Balancing Hormones in Menopause
Let’s explore foods that help balance hormones in females. I have a list of foods that naturally have hormones and a new recipe for some delicious tofu steaks that I made in my new air fryer.
Women are dynamic people and throughout our lives have some big hormonal swings in our bodies during each lifecycle. This includes a big hormone transition during puberty, the ability for many of us to carry children and make milk, and the monthly changes with our menstrual cycle. Then there is the changes in hormones during perimenopause and menopause. And the changes that even happen post menopause.
Today, we are going to focus on the hormones mostly affected during perimenopause, menopause and post menopause. And we are going to look two hormones, estrogen and progesterone which are made in the ovaries. The most common form of estrogen is estradiol. We may cover other hormones and nutrition in upcoming posts.
A large number of women use hormone replacement therapy and a number of women let nature take its course. For many women, relying on lifestyle medicine such as diet, exercise, stress management and adequate sleep to keep these hormones in balance for the change of life.
What are the benefits of estrogen in the body?
Estrogen can help reduce the risk of heart disease, protects bone health, protects the brain and affects our mood, it may also help decrease the appetite by decreasing hunger hormones.
You may be wondering, “Are there foods that increase estrogen levels in females?”
Estrogen rich foods in menopause include phytoestrogen isoflavones and lignans that work as antioxidants. Foods that include these phytoestrogens include soy flour, tofu, and other soy products. Studies have looked at these phytoestrogens attaching to our estrogen receptors and activating the reactions in our body.
In addition, other estrogen rich foods include flax seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables, cereals, olives and wheat. Nutrients important for estrogen to work in the body include vitamin E, D, and B’s, Zinc, magnesium and polyphenols.
Here is a large study looking at soy at hot flash symptoms:
Large-scale study finds soy may alleviate hot flashes in menopause (udel.edu)
Just as there are foods that provide estrogen, there are also foods that contain progesterone.
Walnuts and oatmeal are rich in plant sterols stimulate production of progesterone. In addition, phytoestrogens like veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds also help boost up progesterone. Adequate vitamin B6, Zinc and Magnesium also help boost progesterone production.
Progesterone helps boost brain and mood benefits and bone mass. It also helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer.
What are hormone disruptors? These are products that contribute to causing our hormones to become out of balance. These include household products like plastics, detergents, toys and pesticides.
Here is a little more about hormone disruptors: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
Excessive alcohol, stress, lack of physical activity, inadequate sleep, and smoking which increase inflammation in the body can also disrupt the hormonal balance.
You can find an additional information on food and hormones in one of my previous posts. In this post, there is a discussion between two dietitians about the controversy surrounding soy. Foods that make women feel amazing (vineripenutrition.com)
Here are some additional articles that you may find helpful about soy and cancer prevention and after treatment.
Soy and Cancer: Myths and Misconceptions – American Institute for Cancer Research % (aicr.org)
Dietary isoflavone intake and all‐cause mortality in breast cancer survivors: The Breast Cancer Family Registry – Zhang – 2017 – Cancer – Wiley Online Library
Soy Foods in Moderation Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors – American Institute for Cancer Research % (aicr.org)
Hormone Balancing Recipes
Panko Crusted Tofu Steaks with Creamy Herb Sauce
Panko Crusted Tofu Steaks
Soy contains a phytoestrogen, and it is a great source of protein. The creamy, herb sauce can be made with yogurt or plant-based yogurt. It helps makes these savory tofu steaks even more delicious.
Makes six servings at two slices per person.
1 tablespoon cornmeal
2/3 cup gluten free panko crumbs
2 tablespoon gluten free flour
1 teaspoon ground flax
1-2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1 package of extra firm tofu cut into 12 pieces
Marinade for Tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Creamy Herb Sauce
1/2 cup yogurt or plant-based yogurt (Here is a great plant-based yogurt: Almond Milk Yogurts – Kite Hill Dairy Free Foods (kite-hill.com)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon garlic oil
1/2 cup mixed herbs (I used parsley, basil, and thyme)
2 tablespoon walnuts (for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cut tofu into 6 pieces and marinate for 30 minutes. While the tofu is marinated, make a flax egg with the flax, garlic oil and water in a bowl. Then on a dinner plate, mix the cornmeal, panko, flour, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
To make creamy herb sauce, chop the herbs very fine. In a bowl, mix yogurt, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic oil, finely chopped herbs and salt and pepper.
You could bake the tofu at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes on a lightly greased pan and gently turn over halfway through. I used an air fryer in my over and baked at 400 degrees. To do this, place a baking cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. (if you have a separate air fryer, use the manufacturer’s directions).
Dip the tofu in the flax egg and carefully dip the tofu in the panko breading. Place carefully on the baking cool wrap to air fry. Place in oven and turn the oven on “air fryer” setting and “bake” for 15 minutes.
After the tofu steaks have air fried and are ready, carefully take off of the rack onto a platter or individual plates. To plate up, add the steaks and add herb cream sauce. Garnish each plate with a few walnuts.
Hormone Balancing Smoothies
This recipe uses ingredients from your pantry with ingredients you are familiar using that you can use in other recipes also! Even the tofu steak recipe above.
Makes one smoothie.
To make a delicious smoothie choose at least one of each of these components:
Healthy fats such as: nut butter, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, avocados
Proteins: nut butter, yogurt/milk or plant-based yogurt/milk, nut butters, seeds
Something sweet: 1/2 cup blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or other fruit, 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
To make this Raspberry Arugula Smoothie shown above:
1/2 cup raspberries
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup yogurt or plant yogurt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Place all these items in a smoothie. And add ice. Process until smooth and the right consistency.
Mediterranean Diet Role in Balancing Hormones in Women
A Mediterranean Plant-based diet helps balance estrogen in the body and helps people achieve and maintain a healthy body composition. It helps reduce inflammation in the body which also helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Here is a little more on how inflammation may affect our health.
You may also like to know more about the nutrition tool that I developed called the Mediterranean Diet Appalachian Style, it takes the best of the Mediterranean Pyramid and localizes it to use foods based on the seasons where we live!
Anti inflammatory food list pdf (vineripenutrition.com)
Get Your Own Women’s Hormone Balancing Diet Plan PDF
I hope that you have learned more about foods that balance hormones in females and find it helpful. As an Asheville nutritionist and registered diet, I love helping women find the foods that are beneficial to their lifestyle, and this includes foods and hormonal health.
Deciding whether to go on hormone replacement therapy is an individual decision that you and your physician should talk about. Everyone’s body and symptoms are different. Each of us needs to decide what works best for our bodies.
If you are wanting to be working with a dietitian specializing in women’s health, I have the training and expertise to help! When you sign up for the A Fresh Approach to Women’s Wellness Program – (vineripenutrition.com) I will provide you with your own women’s hormone balancing diet plan pdf and menu plan. For more information about the program, you can contact me here.