People may not realize that their diets actually have a lot to do with their hormones. What you put in your body can dramatically affect the way that it functions, and people may be surprised to find that their diet may be at the root of their hormone imbalances. Hormone levels can be extremely easy to throw off, especially with age. The symptoms result in skin blemishes, weight gain, or mood swings. Our bodies function best when all of our hormones work together seamlessly, and any function that is out of balance can lead to a whole slew of negative symptoms. Eating to promote hormonal balance is one of the easiest changes you can make to help your body perform at its best.

Several key hormones require a healthy diet to function correctly:

Estrogen

Too much or too little estrogen can have serious consequences for women, but just the right levels are great for promoting anti-aging. Fat is helpful for balancing these hormone levels. Helpful foods include nut butters and avocados.

Insulin

Metabolism slows with age, often leading to unwanted weight gain. It’s important to avoid extra carbs, sugar, and salt to prevent.

Cortisol

This stress hormone becomes elevated in response to mental and physical stress. Levels rise naturally with age and can cause poor cognitive functions & loss of memory. However, eating the right foods can help the body manage cortisol levels. Reducing caffeine and sugar intake, eating every 3-4 hours, and adding two to three servings of leafy greens with vitamin B and iron can help balance stress and energy.

Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid controls multiple different body functions, including metabolism, hair, skin, and moods. Selenium is an important mineral that aids in thyroid function, and it can be boosted by incorporating Brazil nuts into your diet. Iron-rich red meat can also help encourage proper thyroid functions.

Other hormone-friendly foods include flaxseed (reduces excess estrogen), cruciferous vegetables (support healthy levels of estrogen), bitter greens (stimulate digestion to rid the body of excess hormones), broccoli sprouts (detoxify liver), and sea vegetables (B vitamins support hormone balance).

While it’s pretty simple to incorporate better foods into your diet, it may be tougher to stop eating foods that may contain harmful chemicals. A few sneaky chemicals that contaminate common foods can inhibit proper hormone functions and should be avoided.

BPA: Often found in plastics. The body can interpret BPA as estrogen, which can lead to early puberty, breast cancer, reproductive problems, obesity, and heart disease. Try to steer clear of plastic food packaging that may contain BPA.  

Mercury: We might view seafood as one of the healthiest foods to eat; however, studies have found that up to 84% of the world’s fish are contaminated. Excess mercury can lead to kidney failure, hair loss, and muscle weakness. A few fish consistently low in mercury include albacore tuna, freshwater Coho salmon, oysters, Pacific sardines, rainbow trout, and wild-caught salmon. Anchovies, mackerel, perch, scallops, shad, shrimp, tilapia, and whitefish are also relatively safe.

Pesticides: Pesticides are designed to harm insects, so they aren’t necessarily great for humans either. Organophosphate pesticides can cause neurological disorders, ADHD, and slowed reproductive development. Try buying organic produce when you can!

In the end, our bodies are only as healthy as we allow them to be. Poor diets lead to poor health, and even our hormones benefit from eating a variety of balanced foods. If you’re noticing the effects of aging and the imbalances that come with time, try reducing processed foods, high-sugar snacks, and meats with growth hormones. Even anti-inflammatory diets low in gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, and soy can be useful in the right circumstances. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new diets.