4+ Foods to Help Balance Hormones
If you’re interested in balancing your hormones, you’re not alone! Perhaps you are looking to better manage your weight as your hormones fluctuate. Or maybe you’re addressing a health condition. You could even just want to look and feel better. There’s little doubt that hormones play a pivotal role in virtually all bodily functions. And finding foods to help balance hormones can impact your well-being, influence your metabolism, and boost your mood.
Hormones in the Body
When you think about hormones, your first thought is likely on reproductive health. Yet hormones aren’t just important for reproductive cycles. They are also heavily involved in mood, managing stress, controlling appetite, and general health and well-being for men and women.
When hormones are out of balance, you may feel fatigued, find it more difficult to think clearly, or feel more stressed, anxious, or even burnt out. It may also make it harder to lose weight, lead to irregular menstrual cycles for women, or make other health issues more challenging.
Blood sugar imbalances, increased inflammation, stress, poor sleep, nutrient deficiencies, and environmental factors can all disrupt hormone balance. And what we eat can have a huge impact on hormonal health, making it important to choose foods to help balance hormones.
4+ Foods to Help Balance Hormones
A variety of foods have been found to be particularly beneficial for helping balance hormones.
- Protein-rich foods help regulate hormones, including insulin, ghrelin, and leptin, which are important for appetite and metabolism. 1, 2 For instance, eating eggs can influence insulin and ghrelin, which are needed to regulate blood sugar and appetite. Eating eggs can help lower levels of appetite-stimulating hormones to help you manage weight.
Fatty fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Regularly eating fatty fish may help stabilize hunger hormones and help improve the balance of testosterone in women to support improved mood and energy levels. 3
Chicken is another high-quality protein that helps increase leptin, which can help you feel fuller for longer. In addition, protein supports muscle building and improves anabolic hormones like insulin and estrogen. 4
- Fiber-filled foods like vegetables and fruits help support healthy levels of inflammation and balance estrogen levels. 5 Leafy greens may not only help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels, but they may also help balance estrogen levels.
Cruciferous vegetables help process and remove excess estrogen from the body, making them one of the most important foods to help balance hormones, especially for conditions like estrogen dominance. 6, 7
Quinoa is a complex, high-fiber carbohydrate that’s also a good source of protein. 8 So, it can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which is vital for maintaining healthy levels of testosterone in women. This, in turn, may help manage PMS or menopausal symptoms.
- Antioxidant-rich foods also help balance hormones. 9 For example, fruits provide a wide range of antioxidants and nutrients that help support hormone regulation. Berries, in particular, are high in fiber and antioxidants to help the body eliminate excess estrogen and counteract excess inflammation, which can disrupt hormone balance.
Citrus fruits provide vitamin C, which may help boost progesterone levels, an important hormone for regulating the menstrual cycle. Pomegranates are also known for their potential to help reduce the production of excess estrogen, which may help people with hormone-sensitive conditions better manage symptoms.
Cherries are rich in melatonin, which may help improve sleep quality, which is important for balancing hormones. The magnesium in cherries may also help reduce cortisol and regulate adrenaline to lower anxiety levels.
- Healthy fats provide essential nutrients to aid in the production and regulation of key hormones. 10 Avocados, for example, are a good source of beta-sitosterol, which may influence blood cholesterol and cortisol levels. Avocados may also affect estrogen and progesterone in the body, which are important for the regulation of ovulation and menstrual cycles.
Nuts are another food high in healthy fats that may aid hormone production and help lower cholesterol and insulin levels as well as balance blood sugar levels. Brazil nuts, especially, may benefit thyroid health due to their rich selenium content.
Seeds also provide healthy fats. In addition, flaxseeds may help balance hormone levels as they’re rich in plant-based estrogen and fiber, which aid the body in the removal of excess hormones.
Olives and olive oil provide healthy fats and other nutrients to support hormonal balance, especially in relation to reproduction. 11, 12
Another healthy fat includes medium-chain fatty acids (aka MTC), which are found in coconut oil, palm kernel oils, and some supplements. According to a 2018 study, they may help support the body’s healthy response to insulin. 13
Other potentially beneficial foods include yogurt, especially full-fat yogurt, which provides probiotics and promotes gut health, which is closely linked with hormone health.
Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids and magnesium, which may help reduce insulin resistance and support hormonal health.
The key is to enjoy a diet that’s rich in a wide variety of whole, minimally processed foods to help maintain hormonal balance.
Lifestyle Changes for Hormone Harmony
Diet isn’t the only thing that impacts hormone levels. Key lifestyle changes can also have a positive impact.
- Regular, consistent physical activity can help balance hormones by reducing insulin levels and increasing insulin sensitivity. 14 Aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching (e.g., yoga) are particularly beneficial, especially when combined into a balanced workout plan. Even walking regularly may improve hormone levels, helping promote strength and quality of life. 15 In addition, regularly moving your body can help reduce stress, decrease appetite, and help you manage your weight. 16
- Stress management is important as chronic stress can lead to imbalances, especially when it comes to cortisol and adrenaline. 17 Adding mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or just listening to music to your regular routine can help lower stress levels. 18
- Quality sleep is crucial for hormonal balance. 19 Skipping out on ZZZs or suffering through some sleepless nights can disrupt several hormones, including cortisol, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin. Shoot to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night by creating a restful bedtime routine, lowering lights in the evening, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. 20
- Watch for endocrine disruptors from plastics, personal care products, and pesticides. 21 Striving to reduce exposure to these types of chemicals may help you better manage hormone levels. Start by choosing organic produce, using clean or natural personal care products, and avoiding storing and heating foods in plastics when possible is a good start.
- Maintain a healthy weight as excess fat, especially around the waist or on the belly can both indicate and lead to hormonal imbalances. 22
- Consume alcohol in moderation as excessive amounts can negatively affect hormone levels. 23
- Drink plenty of water and stay well-hydrated, which is important for healthy hormone balance and overall health and well-being.
- Check in on your gut health as a healthy gut microbiome is a prerequisite for healthy hormone levels. 24 Consume probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods to support the gut balance.
- Limit sugar and refined carbohydrate intake as high amounts can lead to insulin resistance and cause hormonal imbalances. 25
- Create positive relationships as social support can improve mental and physical health and reduce stress, which both indirectly support hormonal balance.
Foods to Help Balance Hormones Wrap-up
Balancing hormones is not just about what we eat but also how we live our lives. A diet that’s rich in protein, fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats can play a pivotal role in maintaining hormonal harmony.
Our dietary choices are just one piece of a complex and intricate puzzle. Lifestyle factors are equally important as they work synergistically with the foods we eat for improved hormonal health.