We’d love to pretend last night’s pizza bender won’t come back to haunt us, but bloat, breakouts, and blemishes are very real consequences. That’s because our diet plays a key role in balancing the levels of hormones in our body, which in turn control our mood, energy levels, digestion, metabolism, and libido. So we turned to top OBGYNs Dr. Diana Bitner and Dr. Sherry Ross to give us the 411 on the hormone-balancing foods we should be piling onto our plates.
The live, healthy bacteria in yogurt (aka probiotics) support a healthy gut by balancing estrogen, thyroid and phytoestrogen levels—it’s especially important if you’re going through perimenopause, menopause or have symptoms of PMS. Lactobacillus is the most common probiotic, helping control lactose intolerance, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive issues. If you’re avoiding dairy, you can also get your daily dose of probiotics from fermented foods like kimchi and miso soup.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This queen of healthy fat contains monounsaturated and omega-9 fatty acids, as well as important vitamins and antioxidants. “Oil olive controls blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure and lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes,” Dr. Ross says. Another perk? A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a diet rich in olive oil can break down fat cells more quickly. Add 5 teaspoons to your meals every day to hit the recommended amount.
“Almonds are a healthy fat, high in protein, fiber and contain important vitamins,” says Dr. Ross. “They’re also responsible for controlling our body’s blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reducing feelings of hunger.” This is because almonds raise your body’s levels of the hormone cholecystokinin, which is associated with satisfied feelings of fullness. Try incorporating one 1/4-cup serving (about 11 almonds) in your diet daily.
These pods of creamy, green goodness are also loaded with good-for-you fats like omega-3 fatty acids, plus key vitamins E, K, and C, which work to balance estrogen. On the beauty front, the healthy fats found in avocados work to plump up your skin cells, giving you that moisturized, dewy glow. A daily dose of half an avocado is what’s recommended, says Dr. Ross.
OK, you don’t want to eat this one every day, but definitely keep it in your weekly rotation. “Salmon is ideal because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids that lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels,” says Dr. Ross. The nutrients in salmon also have anti-inflammatory properties that help keep skin clear, bones strong and teeth healthy. Dr. Ross recommends two 4-ounce servings a week.
There’s a reason these guys are making the comeback of the century. “Crunching on cruciferous veggies like kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts help your liver metabolize estrogen, the main female sex hormone that controls your monthly cycle and keeps hormone levels at bay,” explains Dr. Ross. Too much fiber can cause constipation and indigestion, so keep portions around 1 cup a day.
You probably already know that the majority of the carbs in your diet should be complex, so your body can more easily digest and absorb them. But did you know good carbs also keep your ovaries healthy? “These carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and quinoa, help keep blood sugar levels stable and prevent insulin spikes, making a healthy environment for ovarian function,” says Dr. Bitner. “Aim for anywhere from 50 to 70 grams of complex carbs in your meals daily.”
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