The Hormone-Balancing Breakfast This Integrative Doctor Swears By
The morning is a sacred time for me. I look forward to the dark, the quiet, and the opportunity to begin a new day. Planning and prepping food often happens in these early hours as well since, like many of you, I never know what the day will bring. As an integrative physician running my own practice (with little down time to speak of), keeping my energy, mood, and clarity on point is a priority—and that begins with a hormone-balancing breakfast.
For many women, battling hormone imbalances and hormone fluctuations can rob them of the energy they need to be the fullest, most vibrant versions of themselves. So starting off the day on the right foot nutritionally is of utmost importance. My go-to breakfast, which tends to be closer to 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. when I’m intermittent fasting (another great way to balance hormones), is my powerhouse smoothie (scroll down for the full recipe).
Now, you may be rolling your eyes thinking about another smoothie plug, but my smoothie is a well thought out combination of fiber-rich fruit and seeds, detoxifying greens, and gut-balancing protein. Even better, it’s easy to prep and loaded with accessible ingredients—no obscure foods you haven’t heard of—each of which are selected with intention and purpose for hormone balance.
What’s inside my hormone-balancing breakfast smoothie?
Blended together, the following foods make one delicious hormone-balancing breakfast that I can't live without. In fact, when I’m traveling and don’t get to have it on a regular basis, I notice the change in my digestion and energy levels very quickly. After longer trips, my cycle can even be different—heavier, longer, or just erratic. Let’s take a look at the functional significance of each ingredient.
Dairy can be difficult to digest and can promote the growth of candida, the type of yeast that lives in our digestive tract, so I love using almond milk as a dairy alternative. I’ve found candida to be directly linked to many cases of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that has become an epidemic among young women today and which can negatively impact fertility. Additionally, cow’s milk contains a variety of hormones, which may throw off the balance of our body’s own hormones, so I try to avoid it.
My busy days mean it’s not uncommon for 12 hours to go by without me touching a fruit or vegetable if I’m not careful—which is why loading up on these foods first thing in the morning is key. I tend to gravitate toward frozen berries, with a little banana or avocado, which help increase my daily antioxidant and fiber quotient and deliver a delightfully creamy smoothie consistency.
Why the focus on fiber? Hormones need fiber to be metabolized appropriately or they convert to forms that the body has trouble processing, leading to many hormone imbalances, including estrogen dominance, excessive androgens, high insulin, or thyroid instability. To achieve hormonal balance, we also need a high intake of antioxidant-rich foods, including berries (rich in vitamin C and resveratrol), which optimize phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification of hormones in the liver.
Dark leafy greens
I always add a cup of fiber- and antioxidant-packed leafy greens to my morning smoothie, which support the liver and help with detoxification of hormones and management of estrogen dominance. I like to play with different greens (kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard are some of my favorites) since they each have unique nutritional properties.
Ground flax seeds
A great source of soluble fiber, ground flax seeds help manage imbalances in estrogen and testosterone. A tablespoon in my smoothie increases the fiber content while adding in some anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats as well. It also helps make this smoothie nice and thick.
Collagen is a great source of protein to help keep you full, balance blood sugar, and strengthen your hair and nails. But more important, it helps rebuild the gut lining and prevent leaky gut. The gut, like the liver, is ground zero for hormone processing—I find it frustrating when people take a variety of steps to promote hormone balance but continue to ignore digestive health!
Bottom line: Food does balance our hormones, and combining the right foods can be a prescription for energy, happiness, and feeling, well, super-powered.
Hormone-Balancing Breakfast Smoothie
- 1 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1 cup of dark leafy greens
- ½ cup frozen berries
- ½ banana or avocado
- 1 scoop collagen powder
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- Optional flavor boosters: nut butter, dark chocolate chips, vanilla extract, cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Dr. Taz Bhatia is a board-certified physician, specializing in integrative and emergency medicine, pediatrics and prevention, with expertise in women’s health, weight-loss, hormone balance and nutrition. She attended Emory University, the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia, and was a recipient of the Emily Gardner Award for Best Pediatric Resident in 2000. She is the author of the Superwoman RX and The 21-Day Belly Fix. Personal health challenges in her twenties combined with a broken health care system motivated Bhatia to pursue an alternative definition of health and healthy living. As a young resident, she was sick and without answers, and began searching for help to heal her health issues. Studying various systems of medicine including Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Ayurveda, she found a wealth of information not yet taught in conventional medical schools. It led her to opening her now nationally-recognized practice, CentreSpring MD (formerly Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine). Today, Bhatia and her team work relentlessly to find a patient’s core health problems, their centre, in order to spring them forth in health, pulling from multiple systems of medicine, including integrative, functional, Chinese and holistic medicine.