Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate various aspects of our health, such as metabolism, mood, reproduction, and stress. When our hormones are out of balance, we may experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, acne, mood swings, and infertility. While there are many factors that can affect our hormone levels, such as genetics, medications, and environmental toxins, one of the most important and modifiable ones is our diet.
What we eat can either support or disrupt our hormone balance, depending on the quality and quantity of our food choices. In this article, we will explore how to eat for hormone balance, based on the latest scientific evidence and expert recommendations.
What is the hormone diet?
The hormone diet is a popular book and diet program by Dr. Natasha Turner, a naturopathic doctor from Canada. The book claims that by following a three-step plan that involves detoxification, wellness, and maintenance phases, you can reset your hormones and lose weight, improve your energy, enhance your memory, and slow down aging.
The hormone diet focuses on eliminating foods that may cause inflammation, allergies, or hormonal imbalances, such as gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, peanuts, red meat, and citrus fruits. It also encourages eating foods that support hormone production and function, such as lean protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and anti-inflammatory spices.
The hormone diet also recommends taking nutritional supplements to boost your hormone levels and detoxify your body. Some of the supplements suggested by the book are fish oil, turmeric, probiotics, magnesium, vitamin D3, zinc, selenium, iodine, and adaptogens.
Does the hormone diet work?
There is some evidence that certain dietary patterns and nutrients can affect hormone levels and health outcomes. For example:
- A Mediterranean-style diet that is rich in olive oil, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been shown to lower inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce the risk of breast cancer, and enhance fertility.
- A low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet that restricts carbs to less than 50 grams per day has been shown to lower insulin levels, improve polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms, and promote weight loss.
- A high-fiber diet that includes at least 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams for men has been shown to lower estrogen levels, improve bowel movements, and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been shown to lower inflammation, improve mood disorders, and support brain health.
- Probiotics from fermented foods or supplements have been shown to modulate the gut microbiome, which can affect hormone production and metabolism.
- Turmeric and its active compound curcumin have been shown to lower inflammation, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and improve metabolic syndrome.
However, there is no conclusive evidence that following the hormone diet as a whole can balance your hormones or provide the benefits claimed by the book. The hormone diet is based on the opinions of its creator and not on rigorous scientific research. It also involves a lot of restrictions and supplements that may not be necessary or suitable for everyone.
How to eat for hormone balance
While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for hormone balance, there are some general principles that can help you optimize your hormonal health. Here are some tips on how to eat for hormone balance:
- Eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups: protein (lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs), healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds), complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables), and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants).
- Avoid or limit foods that may cause inflammation or hormonal imbalances: processed foods (chips, cookies, candy), refined sugars (soda, candy, pastries), saturated fats (butter, cheese, red meat), trans fats (margarine, shortening, fried foods), alcohol, caffeine.
- Choose organic foods when possible to avoid exposure to pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics that may disrupt your endocrine system.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out toxins from your body.
- Eat at regular intervals to keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent cravings.
- Practice mindful eating to listen to your hunger and fullness cues and enjoy your food without distractions.
- Consult with your doctor before taking any supplements or making any drastic changes to your diet.
Hormones play a vital role in our health and well-being. By eating a balanced and varied diet that supports our hormone production and function, we can improve our physical and mental health, prevent chronic diseases, and achieve our wellness goals.