Hormones play a vital role in our health and well-being. The most well-known hormones are Testosterone, Estrogen and Progesterone. While these three are primarily known as our sex hormones, they control far more than just libido. They impact many essential bodily functions and help determine how we feel and how we look.
Maintaining a healthy and varied diet is one important way in which we can facilitate keeping our hormone levels optimally balanced which will subsequently positively impact our health and visible ageing.
The role of Hormones
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone meaning it can build up muscle and tissue and increase metabolism. Estrogen is known as a catabolic hormone; this means that is capable of slowing metabolism, repressing the immune system, and can dissolve tissue and muscle. Progesterone is multifaceted and can act as either an anabolic or catabolic hormone depending on the circumstance.
Why hormones may become unbalanced
Our hormone levels naturally change through time as we age and experience different life stages.
Hormones can also be affected by chronic stress, failure to exercise, prescriptions (such as birth control pills), poor diet (high in alcohol and refined sugar), as well as extended times of illness.
Two common issues that arise with hormones are:
Low Testosterone for men is often associated with deteriorating muscle mass, waning libido, irritability, extreme tiredness and even depression.
High Estrogen also known as Estrogen Dominance for women can be linked with infertility, autoimmune disease, extreme symptoms of PMS, poor sleep patterns, endometriosis, and some types of migraines.
Foods which may boost Testosterone Levels
Testosterone levels may lag for various reasons but these foods could help you
- Eggs – the cholesterol in eggs can help boost testosterone
- Cruciferous Vegetables (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage) – these contain a compound called indoles which help testosterone levels to remain high and to be unaffected by estrogen levels
- Vitamin E, Vitamin B and Zinc rich foods (pine nuts, bananas, brown rice, asparagus) -these vitamins are the building blocks for testosterone so making sure you have enough will aid a healthy production of testosterone.
Foods which may boost Estrogen Levels
Natural estrogen compounds that can be found in some foods are named Phytoestrogens and contain Isoflavins which can mimic the function of natural estrogen in the body. Boosting Estrogen may be especially helpful during menopause.
- Legumes (soy, chickpeas, green beans, mung beans and alfafa sprouts) – Soybeans and their products are very strong in phytoestrogens but other legumes have lots as well.
- Seeds & Grains (anise seed, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seed & rye, oats rice, barley and quinoa) – Flaxseeds have the highest concentration of phytoestrogens of any food!
- Fruits & Veggies (prunes, dates, apricots and peaches & winter squash, yams, onions, cucumbers and pumpkin)
Foods which may help inhibit Estrogen
Some health issues may be positively affected by lowering estrogen levels. The following foods are full of anti-oxidants which may assist keeping estrogen production in check.
- Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange)
- Green Leafy & Cruciferous Vegetables (spinach, kale, parsley and chard & broccoli, bok choy and cauliflower)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
- Olive Oil (pure, virgin, and cold-pressed) – Olive oil contains Oleuropin which studies have shown to be effective in inhibiting the conversion androgens into estrogen.
Bringing back the Balance
If you are concerned about a potential hormone imbalance get your levels checked with your doctor. The following things may also aid in bringing back the balance.
- If possible avoid medication which contains estrogen.
- Minimize stress levels or find new healthy ways of managing stress.
- Have a healthy exercise routine.
- Incorporate a varied diet full of whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruit.
- Keep your intake of processed foods high in unhealthy fats and sugars at a minimum.
- Ensure alcohol intake is within the recommended range.
The Importance of Balance
How we look is affected by how we feel. Suffering from the ill-effects of unbalanced hormones can mean that we experience more visible aging. Low energy, fatigue and a poor mood can keep us from experiencing optimum well-being.
Hormone changes are a part of life which cannot be wholly escaped.
Attentiveness in making sure our hormone levels are most advantageously balanced can increase our energy levels and decrease preventable effects of aging. This can ensure that we feel balanced and beautiful!
If you would like to discuss additional non-surgical ways to address visible aging concerns contact Dr Martina van der Mescht.
Connect with Dr Martina van der Mescht, 011 954 0070.