Milk—and most all dairy products— are some of the hardest foods people give up, whether for an allergy, environmental reasons, ethics, or personal dietary choices. Whatever the case, most people can make the switch to an almond, coconut, hemp, or rice milk just fine, but items like cheese, Greek yogurt, ice cream, and butter are others that many have a hard time letting go of. But all dairy contains problematic issues, especially in excessive amounts. While milk does contain a high level of biological protein and most dairy items are quite convenient, traditional foods we grew up loving, comfort foods, and some even friendly to dietary choices, these foods do have problematic issues for our health—despite coming from an industry that no one can argue is incredibly cruel and costly.
Why is Milk Bad for Our Hormones?
Milk and dairy trigger insulin spikes in the body, no matter how high protein, fat, and nutrients some may be. This is one reason dairy is so strongly linked to cancer, and why it’s also a leading cause of acne. But aside from those two issues (which are more than enough), milk also disrupts our natural hormone cycle. We need to remember that we’re taking in the breast milk of another creature which is full of natural hormones. These hormones mix with our hormones and when eaten even in moderate amounts, may cause some issues for our hormone health. The human body is already full of complex processes that alter and influence hormone swings; consistently adding in the hormones of another species is not smart if we want to achieve adequate and optimal hormone balance.
Better Options ….
Many plant-based foods are rich in properties that balance our hormones naturally. When eaten in the right amounts and in correlation with a whole foods diet, we will see our hormones balance out over time and as a result, our skin, mood and overall bodily functions will benefit dramatically.
Foods that assist with hormone health and eliminate excess hormones from animal products, the environment, and processed foods are rich in nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and antioxidants that assist with detoxification.
Here are some of the best foods to choose:
Broccoli and Cauliflower = Sulforaphane and B vitamins
Broccoli and cauliflower are two powerful cruciferous vegetables that contain certain compounds other veggies don’t contain in such high amounts: sulforaphanes. These have been linked to fighting cancerous cells and eliminating excess hormones from the body that disrupt our own cycle. See all of broccoli recipes and some of our favorite ways to use cauliflower in the kitchen. These veggies are also top sources of fiber and wonderful sources of B vitamins that support hormones further.
Kale and Spinach = Chlorophyll and Protein
These two greens are top sources of chlorophyll, the ultimate detoxification nutrient found in green foods. Chlorophyll helps cleanse the cells of wastes, including added hormones and harmful chemicals in the body (which turn up in a number of animal products everywhere). These greens are also a rich source of plant-based amino acids your body uses to form protein. Plant-based proteins benefit our hormones by supporting brain health, muscle synthesis, and blood sugar regulation without causing insulin swings like dairy products do.
Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds = Protein, Magnesium, and Zinc
Magnesium-rich foods stabilize insulin levels and lower levels of cortisol in the body that can trigger insulin swings; insulin swings can also trigger cortisol production, therefore maintaining both are important for balancing hormones best. Almonds and pumpkin seeds are two of the best sources and also good sources of zinc and protein. Zinc helps the body’s metabolism work efficiently and promotes the use of carbohydrates for fuel instead of leading them to cause excessive insulin surges. When paired with protein, this nutrient combination is a powerful weapon against unhealthy blood sugar levels that leads to unhealthy hormone levels. These two foods are also good sources of fiber to eliminate wastes and excessive hormones as another benefit.
Avocados and Sweet Potatoes = Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 supports not only the metabolism, but also nervous system health. It lowers stress in the body and also improves serotonin levels needed for a healthy mood. Avocados and sweet potatoes are two low gylcemic sources that are also very filling and full of healthy fibers for further hormone support. See all of our avocado recipes, ways to use them to replace dairy, and try a few new ways to make sweet potatoes while you’re at it!
Berries and Cacao = Antioxidants
Antioxidants are some of your best allies for hormone support; they not only fight free radicals that leads to aging but also fight stress and inflammation that can disrupt healthy hormone levels. Berries are some of the top sources of vitamin C, the ultimate anti-stress and detoxifying antioxidant, while cacao is a rich source of sulfur, a mineral needed for healthy liver detoxification (vital to hormone health), and contains more antioxidants than any food known to man in such a small serving.
Coconut and Brazil Nuts = Healthy Fats and Thyroid Support
Your thyroid is critical to healthy hormone levels; without a healthy thyroid, you’ll be moody, depressed, possibly have hormonal swings, and can even suffer depression and hair loss (a top sign your hormones need some help!). Lucky for you, two foods are incredible foods for boosting hormone levels; these are coconut and Brazil nuts, two tropical nuts that we can enjoy often no matter where we live. Brazil nuts are a top source of selenium which boosts liver detoxification and supports the function of the thyroid gland; it’s also a great nutrient for your skin, hair, and nails. Coconut is rich in amino acids, detoxifying enzymes, healthy fats, minerals, and B vitamins that also support hormone health. See some unique ways to use Brazil nuts and ways to use coconut milk to replace dairy to get started using these more often!
Flax, Chia, Hemp =Omega-3’s, Magnesium, and Fiber
Omega-3 fatty acids support the body’s natural production of hormones without needing external sources; plant-based sources happen to also be great sources of fiber, magnesium, and potassium to support blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone levels even further. Seeds like flax, chia, and hemp are all fantastic sources—not to mention they’re high in B vitamins and other healthy fats that boost mood and hormone health even more. Nature is so good to us with the abundance of nutrients found in simple seeds!
Root Vegetables = Magnesium, Fiber, and Balancing Properties
Le Living and Co/Flickr
Last but not least, the Peruvian root maca, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, radishes, and all other root vegetables are must-have foods for stabilizing hormones. These foods ground the body to reduce stress, balance insulin, and feed the cells natural sources of fiber, complex carbs, and nutrients other vegetables don’t have. They’re also especially beneficial at eliminating excessive estrogen levels in the body that lead to hormone imbalances.
The Big Takeaway: Remember, fiber is one of the best weapons you have for supporting your hormone health because fiber sweeps harmful hormones out of the body and supports overall mainetance. Plant-based foods are rich in fiber; animal products have none.
For more tips on hormone health, be sure to see This is How Dairy Affects Your Hormones, How Your Food Choices Impact Your Hormones, and Eat Your Way to Healthier Hormones With These 5 Tips!
Lead Image Source: Orange Beetroot Tartlets With Almond Fig Crust