Wondering which diet is the best diet for balancing hormones? In this post, I take a deep dive into using nutrition to balance your hormones.
I’m Chantal. Welcome to my site!
The first thing that you should know before you read this post about the best diet for balancing hormones is that I am NOT a registered dietician or a doctor.
However, I am a certified personal trainer and certified nutrition coach. I’m also super obsessed with the idea of food as medicine.
If you want to, read more about me here.
Anyway, the reason that I decided to write this post is that for the last several months, I have found myself experiencing many different symptoms of hormonal issues and I am just NOT having it.
In short, I wanted to know the best foods for balancing female hormones.
Despite my generally healthy diet and the fact that I average 3 workouts per week, I have been experiencing a ton of hormonal symptoms.
I thought I was totally fine until the last three months or so, but it feels like now that I’m a little further into my 30s, I’m noticing some totally lame things happening with my body.
(Did I mention I’m not into it?)
I’m talking about acne, thinning hair, mood swings, irritability, sleeplessness, fatigue, psoriasis, depression, anxiety symptoms, and the inability to lose weight. (All of these can be symptoms of hormonal imbalance! If you have them, you’re definitely in the right place!)
While I have always had a few issues here and there, I have never ever had all of them at once.
I seriously thought hair loss was just a postpartum thing! What the heck!?
Anyhow, this is really discouraging for someone who considers herself pretty healthy. It’s especially discouraging as someone who is supposed to be fit and help others with nutrition.
So what’s the big deal?
Hormone Imbalance or Just Life?
I have a bunch of experience with SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and since it’s the end of winter right now, this was my first guess as far as what is happening to me.
But honestly, I cannot remember having all of these symptoms at once, ever. Not even when I was a zitty teenager.
Seasonal Affective Disorder usually makes me feel a bit down and depressed, but it does not typically make me have thinning hair, acne, and all the other symptoms.
(P.S. I live in the PNW and even though it is technically spring now, my body still thinks it’s winter because it’s been raining for about 7 months straight now.)
Related Reading: Printable Macro Food List (Free Download!)
Plus, I am supplementing all of the right things, like Vitamin D (which we get largely from sunshine) and magnesium.
For the most part, I know how to take care of my body and feel my best. So what gives?
After a bunch of research, I have come to the conclusion that given my age, I am most definitely experiencing something related to hormone levels instead of something more simple like the lack of Vitamin D.
Being the person that I am, this discovery that I might be having issues with hormone levels led me to several weeks of research on the best foods for hormone balance.
I’m about to share all of that research with you.
Be prepared, because you’re about to learn everything I know so far in regard to hormone balance and the health problems that can arise when things get off balance.
Gut health, thyroid hormones, insulin resistance – oh my!
While there is no one-size-fits-all best diet for balancing hormones, nutrition definitely plays an important role when talking about hormones.
The problem is that there is A TON of science on this but it’s still not widespread knowledge. Your doctor probably only knows a little bit about female hormonal problems but won’t admit it.
The truth is that your conventional doctor is more likely to prescribe you some unnecessary pharmaceuticals to “balance your hormones” (ahem, I’m looking at you, birth control) than to actually address the root cause.
He or she may or not even know the best food for hormonal imbalance!
I’m not a crazy conspiracy theorist so much as I just have experience with this. And so do my other mom friends.
I went to my “regular” doctor and asked for a thyroid check. I thought something was wrong because I couldn’t lose weight despite working out 5-6 days per week and eating clean 80% of the time.
She sent me for a “panel” and the results came back normal.
Come to find out, the phlebotomists (the people that take your blood) only asked for two metrics. They looked at TWO of my hormones and ignored the rest.
To me, that’s a little bit like trying to make a cake with some eggs and sugar but no flour, salt, vanilla, or anything else!
When talking about hormones, you really should get the whole picture if you’re serious about “fixing” yourself – because each hormone plays a different role.
Not only this, but my doctor didn’t give me any info on foods that balance hormones.
Forget about a diet plan to balance hormones!
So anyway, unless you’re going to a doctor who specializes in this stuff (such as a naturopath or integrative doctor who looks more at root causes), I don’t suggest that you count on any old “medical professional” to help you with a hormone imbalance.
I am booked for a doctor’s appointment at an integrative health clinic that specializes in metabolic panels and hormone therapy, but my appointment is a whole month out.
While I’m eager to get a FULL panel on all of my hormones and any other potential issues (dear thyroid, I’m a bit sus), I’m not the kind of person who is going to wait around and feel crappy.
So instead, I’m busy reading books, blog posts, and clinical studies to understand these things.
So let’s dive in!
Before we talk about the best diet for balancing hormones, you should have a solid understanding of how everything works.
I’ll do my best to make the sciency-things less confusing.
First, you should know that your hormones are regulated by what’s called the endocrine system, which is a network of glands and organs responsible for your metabolism, energy, mood, and more. (The thyroid is part of the endocrine system.)
Secondly, you should also know that your hormones will fluctuate continuously throughout your life. If you are female, you probably already know that your hormones fluctuate with your monthly cycle. (Insert crying emoji.)
You will also experience large changes in your hormones with major life events such as pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.
However, there are other times during which your hormones can fluctuate enough to cause unwanted symptoms like the ones I’ve told you about.
If you are going through something major in life or are even just experiencing chronic stress, it can throw your hormones way off. Even something seemingly small like poor sleep can wreak havoc on your hormones.
Maybe it’s time to rethink those late nights out on the town.
Anyway, hormones are a key player in autoimmune diseases such as Celiac disease and play a part in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Hashimotos, and other issues such as hypothyroidism.
Basically, there are a million different ways your hormones can do you dirty if you’re not taking care of them.
Related Reading: Are You Being Exposed to Hormone Disruptors?
Main Hormones & Their Roles
You have surely heard of a few different hormones, but what functions do they serve? Let’s take a look:
This is one of the main female hormones, but everyone has estrogen. It’s mostly responsible for what makes a woman – from breast development to your period, and more.
Having too little can cause low libido, weight gain, depression, and more. Having too much can lead to fertility problems, mood disorders, and osteoporosis.
Testosterone is the primary male hormone but all females have it, too. This hormone is responsible for your libido, muscle mass, bone mass, and red blood cell production.
Having too much of it can cause menstrual problems or fertility issues. Too little of it can cause acne, thinning hair, hair growing in weird places, and a higher body fat percentage. Fun!
This one is a big player in terms of your menstrual cycle. If you get pregnant, your progesterone levels will go up as it’s going to help change your uterus in preparation for a growing baby.
Too much progesterone can increase your risk of breast cancer, but too little of it can cause menstrual, fertility, and pregnancy issues.
Insulin has the big job of converting glucose from the food we eat into energy that we can use. It helps regulate your blood sugar. When you don’t have enough, this can lead to weight gain and diabetes.
Cortisol is infamously called the “stress hormone” because the body releases a bunch of it when put under stress. However, cortisol is also responsible for regulating your metabolism and blood pressure.
It’s your “get up and go” hormone. If you have too little, you might have low blood pressure, fatigue, or feelings of weakness. Having too much could result in anxiety, sleeplessness, hypertension, and more.
If you have ever been pregnant, you’ve probably heard of this one. Growth hormone boosts metabolism and is responsible for cell growth, cell repair, etc.
When you are pregnant, this hormone skyrockets and it is the detection of this hormone that triggers a positive pregnancy test. You know, ’cause you’re growing a baby!
You have probably heard of adrenaline before. It’s famous for being the “fight or flight” hormone that triggers an automatic response in you when you’re in danger. It’s what gets your heart pumping when you’re afraid or nervous.
Having too much of it isn’t super common but it can lead to heart palpitations, anxiety, high blood pressure, irritability, and more.
Thyroid Hormones T3 & T4
These are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). You probably haven’t heard of these ones, but they are super important if you’re trying to lose weight. These guys are largely responsible for your metabolism and will absolutely wreak havoc on it if given the chance.
These are the two big hormones that you DON’T want to ignore if you suspect that you have a hormone imbalance. They play a part in the normal function of basically your whole body, so make sure that these are a priority if you’re getting things tested.
Phewwww. That was a lot. But hey, you’re so much more knowledgeable now!
Let’s get on with the best diet for balancing hormones.
You already know that food can have a major influence on your hormones. But it’s actually big-time. It’s really important!
Your diet doesn’t just impact your hormones, it impacts your overall health and can have a long-term impact. If you have any health issues at all, I highly suggest visiting your doctor but ALSO looking into nutrition.
There is almost always a link to nutrition in some way or another.
That being said, if you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance, nutrition is critical!
Let’s start with the foods that you should avoid.
Until you get some solid test results, there are some foods that you might consider skipping since they are known to negatively impact hormones. (Unfortunately, they are delicious foods. Sorry in advance.)
First up is gluten. Yep, I know. I love bread, too.
Gluten is inflammatory for a lot of people (but not everyone). This causes stress to the adrenal glands which can throw every one of your hormones off.
If you’re serious about balancing your hormones, you might consider going gluten-free for a while. Sorry.
Next is dairy. So sad.
I’m a cheese junkie so this one is tough for me. However, it sounds like the main suggestion is just to cut back on dairy because even though it can be nutritious, it can also cause gut problems.
And as it turns out, your gut health impacts hormonal health.
The next one is refined sugars and carbs.
Or really, any highly processed foods such as chips, store-bought muffins, candy, etc. You know – all of the stuff we all love but shouldn’t be eating too much of no matter what.
Remember what I said about inflammation?
All of these highly processed foods have the potential to stress out your body, including your endocrine system. If you’re serious about the best diet to balance your hormones, cut way back on processed foods.
The last one is soy.
Apparently, there is some sort of compound in soy that behaves like estrogen in the body, so it can potentially throw your hormones off pretty quickly. More specifically, it can mess with ovulation and fertility.
Soy is also supposedly very inflammatory as well. Eating it will not help you balance your hormones. Sorry.
The Best Diet For Balancing Hormones
As I mentioned earlier, there is no true best diet for balancing hormones. Not because there aren’t great foods that can help you, but because your situation and your hormones are individual.
Unless you go get full hormonal testing done, you aren’t going to know exactly what to eat to support the balancing of your hormones.
However, there are a number of foods that are known for their hormone-balancing abilities.
Start eating a little bit more of these, stop eating so much junk food, and you’ll be on your way to better health in no time. 🙂
here are the foods to start eating to start taking control of your hormones on your own.
1. Whole Fruit (Skin On)
Fruit is great for getting all of those vitamins you need, but it’s also great for dietary fiber. Of course, the amount of fiber and micronutrients varies from fruit to fruit, making it really important to eat a variety of fruit each day.
If fiber is important to you, consider eating raspberries, apples, strawberries, and mangoes.
Pretty much all veggies are good for you, but the best vegetables for balancing hormones are those known as cruciferous vegetables. This includes broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, collard greens, etc.
These veggies are known for their ability to support the liver, and liver health is critical to balanced hormones. This is because the liver is what detoxifies the body and helps to get rid of excess hormones.
You already know that you should be eating more vegetables, but are you eating enough green ones? Get after it!
You Might Also Like: 5 Easy Ways to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables
3. Fermented Foods
Remember when I mentioned gut health earlier?
It is seriously so important when you’re talking about metabolism and balancing those hormones. If you’re really interested in using food to help balance your hormones, you’ll want to increase your intake of fermented foods.
I’m talking about things like kefir, yogurt, pickles (and other pickled foods), sauerkraut, kombucha, etc. These things will help restore balance to the gut microbiome, which is correlated with balanced estrogen levels.
4. Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices often have medicinal, anti-inflammatory properties that can contribute to balanced hormones. They can also have a “cleanout” or detox effect, as well as an antiviral, antimicrobial effect.
Don’t believe me? It’s time for an internet deep-dive. Start with this article about herbs and spices with antimicrobial properties.
Or you can just drink more herbal tea, add more garlic to your meals, or go simple and just get some herbal supplements.
5. Healthy Proteins
The definition of healthy proteins is arguable in the nutrition world.
I’m personally all for animal protein because it offers all nine essential amino acids, but that doesn’t mean you have to just eat red meat.
In the interest of balancing your hormones with the help of food, you’ll want to opt for lean proteins such as chicken breast, ground turkey, egg whites, lean cuts of beef, etc.
Stay away from sugary protein drinks, ham filled with nitrates and nitrites, etc. Also, stay away from super high-fat foods like bacon. Why? Because getting too much “bad” fat can actually increase estrogen levels, which is just going to throw you off even more.
Need some inspiration? Check out my recent post filled with high-protein meal prep ideas.
6. Healthy Fats
Fat does not make you fat. I will die on this hill. However, there are different kinds of fat and they act differently in the body.
If you’re serious about the best diet for balancing hormones, you’ll want to focus on mono and polyunsaturated fats (as opposed to trans and saturated fats, which can cause insulin resistance).
In short, consider eating more healthy nuts, avocados, etc. Also, consider swapping your vegetable and canola oils out for coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil.
Your body not only needs these fatty acids for cellular health, but the consumption of healthy fats can help to balance your hormones. Check out this article about the relationship between the endocrine system and fatty acids for a scientific look!
Related Reading: Beginner List Of Good Fats To Eat
Flaxseeds are like this wonder seed that appear totally useless unless you know their nutritional profile. They not only have fiber and omega-3 fatty acids but can in fact help you balance your hormones.
This is because flaxseeds can help the body flush out excess estrogen – cool, huh?
If hormone balance is your goal, try adding a few flaxseeds into your smoothies, oatmeal, eggs, or on top of some avocado toast. 🙂
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains or “complex carbs” hit differently than simple carbs like white refined bread or white rice.
I wrote a whole article about what carbs are and the different types if you want to fully educate yourself, but just know that whole grains contain better nutrition and fiber. They also deliver energy to your body differently, which can help stabilize blood sugar.
Stable blood sugar levels and insulin regulation are important for the overall balance of hormones.
So – swap your white bread for whole wheat and your white rice for brown rice. It’s really not so bad!
Salmon is super high in protein, but it also contains Omega-3s (healthy fat that’s good for your brain, skin, nails, etc.) and can boost progesterone production.
It’s a great lean protein choice if you want to balance your hormones. Just try to source natural, wild-caught salmon as opposed to farmed salmon that has been color-treated and fed who-knows-what.
Okay, so quinoa technically falls into the category of whole grains, but it deserves its own spot on the list of foods to eat to balance your hormones.
It’s not only a whole grain, it offers fiber that helps keep you regular and balances your blood sugar. It’s also known for helping to balance estrogen and cortisol levels.
Sweet, right? Try it out!
So in the end, what best diet for balancing hormones?
Even though I’ve shared some foods that balance hormones with you, you may be wondering about the best overall diet plan to balance hormones.
Again, it’s really tough to know what’s perfect for you specifically without knowing your actual hormonal deficiencies or what you have too much of.
So without your test results in hand, I think it’s safe to say that the best diet for balancing hormones is a wide variety of healthy foods. If you increase your fruit, veggie, and lean protein intake and lower your processed food and sugar intake, your body will thank you.
But let’s be honest – you already knew that. 🙂
That’s it, friends!
I hope that this article helped you on your journey to finding the best diet for balancing hormones.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are a few articles I think you might like:
- 21 Delicious High Protein Smoothie Recipes For Weight Loss
- How To Meal Prep For Weight Loss On A Budget
- Are You Being Exposed to Hormone Disruptors?
One more thing before you go – if you know anything about food good for hormonal imbalance, feel free to share with me below! Especially if it’s about foods for balancing female hormones. I always want to learn more!
Until next time,