The amount of women that suffer from symptoms of hormone imbalance is disheartening. Millions experience symptoms ranging from painful periods, irregular periods, weight gain, mood swings, lack of energy, no or low libido, to fertility issues, anxiety, depression, insomnia, acne or skin issues, and more. It’s enough to make a woman feel like she’s going crazy at times.
Hormones affect everything that is happening within our bodies. Whether you have a cycle or not, your body is producing all sorts of varying hormones. In order to remain balanced, and avoid becoming symptomatic these hormones need to be properly metabolized.
The good news is that when approached holistically we have the ability to bring our bodies back into balance. When eaten during different intervals, certain foods can help balance your hormones, boost your metabolism, give you more energy, improve moods, and ultimately help you to experience a complete shift in your general well-being.
A Simple Four Week Plan
The key to success is a plan that works with your body on a four week cycle. Over the course of the four week period you eat specific foods rich in valuable micronutrients in different phases. These foods are nourishing to the endocrine system, supporting optimal hormone levels.
This regular rotation of foods also works to break down estrogen and efficiently clear it out of the body. This is important in preventing or reducing estrogen dominance which contributes to things like PMS, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, and certain types of cancers.
After personally experiencing such incredible results on the 4-Week Cyclical Hormonal Health Plan, I’m pleased to share some highlights with you in hopes that you too may benefit. Using my own knowledge as a holistic health coach, and based on my personal experience I have adapted it a bit.
As I mentioned earlier this plan works for menstruating, and non menstruating women. However if you still have a cycle you’ll want to start this plan the day after your cycle ends, and if you don’t have a cycle begin your first week on a Sunday.
Let the Plan Begin
Before we get into the plan, please note that this is not a recommendation to eat only these specific foods during the corresponding week, but rather to “amp up” your intake of these particular foods, focus on them, feeding your body a good increased amount of them, along with other clean and nutritional foods.
Another important mention is bone broth (recipe here) or, if you would rather have a ready made version, hydrolyzed collagen powder – both incredibly nourishing for the hormones and thyroid. Now let’s get to the plan!
Week One – Sprouted and Fermented Foods.
For this week, you’ll want to focus on sprouted and fermented foods like sauerkrauts, kimchis, pickled radishes, various sprouts like broccoli, mung bean, clover, radish, alfalfa, and bean sprouts, and Ezekiel bread. Fermented beverages like water kefir, and kombucha. These are rich in pre and probiotics and 3-endole-carbinol to help break down, metabolize, and move estrogen out of the body which is especially important if you have a cycle, as this first week estrogen begins to increase.
Week Two – Raw Juices and Fresh Veggies
This is the week to increase raw juices – beet, carrot, apple, kale, celery, lemon, and ginger. Increase fiber with more vegetables especially cruciferous types like dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbages, brussels sprout, cauliflower, and radishes. These also contain indole-3-carbinol which has been shown to increase the rate at which estrogen is broken down through the liver’s detoxification pathway by nearly 50 percent. Glutathione, a micronutrient the liver needs to break down estrogen is only found in raw fruits and veggies, which is important as week two estrogen surges.
To up your intake of fresh juices and smoothies containing this week’s foods try my juice & smoothie recipes.
Week Three – Greens and Grains
During week three, it’s time to eat alkalizing foods like spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, kale, leafy greens, quinoa, buckwheat, and millet. These contain soluble fiber to move estrogen out of the body. Greens contain calcium and magnesium to help your body utilize the hormones it has. Grains contain B vitamins that help produce serotonin, our “feel good” hormone, which is important being that this is the week both estrogen and progesterone surge, and then decline affecting our brain chemistry and moods.
Week Four – Healthy Fats and Root Vegetables
This week you’re preparing for hormones to decrease to lower levels with a focus on foods like coconut oil, avocados, salmon, nuts, nut butters, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash, parsnips, beets, and carrots. Root vegetables also contain vitamin A to help the liver metabolize estrogen. Essential fatty acids feed the brain and contribute to stabilized mood and energy levels which is especially important at this time.
Love Your Liver and It Will Love You Back
To get the most out of this plan it’s important not to bog down your liver with hormone disrupting foods. The cleaner your liver, the more efficiently it can metabolize and move estrogen out of the body. Avoid processed foods and sugars, caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, commercial meat and dairy products with antibiotics and growth hormones.
Starting each morning with a glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed in it really helps your liver. So does my Liver Detox Smoothie.
Some women also do better without gluten and dairy. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to discover which foods trigger reactions for each individual. Also, the phytoestrogens in soy products mimic natural estrogen, which can exacerbate symptoms if your body is already having a difficult time breaking down the estrogen it’s producing.
It’s also a good idea to watch out for unnecessary toxic ingredients in feminine hygiene, skin care, and cleaning products and opt for clean organic ones instead. Reduce exposure to and intake of xenoestrogens such as BPA, PCB’s, and phthalates in certain plastics, which have estrogenic effects.
Balance and Repeat
Once you complete a full four week plan, you simply continue it again. The goal is to incorporate your new healthful habit as part of your new hormone balancing lifestyle. Keep in mind that the results will vary according to how severe your symptoms are. For example if you have PCOS you may need more than one month to really notice a change in overall symptoms, whereas if you have painful periods you will probably notice a less painful to pain free cycle after the first month on the plan.
Obviously things like irregular periods and fertility issues won’t magically get better overnight. But I’m guessing that once you experience the positive hormonal shifts, you will have no problem, in fact you’ll probably be excited to balance and repeat, and continue the journey to feeling better for good!
Grab a copy of Alisa Vitti’s book WomanCode, to find out about her personal journey to beating PCOS naturally.