Discover the healthy food choices that can help keep your hormones in balance.
Hormonal imbalances can be the cause of a host of health concerns: weight gain, sluggishness, stress, low libido and more. Because hormones—your body's chemical messengers—are so powerful, a precise balance is necessary for your body to function properly.
If you suspect a hormone imbalance is getting in the way of your health, a doctor or nutritionist can help you get to the root of the problem. To get started, use the Find a Doctor tool to search for an in-network provider near you.
There are some things you can do on your own that can help balance your hormones, such as changing up your diet. Read on to learn how the foods you eat can improve your hormonal health—and your overall health.
The hormones behind weight gain
Insulin: This hormone tells your body how to use sugar. However, many people become insulin resistant, which means that high levels of both sugar and insulin remain in your bloodstream. This can lead to obesity and greater risk of diabetes and heart disease. The best way to avoid insulin resistance? Reduce sugar intake and cut down on carbs, especially refined carbs like white bread and pretzels.
Leptin and ghrelin (a.k.a. the "hunger hormones"): These hormones suppress and trigger your appetite. People who are overweight or obese usually have high levels of leptin. By eating anti-inflammatory foods—like fatty fish, nuts and leafy greens—you can improve your sensitivity to leptin, and get your appetite suppressor back in action. As for ghrelin, eating protein at every meal, especially breakfast, can help reduce your ghrelin levels so you avoid overeating.
Thyroid hormones: These hormones control the speed of your metabolism. When the levels are too low, you might have an underactive thyroid, which causes your metabolism to slow down. In this case, you want to make sure you have enough iodine in your diet, which can be found in seaweed and eggs.
Estrogen: This female sex hormone can cause changes in weight, especially for premenopausal women. What can help? Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as flaxseed, have been shown to be good for balancing estrogen.
Making sure your body has the right foods to promote hormonal balance means making healthy food choices, which isn't always easy. To help, Regence Advantages offers discounts on healthy meal planning and delivery—so even with a busy schedule, you can keep your diet, and your hormones, under better control.
Hormones and women's health
Hormonal imbalances: Your hormones are always fluctuating throughout the month, but sometimes imbalances can cause symptoms like irregular or heavy periods, fatigue, weight gain and depression.
To keep your hormones in balance, avoid high glycemic foods like white bread, fruit juice and sugar (these can change the way estrogen is metabolized) and replace them with vegetables and whole grains. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a common hormonal disorder, is linked with inflammation—so a diet high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats found in fish and nuts can help restore hormonal balance.
Menopause: When your estrogen levels drop during menopause, you may experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and changes in mood. While you can't get estrogen from your diet, foods containing phytoestrogens—like flaxseed and soy—can help relieve symptoms.
If you're experiencing symptoms of imbalance, or weight gain that doesn't respond to diet and exercise, talk to your primary care doctor. They can determine whether you should get your thyroid tested or whether menopause might be the cause.
While maintaining a certain diet won't necessarily fix your hormone-related problems and many need medical treatment, making healthy food choices can help keep some of your hormones in balance.