• Gillian McKinnon

Healthy hormone balance


Many women struggle with hormone imbalance and accept it as “normal” because it is so common. However it doesn't need to be part of your daily life and there is plenty you can do to reduce the common symptoms, which can include:


  • fluid retention

  • painful breasts

  • mood swings/anxiety/irritability/fatigue

  • sugar cravings

  • acne breakouts

  • heavy bleeding

  • low libido

More serious symptoms include:

  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

  • endometriosis

  • fertility issues

It is important to know that these symptoms are usually able to be corrected with the right diet and lifestyle and that you don’t have to accept them as part of your life.


The top things to consider are:


Healthy diet

Are you getting a minimum of five serves of vegetables and two of fruit every day? Are you eating healthy fats and proteins and wholegrain carbohydrates? Are you avoiding food that doesn’t nourish you, ie. fried foods, high sugar foods, highly processed foods, or foods that you are allergic or intolerant to?


Sleep

Are you going to bed at a sensible time for you? Are you falling asleep quickly and sleeping through the night? Do you awake feeling refreshed and ready to face a new day?


Stress

Are you managing your stress in a healthy and proactive way? Do you use techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, prayer, belly breathing or time in nature (all proven to reduce stress) to support your response to stress?


Weight

Are you maintaining a healthy body weight? High body fat can increase oestrogen production and worsen hormonal symptoms. A very low body weight can also cause disruption.


Toxin exposure

Do you choose personal care products that are low in parabens, BPA and other hormone disrupting toxins? Do you smoke, or drink alcohol to excess? Do you work with chemicals on a regular basis?


Detoxification

Do you help your liver to clear toxins by choosing foods that contain healthy proteins, b-vitamins, magnesium, zinc and selenium? Do you minimise the load your liver has to process by minimising alcohol and junk-food consumption? Are you supporting your bowel with adequate fibre and water?


Thyroid function

Is your thyroid functioning properly? Have you had unexplained weight changes, fatigue, body temperature changes or dry skin? These can be symptoms of poor thyroid function and can affect your hormone function.


It may sound like there is a lot to do but it can actually be relatively simple and considering (and acting on!) the above things will help considerably. Some people may also need short-term supplementation to help get them back on track initially. Products that facilitate liver function, oestrogen clearance, and those that contain b-vitamins and magnesium can be very helpful here. Particular foods can also help, including those that contain phytoestrogens and those that help your liver to process oestrogen.


Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are natural plant components that are structurally similar to oestrogens and have very mild hormone-like effects when consumed. Phytoestrogens do not produce the full range of oestrogen-like actions but modulate oestrogen by binding to oestrogen receptors in cells. They help to reduce oestrogen if it is high and raise it if low and should form a part of every woman’s diet.


Dietary sources of phytoestrogens include:

Soy products:

Soy beans

Tofu

Miso

Soy milk


Grains, including:

Oats

Rice

Barley

Quinoa

Nuts & seeds, such as:

Flaxseed/linseed (especially good)

Sesame and sunflower seeds

Pistachios and almonds


Legumes:

Chickpeas

Lentils

Red kidney beans


Soy products are the richest natural source of phytoestrogens. Choose organic where possible and avoid the addition of sweeteners in soymilks and yoghurts. If you have a known thyroid issue be aware not to consume excessive amounts of soy.


Foods to aid oestrogen clearance

As well as phytoestrogen rich foods, including foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale), omega 3 foods (salmon, eggs, chia), and foods high in fibre (fruits and vegetables and wholegrains) will help your liver to send oestrogen down the right pathway and clear it from your body. Make sure you are drinking enough water to help your bowel move regularly.


Remember, just because hormonal symptoms are common doesn't mean they are normal and there is much you can do. Try some of the below meal ideas to help balance your hormones effectively and help you feel well again.

Healthy hormone meal ideas


Breakfast

  • Soy milk smoothie with strawberries, banana and linseed meal

  • Sourdough soy and linseed toast with unhulled tahini, raw honey and banana

  • Sourdough rye toast with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and sesame seed sprinkle

  • Bircher muesli with dried apricot, soy yoghurt and ground LSA


Lunch

  • Quinoa salad with salmon, and tahini dressing

  • Felafel with tabouli and hummus

  • Rye sandwich with alfalfa, goats cheese and avocado

  • Miso soup with fresh tofu

Dinner

  • Indian lentil curry on brown rice with sunflower seed sprinkle

  • Roast vegetable salad, including zucchini or button squash, with goats cheese and a lemon and olive dressing

  • Buckwheat or spelt pasta with tofu bolognese sauce

  • Tofu and Asian greens in black bean and garlic sauce

Snacks

  • Edamame beans

  • Rye toast with hummus

  • Blissball with tahini, sunflower seeds, dried apricots and dates

  • Red clover tea, sage tea or green tea

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