Women are more prone to hormonal imbalance, and each stage of a woman's lifestyle is crucial, requiring the right environment, active lifestyle, mental & physical health and diet. Any disturbance in the mentioned factors may create an imbalance, which may lead to hormonal imbalance leading to health problems.
Why is there an increase in incidences of the following problems in women:-
- Hormonal dysfunction and infertility issues
- Weight gain
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Fibroids problem
- Menstrual difficulties e.g. painful periods/heavy bleeding
- Difficult transition to menopause and early menopause
- Eating disorder
These evolve mainly out of stress, disturbed ecosystems, no time for activity, and poor diet.
As per studies, it is observed that every 1 out of 3 women is affected by PCOS problems or fertility issues. Depression also affects twice as many women as men.
Although medications help assist the hormonal shift, such as the use of contraceptives in PCOD/PCOS this might lead to certain side-effects among women. However, medications might be needed, but a change in lifestyle and diet is the much-needed approach for improvement.
How does food help master your hormones?
The sex hormones or oestrogen and progesterone are influenced largely by diet.
The diet demands an increase in fibre, reduced fat, increased phytoestrogens, and losing weight.
Eliminate foods that contribute to hormonal imbalance
- Saturated and trans fats
- High intake of refined flours, sugar
- Refined sugars
- Processed foods with a high glycemic index
- Artificial sweeteners
- Frequent consumption of alcohol
- Pesticides found in vegetables, crops and fruits (act as xenoestrogens)
- Use of hormones on animals for milk production-consumption of such dairy products leads to an imbalance
Nutritional approach - Must include
- Foods which provide phytoestrogens e.g. soybean, flaxseeds, chia seeds
- Cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
- Herbs and spices - Raw garlic, curcumin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves
- High fibre diet (25-50g) daily, sources - legumes, whole grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake (wild salmon, sardines, herring), most bioavailable form.
- Balance glucose metabolism and prefer foods with low GI
- Include probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods e.g. curd, kimchi salad and for prebiotics, green banana, garlic, leeks.
Supplements that regulate hormonal metabolism
- Multivitamins and minerals
- Calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D
- Folate, vitamin B6, B12
- Omega 3 fatty acid - Fish oil supplements
- Antioxidants and phytonutrients
Other factors that help regulate hormonal functions are massages, yoga, deep breathing, meditation via effects on the HPA axis.
To conclude, paying attention to lifestyle and eating habits especially during the transition phases can help regulate hormones better and avoid the occurrence of imbalances.
- Lee, J. M., Appugliese, D., Kaciroti, N., Corwyn, R. F., Bradley, R. H., & Lumeng, J. C. (2007). Weight status in young girls and the onset of puberty.Pediatrics,119(3), 624-630. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2006-2188
- Krstevska-Konstantinova, M., Charlier, C., Craen, M., Du Caju, M., Heinrichs, C., de Beaufort, C., Plomteux, G., & Bourguignon, J. P. (2001). Sexual precocity after immigration from developing countries to Belgium: evidence of previous exposure to organochlorine pesticides.Human reproduction (Oxford, England),16(5), 1020-1026. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/16.5.1020
- Hyman, Mark A. (2017). THE LIFE CYCLES OF WOMEN: RESTORING BALANCE.Alternative Therapies.13(3).10-16