Hormones can cause issues for many women, especially upon entering perimenopause. All sorts of frustrating fluctuations can occur, and these fluctuations impact nearly every aspect of a woman’s life. When our hormones are imbalanced, we may experience major mood swings and irritability. We might have trouble sleeping. We may experience a decrease in sex drive. We might gain weight. We may lose our energy and zest for life. As a result, our relationships may suffer, and we may feel as if our quality of life has suddenly dropped dramatically as well.
Fortunately, there are all sorts of tried and true ways to help balance hormones. One such way is by ensuring you’re getting all the right hormone-balancing nutrients from your diet. Supplementing with certain vitamins and supplements may help as well. Relief is possible, with the right approach.
A healthy diet is key
When it comes to getting all the essential macronutrients and micronutrients necessary to balance hormones, we should always turn to food first. Supplements are great, but there’s no substitute for good, whole foods — the ones that come directly from the Earth, just as nature intended. Your endocrine system needs certain foods, which contain specific nutrients, to do its job. Let’s see which ones those are!
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals to help balance hormones. While you can take a supplement, and even spray your skin with magnesium spray, there’s no better way of getting the magnesium you need than from the foods you eat. To ensure you’re getting enough magnesium, be sure to eat plenty of dark leafy greens. You’ll also want to fuel your hormones with seeds like flax, pumpkin, and chia. They’re full of magnesium and other hormone-healthy nutrients.
Legumes have plenty of magnesium, too. Lentils, chickpeas, black beans — these are some of the best legumes for magnesium intake. Avocados are also beneficial for your hormones. Not only do they give you magnesium, they’re also full of B vitamins, vitamin K, and potassium. What’s more, if you’re trying to fight the weight gain that often accompanies hormonal fluctuations, avocados are proven to help you feel full, as a study published in Nutrition Journal shows.
Last but certainly not least — dark chocolate makes our magnesium-rich list of foods! According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dark chocolate even contains prebiotic fiber, perfect for supporting gut health. It’s also rich in antioxidants, as well as the minerals copper, manganese, and iron. Yes, dark chocolate can be a gal’s best friend!
Taking a high-quality B-complex supplement is a really good idea when you’re in the throes of hormonal ups and downs. This is one group of vitamins that you might want to supplement with in addition to eating foods high in these vitamins. There are nine B vitamins in total, and certain foods contain specific B vitamins.
For example, salmon is an excellent source of many B vitamins. It contains B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, and even romaine lettuce contain B9, also known as folate. They’re best eaten raw or lightly steamed to keep B9 intact.
Eggs are one of the best sources of B7, also known as biotin. They also contain B2, B5, B9, and B12. For vegans, a supplement is absolutely necessary. And so is nutritional yeast, which is great sprinkled on popcorn. Nutritional yeast contains incredibly high amounts of B1, B2, B3, and B6, a fair amount of B9 and B12, and a little B5. Other foods with notable amounts of B vitamins are sunflower seeds, beef, trout, clams, mussels, oysters, turkey, chicken, milk, yogurt, beans, and organ meats like liver.
Probiotics are essential to help balance hormones. A high-quality probiotic supplement is a really good idea to take, especially if you don’t like probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, miso, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. Certain cheeses, like mozzarella, also contain beneficial bacteria and can be considered a healthy probiotic food, as noted in a 2012 study in the Journal of Dairy Science.
Your liver is the primary organ that breaks down and rids the body of excess estrogen, a common cause of hormonal imbalance. Therefore, you need to support the liver with supplements like turmeric, vitamin C, and alpha-lipoic acid.
Eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods like oranges and strawberries. Cook with turmeric, take a turmeric supplement, or drink golden milk. As far as alpha-lipoic acid goes, you’ll get the most from a supplement, but you can also eat organ meats, red meat, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and tomatoes.
Omega-3 fatty acids
You probably know by now which foods are highest in omega-3s — fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod liver oil, walnuts, chia seeds, herring, flax seeds, hemp seeds, anchovies, and egg yolks are some of the best. If you don’t eat a wide array of these omega-3 rich foods, take a high-quality fish oil supplement.
Forty-one percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, according to a study published in the journal Nutrition Research. For this reason, it’s really important to take a high-quality vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months. We get vitamin D from the sun, a supplement, and a few foods, including fatty fish and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that communicates with your other hormones, making it especially essential to help balance hormones. So, ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D2 and D3 to ease and prevent hormonal fluctuations. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so take it with your fattiest meal of the day to ensure absorption. Or, take your vitamin D and your fish oil supplement together.
As you can see, addressing the hormonal changes that come with menopause can sometimes mean walking a tightrope between finding relief and staying healthy over the long haul. Hormone replacement therapy is a viable option for many women. Contact OB/GYN Associates of Alabama to schedule an appointment and learn more about your treatment options for menopause.