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How Does Food Affect Our Hormones? Types Of Food To Avoid And Dietary Tips

Hormonal imbalance affects the functioning of various organs and also causes long-term illnesses like PCOD and hyperthyroidism.

According to a study, food can influence hormone production and secretion via direct actions on the intestines, nervous reflexes, changes in blood metabolites, or changes in circulating gut hormone levels. The study adds that hormones such as insulin in the body are affected by all; composition, texture, quantity and duration of the diet. [1]

Take a look at the details.

How Does Food Affect Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by endocrine glands like pituitary glands, thyroid glands, hypothalamus and pancreas. They help with growth and development, reproduction, electrolytes balance, metabolism, immune system, stress and mood, and other functions of the endocrine system.

There are around 50 identified hormones in the body so far. A balanced diet can help keep hormones in check. This is because what we eat greatly influences hormone production and signalling pathways.

For example, steroid hormones like oestrogen and testosterone are mainly synthesised from cholesterol found in food. If we eat foods high in cholesterol, it may cause a build-up of plaque and increase the risk of heart diseases. On the other hand, if we consume less fat-rich foods, it may cause a deficiency of the nutrient and affect the production of steroid hormones, thus affecting the reproductive system. [2]

What Types Of Foods Affect Hormonal Levels?

Foods rich in fibre, protein and healthy fats have positive effects on the body while others like alcohol and artificial sweeteners affect hormones negatively.

Some of the foods which may cause hormonal imbalance when taken in access include:

  • Dairy foods: Food like cheese, yoghurt and butter contain hormones like prolactin, progesterone, corticoids, oestrogens and even insulin-like growth factor. They are reportedly known to make subtle changes in the endocrine system functions leading to alterations in the reproduction and growth and development effects, sometimes increasing cancer risk in humans. [3]
  • Red meat: According to a study, consumption of red meat may affect the levels of steroid hormones, especially in women, and increase the risk of endometriosis,a condition characterised by uterine tissues grown outside the uterus resulting in painful, heavy flow and long periods. [4]
  • Caffeinated beverages: Caffeine intake of more than 200 mg per day can lead to an imbalance of free estradiol concentrations or oestrogen hormone in the body, says a study. [5]
  • Soy products: Phytoestrogens are found in abundance in soy plants. These natural alternatives for oestrogen produced by the body are beneficial for women who are about to or have crossed the menopausal stage. High amounts of soy products may affect androgen levels in men and reduce sperm quality and concentration leading to infertility. In women, isoflavone-rich soy products may increase the risk of breast and endometrium cancer. [6]

Dietary Tips For Balancing Hormones

  • Consume around 40 per cent of green vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, radish and cauliflower.
  • Include lean meat products like chicken breast.
  • Buy organic foods or those less exposed to pesticides like glyphosate.
  • Avoid buying plastic-wrapped food.
  • Avoid microwaving foods.
  • Include probiotics like yoghurt and kefir in adequate amounts.
  • Include healthy fats like omega-3 found in fish such as salmon.
  • Include fruits like berries and apples that help balance hormones.
  • Include high-fibre carbs like whole grains and legumes.
  • Avoid fried foods and artificial sweeteners.
  • Make ways to reduce daily stress.
  • Do daily exercise.

To Conclude

Hormones carry out multiple processes in the body. Keep them balanced in the body by following the aforementioned dietary tips.

Read more about: hormones food diet nutrition
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