Your hormones are the messengers in your body that control nearly every aspect of your health. From insulin to cortisol, to estrogen and testosterone, our hormones require specific components each day in order to function optimally.
There’s no way any of us will ever have perfect hormones, but what we can do is take lifestyle and dietary approaches that help boost hormone function naturally.
Since our hormones control our mood, digestion, and our overall health, it’s incredibly important to start improving our hormones by the foods we choose to eat each day.
Here are five foods that boost hormone function and improve your mood that you can start eating today to feel better more quickly!
1. Leafy Greens and Green Vegetables
We all know we need to eat our greens, and leafy green vegetables are some of the best foods you can eat to boost hormone function and improve your mood. They’re especially helpful for reducing harmful levels of estrogenic compounds from the environment that can end up causing imbalanced hormones to start with.
Consume kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine, turnip and mustard greens are all rich in compounds that help detoxify the body, and they even help reduce cravings for sugar due to the way they balance insulin levels in the body. Since insulin is one of the most important hormones for your overall health, leafy greens should be a pivotal part of any healthy eating plan.
Make it your goal to eat at least 3 cups of greens and or green vegetables per day. If you find this difficult, add some spinach or kale into your next smoothie, and pair your protein with green vegetables every time you eat.
Any way you want! Greens can be used at any meal and are easy enough to sneak into smoothies or juices. Cooked, juiced or raw, any way you enjoy leafy greens is great!
Maca is a fantastic superfood made from a root in Peru that helps the body achieve hormonal balance. It’s technically a tuber like sweet potatoes but grows as a root that looks like a turnip. Maca is extremely adaptive to weather situations which allows it to grow at alarmingly high altitudes without being affected. Those same adaptogenic properties maca distributes in nature can also be of great use to us on a physical and emotional level when we consume it.
A teaspoon or tablespoon of maca per day balances out estrogen and testosterone levels in the body whatever way the specific individual using maca needs to achieve balance. For instance, many women low in estrogen can use maca to boost levels without taking in too many synthetic forms of estrogen, while men can use maca to boost testosterone levels if they are low.
You’ll also want to be sure you select the right type of maca for your body. Many people do well with raw maca while others tolerate gelatinized (heated) better since it’s a bit lower in starch and easier to digest. Fermented forms of maca also exist within the health food market. These varieties contain probiotics and enzymes to assist with the digestion and utilization of maca even further.
Mix maca into your next smoothie or shake and see how it works for you. Maca’s delightful, caramel-like, malty flavor is one that pairs great with vanilla, cacao/cocoa, and berries!
Coconut flour, butter, and shreds are all fantastic foods to eat for healthy hormones. While coconut oil gets most of the spotlight these days, it’s much better to consume sources of coconut that still retain the fiber and protein found in coconuts. Coconut oil is also extremely calorie-dense and contains no nutrients except fat. Fiber is an integral part of hormonal detoxification processes within the body, and coconut naturally has a lot of fiber that can benefit your health.
Make it your goal to include 2 tablespoons of coconut per day in some form by replacing other fats in your diet with coconut instead. If you bake with coconut flour in place of white flour, you’ll only want to use 1/2 the amount of coconut flour in place of white flour. You can also stir in a couple tablespoons of coconut flour into your smoothie or oatmeal in place of heavy oils or nut butter.
Mix coconut flour into steel cut or rolled oats, or bake with coconut flour in place of regular flour. Coconut butter can be used in place of nut butter and is extremely beneficial for brain and thyroid health. Coconut shreds can be used in place of grains or flour in baking, and they’re also great to stir into oatmeal and smoothies.
4. Whey Protein
Dairy is a controversial topic when it comes to health, but there are a few types of dairy that can be extremely beneficial to your hormones if you do tolerate dairy foods. Whey protein is one of them. Whey protein (either isolate or an isolate/casein/concentrate blend) can help boost testosterone levels which can be helpful to women that suffer estrogen dominance or men who are low in testosterone too. Whey protein contains little to no lactose, so it’s also easier to digest than most types of dairy.
Whey protein has even been shown to not only boost lean muscle mass and stave off hunger, but it’s also been shown to be a pivotal part in boosting mood, muscle maintenance, and even weight loss. Just be careful when you select a whey protein powder to avoid those with added oil and cream, and stay away from all those that contain added sugar which can upset your hormones. Choose high-quality brands and do your research on how well the company tests their products.
You can use whey protein in place of meat, eggs, or other protein sources in your diet, but use the serving size on the package to moderate your calorie intake. Generally, you wouldn’t want to consume over 3 servings a day unless you’re trying to pack on extra muscle mass, in which that case it may be helpful.
To use whey protein just mix in one scoop of a flavor of your choice into your next smoothie or shake, or you can stir it into steel cut oats or rolled oats for a higher protein breakfast.
Last but not least, berries are an incredible food for hormonal health! Berries are very rich in fiber, antioxidants, and specific anti-estrogenic compounds that aid in detoxification and overall thyroid health. They also help regulate insulin levels in the body, enhance weight loss efforts, and improve digestion. Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and raspberries are all common berries you can enjoy, and you can also experiment with more exotic (superfood) types of berries such as maqui, acai, goji, and camu camu berry if you desire to as well.
Make it your goal to consume ½ cup – 1 cup serving of whole berries or 2 tablespoons of a berry powder (such as those mentioned above) per day. There’s no scientific proof that shows eating more of this amount is beneficial, but it likely won’t hurt either.
You can use berries anywhere you want! They make a great snack with plain Greek yogurt, can be stirred into oatmeal, can be used top eggs or egg whites with for a sweet breakfast, and they also make a delicious addition to smoothies or replacement for higher sugar fruits like bananas.
Final Tips for Hormone Health:
Remember that at the end of the day, your food isn’t the only thing that counts towards achieving hormonal balance. You’ll also need to get enough rest with no less than 7 hours per night, get some movement each day, find ways to manage your stress, and eat an overall clean and healthy diet.
Avoiding sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, and junk food should also be part of your plan to boost hormone function and improve your mood too. These steps might not be the easiest thing for you, but never forget that you (and your hormones) are worth it!