Hey all you beautiful people!
At the end of last month, I wrote a post on the intertwining nature of our female endocrine system and broke down how a hormonal imbalance can affect your overall system.
If you haven’t read it yet, go back and read it now. It will further inform you and help you understand the advice I’m about to give more fully.
As promised, I am coming at you with part two. In this post, I will continue the hormone conversation. It’s time to cover eating patterns that will help bring your hormones back on track, as well as, some supplements that I truly believe in when it comes to hormonal balance in the female body.
Have you read blog post number one yet? Ok, good. We are all set.
Let’s pick up where we left off.
To make this hormone situation even more complicated, I will now be adding another hormone into the mix. That hormone is: insulin. I bet many of you are familiar with insulin. It is given lots of attention as it plays a vital role in getting glucose (sugar) into the cells and out of the blood stream, therefore, it is often brought up in conversations related to weight loss and diabetes.
When we eat, insulin is secreted by the pancreas. Insulin works really hard on days when you are eating more frequently, or when your meals are comprised of more sugary foods since its goal is to keep blood sugar in balance. When you have more protein or fiber rich foods, insulin and the pancreas get more of a break, since these are blood sugar balancing foods.
Given that I’m a holistic nutritionist, who sees the body as a whole, it is clear in my mind that since insulin is a hormone and when we eat it is put to work and that all hormones are connected, then what we put in our bodies and when we do it, will most definitely influence our overall human body. Right?
…that since insulin is a hormone and when we eat it is put to work and that all hormones are connected, then what we put in our bodies and when we do it, will most definitely influence our overall human body. Right?
Yes, you brilliant babes, the answer is yes! Correct, positive, you got it!
Like I just mentioned, when we eat more sugary foods or more frequently throughout the day, more insulin is needed. Therefore, you get an ‘insulin spike’. Now I’m going to connect this to the adrenals again. Remember them? They secrete cortisol, the stress hormone. With insulin spiking often, the adrenals once again perceive this as a threat to the system or as a form of stress. The adrenals mean well, they really do! As a protective mechanism, once again, the adrenals will secrete cortisol. If you continue to eat high carb meals and if you eat them more often, it is further contributing to adrenal fatigue, which can impact overall hormonal imbalance (see the cascade I discussed in post #1).
So, what and when should you be eating for optimal hormonal balance?
This is a difficult question to answer given that we are all very different, and I don’t know what your diet looks like now. However, there are a few rules of thumb that you can begin to implement to help level you out.
When to eat:
- If you suspect adrenal fatigue or hormonal imbalance in general, try eating two meals a day rather than grazing. Think about having an ‘eating window’ throughout your day where you aren’t eating for 16-18 hours. This gives you an eating window of 6-8 hours. For instance, you would eat breakfast at around 9 am and your last bites would hit your lips before 5 pm. To begin, try doing this only 2-3 times per week.
- Limit your snacking for a while. This stimulus sends a message to the endocrine system to secrete more insulin. The goal is to reduce blood sugar fluctuations to limit hormonal ups and downs as well.
What to eat:
- Protein rich meals are key. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar and provides your body with building blocks essential to hormone formation.
- When eating carbs, keep them complex. Try to stay away from refined sugars like cupcakes, cookies and syrups in your vanilla latte. Example of complex carbs are: brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, apples, beans.
- Although difficult, when it comes to re-establishing hormonal balance, keeping your overall consumption of carbohydrates to 75-125g daily may be beneficial to you for a period of time.
- Always eat lots of veggie and fiber rich foods. It is even better to eat your carb with a fat and/or protein. These will help slow the absorption of the sugar and prevent a spike. Examples include: Hummus with carrots, apple slices with nut butter.
- Good fats. The omega 3s especially help fight the negative effects of too much cortisol and inflammation. You can get healthy fats from: cold water rich, avocado, nuts and seeds, quality oils like hemp, olive, coconut, avocado, etc.
Let’s talk herbs, superfoods and supplements. It can be very overwhelming walking into the health food store and choosing the product that will best help you out. The amount of supplements and superfoods targeted at hormonal health is vast. When dealing with hormonal imbalance, testing may be beneficial to give you more direction in what to take. That being said there are a few herbs and supplements that can be extra beneficial, regardless of what the results say. Today, I’ll touch on a few of those:
Ashwaganda – This herb is excellent for fighting stress and the negative effects of stress including inflammation. It can also be great for memory and supports the thyroid in all the work it does to keep metabolism revving. *extra beneficial to hormones of the adrenals and thyroid
Rhodiola – This is one of my most favourite herbs of all time. It’s helped me out through thick and thin. I find it wonderful in improving energy, balancing out those female hormones and lowering cortisol. I often recommend to help get women back on track with their cycle. *extra beneficial to hormones of the adrenals and ovaries
DHA- DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid. It is a form of omega 3 fatty acid. The typical diet often is high in the other fats, like saturated fats, monounsaturated or omega 6s, however, many people don’t get enough of omega 3s! It’s a great one to supplement with to fight the effects and symptoms of hormonal imbalance like dry skin and decreased energy, but it also has major implications for immunity and prevention of disease.
Pine Bark Extract (aka. Navitol)- This gem helps fight free radicals, boosts glutathione (a master anti-oxidant in the body), helps the brain, assists with circulation and assists recovery. *beneficial to all hormones we discussed and overall health of the body