Five swaps for happy hormones
Hormones are a girl’s (and guy’s) best friend. On top of all the vital jobs they do for us in our bodies, they can make us feel energetic, happy, sexy and can also help keep us slim and healthy. If they are not working well, we can get the usual hormonal issues like PMS, infertility and low libido. But hormone imbalances can also make us feel exhausted, stressed, anxious, depressed, irritable, forgetful and unable to concentrate. We might have digestive issues, poor skin, hair and nails, frequent infections, or stubborn weight gain that we can’t shift.
Hormones work together so when one gets out of balance, others can be affected. For instance, when our stress hormones are up, it can affect our thyroid gland, our digestive system, our sex hormones and the way we deal with sugar (insulin).
As we age, our hormones naturally decline, which can give us those ‘ageing’ issues like fatigue, weight gain and memory loss. But what we eat and drink, and how we live our lives has a direct affect on our hormone balance. So a few changes to your diet and lifestyle can really help support your hormones, especially as you get older.
1. Go organic
Organic food has more nutrients as it has usually been grown in more fertile soil. Hormones need vitamins and minerals for us to produce, transport and store them. Organic food has less pesticides which have been shown to potentially disrupt our hormone function.
2. Choose whole grains
Switch from white foods (bread, pasta, rice, flour) to wholegrain foods (wholemeal, rye, brown rice, wholewheat pasta) – these foods release their sugars much more slowly into our bloodstream, not only making us feel full for longer, but also reducing the amount of insulin we need (insulin is a fat storing hormone).
3. Eat good fats
Avoid shop bought baked goods, processed foods and vegetable oils. These all contain damaging fats known to interfere with our hormones. Good fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados contain the omega fats, which we need to make hormones. We need fat to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are also essential for our cell health, heart health, skin and hair and they make up a large chunk of our brain!
4. Eat real food
If you eat a lot of processed and ready meals, have a look at the labels. If you don’t recognise an ingredient, it is likely to be a chemical rather than a food. Preservatives, additives and colours are added to many processed foods and ready meals. Switch to home cooked and real food, or stick to minimally processed foods with ingredients you know.
5. Choose full fat
The low fat trend is coming to an end. Authorities are now waking up to all the research that shows low fat does not help you lose weight or even protect against heart disease! Many low fat products (such as yoghurts) have more sugar in them to replace the loss of taste. This increases our insulin hormone (the fat storing one!). Good fats make you feel full for longer, reducing cravings for sugar and carbs and reducing your need for insulin.
So try these swaps to keep your hormones happy and they in turn are likely to return the favour, improving your energy, mood, stress levels and weight.