Many people forget that the foods we eat affect more than our energy levels or heart health. For centuries, food was our major source of medicine. Our bodies are designed to extract everything possible from our diet. These days, with more reliable healthcare, many forget the full impact of what we put into our bodies. There are many types of foods that affect hormone levels, both positively and negatively. If you’re having issues with hormonal imbalances, such as low testosterone or menopause, then understanding the impact food can have on your hormones can help you manage such issues.
Sugar and Sweets
Candy and sweets containing high levels of sucrose or corn syrup are among the foods that affect hormone levels. The sugar in sweets gets absorbed into the bloodstream, which then triggers a release of insulin from the pancreas. Consistently having too much insulin in the bloodstream, aside from having negative health effects like diabetes, can also have a negative effect on thyroid hormones.
When insulin spikes, cortisol also spikes. For those that don’t know, cortisol plays a part in regulating thyroid hormone. In a healthy diet, there are gradual peaks and valleys of cortisol levels as they help regulate blood sugar. Typically, they will not affect thyroid function. However, the consistent and dramatic spikes in blood sugar that come from frequently eating high-carb, high-sugar foods can ultimately lead to consistently high levels of cortisol, which will affect the way your thyroid functions. All of this impacts weight and metabolism.
Soy milk, tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, and some legumes are a few examples of soy-containing foods that affect hormones. Soybeans and soy-containing legumes contain high levels of isoflavones, which mimic human estrogen in the body. These types of foods can affect your body’s perceived level of estrogen, making it seem like there’s more. The perceived increase in estrogen can affect the levels of other hormones in the body, like progesterone.
Depending on the person and their natural estrogen levels, these estrogen-mimicking isoflavones can either be beneficial or harmful. Someone who’s not producing enough estrogen could greatly benefit from eating soy-based foods, while someone else could end up suffering from symptoms of too much estrogen.
A moderate intake of soy products is generally considered safe, as no studies to date have determined the effects of long-term high level soy consumption. I recommend fermented, non-GMO soy products if you are not sensitive to soy It’s important to note, however, that eating processed foods often leads to the consumption of a moderate level of hidden soy. Soy is used frequently in sauces, thickeners, sweeteners, and more. Responsibly sourced soy or fermented soy, like tempeh, are the safest to consume.
Tuna, salmon, sardines, as well as eggs are other examples of foods that affect hormone levels. In this instance, the affected hormone is testosterone. Fish and eggs are very rich in Vitamin D. Some studies have shown positive correlations with Vitamin D and levels of testosterone. One study even showed that men who received Vitamin D every day for a year showed higher levels of testosterone. In addition, they are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are very beneficial for reducing inflammation in the body. One serving of tuna can fulfill your daily Vitamin D needs, however moderation is needed as too many omega-3s can have adverse health effects.
Want to Know More Foods that Affect Hormone Levels?
If you’re trying to manage your hormone balances naturally, knowing which foods to eat and which ones to avoid can help make your life a lot easier. A knowledgeable and experienced functional medicine doctor can help you devise a diet plan that’s conducive to your specific hormone issues.
Lorraine Maita, MD is an award winning physician, speaker, and author of “Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier.” She can make you slim, sharp, sexy and supercharged. She is an expert in anti-aging medicine, bioidentical hormone replacement, weight loss, medical nutrition, supplements, and executive health. Dr. Maita was the medical director for 3 Fortune 100 companies and has a private practice specializing in Functional, Integrative, Personalized and Anti-Aging Medicine in Summit and Basking Ridge, NJ. She educates virtually at www.vibranceforlife.com. She is also an advisory team member for Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life on WOR radio, the #1 talk radio station in the NY Metropolitan area. If you’re ready to make a positive change in your lifestyle, schedule your appointment today!