If You Want To Prevent Hormone Imbalance, Start Upping Your Intake Of These Nutrients—STAT
We used to think of hormone imbalance as a "women's issue," one that was only really relevant in the days before a woman's period (hello, PMS) and during pregnancy. But these days, we know that hormones rule our entire lives and are greatly responsible for how we—both men and women—feel on a daily basis.
Hormones influence our mood, appearance, energy levels, libido, and even our digestion. Knowing this, we'll all want to do what we can to prevent a hormone imbalance before we have one. This involves reducing stress, moving our bodies, and most importantly, making sure we're getting adequate amounts of hormone-supporting nutrients.
But what nutrients are those, exactly? It's a little hard to pin down. As Jon Mitchell, PA-C, certified physician assistant and functional medicine health consultant, explained: "Hormones are complicated because there are so many biochemical systems and lifestyle factors that influence their levels, which is why addressing them requires a comprehensive approach."
That said, there are a few nutrients that come up over and over again when it comes to hormone health. Here are some of the most important ones and why we should be getting enough of them:
1. Methylated B vitamins
According to Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., integrative medicine doctor and mindbodygreen Collective member, if we want to prevent hormones imbalances, methylated B vitamins are a great addition to our wellness routines. "Methylated B complex helps replenish the body of essential B vitamins that are important for detoxification as well as during a female's menstrual cycle," she said.
A B-complex will include the full gamut of B vitamins, which is important since specific B vitamins are important for specific hormone functions. For example, "When vitamin B1 and B6 are low, it can cause menstrual cramping," explained Gandhi.
But wait, what's the difference between a methylated B vitamin and a normal B vitamin? It's pretty simple: Methylated B vitamins are in a form that is more readily absorbed and used by the body.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Fending off chronic inflammation and balancing hormones are almost synonymous, and that's because inflammation is almost always involved when something in the body is out of whack. Enter: omega-3 fatty acids. According to Gandhi, these anti-inflammatory superstars, "decrease overall inflammation and pain, especially during menstrual cycles."
Fats are also the building blocks of many of our hormones, so it makes sense that we need to consume plenty of them for optimal hormone function. You can get omega-3s through foods like salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sardines or take an omega-3 supplement. David Perlmutter, M.D., mbg Collective member and functional medicine doctor, suggests 800 to 1,200 mg of DHA daily.
Did you know that there's a strong connection between gut health and hormone health? Studies have shown that estrogen actually delays gastric emptying, which can lead to constipation. For women with estrogen dominance, this is crucial information to know.
That said, understanding the gut health-hormone connection is just as important for men as it is for women. As Collective member and integrative medicine doctor Vincent Pedre, M.D., wrote in an article for mindbodygreen: "The standard American diet (SAD) leads to obesity through inflammation by affecting your gut flora...and allowing bacterial endotoxin (a bacterial cell wall component and potent activator of the immune system) to leak into your body. The trans-mucosal migration of endotoxin directly leads to lower testosterone levels by affecting its production in the testes."
If you want to safeguard your gut health (and thus, your hormone health!) a good place to start is a high-quality probiotic. Studies show that a daily dose of these beneficial bacteria can improve constipation by improving consistency, transit time, and stool caliber.
We all want to keep our hormones in tiptop shape. And as Gandhi explained, "It's always better to get to the root cause of the specific hormonal imbalance and prevent it—rather than waiting and treating it with prescription medication." By upping our intake of these important nutrients, we have a better chance of nipping hormone imbalance straight in the bud.
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