You were minding your own business when menopause came up and picked a fight with you. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, all that good stuff. But you aren’t taking it lying down. You’re focusing on re-balancing your hormones. You’re supplementing and doing everything you know to live the best life possible.
So why would you put that work in jeopardy by eating foods that hurt your progress?
The short answer is that you wouldn’t, at least not intentionally. But there are common foods out there that will impact your hormone balance and alter the effectiveness of your supplementation. We share them with you here, so you can avoid these potential pitfalls.
We know, we know, you’ve heard it a thousand times from a hundred sources: Sugar is bad for you. But there’s a good reason… sugar is pretty bad for you!
The problem is that our tongues lie to us. Our taste buds and cravings are still wired to seek out foods that give us the most energy. And when it comes to energy for our bodies, sugar is like gasoline.
That was fine when we needed to hunt, or plow, or walk the entire time the sun was out. But when our daily activity consists of binge watching season 8 of The Real Housewives of Orange County, we don’t necessarily need all the extra fuel.
But why does sugar matter to hormone balance? The most direct reason is simple: insulin.
Our bodies produce the hormone insulin in order to control blood sugar. There are a host of complications that can result from overtaxing the pancreas (where insulin is produced), including diabetes.
“What we’re suggesting instead is awareness and modification. By understanding what foods could jeopardize your hormone balancing efforts, you can make little changes that give you the edge.”
More pertinent to menopausal hormone health, however, is the impact insulin production has on estrogen and testosterone. Rising insulin levels reduce the presence of an important protein known as sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
SHBG is responsible for eliminating excess estrogen and testosterone. When it’s presence is reduced, estrogen and testosterone levels are elevated, causing fluctuation, and disrupting the important ratio of estrogen and progesterone.
At first glance, it may seem like a good thing to raise estrogen levels, especially if you’re deficient during menopause. But this type of elevation is short-lived and creates more instability than progress.
You can actually find a lot of sources out there recommending soy as way to combat estrogen deficiency. And while it’s true that soy does have estrogenic qualities, it really isn’t an effective treatment. The impact of soy is very mild, even in surprisingly large quantities, and if you’re supplementing estrogen, soy could actually inhibit your treatment.
The big problem with soy for women who are supplementing estrogen, is the fact that it binds with estrogen receptors. The weak estrogenic influence doesn’t accomplish much compared to supplemented estrogen, but if soy is bound to the estrogen receptors, the actual estrogen won’t have a way to impact our cells.
Soy shouldn’t necessarily be avoided, but intentional, large consumption should be, especially for women who are supplementing estrogen. For more information about soy, check out one of our recent articles: Let’s Talk About Soy
#3. Non-Organic Meat
The majority of the meat available at your local grocery comes from livestock that have been raised with efficiency and cost in mind. And yes, that includes chicken.
Most modern meat has been grown using man-made feed, antibiotics, and hormone injections that cause the livestock to improve yields. All of this is great when it comes to getting the most meat, but not so great when it comes to managing our hormonal health.
That big juicy piece of steak likely carries a heavy hormone presence, disrupting the normal balance, especially in menopausal women who are already struggling to find it in the first place.
Organic, grass-fed meats are a far superior choice if you can afford them. The good news is that as people become more aware of the benefits of organic foods, more and more are being produced. That means lower and lower prices for you at the checkout counter!
Speaking of organic…
While you won’t see “pesticides” listed on the little charts that tell what’s down each aisle at the grocery store, they will be there all the same.
Many of our fruits and vegetables are grown using pesticides in order to preserve the crops from insects that could potentially wipe them out. While less insects on our produce is good, the effects of pesticides to the consumer is not.
Most chemical-based pesticides have a hormonal impact in our bodies. Many of the pesticides act as artificial forms of estrogen (xenoestrogens). These xenoestrogens are often relatively potent, and can really throw our balance out of whack over time.
Fortunately for us, like with our meat options, organic is a growing trend in produce. Look for organically grown fruits and vegetables to avoid the negative chemical influence.
Cheese is the tastiest thing that has ever been invented. That is a scientific fact.
Another fact though, is that dairy products tend to contain significant estrogen content, and promote androgenic qualities. Cows are often kept pregnant to increase their milk production. This practice raises estrogen levels in their milk, and in the dairy products that are derived from it.
In younger people this can result in early signs of puberty, as well as breast development in boys. Heavy dairy consumption also encourages quick size gains.
In menopausal women, the extra hormone content can disrupt the balance they are trying to achieve.
So what should be the takeaway? Are we saying that you can’t have hormone balance if you consume dairy products (or any of the foods on this list for that matter)?
To avoid all of these things completely would be an enormous undertaking, and most people would give up on that effort before it really got started. What we’re suggesting instead is awareness and modification. By understanding what foods could jeopardize your hormone balancing efforts, you can make little changes that give you the edge.
Choose organic when you can. Limit soy and dairy intake to reasonable levels. And if you’re a sugar addict, find a way to break that habit.
If you can make moves in that direction, your body will thank you, and you will likely have more success with your hormone balancing efforts.
Or for information about how chemicals can impact your hormone health, check out our article "The Xenoestrogen Dilemma."