Guest blog by Dr. Katie Corazzo
Did you know that your diet can impact your hormones?! And I am not just talking about hormones like estrogen and testosterone, this includes thyroid and adrenal hormones too. The thyroid produces T3 and T4 to help regulate your metabolism. The adrenals are responsible for dealing with stress (cortisol) and blood pressure (aldosterone), but they also produce progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, and estrogen. A poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise can leave your hormones off balance.
Do you ever feel…
Tired and unmotivated?
Sleepy after lunch?
Very sensitive to cold or hot?
Dizzy when going from sitting to standing?
Stressed? (doesn’t everyone?!)
Insomnia or un-refreshing sleep?
Like you can’t kick your carb cravings
Do you ever notice…
If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of the items listed, your hormones could use a nutritional boost! See the following list of foods that help support your ovaries, adrenals, and thyroid.
Broccoli and his cruciferous cousins including cauliflower, asparagus, brussel sprouts, bok choy, and cabbage.
The liver is the powerhouse behind all hormones, working behind the scenes to allow hormones to express themselves when needed. Without a healthy liver, hormones are not processed correctly. Cruciferous veggies provide the support and nutrients your liver needs. The liver is important for hormones coming from your ovaries, thyroid, and adrenals!
Tip: Cook them to destroy goitrogenic effects that can be harmful for a sluggish thyroid. See this veggie recipe and this one too.
For those of you in Minnesota, I am not talking about the seaweed from your favorite lake. This is seaweed from the ocean that you might find wrapped around your favorite sushi roll, seaweed salad at a Japanese restaurant or in one of my favorite snacks – roasted seaweed.
Seaweed is important for your thyroid because it is high in iodine. Thyroid hormones require iodine to be made. A deficiency in iodine can cause thyroid problems, goiter, and stunted growth in children.
Tip: Iodized salt and fish also contain iodine. Do not take an iodine supplement without checking with your doctor first.
Brazil nuts are loaded with selenium. 8 brazil nuts (1 oz) provides over 900% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults. Wow! But, why is selenium so important?
Remember our friend iodine from #2? Selenium helps attach iodine to the thyroid hormones. The thyroid has the highest concentration of Selenium in all the organs in the body. Selenium also protects the thyroid and aids in thyroid hormone metabolism. Anti-body (anti-TPO) levels in those with Hashimotos disease have been improved with Selenium supplementation as well.
Tip: You can also find our friend and antioxidant, Vitamin E in brazil nuts. 4 nuts per day is plenty.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.
Stress [http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/fall-2010/the-physiology-of-stress-cortisol-and-the-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis#.U9EKBBZRHdk] on your body triggers the adrenals to produce more cortisol. This can be emotional (work, relationships, worry, anxiety, etc) or physical stress (illness, injury, exercise), lack of sleep, caffeine, and alcohol.
When there is excess or chronic stress, an imbalance in cortisol and sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone) can occur. Adrenal hormone imbalances can also contribute to weight gain, osteoporosis, weakness, weakened immune function, and irregular menses.
So, why citrus fruits? The adrenal glands and brain have more vitamin C than any other tissue in the body. During stress the loss of vitamin C is increased. See the correlation between stress – lower vitamin C – more susceptible to infections? Citrus fruits, especially oranges are known for their high concentration of vitamin C.
Tip: eat the whole fruit including the skin (not the peel, but the fibers around the pulp) to gain the most nutrients and fiber from your fruit.
The adrenal glands help with blood sugar regulation. During stress your body will make more glucose to give your body the energy it needs to cope with the stress. Because you already have enough glucose, you do not need to consume more, but need protein for energy. In fact, consuming too much sugar during times of stress puts even more stress on your adrenals, not to mention the rest of your body.