, and prebiotics (compounds that encourage the growth of beneficial bacterial populations) like oats and garlic.

The Hormone Messer-Uppers

Just as there are foods that we can use to help our hormones, there are also those that can really upset the apple cart if we are eating them too often.  These include:

  • Bad fats such as those found in packaged foods like biscuits, and deep-fried foods.  These kinds of fats drive inflammation within the body, as they upset your balance of Omega-3 fats.  If you currently cook with vegetable oil, try swapping to an extra-virgin olive oil, and use a homemade dressing of macadamia/avocado oil with balsamic vinegar in place of commercial mayonnaise.
  • Sugar is another food that is definitely the enemy of healthy hormones!  Eating too many sugary foods can also drive cravings and increase your appetite, which doesn’t help you stay balanced.
  • Junk foods can encourage the growth of unhealthy varieties of bacteria within your gut microbiome.  Just as there are varieties of flora that have a beneficial effect on health, there are also those that have been shown to contribute to poor health – and this can mean you are more likely to experience digestive discomfort, food intolerances, low resilience to infections or even depression.   Ultimately, we want to keep these unhealthy populations to a minimum by avoiding junk food where possible.

Get To The Nitty-Gritty

If you are serious about getting your hormonal see-saw under control, we have strategies available that go further.

The feedback from participants in our highly successful personalised nutrition program Metabolic Balance has been overwhelmingly positive - not only is it great for weight-loss (which in turn is good for hormonal health), it is also one of the ways we help women feel like they are back in the driver's seat of their health once more.   We’ve had some terrific reports from ladies who have told us about the improvements they've noticed in their PMS, cravings, moods, mental clarity, hot flushes and even pain levels. 

The best thing about using ‘food as medicine’ approach is that ultimately, it is empowering.  We gain the insight into the foods that suit us best, and rather than being at the mercy of our hormones, we are truly able to reclaim our health once more.  This is really what natural health is all about - now, and for the future.



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