Mountaintop Medicine Nutrition Notes: Nutrition for Happy, Healthy Hormones

Hello again! This week, I want to discuss the hot topic of hormonal imbalances and how dietary and lifestyle changes play a key role in correcting them. Hormones are chemical messengers in our bodies that help regulate various functions like growth and metabolism. Some examples of hormones include insulin, estrogen, testosterone, and adrenaline. But there are many more too! When there is an imbalance of hormone levels, it can lead to various health issues. Too much or too little of certain hormones can affect mood, metabolism, and even reproductive health. It is important to maintain a balance for our bodies to function properly.

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

Have you recently experienced any of the following?

· Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

· Mood swings

· Irregular periods

· Hot flashes

· Sleep disturbances

· Acne

· Fatigue

· Loss of muscle mass

· Hair loss

· Digestive problems

· Sweaty skin

These are common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. Our lifestyles can have a significant impact on our hormone levels. Poor diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress, inadequate sleep, and exposure to environmental toxins can all disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in our bodies. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help maintain hormonal harmony. There are several natural remedies that can help with hormonal imbalances. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress through relaxation techniques, getting regular exercise, and ensuring adequate sleep.

Regarding nutrition, eating a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods is the best practice for optimal hormonal health and overall health in general. Low consumption of fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids have all been proven to negatively affect our hormones. The goal of eating for hormonal health is to balance our blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance, eliminate excess inflammation, and supply our bodies with the important nutrients and phytochemicals it needs.

The healthiest diet for this is based on a Mediterranean-style of eating that emphasizes plenty of daily whole fresh foods, vegetables, fruits, balanced amounts of lean protein from fish and legumes, and healthy fats like those in fish, olive oil, and avocados, and slow-burning carbs from whole grains.

Here are a few dietary changes to consider:

1. Increase your fruit and veggie intake to 8 servings daily.

2. Increase your omega-3’s. Low omega-3 fatty acid intake is associated with inflammation. Eat fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines 3 times a week, and enjoy walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds regularly.

3. Eat seeds. Simply adding a few tablespoons of pumpkin, sesame, or flax seeds, or seed butter like tahini, is a fantastic way to support your hormone health. They also provide healthy fat and quality protein which help balance blood sugar and prevent sugar cravings.

4. Pass on the sugar and refined carbs. High glycemic-index foods like sugary foods, sodas, desserts, candies, white breads and flours, white instant rice, and white pastas are very inflammatory. Instead, emphasize whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables to balance your blood sugar.

5. Support your gut flora by eating a diet rich in fiber and lactofermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or coconut yogurt.

Having balanced hormones does not have to be complicated- with just a few of these dietary and lifestyle changes, you can be living a happy, healthy life! I offer outpatient nutrition counseling and education services at Estes Park Health. If you are interested, contact your healthcare provider for a referral. If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at