Top 4 Hormone Balancing Superfoods: By N. Steele RN, BSN,MPH
Carmen, a mother of two, had just picked up her children from school. She came home, placed the groceries on the table, and started getting the pots together to start cooking dinner for the evening. She suddenly felt hot and started sweating profusely. At the same time, she also felt her heart racing. As she clutched her chest, she felt like it was the end. After a couple of seconds, her heart rate slowly slowed down, and she no longer felt warm in her face and chest. She has had these episodes before and thought it could not be menopause, as she is just 36. She later decided to visit the doctor, and through various tests, it was determined that she had hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is just one of the many conditions that are caused by an imbalance of a particular hormone. When there is too much thyroid hormone in the body, there are symptoms similar to what Carmen experienced above. Endocrine glands produce hormones that help with the regulation of a woman's well-being. When there are factors that affect these glands, hormone imbalance sets in.
What is Hormone Imbalance
Hormone imbalance occurs when the body has too little or too much hormone, which is accompanied by various symptoms. The endocrine system utilizes hormones to maintain equilibrium in the body. Such as regulating stress levels, thyroid levels, female and male reproductive growth, and development. In women, key hormones play a role in their wellness and productivity. These include corticosteroids from the adrenal gland, which are responsible for regulating blood pressure; Luteinizing hormone (LH); follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland, which is responsible for the production of eggs in women; and estrogen. There is also the thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is responsible for regulating the thyroid hormones. This hormone is also from the pituitary gland. The pancreas is responsible for regulating sugar levels through insulin and glucagon. The ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone. The pineal gland produces melatonin for a good night's sleep. When there is an imbalance in one or more hormones, the body compensates, which is manifested by various symptoms.
Why does hormone Imbalance happen?
The adrenal glands are key players when it comes to balancing your hormones. There are small glands located in the superior area of the kidneys. They are responsible for producing hormones that help maintain balance in everyday life. There are two parts to the adrenal gland. These are the adrenal cortex and medulla. Each section has its own functions and produces hormones specific to the body.
The medulla located in the center is responsible for providing the fight or flight response when the body is under stress. Stress hormones are norepinephrine and epinephrine. You may have symptoms such as a racing heart and anxiety. The cortex, on the other hand, is located on the outer part of the gland and is responsible for producing the hormones aldosterone, which regulates the mineral balance in the body, and glucocorticoids, which regulate glucose metabolism. Key hormones like cortisol and androgen are responsible for male masculine characteristics and female libido.
Hormone imbalance occurs when these critical hormones are either producing too much or too little to sustain normal wellness. This can be due to a malfunction of the adrenal organs, medications, deficient intake of certain elements in food, infection, being exposed to constant stress, or being overweight. To regain normal function, it is important to evaluate your current lifestyle choices, such as the type of food being consumed, stressors, and physical activities, or lack thereof. There are hormone-balancing superfoods that are beneficial to the body.
4 Best Hormone Balancing Superfoods for Women
There are specific superfoods that contain nutrients that are essential to the normal functioning of the body. For a woman, it can be disheartening to face premenstrual or post-menopausal symptoms. To get back on track, there are four vital superfoods that are useful.
Adaptogenic herbs: The adrenal gland is responsible for the stress hormones, and oftentimes, when not functioning appropriately, the gland can produce too much cortisol over an extended period of time if exposed to stressors. This can upset the balance of estrogen and progesterone hormones Apoptogenic herbs can increase the effectiveness of the secretion of these hormones in a balanced way and help the body resist physical and biological chemical stress. These stressors, when repeated over a period of time, can result in adrenal fatigue . Adaptogenic herbs would include ginseng, rhodiola, angelica, holy basil, and ashwagandha. Remember, when starting a new herbal program, consult your healthcare provider. Medication can interact negatively with herbal supplements.
Herbs for the Liver: The liver is a large organ located in the upper right abdomen and is responsible for removing waste products from the body and also breaking down fat. It also converts glucose to glycogen and stores it when there is too much glucose in the blood. The liver functions to regulate hormones in the blood. If there are too many hormones circulating in the body, it is a result of the liver’s inability to regulate these hormones effectively. When there is an influx of hormones in the blood, liver function is altered. For the liver to function effectively, it is vital that this special organ be cleaned at least once per month. Teas that are commonly used in the detox process are dandelion, milk thistle, lemon, chamomile, and ginger.
Plant-Based Meals.: The term “you are what you eat" has been the line for most vegetarians. The food we eat can have an impact on how our body functions daily. Animals are usually fed products that enhance their size and productivity, in the form of hormones and medications. When meat that has been impacted by hormonal products is consumed, they act as disruptors in the body, causing hormone imbalance. A plant-based diet is packed full of fiber and essential hormones for the body. Phytoestrogens are derivatives of plants and are sourced from soy-based foods, garbanzo beans, green peas, and many more. However, they are more effective in specific stages of development, such as premenopausal, postmenopausal, and pregnancy. It has been known scientifically to be effective in metabolic syndrome and inflammation, as well as in postmenopausal women.
Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables are important vegetables that can have a positive effect on your hormone balance. High estrogen levels in women can wreak havoc on the body, causing a cascade of negative events that, if not controlled, can have debilitating effects on the body. This includes an increased risk for cancer. The phytochemicals in these types of vegetables are useful in removing excess estrogen from the body. Excess estrogen has been linked to estrogen dominance, which has symptoms such as mood swings, excessive menstrual cramps, heavy periods, and depression. Another important benefit is its ability to detoxify the liver, which is essential for hormone balance. Examples of cruciferous vegetables are kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, maca, Bok choy, collard greens, mustard leaves, and wasabi. The important thing to note, however, is that they may be goitrogenic; that is, they affect the functioning of the thyroid by inhibiting the synthesis of the thyroid hormone. To reduce the levels of goitrogens in the vegetables, it is essential that you cook or steam them.
What are the Hormone Types?
There are important hormones in the body that help with a woman’s normal day-to-day functioning. These are :
Is Ginger Good for Hormone Balance?
The liver serves as an important organ for the breakdown of waste and fat in the body. It also helps reduce excessive hormones that are circulating in the blood. Women with hormone imbalances may have a non-alcoholic fatty liver that can be caused by insulin resistance and oxidative stress. Ginger is a spice that has been used for thousands of years in food and drinks. It has been especially vital for stomach upsets. Studies have shown, however, that ginger can counteract the biochemical abnormalities that are involved in nonalcoholic fatty liver. There is also evidence that supports the fact that insulin resistance caused by fat can be improved by using ginger. Liver toxicity can develop when the organ is overtaxed. Ginger has been studied to also protect the liver against toxic substances by enhancing antioxidant activity.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Hormone Balancing Superfoods
There are many factors that can affect a woman’s body and throw off her hormonal levels. To better understand how to counteract these factors, knowing more about the key organs responsible for regulating hormonal levels and consuming the key superfoods can assist in reestablishing homeostasis in the body.
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