I tend to shy away from giving the…it only takes one-step to achieve [blank]…advice. Our bodies are so intricate, and what you need to achieve hormone balance, versus what your best friend needs, may look completely different.
Truth be told—there’s not usually just one-step to anything. That’s normal. But for the sake of some fun and the topic, I’m going to tell you my favorite hormone-food pick. I’ll also teach you more about why what you eat matters and makes a huge difference for ALL WOMEN to achieve a balanced hormone picture.
Some of you are “over” reading about “food as medicine.” Does it really matter is what you ask me in the patient room?! But, for others, who have experienced healing and are tracking how their mood, energy, and even libido benefit, you can’t convince them otherwise. They’ll never go back. And I will never go back because there’s too much at stake.
Remember, my journey into the world of integrative and functional medicine really began from a hormone imbalance I was experiencing in my late twenties—losing clumps of hair, having acne, and absolutely crashing from a hectic ER schedule. If you’re experiencing hormone imbalance, I have walked in your shoes, and there is hope and healing if you’ll work for it. Friends and neighbors may tell you that it’s normal to lose your energy as you age or have the dreadedMom Brain, but it’s actually not. While we all go through hormonal shifts caused by pregnancy and post-partum, stress, menopause and more—paying attention to the subtle signs is so key!
So why am I talking about food, one food, when this should be all about hormone balancing? Well, what you feed your body, and most importantly, how your body is breaking down and digesting the food is crucial for your total health picture. In the dance of hormones, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, and adrenal hormones have to work together—in harmony—to keep you humming and functioning at your best. Your gut bacteria determine how your hormones are metabolized—or used in your body. Some scientists are calling this not just the microbiome, but the “estametabolome” or “progestametabolome” because they are finding that the bacteria in your gut really determines how hormones are broken down and presented to the rest of your body! Chinese medicine had already figured this out thousands of years ago when they concluded that gut health and hormone health were connected.
If you are having issues with digesting protein and healthy fats, which means you’d likely be having symptoms that include bloating, irregular bowel movements, and belly pain, you should consider trying a probiotic and a digestive enzyme with meals. Be sure to get a high-quality digestive enzyme with amylase and lipase to digest all that healthy food even better!
Now that you’ve got that concept down [gut health leads to good hormone health], let me just say that there are a ton of hormone superfoods, each with their own distinctive healing property.
After a hard debate, if I had to pick one food to balance hormones…I would pick…avocados!
Avocados are truly a superfood, with studies showing benefits from fighting inflammation to improving insulin regulation and weight-loss. The majority of fat in an avocado is monounsaturated fat, which, contrary to popular belief, is actually heart-healthy! An average avocado has about twenty-two grams of fat and almost two hundred and forty calories, keeping hunger at bay and insulin levels stable. This fat prevents excessive intake of protein and carbohydrates, which can be tough on the digestive system! And remember, we are trying to keep digestion humming, not sluggish. Excessive protein is also being linked to increased risks of cancer and heart disease.
I love that insulin is managed well by the monounsaturated fats in avocados, while the fat also provides the building blocks the body needs to make both estrogen and progesterone. The fat in avocados also lubricates the digestive system, and may in-turn help to improve mild constipation.
Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol, a compound that balances stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands. When you’re stressed and in “frantic-mode,” more cortisol is pumped throughout your body. So anytime you can help reduce or balance that response of stress hormones, you’re doing your body a huge favor!
Chinese medicine also saw avocados as “blood builders,” and a key source of essential nutrients that the body needed to have strong blood for proper hormone balance and regulation.
They contain good levels of potassium, iron and B-vitamins too.
As a versatile fruit, avocados should be a kitchen staple! If you buy them in bulk, store the extras in the fridge so they stay fresh longer and set them out on the countertop a day in advance to ripen. Cut them up in your salads, or blend them in your smoothies for a creamier texture (my kids have no clue I dump a whole one in their strawberry smoothies). You can also add avocado puree to brownies and cake mixes for a smooth, creamy finish. I recently tried baked avocados, avocado fries, and avocado chips for the first time—all delicious.
Our family has started making avocado toast by spreading pureed avocado (with a little garlic, sea salt and cumin) atop gluten-free toast, drizzled with a little melted coconut or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I can make it to a late lunch if this is my morning starter.
So why not help yourself to another serving of guacamole, and make avocados a part of your daily hormone strategy.