Feeling bloated, tired and irritable? Your food might be upsetting your mood.
Hormones are important chemical messengers that control most of the body’s major functions.
If they’re unbalanced they can affect stress levels, metabolism and sleep patterns. Physically, you might notice skin breakouts, weight fluctuations and facial hair growth.
Getting hormones back into harmony begins with your diet, according to Sydney dietitian Fiona Tuck.
“A good diet is important to be able to supply the nutrients that are required for healthy hormone production, hormone regulation and hormone clearance,” Fiona says.
Here’s Fiona’s advice for keeping moods in check.
Rebalance with an abundance of fresh foods
Load up on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods to increase fibre and help clear old hormones such as oestrogen.
Good fats and proteins are also required for healthy hormone production, says Fiona.
“Go for extra virgin olive oil, avocados, oily fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds,” she says.
Resist the sugar cravings
“Sugar, processed foods, recreational drugs and alcohol can be hormone sabotagers,” says Fiona.
A diet high in sugar and processed foods can cause blood sugar swings and insulin imbalance, while trans fats may interfere with cellular function.
“Limit highly processed foods which are often devoid of nutrients and high in sugar and salt,” she says.
Look after your liver
Liver health plays an important role in hormone balance.
If your diet is high in refined sugar and refined carbohydrates your body may require a higher intake of nutrients, says Fiona.
“This kind of intake can deplete the body of B vitamins and magnesium, both of which are important nutrients in hormone balance,” she says.
“It can also affect liver health and detoxification.”
Prepare for PMS
There’s no need to skip the chocolate when you’re premenstrual.
In fact, dark chocolate is one of the magnesium-rich foods Fiona recommends to help combat PMS.
Green leafy vegetables and nuts are also good for a happy hormonal boost, as well as B-rich foods such as chicken, salmon and nutritional yeast.
“A lack of these nutrients may aggravate symptoms,” Fiona says.
“Reduce sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar and may also worsen symptoms.”
Increase movement, improve mood
Exercise regularly to keep hormones in check.
An active lifestyle helps with insulin resistance and boosts levels of the hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA and growth hormone, Fiona says.
“Exercise is a fabulous way to boost feel-good endorphins,” she says.
“Yoga can also be a good way to combat stress and calm the mind and the body – or try meditation to help lower cortisol levels.”