Nourish your hormones

sliced avocado fruit on white chopping board

By Alison Smyth Registered Nutrition @ Connected Health

The importance of eating the right foods to nourish our hormones cannot be underestimated especially during peri-menopause and menopause. 

Nutrition and lifestyle play a huge role in hormonal health and by focusing on them you can significantly improve your digestion, absorption of nutrients, weight, skin, energy levels, brain function, bone health and more. 

seeds and grains in stored in glass jars

Obviously, there is no one diet that suits everybody as we are all biochemically unique and different foods work for different people, however, some crucial nutrients and lifestyle tweaks can really help to support our hormones.

Our stress hormone ‘Cortisol’ is one of the main culprits for increased belly fat, there are four times the amount of cortisol receptors in abdominal fat and if consistent and chronic stress is experienced, fat can start to accumulate in that area.  Eating a whole foods diet that is devoid of stressors to the body such as vegetable oils, processed foods and sugar will help to eliminate any possible food irritants as will avoiding potential food sensitivities. Many people can be sensitive to gluten, dairy, nightshades, soy, egg, or corn and be unaware that eating foods that contain them are causing unwanted symptoms such as digestive dysfunction, bloating, headaches, or joint pain.                         

It can be helpful to observe if you have any reactions after eating these foods.

Incorporating stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, walking in nature, soaking in magnesium rich Epsom salts bath can help to switch on our parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and repair function. This can aid a reduction of Cortisol so providing more resource to make oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone which can fluctuate and decline during peri-menopause.

Detoxification of old hormones is crucial to help to eliminate excess oestrogen and stop it from recirculating. Cruciferous vegetables are hormone superheroes, they contain ‘Indole-3-carbinol’ and help our bodies to detoxify effectively. Eating cruciferous vegetables every day such as broccoli, kale, watercress, rocket, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage and brussell sprouts helps our bodies with this process.  It’s advantageous that vegetables are Organic to avoid unwanted pesticides.

We require good fats such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, coconut milk, almond milk, bone stock, extra virgin olive oil, oily fish- salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and anchovies to make our hormones reduce inflammation and help to keep our skin and cells flexible.  A good amount to eat could be roughly 15% of your daily calories.

Eating protein at each meal, opting for organic, grass fed (where possible to avoid hormones and antibiotics) balances blood sugar and helps to provide energy and reduce cravings. Regular, good-quality proteins like nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, beans provide the amino acids and tyrosine, an important building block for thyroid hormones. You should vary these with plant-based proteins such as organic tofu, tempeh, beans and pulses.                                                                                        

Lentils, chickpeas, and flaxseeds also contain phytoestrogens which are helpful for balancing your oestrogen levels.

Including fiber rich complex carbohydrates is hugely important for our gut health which is where absorption of nutrients takes place and hormones are made. Vegetables, oats, brown rice, quinoa, legumes, and pulses release their sugars slowly helping to keep blood sugar balanced and insulin in check.                                                                                                                                                               

Try to avoid refined carbohydrates or sugar such as cereal, white bread, pastries, and baked goods which can cause blood sugar to surge.

Green Dream Smoothie

Serves 1 – loaded with detoxifying greens, magnesium and fibre. 

clear glass bottle filled with broccoli shake
  • 2 handfuls of kale or spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 apple or pear
  • 3/4-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A small handful of nuts (macadamias/walnuts/almonds/pistachios)
  • 1 serving of organic greens powder
  • 250ml water

To follow Alison on Instagram for all your nutritional tips and expertise click here @alisonsmythconnectedhealth

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