Foods for Hormone Balance

In finding ways to practice wellness in all capacities of mind and body, it is also important to include our bodies hormones.  While eating a balanced diet, finding happy movement in the body, and connecting to your community or “tribe” are wonderful ways to naturally move the meter towards all around (hormones included) health, it is always interesting and perhaps helpful to keep in mind some foods that will aide the body to keep our hormones levels in check.

Hormones are our bodies chemical messengers that travel throughout the body coordinating processes like metabolism, growth, and fertility.  They can influences the function of our immune systems and even alter our behaviors (hello PMS, pregnancy, or
menopause–lack of food “hangry”).  Before birth they guide the development of the brain and reproductive system-BIG chemical influences in our bodies deserving of proper treatment to keep you happy and balanced.  By supplying the ample fats, vitamins and minerals, proteins whole foods become the foundation of a well-functioning endocrine system.  The body needs proper building blocks to synthesize effective hormones.
Below are foods that help to balance our endocrine system.  As always a whole foods, plant-based diet will likely keep you on track, but read on for more insight on foods to incorporate for a fresh taste and take to hormone health.
Avocados 
These nutrient dense fruits ar packed full of vitamins and minerals that create an excellent environment for our hormones to function properly.  A plant sterol found in avocados known as beta-sitosteral has been shown to balance hormones ratios within the body.  Enjoy them (in my opinion with everything) on salads, in sandwiches or wraps, toasts, mushed into dessert puddings (trust),smoothies, etc..
Carrots
In a 1970’s study scientists found that consuming just one-medium sized carrot per day reduced the blood levels of estrogen circulating in the body. Specialized fibers found in carrots were able to bind to unused hormones in the blood and safely excrete them out of the body.  These fibers could pull out not only excess estrogen, but also histamine and serotonin therefore reducing the cortisol response.  Cortisol is higher in the body when responding to stress and is often linked to weight gain especially around the organs. Include carrots in juices, smoothies, salads, etc..
Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has been shown to help regulate the hormone insulin due to its compacity to aide in our blood sugar levels.  Healthy fats help us to maintain a longer, slower burn when we consume a meal-it gives our cells the ability to respond effectively to insulin.  This is important for energy levels, disease prevention (especially type II diabetes), and weight management. Coconut oil can be used in cooking, dressings, smoothies, etc..
Cruciferous Vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale) 
They contain a bioactive compound that can balance estrogen in the body.  Excess estrogen can lead to some types of cancer; therefore modulating estrogen levels in the body becomes a key factor in disease prevention. Steamed, in salads, smoothies, juices, wraps, soups-any way you can get more greens into your diet is key!
Flax and Sesame Seeds
These two seeds are an excellent source of plant lignans.  When we consume flax or sesame seeds the bacteria in our gut convert these into a form of lignan that the human body can use to help moderate estrogen levels.  These capabilities may decrease risks of hormone related cancers.  Flax seeds should be crushed (use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) before consumption as this will increase the bioavailability of the polyphenols inside the seeds.  Include flax seeds in smoothies or baking.  Both seeds are excellent sprinkled on top of salads or on sushi.
Maca
Maca is loaded with minerals like iodine, zinc, and essential fatty acids.  Maca belongs to the tuber (specifically radish) family and it can aide in boosting sexual hormone production and increase libido.  The powder can be mixed into coffee or smoothies, or tablet can be taken.  It is best to not heat maca for the highest nutrient benefit.
Quinoa
Quinoa contains saponins in its outer layer-it gives the seeds that waxy, protective shell and acts as a natural antibiotic in the body.  Saponins can work to moderate levels of hormones including estrogen and cortisol-therefore helping to regulate and support our adrenals.  Make as a side dish and throw in different veggies for variety, use as a bowl base, or bake into a muffin form for a fun way to differentiate the flavors.
Sea Vegetables (Kelp, Nori, Wakame, etc..)  
A dense source of iodine.  Iodine is a micronutrient needed for the production of thyroid hormones; which are responsible for the regulation of a healthy metabolism.  Include these in salads, sushi rolls, or incorporated into soups.
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