Several years ago, approaching my 40th birthday, I had an upper respiratory situation along with a few other symptoms that were causing me great stress and anxiety. The doctor I went to see at the advice of a friend was a very candid woman, who could have been moonlighting as a stand-up comedian for all I knew. What I mean is she had the gift of gab and seemed to know how to make light of a crisis. I had been very sick, yet I was laughing my way through the appointment.
In her infinite wisdom, she decided I should have a full blood work-up and physical because of my age and the potential for hormonal imbalance. When I agreed, she said, “When I was your age my hormones were completely out of whack and I took it out on my husband, who didn’t deserve it. He couldn’t deal with me in the shape I was in, so we got divorced and I realized it way too late, but I should never have let him go.”
Strangely enough, I had forgotten all about that conversation until I was smack in the middle of my own possibly hormone-induced crisis involving a pending divorce. Assuming my hormones were the culprit of my mania, I started eating more consciously and eventually experienced a different version of reality and opted to give my husband, who didn’t necessarily deserve it, another chance.
The state of your mental health can largely depend on the balance of your hormones. Especially important are the thyroid-stimulating hormones, estrogen and insulin.
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “Hormones can play a role in the development of cancer. Estrogen has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer. Insulin can promote cancers of the breast, liver, pancreas, in addition to gynecologic cancers.”
Every woman can benefit in the areas of development, metabolism, overall body function and mood, from incorporating the following 10 dietary tweaks:
- Add prebiotics (not to be confused with probiotics) to your diet to lower the amount of estrogen reabsorbed back into your bloodstream, which may to help regulate estrogen levels. Prebiotic sources include: asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal, dried beans and peas.
- Add probiotics, like yogurt and kefir, to your diet to maintain digestive health.
- Exercise, since excess weight can affect hormone levels.
- Reduce portions of high-fat meats and dairy products for weight management.
- Increase fiber intake, including whole grains, vegetables, beans and fruit for digestive health.
- Decrease your intake of polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils like corn, safflower and sunflower, as well as meat.
- Limit caffeine.
- Increase vitamin D from foods like salmon, tuna and mushrooms.
- Eat your leafy greens like kale, arugula, cabbage and Brussel sprouts.
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day.