Our hormones help to control every physiological process in the body, from our metabolism, menstrual cycle and reproductive health to our immune response, and mental health. We’ve learned that hormone balance is vital to feeling good and being healthy.
Foods can help and hinder hormone balance, so eating a well-balanced diet is essential. In this article, I’m sharing with you 7 foods to avoid eating to ensure that you keep your hormones balanced.
You may be surprised by some of the items that make the list!
Let’s look at the worst offenders:
We all know that sugar can be detrimental to our health, I am super grateful that I don’t have a sweet tooth! Sugar can wreck your health and hormone balance by raising insulin, which puts stress on the pancreas and can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes if left untreated in the long term.
According to Floliving.com, “insulin spike(s) disrupts ovulation – preventing your hormones from triggering ovulation and the creation of progesterone as a result of ovulation. Disrupted ovulation causes hormonal imbalance – without ovulation, you cannot produce progesterone, which leads to estrogen dominance.
The fat cells in your body secrete estrogen; the more sugar you eat, the more fat cells you create, and the more estrogen that is then secreted. This estrogen then adds to the estrogen your endocrine system produces. Add in xenoestrogens from our environment, such as plastic wraps and food containers, the parabens in your beauty products, shampoos, and household cleaning products, and you’re set up for estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, and hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance is the root cause of common issues like inflammation, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance which all lead to more complex health issues for women.”
2. Non-Organic Foods Or Conventionally Raised Foods
You may think it’s too expensive to eat organic, but the truth is you are what you eat. This is particularly true for hormone balance, your hormones are super sensitive and are affected by the contaminants and by-products that exist in conventionally grown and raised foods.
Organic foods start from non-genetically modified seeds and are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. They are typically more nutritious than conventional counterparts and don’t add to the toxic burden on the body. Pesticides and chemicals used in agriculture are known as endocrine disruptors. They mess up your hormones and the way your body uses and metabolizes hormones. Not good. A great resource for where to spend your money on organics is the Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists — they are updated yearly and can help you decide which produce items to buy as organics.
According to glutenfreesociety.com, “Gluten is a known hormone disruptor. Grain seeds are sprayed with hormones to enhance growth. These hormones interfere with your hormones. The pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide chemicals used on grains are also hormone disruptors.”
Gluten is known to increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut), inhibit thyroid function, stress the adrenal glands, and also affect immunity. Those factors lead to a massive decrease in the production of some seriously important hormones, i.e., thyroid and adrenals. Add the innate hormone inhibition to the pesticides and chemicals used on gluten-containing grains, and the problem is huge.
For those with Celiac disease, gluten is a life-long no-no. Even if you don’t have Celiac though, your body may be reactive to gluten. Removing it from your diet for 4-6 weeks can be an easy way to see how your body responds.
4. Mass-Produced/Factory Farmed Animal protein
Animals raised in factory farms are unfit for human consumption. There are a host of problems ranging from improper sanitation to the use of antibiotics (an attempt to prevent overcrowded animals from getting too sick to be harvested) and hormones (designed to make animals bigger for more meat yield or to produce more milk for the dairy industry).
I personally eat by the 80/20 rule and that is what I recommend to my clients. I have been for most of my life, vegetarian, vegan or raw. My relationship with meat (fish and beef) is a fluid one. I find that as I’ve been living out my menopause journey that I feel 100% better eating mostly plants and at times all plants especially in summer and spring.
If you feel better on a diet that includes animal protein, look for animals raised on local farms from your local farmers market. Especially those that have access to pastures for free-range living as well as quality, hormone, and antibiotic-free feed and health protocols. Get to know your local farmer. Get to know your local butcher. If meat makes you feel good, make sure you are investing in quality.
High-quality fats from meat, fish, and healthy plant-based options are VERY healthy and are necessary, in fact, for steroid hormone production!
The jury is mixed when it comes to dairy and hormones, but it looks like we should err on the side of caution.
Researchers studied hormones in cows’ milk and were concerned over the amount of estrone, estrogen sulfate, and progesterone found in dairy milk and milk products. The hormone content of whole fat milk, butter, and cheese seems particularly troubling, as estrogen and progesterone are fat-soluble and cholesterol-based, and these foods are higher in cholesterol than lower-fat dairy products.
Preliminary studies found that the human body absorbs and is affected by these bovine hormones. After consuming 600 mL of cows’ milk, participants’ plasma E1 and P4 levels increased while FSH, LH, and testosterone levels dropped significantly. In other words, the body absorbed the sex hormones from the cows’ milk, and they threw participants’ hormones off-balance. The decrease in testosterone suggests that milk could negatively impact male fertility.
Personally, I used to love cheese, and as I became vegetarian I learned how to make cheese out of nuts… It doesn’t taste the same, but every now and again I enjoy a delicious parmesan, some raw cheddar, or Jarlsberg swiss cheese. You judge for you… but for me, these are treats that I enjoy in moderation.
I knew early on in my menopause journey that alcohol headaches, brain fog, and hot flashes didn’t mix. Alcohol is a vasodilator at intoxicating levels. So when one glass of wine becomes 2 or 3… watch out. If you are trying to balance your hormones, cut out the alcohol. Alcohol can impair the functions of your hormone-releasing glands and impair the way that various organs can interact with hormones they need, with serious consequences. Blood sugar, calcium, metabolism, and reproductive function are all impacted by alcohol consumption.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIAAA also notes, “drinking can contribute to a multitude of reproductive disorders (in women). These include cessation of menstruation, irregular menstrual cycles, menstrual cycles without ovulation, early menopause, and increased risk of spontaneous abortions (6,21,22). These dysfunctions can be caused by alcohol interfering directly with the hormonal regulation of the reproductive system or indirectly through other disorders associated with alcohol abuse, such as liver disease, pancreatic disease, malnutrition, or fetal abnormalities (6).”
Estradiol naturally decreases in postmenopausal years, and this increases women’s risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Interestingly, because alcohol increases the conversion of testosterone into estradiol, postmenopausal women who drink 3-6 alcoholic beverages a week may have a REDUCED risk of cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and certain cancers. Bone integrity may be impacted, however, so those with osteoporosis or osteopenia should be mindful.
I was heartbroken when I learned that too much of a good thing…red pasta sauce (who doesn’t love it with the right amount of grated fresh parmesan cheese!) could actually, make some of those pesky menopause symptoms worse. While most veggies are a perfect pick for your healthy lifestyle, there are a few that may be troublemakers! Nightshades (peppers, white potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes) are naturally rich in several compounds known to trigger inflammation. In some people, these compounds trigger an autoimmune response in the thyroid and joints. Neither inflammation nor autoimmune imbalance is supportive of hormone balance. In general, avoid nightshades when the body is out of balance.
I love sweet potatoes and they are a great substitute for white potatoes. Peaches and beets instead of tomatoes, pesto instead of tomato sauce… delicious. Cauliflower or zucchini for eggplant and radishes (black or red ones) are great for when you need that peppery bite!
So, what do you think? Are any of these foods still in your diet rotation? How hard do you think it would be to cut them out…even if it’s for 7 days?
If you’re having difficulties knowing how to nourish and enjoy foods that support your hormones instead of hurt them…we’re here to help.
If you would like 360-degree support and a step-by-step plan to help you to optimize your health, rebalance your hormones, and get back your lean, beautiful body…Click Here To Join Our Facebook Group!