Its amazing how easily hormones can become out of balance. Such an intricate and unique system in the body that works together and often times when one hormone producing gland is out of balance the others eventually follow suite.
Over the years I have come to realize with myself and the women that I work with in the office that diet plays a huge role in creating and maintaining balanced hormones. This is such a broad subject with so many foods that both help hormones and also negatively affect hormones that I wanted to start with just one. So today I would like to show you how getting enough fiber in your diet can help you normalize hormones and the different foods that you can add to your daily routine to ensure adequate fiber intake.
The 3 biggest ways that fiber can help normalize hormones is by
- Stabilizing blood sugar
- Reducing cortisol levels
- Flushing out excess estrogens
Fiber, although technically considered a carbohydrate, does not break down in the body so is not converted to sugar and therefore does not raise blood sugar levels as other carbohydrates do.
There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is found in the cell walls of plants and cannot be dissolved in water. This is beneficial as it adds bulk to stools by binding with water and acting as a stool softener to assist in moving it out of the digestive tract. Soluble fiber on the other hand dissolves in water and helps to slow the passage of food through the digestive tract, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential to a good diet.
Fiber not only helps lower blood sugar levels but helps keep blood sugar levels balanced by helping maintain a good weight. A diet with sufficient fiber will keep you full longer and assist in weight loss having an overall affect on hormone balance.
Fiber also helps to reduce cortisol levels which helps keep hormones balanced, blood sugar in control and prevent weight gain. High cortisol levels lead to excess weight gain which leads to estrogen dominance ie: whacked out hormones!
And finally a healthy dose of fiber in the diet will help to eliminate excess estrogens that throw off hormone balance, increase weight gain, and reduce progesterone levels creating an unlikely environment for fertility. Fiber actually helps the body to flush out these excess estrogens resulting in a more balanced hormone environment.
There are many varieties of foods that you can obtain your fiber through. You will want to make sure that you are getting a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
The following foods contain soluble fiber:
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
The following foods contain insoluble fiber:
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Dried fruit
- Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, asparagus
It is best to get your fiber from a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains to ensure that you are getting both soluble and insoluble. If you are not used to consuming much fiber I recommend that you start adding slowly so that your body can adapt to this new change. Sudden increases in fiber can often cause digestive distress. Over time your body will get used to the increase and will not have that problem. It is recommended that women consume 35-45 grams of fiber daily and even more if you are diabetic.
Try this delicious recipe below adapted from: Minimalist Baker
It was originally made as salad cups but to make it easier I just made into 1 big salad.
MEXICAN QUINOA SALAD WITH CREAMY CILANTRO-LIME DRESSING
30-minute Mexican quinoa salad loaded with fiber, protein and healthy fats from quinoa, black beans, sweet potatoes and a creamy, cilantro-lime dressing!
For the Salad:
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 1 15-ounce can unsalted black beans (Note: If your beans are salted, omit additional sea salt)
- 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed, rinsed and cubed
- ~1/2 tsp each Cumin, Cinnamon and Sea Salt, divided
- 3/4 cup dry white or red quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
- Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup raw or toasted pumpkin seeds
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 small ripe avocado
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 3-4 small limes, juiced
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive or grape seed oil
- 1/4 tsp each Sea Salt and Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- Water to thin
Other Topping Options:
- Hot Sauce
- Jalapeño slices
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prep sweet potatoes. Toss in a drizzle of olive oil and 1/4 tsp each cumin, cinnamon and sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly golden brown.
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place in a small saucepan over medium-high heat to toast. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes and then add 1 1/2 cups water and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender and the water is fully absorbed. Turn off heat and set aside.
- In a separate saucepan, bring black beans to a simmer over medium heat and season with 1/4 tsp each sea salt, cumin and cinnamon. If your black beans are already salted, omit additional salt. Once bubbly and warm, turn heat to simmer/low.
- Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients besides water to a blender and blending. Add water to thin and scrape down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lime, salt, cumin or sweetener as desired. Transfer to serving dish. You will have leftovers, which store well in a covered container in the fridge for up to several days.
- Rinse and dry lettuce
- Arrange on a serving plate and top with quinoa, black beans and sweet potatoes.
- Serve with dressing and any additional desired toppings, such as cilantro, salsa, chips or sliced jalapeno
Give this recipe a try and see how many fiber items you can add to your normal foods throughout the day and you will see how quickly 45 grams of fiber adds up. The average person gets 15 grams of fiber in their diet normally. Lets see if we can do better than this and get this hormones balanced one simple step at a time!
As always.....In Good Health and Happiness,