As a hormone expert, I field a lot of questions from confused women in all stages of endocrine distress. And the solution I always come back to, time and time again, is simple: food.
But while the answer isn't complicated, implementing it correctly can often raise even more questions. I get it: we’re all bombarded with so many messages about diets and calories and fat grams (oh my!) that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But I really mean it when I say my solution is simple; I subscribe to one specific way of eating, and I wholeheartedly believe it’s a universal way to help address the full spectrum of hormonal chaos.
I eat in a way that best supports the phase of my menstrual cycle that I’m experiencing at the time. It’s the eating plan I advocate for all women, no matter what hormonal quandary they’re dealing with.
To give you an idea of the foods I recommend, I thought it might be helpful to show you what the inside of my fridge actually looks like:
The consumption of eggs is one of the common denominators between populations who live the longest, according to the Blue Zones. That might be because eggs are the most easily assimilated bioavailable protein source. They contain lots of good-quality fats and amino acids, which is what hormones are made from.
I haven’t had dairy in almost two decades because I’m a big believer that it’s just an all-around bad guy for hormonal health. For one, the antibiotics it contains can negatively affect your microbiome, which prevents estrogen metabolism. But yogurt is still an excellent source of good bacteria, and it can be delicious! A coconut-based version is dairy-free and super good (my favorite is Anita's Creamline Coconut Yogurt).
Blueberries and Strawberries
Fresh and organic berries are full of antioxidants, and they’ve been shown to be powerful blood sugar and insulin stabilizers. Plus, they're packed with gut-healthy fiber.
Unsweetened almond milk is a great alternative to dairy, and I personally think it tastes better than cow's milk!
Drinking organic coconut water is a great way to beat the bloat and reduce water retention, which can often be caused by magnesium deficiency or heightened cortisol. I recommend the Purity Organic brand.
Sunflower Seed Butter
SunButter Organic Sunflower Spread is my absolute favorite nut butter—I love to spread it on gluten-free toast and top with fruit. Sunflower seeds are an amazing source of fiber, magnesium, niacin, and antioxidants like vitamin E.
Going gluten-free can be difficult for bread lovers, but a rice substitute definitely satisfies the cravings and then some! My favorite is Food for Life Exotic Black Rice Bread—it has a great, moist texture that many gluten-free breads lack, and it packs in extra antioxidants.
Flaxseed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans—which bind to estrogen receptors and could help prevent absorption of excess estrogen—as well as fiber. I recommend the Spectrum Organic brand.
A couple of tablespoons a day of fermented foods rich in good bacteria—like kimchi and sauerkraut—work wonders for re-establishing healthy gut flora. I like Hawthorne Valley Organic Sauerkraut.
Kale, baby spinach, broccoli, and watercress are amazing for so many reasons, including that they contain the phytochemicals sulphorophanes, indole-3-carbinol, and D-glucarate, which are critical liver detoxifiers.
Avocados are a wonderful source of monounsaturated fatty acids. One of my absolute favorite research studies that I often reference is a Harvard School of Public Health study that found women undergoing IVF who ate the highest amounts of this important nutrient were 3.4 times more likely to conceive than those who ate the lowest amount.
Grass-Fed Bison and Lamb; Organic Chicken and Turkey
We need protein to make the amino acids that manufacture our hormones. A lack of protein could cause us to age prematurely, both in how we look and feel and in terms of our biological age, including fertility. I recommend bison and lamb as great protein sources in the second half of your cycle, when you might be low on iron and craving meat.
Wild King Salmon and Wild Codfish
Wild fish is another high-quality source of protein, and salmon and codfish are also packed with hormone-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids.
Organic Peaches, Nectarines, Apples, Lemons, and Pears
These contain important flavonoids, as well as lots of fiber.
Organic Zucchini, Green Beans, Celery, Carrots, Parsnips, and Sweet Potato
Fresh veggies play a big role in my diet. I recommend root vegetables, like sweet potatoes, and leafy greens from the Brassica family, like kale, during the luteal phase of your cycle to help support the liver and make sure you're keeping an optimal ratio of estrogen.