10 common foods that are affecting your hormonal balance
Put down your coffee and listen to us
Thanks to Instagram, we all know we should get behind the #EatClean trend. And we just can’t ignore the fact that we are what we eat. “Correct eating helps maintain our hormonal balance. Many foods affect our hormones positively and incorporating them into the diet is one of the easiest ways to achieve balance,” says Dr Sheilja Singh, consultant internal medicine, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Mumbai. “Likewise, certain foods potentially contribute to hormonal woes like bloating, fatigue, hair loss and even infertility.”
It’s common knowledge that consuming too much alcohol, sugar and caffeine will get you into trouble with your nutritionist. But introducing superfoods like avocados, Brazil nuts and dark chocolate as well as antioxidant-rich green tea into your diet will help boost your hormonal health.
Take a look at 10 foods that affect your hormonal balance:
Ever had a cup of green tea and felt refreshed? "That's because green tea helps raise levels of epinephrine, a hormone that can provide extra energy in times of stress," she says.
This superfood is a millennial favourite for good reason. "Avocado is high in heart-healthy fats and helps maintain normal cholesterol levels," says Dr Singh. It falls under the category of monosaturated fats AKA the good fats that help lower cholesterol. If your cholesterol levels shoot up, so does your risk of heart disease. So, go ahead and order that avocado toast.
"It reduces levels of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands during stress," she says. But before you go ahead and treat yourself to a large bar — because you're obviously stressed, duh — remember that like all delicious things in life, moderation is key.
"Much of the debate around soy is about phyto-estrogens, which are plant compounds that act similarly to the hormone estrogen. Though they may be useful to replace estrogen during menopause, they may influence testosterone and thyroid hormones adversely," says Dr Singh.
The humble spice is a common fixture in most Indian kitchens. "It keeps insulin levels under control, and helps lower blood sugar levels, increases lean body mass and reduces PMS symptoms," Dr Singh says.
"The nutrient-rich nuts are one of the best sources of selenium, a mineral that plays an essential role in the smooth functioning of the thyroid," she says.
Sorry to break your coffee-loving hearts but all that caffeine you're consuming is causing your body to boost production of cortisol, the number one stress hormone. "Variation in cortisol levels disturbs the immune function, causes sleep problems, poor sugar regulation, weight fluctuations and even feelings of anxiety or depression," she says. To avoid fluctuations, limit your coffee indulgence to one cup in the morning.
Much as we love sipping on wine (and stronger spirits, honestly), it opens up a Pandora's Box of chaos in the body. "It not only affects our body’s production of sugar-controlling insulin, but also hampers sexual hormones. It lowers testosterone levels in men and causes menstrual irregularity in women," she says.
Make an omelette for breakfast tomorrow because according to Dr Singh, eggs help stabilise blood sugar levels, contain a good deal of vitamin D and promote bone health.
If you, like us, can't resist a slice of cake, but go back for a second helping, keep this in mind: "Our cells store sugar as glycogen, which we can use for energy later. When we eat sugar, the hormone insulin helps transport sugar out of our blood into our cells. However, the excessive sugar is stored as fat, which leads to weight gain and puts us at risk for Type 2 diabetes," cautions Dr Singh.