Grumpy | Scratchy | Bitchy | Bloated | Sleepy | Hungry | Spotty
Have you ever thought it might be down to your hormones?
Hormonal imbalances are not just for teenagers and menopausal women. Hormones can affect any of us at any stage of life and unfortunately most of the time we are only aware of our hormones when they bring with them a host of not-so-desirable symptoms like PMS, headaches, mood swings, weight gain, spots, bloating, insomnia and sadly the list goes on…
Luckily there is a lot you can do nutritionally to help keep your hormones balanced!
Hormones need a steady stream of nutrients for them to work efficiently. This complex hormonal dance is dependent on internal factors such as the status of other hormones and external factors such as diet and lifestyle.
So let’s start by taking a look at diet. Below are the top six food tips to start implementing into your diet to get you on the path to hormonal freedom:
1. Eat your greens
There are so many reasons to include a variety of green vegetables within the diet, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnips and watercress. These powerhouses contain the phytochemical called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which has been shown to increase oestrogen metabolism and can help reduce with the dreaded PMS.
2. Follow the rainbow
Each day, we need to eat an array of fibrous foods to stay regular and keep our blood sugar levels in check. You guessed it, that means eating your vegetables. Unfortunately, vegetables are totally underrated and missing in most people’s daily diet! Follow the rainbow and aim to get in 5 portions of colourful veggies a day, if you are not having any at the moment start small and build yourself up, your hormones will thank you for it.
3. Sprinkle seeds
Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, chia and sesame seeds are high in good fats as well as magnesium. Magnesium often referred to as ‘mother nature’s relaxant’, is vital for 'calm' in this often stressful world, and helps to keep cortisol in check! In addition, having optimal levels of magnesium can help with fatigue, insomnia, constipation and cramps to name a few. Sprinkle them on porridge, salads or add to your smoothies.
4. Ground flaxseeds
Another seed to throw into the mix! Flaxseeds are a rich source of phytoestrogens which help to regulate levels of oestrogen in the body. They can be extremely helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and PMS. In addition, they can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels – help keep the dreaded muffin top at bay.
5. More avocado
The good kind of fat! Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is key to keeping your hormones and lucky for us delicious avocados contain the good kind of fat plus the added bonus of fibre and nutrients such as potassium and vitamin E. Include more of these in the diet, versatile and easy.
6. Dark chocolate
Leaving the best till last, but it’s not the milky type of chocolate we need to focus on. A minimum of 70% cocoa or raw chocolate is what we need to get our hands on! The cacao bean is full of antioxidants and many hormone friendly minerals such as magnesium. But watch the sugar content as some are sky high and that will wreak havoc with your hormones, the darker options often have less sugar.
So there you have it, the first 6 foods to start including. What should you do with these? It’s simple, try including more of these foods into your diet to help bring everything back into balance.
Angelique Panagos is a London based Nutritional Therapist and author.
Pre-order her book 'The Balance Plan'