Leveraging your nutrition for hormone health

Leveraging your nutrition for hormone health

Last week, we zeroed in on food cravings. Unfortunately, they are important to introduce early in this series exploring nutrition and hormones because food cravings are greatly impacted by our hormone health and they don’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, level of fitness, etc. So as you recognize and work through food cravings, remember, there’s no judgment as you get to the root of the craving and you are not crazy.

Hormones are crazy! Endocrinologists dedicate their entire medical practice to studying and caring for patients with hormone imbalances. When we think of hormone-related conditions, it’s easy to think of menopause, but prediabetes, diabetes, and thyroid disorders are also in this category of health. There are plenty more medical conditions and here is a list of a few hormones in the bodies of women:

  • Insulin
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Leptin and ghrelin
  • Estrogen and progesterone

Symptoms of hormone imbalances vary, but The Cleveland Clinic shares:

  • Slow heartbeat or rapid heartbeat (tachycardia).
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.
  • Numbness and tingling in your hands.
  • Higher-than-normal blood cholesterol levels.
  • Depression or anxiety

So how can you leverage your nutrition to promote hormone health? Auris Northwest Health shares: 

  • Swap refined carbs for whole foods: Cutting back on added sugars and refined, or simple, carbohydrates will reduce insulin resistance. Refined carbohydrates are found in salty snack foods such as pretzels, crackers and chips, fast food, white bread and pasta, regular soda, and sweets such as cookies, cakes, candy and pastries.
  • Try replacing some of these processed carbohydrates with natural, whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, beans, chickpeas and lentils.
  • Try healthy fats: To support healthy leptin and ghrelin levels, incorporate foods with healthy fats into your eating plan. Examples include fish, walnuts, other nuts and seeds, and olive oil.
  • Look for protein: Eating protein at every meal, but especially at breakfast, can help reduce your ghrelin levels. Lower ghrelin levels, in turn, may reduce overeating later in the day. Try eggs or Greek yogurt for breakfast.
  • Relieve menopause symptoms: While you can’t get estrogen from your diet, foods containing phytoestrogens—like flaxseed and soy—can help relieve symptoms.
  • Eat enough iodine: Fish, seaweed, iodized salt and eggs are good sources of iodine.
  • Feel fuller with fiber: Fiber can keep you full longer, too. Oatmeal, or a high-fiber, high-protein breakfast cereal will help you start the day in a healthy way.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin D: Vitamin D, which is found in tuna, egg yolks, and fortified milks and cereals, is an important nutrient for women.

Which tips above are you incorporating in your nutrition? Which might be worth trialing out? 


By Victoria Emmitt RD

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