How to balance your hormones naturally, according to OB/GYNs and RNs
The old saying “you are what you eat” rings true with hormones. The types of food and drink you consume are directly correlated to your hormone levels and can positively or negatively affect how they move through your body. It’s not just reproductive hormones—there are other key hormones that affect overall health, such as hunger hormones (such as insulin, leptin, and ghrelin) that help regulate a person’s appetite, satiety, and blood sugar levels.
“It’s all connected,” says Maggie Michalczyk, RD, Chicago-based registered dietitian and author of the recipe and nutrition blog Once Upon A Pumpkin. So when it’s time to eat or snack, you don’t just fill your stomach; you support (or hinder) your hormonal function.
According to Michalczyk, the best meals and snacks for hormone balance are balanced, meaning they contain protein, healthy fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrates. Leafy greens, vegetables, certain fruits (such as berries), nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are great options, Michalczyk says, because whole, unprocessed foods “can help maintain healthy levels of hormones like insulin (blood sugar hormones), cortisol (stress hormones) and others”.
Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad, so even the healthiest foods should be eaten in moderation. For example, some plants and seeds (such as flax, soybeans, berries, etc.) are rich in estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, which some studies suggest may affect hormone levels in women. According to the data of 2020 Nutrients review is still unclear how phytoestrogens affect the female body1so it’s best to work with a registered dietitian or endocrinologist if you have specific hormonal concerns.
On the other hand, processed foods, refined sugar, and alcohol are foods to avoid for hormone balance as they are known to disrupt hormone function. and can affect inflammation in the body, hormone signaling, insulin levels, and more.
What’s more, certain food groups (such as dairy and gluten) can contribute to unwanted hormonal fluctuations in some people. That’s why registered nurse, holistic nutritionist, and certified women’s health coach Brooke Davis, RN, recommends working with a nutritionist to “identify any food sensitivities or intolerances for research. [hormonal health concerns] further”.