Hormone imbalances can present themselves countless ways. Maybe you experience thyroid dysfunction, irritability, anxiety, depression, or even skin issues, but can’t quite pinpoint what is triggering your symptoms. More times than not, those pesky hormones are to blame. Our hormones are chemicals messengers that travel all throughout the body and are responsible for processes such as metabolism and growth. However, they also play a role in our overall behavior as well as our immune function. When an imbalance is present, all different aspects of health can go haywire.
When you think about hormone balance, what comes to mind? For many, things like reducing stress or evening supporting the body with hormone balancing supplements often come to mind. However, food plays an equally important role. In fact, some of the foods you may enjoy on a daily basis may be contributing to some sort of hormonal imbalance.
Let’s take a look at the four foods that can lead to hormone imbalance and then look at some of the foods you can enjoy to promote harmonious hormone balance.
Four Foods That Can Cause Hormone Imbalance
#1 Sugar: We all know that sugar is bad, but just how bad can sugar be? Sugar can be detrimental to hormone balance as it can cause an increase in insulin in response to the high levels of sugar in the body. When you continue to consume an excess amount of sugar, you can develop insulin resistance where your cells become resistant to insulin, and you wind up with high insulin as well as high blood sugar.
Insulin itself is a hormone, and it stores fat in the midsection, exactly where we don’t want it! Having high levels of insulin in the body can also lead to PCOS(polycystic ovarian syndrome) since too much insulin can actually cause the body to make more testosterone that it should be.
The good news is that eliminating or at least significantly reducing the amount of sugar in your diet can greatly improve insulin resistance. Be sure to check all food labels and stay away from foods with added sugars. To make the transition easier, you can use natural sweeteners in place of regular sugar. Things like raw honey and pure maple syrup are good options but remember that these are still high in sugar, so keep them to a minimum as well.
#2 Dairy: Dairy consumption is often a hot topic of conversation. While some people seem to tolerate milk products well, others cannot consume any form of dairy without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. While not all dairy products are necessarily bad, there are some that can certainly cause hormonal chaos. Conventional, non-organic dairy products are what we need to watch out for. Many cows are given steroids, antibiotics, and hormones to help them produce more milk. The problem with this is that those added toxins then make their way into the milk we consume. As you can imagine, this can cause hormonal imbalance and can even lead to skin issues and inflammation.
If you suspect you may be dealing with a dairy allergy or sensitivity, try eliminating it from your diet for at least two weeks to see if your symptoms start to resolve. Just be sure to check the nutritional label on everything you eat as dairy has a way of hiding in many different foods.
#3 Refined Carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta, and even white rice can be problematic. All of these foods can lead to blood sugar imbalances. Refined carbohydrates like pasta, bread, cookies, and cake can also lead to inflammation in the body and gluten, in particular, can lead to issues with the thyroid gland. The thyroid plays a crucial role in hormone balance and metabolism, so we want to do everything we can to eliminate foods that may lead to any form of thyroid disruption.
#4 Soy: Soy products can cause issues for anyone who may be experiencing a sensitivity to estrogen. Since soy is a phytoestrogen, it mimics the estrogen in the body and can cause issues with naturally occurring estrogen in the body. Having an excess of estrogen can lead to weight gain, thyroid issues, mood swings, as well as fatigue. Not only that, but soy is a huge GMO crop, so it is often heavily sprayed with pesticides which can also trigger issues with our hormones.
Achieving hormone balance is essential for overall health. Not only are our hormones responsible for key processes in the body like temperature regulation, metabolism, mood, and energy, but achieving hormone balance will certainly help us feel better. If you suspect that a hormone imbalance is at the root of your health issues, try eliminating these four foods. Once eliminated, you can also work on including foods that support hormone balance into your diet.
These foods include:
- Healthy Fats: Coconut, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, ghee, wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
- Dark leafy green vegetables: Kale, collard greens, asparagus, broccoli.
- Herbs & Spices: Cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garlic.
- Plant-Based Protein: Beans, lentils, quinoa.
Rebecca Jacobs is a Holistic Nutritionist, owner of Holistic Balance Nutrition. She is passionate about helping people restore their balance through using food as medicine. She is a Nutrition Consultant and offers private consultations for diet analysis, individualized meal plans, cooking and shopping tips, as well as individualized dietary and supplement recommendations.