Healthy Diet Healthy Women
Posted On May 10, 2021
The health of women (physical and mental) is closely related to (and in a way “mimics”) the hormonal state and the “balance” of the body.
Hormonal status here refers to the interaction between female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone), stress hormones (specifically cortisol), and thyroid hormones (TSH, T4, T3). The production and balance of sex hormones are particularly sensitive to stress hormone levels.
Stress has a profound effect on the estrogen / progesterone balance, as well as creating unnecessary inflammation in the body.
A perfectly balanced hormonal cycle helps women feel safe, empowered, healthy and happy. A woman who feels “in a bad mood”, is depressed for no apparent reason or shows other common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance (of which there are many), is under too much stress, does not exercise enough, or is eating a poor diet . She herself is unbalanced!
Eating poorly results in the body not getting enough of the nutrients it needs to produce enough of the correct hormones in the correct balance.
Nutrients that are often lacking include essential fatty acids (especially GLA, EPA, and DHA), B vitamins (especially B6), calcium, and magnesium.
A “healthy diet for a healthy woman” should be “designed” to promote normal and healthy production, balance, detoxification, and excretion of estrogens and other hormones. The organs involved are the ovaries and adrenal glands (for production), the liver (for detoxification), and the kidneys and intestines (for excretion through feces and urine). Naturally, these organs must be in good working order and properly nourished!
The diet should contain a wide range of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents to dampen any internal inflammation. It should aim to reduce insulin levels (minimizing fat storage) and improve insulin sensitivity, that is, the way the body handles sugars. This helps burn fat, as well as minimize excess fat that is converted to estrogen.
(NB Fat cells can turn fat into “bad” estrogen through a biochemical process called aromatization).
Soy protein appears to stimulate fat loss in the body along with an improvement in the amount of lean muscle tissue. Soybeans (especially soy concentrates) contain high levels of beneficial plant estrogens … known as isoflavones. Isoflavones help rebalance good and bad estrogen levels and promote a healthier estrogen / progesterone balance. Non-soy food sources of isoflavones include fennel, flax seeds (ground or ground, otherwise largely indigestible), fenugreek, cumin and other spices, blueberries and the herbs red clover, black cohosh and kudzu. By the way, ground flax seeds are a great source of “soluble” fiber that promotes the excretion of estrogen through the stool and also minimizes the reabsorption of estrogen in the body.
The “catechins” in green tea also contribute to healthy estrogen detoxification and excretion.
A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables and whole grains supports healthy liver function … specifically in healthy detoxification of estrogens and other hormones through the liver.
The diet should be as clean as possible. This means eating foods that do NOT contain additives, preservatives, hormones, or hormone-mimicking chemicals, sugars, or unnecessary trans fats / hydrogenated fats. Eating only natural, unprocessed foods (itself) will ensure that all of these biochemical and hormonal disruptors are kept to an absolute minimum.
Highly beneficial foods …
Nutrition science has come a long way and we now know that the following foods are very beneficial for proper hormone production and healthy estrogen metabolism.
Soy foods and soy concentrates: tofu, miso, Tamari, tempeh, soy beans, soy milk and plain soy yogurt.
Chickpeas and beans in general: Mung beans are easy to soak and cook in 45 minutes, or they sprout
Whole and ground Indian spices and herbs: Fenugreek seeds (wonderful when they sprout), cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, etc.
Uncontaminated blue fish (and other quality fish) and fish oil – Choose high-quality uncontaminated fish oil capsules
WHOLE grains: brown rice, wheat berries and rye berries (these are whole wheat and rye grains that when soaked and cooked have a lovely chewy texture), barley, millet, whole oats
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts
Ground / ground flaxseeds – 2 tablespoons per day
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds, preferably ground
Almonds and walnuts – preferably ground
Berries (especially blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.), a little cantaloupe, and citrus fruits like lemons. Warm / hot water with the juice of a fresh lemon is the best way to start the day.
Highly beneficial drinks …
Organic green tea – steep for 5-10 minutes
Miso Soup – You can buy sachets or just add hot water to a teaspoon of miso paste
Soy Smoothies: Mix together the soy milk, yogurt, berries, and ground seeds
Filtered water with a little lime or lemon juice – Remember that the color of your urine is an excellent indication of your hydration status. It should be pale / straw yellow in color most of the time … so drink enough water and other fluids to achieve this. Drinking enough water is vital for normal kidney function and estrogen excretion through urine.
Meal Ideas …
Most of the meals and foods that I have chosen contain slow-release carbohydrates. Slow-release carbohydrates (often called “complex” or low-glycemic foods) are digested and broken down in the gut relatively slowly, releasing their sugars steadily into the bloodstream. This results in a steady rise in blood sugar, sustained energy, as well as efficient fat breakdown and hormonal control. Eating complex carbohydrates helps increase and control energy levels; helps to lose weight and controls and stimulates the natural appetite.
NB Re: Women’s health and hormonal balance …
Eating natural whole foods keeps insulin levels low – High insulin increases testosterone and estrogen production, leading to potential dominance of estrogen and / or testosterone relative to progesterone
* Berries with yogurt and cinnamon – Combine ½ basket of blueberries and ½ basket of raspberries with 100g of goat yogurt. Mix 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds and sprinkle ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon on top.
* A small bowl of oatmeal or cooked oatmeal made with soy or almond milk (Ecomil / Evernat). Add grated apple, a handful of whole almonds or sunflower seeds, and 2-3 tablespoons of plain “bio” yogurt.
* Fruit bowl with yogurt and flaxseed: chop 2 pieces of fruit, cover with natural soy yogurt and add 2 tablespoons of ground or ground flax seeds (flax seeds), with soy or almond milk and hot water. Also add ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
* Smoothies in a glass: a mixture of raspberries and strawberries, yogurt, soy milk or almond milk and 2 tablespoons of ground / ground flax seeds (available in some Sainsbury’s stores or health food stores) or wheat germ. This meal provides essential fats, protein, and fiber, and flaxseeds (or other seeds) add a nutty flavor to the mix. A great start to the day!
Chickpea Dahl with Baby and Dark Green Leafy Vegetable Salad – Gently fry ½ teaspoon each of the fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and ground cumin. Add ½ can of chickpeas and 100 g of cherry tomatoes. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Make a salad of leafy greens, chopped cilantro, and add mange tout peas, sliced beets, cucumber, and sliced raw fennel. Drizzle with a little olive oil, balsamic or cider vinegar, and a little lemon juice. Serve with a slice of rye bread.
Sauteed tofu and cruciferous vegetables. Use a variety of cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and sauté with onion, garlic, and ginger. Use Tamari or a tablespoon of miso (try brown rice miso) mixed with a little water as a base or marinade. Add 100-150g of cubed tofu, mixing until vegetables are “al dente” … cooked but with a slight crunch!
Appetizers if you need them …
A handful of whole almonds
Hummus and raw vegetable veggies
A small bowl of sliced melon, blueberries, and raspberries.
Do supplements help?
Along with a good, hormone-friendly diet, supplements can naturally balance and control hormone levels.
The following are examples of beneficial supplements for hormonal balance …
Fish oil (containing EPA and DHA): vital for the production of healthy prostaglandins and anti-inflammatory substances in the body.
B Vitamins, Taken as a “Complex” – B vitamins along with EPA and DHA are critical for healthy estrogen / progesterone balance and liver function.
Antioxidants such as green tea extract, d-limonene, turmeric, or other quality antioxidants to support healthy cellular aging.
Other agents that support estrogen: isoflavones, non-soy isoflavones, phytonutrients, active folates (which support methylation), support female health at all stages and benefit breast health, bone health, and cardiovascular health.
Calcium along with other essential nutrients to support bone health – Calcium must be in absorbable form and taken with other nutrients, such as magnesium, vitamin D, and boron. Microcrystalline “hydroxyapatite” (MCHC) is the definitive form of calcium for adequate absorption into bone, and studies show it to be effective in improving bone density in postmenopausal women.
NB Always seek the advice of a registered dietitian before embarking on a specific supplement program.
The balance of herbs can be very helpful for many women to deal with stress or imbalance of sex hormones (especially during the premenstrual phase and during and after menopause). Examples include chaste berry (agnus castus), dong quai, black cohosh, red clover, ginger, evening primrose, peony root, red raspberry leaf, and St. John’s wort.
Many can be taken in isolation or in combination with each other.
Always get professional advice before taking herbs, especially if you are taking ANY medication or hormonal treatment.
Yoga and Pilates are two of the best forms of exercise that women can do on a regular basis.
Stress Management – Meditation, Deep Breathing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Transactional Analysis (TA), are all helpful and effective therapies and practices that can benefit women in a thousand ways.