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What you eat impacts the health of your hormones and your entire body. Here is why:
Our cells, which power our organs, tissues, glands, and therefore influence the balance of our hormones, rely on certain information which is provided by specific vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber that we get from the foods we eat. The food that we eat influences our menstrual cycle regularity, PMS, uterine fibroids, PCOS, endometriosis, fertility, etc. Nutrition is so downplayed! Most doctors don’t get nutritional education or training in their medical programs. These are facts.
Some more important facts:
- 39% of women who avoided fast food conceived within the first month of trying.
- Those who consumed high amounts of monounsaturated fat were 3.4x more likely to conceive. These include my FAV: Avocados, yay!
- High saturated fat intake decreased the number of high quality eggs.
- Red meat consumed more than once weekly was also found to decrease chances of fertility.
- Micronutrients are incredibly vital for our health and more specifically, our fertility.
- Low vitamin D and C are both associated with lowered levels of fertility.
- Vitamin C is super important for healthy progesterone levels.
- Low B12 and B9 (folate) increase the risk of miscarriage.
- Low selenium is linked to fertility challenges and miscarriages.
- Most of us are chronically low in micronutrients, lots of which are depleted by the pill and high-stress lives.
- 50%+ of us fall short in the different colors of vegetables and fruits (red, green, white, purple/blue, yellow/orange)
LET’S GET INTO IT: NUTRITION BABY!
We all have unique nutritional needs, of course, but there are certain principles we can all abide by when it comes to hormone balance. These principles are simple and based on the most studied and proven healthiest way of eating IN existence and is commonly referred to as the “Mediterranean diet”. But what the Mediterranean diet really is, is one full of whole foods. Lots of plants and fiber, healthy fats, and protein. The nutrients and plant-based chemicals these foods contain will nourish your glands, organs, and promote hormone balance. It also helps to reduce inflammation which is key when it comes to addressing PMS/hormone imbalances.
I sometimes feel weary when it comes to talking about food given my history of an eating disorder and that food is a part of a history of trauma, suffering, and body dysmorphia for most women. Our culture has a lot of body shame, fat shame, and body loathing. I know it firsthand. I don’t want anyone to suffer from any disordered eating, especially orthorexia, which can be very easy to do when it comes to healing your body. MY GOAL AND DESIRE is for us all to move away from restrictive eating and two get more relaxed and in tune with our bodies needs and how they change throughout our cycle. My motto is simple, delicious, nutritious food that’s fueled by nature and backed by science!
Currently, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is the primary diet in our western world and is responsible for a lot of chronic diseases that are mostly preventable. It is pretty ironic that the acronym is SAD. This way of eating includes:
- Ultra-processed foods.
- High red meat intake, which can increase estrogen levels to harmful amounts even if they are high quality.
- Low fat diets
- Diets high in trans fats, which are industrially manufactured by pumping hydrogen into vegetable oils and are highly inflammatory to the body.
- High omega six and low omega-3‘s OR an imbalanced ratio because we do need both!
- Omega 3’s are our EFA’s - essential fatty acids - which are needed for hormone production and cell membrane function. We want a 1:1 ratio but nowadays it’s more like 20:1. Harmfully high levels of omega 6 comes from vegetable oils including canola, grapeseed, corn, soybean, cottonseed, sesame, peanut, and generic vegetable oil and margarine and most fast/packaged foods, commercially raised meat/poultry/eggs. You even have to check your granola bars.
- Eating out frequently where the quality of the food is sacrificed.
A quick chat about dairy:
- It is one of our biggest exposures to excess estrogen.
- 100+ years ago, pasture-raised animals were not kept pregnant or lactating year round like they are now to raise their milk yield. This allows for a higher concentration of estrogens.
- 60-80% of estrogens in the Western diet comes from dairy. Even small doses have BIG impacts, studies have proven this to be trye.
- Study by the CDC 1999-2004 showed girls aged 5-12 had a higher risk of early onset of menstruation than non-milk drinking girls.
- Milk contains IGF-1 which is a hormone similar to insulin that simulates the growth of cells and prevents unhealthy cells from dying off as they should naturally.
- Also linked to cancers such as breast.
- May play a role in uterine fibroids
- The dairy industry also allows the growth factor rbGH which further raises IGf-1 levels.
- Cow milk (not sheep or goat) has A1 casein which is an inflammatory trigger for my ladies suffering with painful endometriosis.
- Not to mention the tendency for environmental pollutants and toxins to be stored in the fat cells of animals!
A quick chat about gluten:
- Close link to endometriosis.
- Close link to autoimmune issues, especially Hashimotos.
- Non-celiac gluten intolerance is not an immune disease but it can cause gynecologic symptoms.
- It’s worth a shot to try cutting it out for 3 months to see if your symptoms improve.
So Maddie, what principles should I follow when it comes to nourishing my body? I am glad you asked my sweet friend!
Eat REAL food
- Skip the boxes/artificial foods and focus on foods that come naturally from nature.
- Eat plenty of plant-based foods with high quality fats, fresh vegetables, some fruit, high-quality fiber (aim for 30 g/day)
- If you consume eggs or animal products, purchase organic, grass-fed items. This will be better for your body, the animal, and the planet.
- If you consume fish, opt for high omega 3 and low mercury forms. Wild caught Alaskan salmon is a great option. 3x/week maximum.
- Make sure to comprise your meals of protein, fat, and carb/fiber at every meal to keep your blood sugar balanced.
- 7-9 C organic vegetables daily. 1-2 C of organic berries / phase-friendly fruit. Check out my phase-specific grocery lists here.
- Seeds, grains, legumes are all amazing foods to incorporate into your life, especially once your gut is healed and can tolerate them.
- Slow carbs such as legumes and brown rice are also resistant starches, which are indigestible fibers that increase and support healthy gut flora!
- 80 million (a quarter) of Americans deal with insulin resistance which leads to chronic inflammation and hormone imbalances for women.
- Artificial sweeteners even just once a week increases risk of developing Hashimoto's and can harm the gut microbiome.
- Natural sweeteners on occasion.
- Sugar alcohols cause bloating and diarrhea in many people and can be a trigger especially for those with PMS bloating, IBS, or endometriosis.
- It is estrogenic (raises levels of estrogen within our body)
- Linked to fibroids and Endometriosis
- Depletes nutrients essential for ovarian function
- Increased risk of PCOS, fertility issues, sever menopausal symptoms
- Coffee when organic can have strong cognitive health benefits but there are many downsides to mood, energy, and hormones hence why I encourage ladies to opt for something else, like matcha.
- Coffee intake can rob you of calcium and other essential nutrients.
- Caffeine, especially coffee, can increase our stress hormones, jack our blood sugar, and lead to insulin resistance. If you are already struggling, it can make things worse!
- I love cacao, dandelion, moringa, and matcha.
- STRONGLY linked to infertility.
- Statistics show that the nutrients most American women are depleted in are vitamin E, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B six, iron, B1, and there is a big gap in our consumption of Phyto(plant) nutrients and chemicals.
- Phytoestrogens, which come from plants, protect us by blocking our estrogen receptors from harmful, toxic forms of estrogen.
Hydrate with filtered, or even better, distilled water
- A note on consuming leafy greens and thyroid: Raw kale/spinach/greens can be harmful, however, cooked and/or fermented has been shown to inhibit their ability to slow thyroid function!
- If you have a lot of food intolerances/sensitivities, you can adopt a simpler way of eating as you address the root issue (parasites, yeast/bacteria overgrowth, etc.) and reduce inflammation so that you can eventually enjoy these foods again!
Conclusion: Live by the 95/5 rule and give yourself love and grace! You got this queens. :)