You know that the food you eat affects your waistline and energy levels, but did you know that it can also mean the difference between being a total hormonal stress case vs. feeling happy, clear-headed and hormonally balanced?
In other words, the best way to reset your hormones efficiently and permanently is with what you put on your fork.
Why? Because the latest synthesis of nutragenomics, epidemiology, and endocrinology - a totally hot new field called nutritional endocrinology - tells us the importance of food first. Food and drink are information for your body, and we want to make sure you're conveying the right information.
Here's how to do it...
1. Inhale the Kale.
When you cut kale in your kitchen and inhale the aroma, the innate intelligence of your body produces and releases exactly the right enzymes to digest the kale. This process ensures that you extract every morsel of nutrient-dense goodness from the kale once you smell, taste, chew, and savor it. When I realized this fact, I had to take a cold, hard look at how I was eating kale. Five years ago, I grew it in my organic garden and cut it myself, which releases the strongest scent - now I live on a hillside with no garden, and I often grab organic kale at the grocery store in a mad dash to pick up the kids at school.
We need to slow it down. Rinse your kale at home, in your kitchen, like you would a precious tea from the Dalai Lama. Pay particular attention to the fragrance as you prepare the kale (or other greens) for your fork. Taking three slow, deep, steady breaths before eating kale has been shown to lower your cortisol (the main stress hormone) and improves digestion.
2. Cut the GMO.
Genetically modified (GM) food appears to suppress fertility, probably by raising testosterone in females and raising estrogen in males. Among agricultural staff who work with GM foods, there are higher rates of miscarriage. While we lack rigorous data showing the adverse hormonal effects of GM foods on humans, I believe we need to apply the "Precautionary Principle," which means GM foods are guilty until proven otherwise and do not belong on your fork. The solution that balances your hormones? Eat organic, or at the very least, non-GMO.
3. Fire Up the Fiber.
Increased fiber intake has been shown to reduce cortisol (the main stress hormone), stabilize insulin and blood sugar, and lower bad estrogens (which may reduce your risk of breast cancer). Regardless of age, I recommend that women
consume 35 to 45 grams of fiber per day as part of a healthy food plan; men should consume slightly more than this. To compare, most women only consume about 13 grams of fiber per day. I recommend a combination of eating fiber-rich foods - such as vegetables, fruit, chia seeds and fax seeds - and taking a fiber supplement. But beware: increase your fiber intake slowly, by no more than 5 grams per day. Going faster may cause gas, bloating, and even constipation.
4. Diversify Your Microbiome.
Your gut bacteria play a large role in whether you are fat or thin. They control how you respond to the food you eat: whether you store it as fat or use it as fuel. To turn on your "skinny bacteria" and turn off your "fat bacteria," eat more probiotic-rich foods, such as: organic miso, sauerkraut, and kim chi. I also recommend taking a probiotic. I recommend getting somewhere between 15 and 50 billion CFU per day, which is a large dose. Work with your doctor to make sure the dose is right for you. Similar to fiber, many people need to start low, such as less than 5 billion CFU per day, and gradually work up to avoid the "die off" reaction (makes you feel achy, tired - like you have the flu), diarrhea, or other abdominal issues.
5. Make Your Liver Dandy.
Between 30 and 50% of Americans have "Acute Fatty Liver," which leads to problems with how you utilize hormones in the body since your liver is like a traffic cop for hormones. What helps? Avoid fructose, sugar, sugar substitutes. Focus on getting liver detoxifers such as beets or dandelion leaves, or make a tea. There are many other ways to upgrade your hormones, but the priority is to choose your food carefully based on your hormonal issues and to eat it mindfully. If you're not sure which hormones are out of whack, start with cortisol because it pulls the other hormones offline and must be addressed first when resetting your hormonal harmony.
The End of Your Fork vs. Inside the Pill Bottle
I strongly believe that what's on the end of your fork is far more powerful that what is inside a pill bottle. I would rather see people preventing and curing their various hormonal imbalances with the right exercise and diets than with a little slip of paper from their doctor. There is no silver bullet when it comes to achieving hormonal balance...but there are solutions! And surprisingly easy ones at that.