Hormone imbalance is the root cause of various diseases and disorders. Modern city-life involves a sedentary but hectic lifestyle, lack of free time, lack of exercise, increased stress, frequent consumption of fast food, excessive consumption of alcohol, excessive smoking, air, noise and water pollution resulting in exposure to harmful chemicals, intake of food that contains preservatives or harmful additives, over-consumption of processed foods, etc. All these factors are responsible for hormonal imbalance and the related health complications. Regular exercises and good eating and sleeping habits help enhance the production of hormones in the body. A healthy diet which provides all the essential nutrients in proper proportions is essential for the release of hormones by endocrine glands.
Importance of Hormone Balance
Release of one hormone is many times dependent on the release of another hormone. The pituitary gland controls the functioning of various other endocrine glands, and the hypothalamus controls the functioning of the pituitary gland. So a slight imbalance or dysfunction of one gland can destroy the functioning of another endocrine gland, resulting in diseases and disorders. For example, if the pancreas cannot produce sufficient insulin, functions of all organs, including the heart and the brain would be affected. A deficiency or even overproduction of a hormone can result in several health complications. Those who exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet are less likely to suffer from hormone imbalance.
Percentage of women with hormone imbalance symptoms is increasing day by day. A woman's body undergoes several phases like puberty, menstruation, ovulation, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth, breast feeding and menopause. Imbalance of female hormones estrogen and progesterone leads to several complicated situations, resulting in infertility, miscarriage, depression, mood swings, etc. Excessive androgens (male hormones) in women may create several health hazards.
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. Hormones determine the 'fight or flight' response of your body to a stressful condition, and they also control your appetite and fat deposition. They determine the quality of your hair and skin. Hormonal imbalance can affect your looks significantly, and it can affect your memory and cognizance too. Thus, maintaining hormone balance is crucial for good physical and mental health.
Foods that Help Maintain the Balance of Hormones
Whole grains like rice, rye, and wheat, good fats like olive oil, canola oil, good quality proteins (containing all or maximum amino acids), complex carbohydrates which are slowly digested, fresh vegetables and fruits loaded with dietary fiber, low fat dairy products, etc., constitute a healthy diet. Lean meat and fish, poultry, nuts and seeds, flaxseed, dry fruits, natural herbs, whole grain products or multi grain breads and pastas, fresh fruits and fruit juices, vegetables, vegetable juices and soups, berries, almonds, apricots, raisins, dates, low fat milk, yogurt, etc., should be incorporated in your regular diet if you want to enjoy balanced production of hormones in the body.
Certain fruit juices like lemon juice, orange juice, etc., that are rich in vitamin C, act as natural detoxifying agents and help remove accumulated toxins in the body. Consumption of such natural detoxifying agents along with a balanced diet, helps enhance the functioning of the endocrine system. Natural spices like garlic, onion, cinnamon, etc., are necessary for maintaining your health. Dietitians recommend consumption of organic fruits and vegetables to prevent hormone imbalance.
Turmeric is the herb which helps balance both female and male hormones. Ginseng also plays an important role in hormone balance. In India, turmeric is used regularly in all types of diets. Research shows that the Japanese diet is rich in phytoestrogens, natural compounds derived from plants. They help establish hormone balance in the body. Examples of foods which contain phytoestrogens are soy milk, soy beverages, tofu, tempeh, soybeans and sprouts, wheat-berries, fenugreek, lentils, yums, rice, all sprouted seeds, alfalfa, linseed, oil seeds like sesame, sunflower etc., uncooked olive oil, wheat germ, rice bran, corn, barley, oats, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsnip, celery, green peas, green beans, cucumber, apples, anise, carrots, pomegranates, etc.
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids like fish, fish oil, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds help improve the hormone levels in the body. They improve your memory and cognitive thinking by replenishing the body with fatty acids (that are destroyed due to hormonal imbalances). Antioxidant rich fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds help strengthen your endocrine system, as they cancel the effects of free radicals on the body. Consumption of organic food (foods produced without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides) with plenty of clean, filtered water is essential if you want to prevent hormone imbalance.
While consuming healthy foods, you need to avoid processed and fast food, foods that contain harmful colors and preservatives, and foods that are packed with sugar, oil and fat. Animal products obtained from animals that are fed with antibiotics and artificial growth hormones, can affect the production of hormones in your body. Restricted intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, soda, carbonated drinks, and alcohol, helps prevent hormone imbalance. If you are diagnosed with hormonal imbalance, you should first find out which hormone is over produced in your body or whether you are suffering from a hormonal deficiency. Hormonal imbalance can lead to severe mood swings, and it can affect cognitive processes, reproduction and organ function.
You should consult your physician and dietitian regarding foods to eat to balance hormones, because required food types may vary from person to person, depending upon the nature of hormone imbalance. Apart from food, you should keep yourself engaged in activities which can make you feel happy. You need to perform simple exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling, regularly. Breathing exercises, yoga and meditation, can help you manage stress. Last but not the least, sufficient rest is as important as healthy diet and exercise, when it comes to the balance of hormones in the body.