Updated: May 16
Are you eating to nourish your hormones?
Our hormones are signaling molecules that interact with our organs throughout our body. There are over 50 different hormones, most of which are secreted by the endocrine system. The endocrine system controls various bodily functions: metabolism, homeostasis, growth, reproduction, and heart muscles. There are many things that can alter our hormones, most of which pertain to stressors on the body. These stressors can be grouped into three categories: environmental, physical, and psychological. Examples of these include: hard athletic training, under-consuming calories, a poor diet, heavy metal overload, and depression/anxiety, to name a few.
There are various strategies we can take to support hormones including nourishing our body with the proper foods, recovering sufficiently from hard workouts, supporting healthy detoxification, and implementing stress management strategies.
For today's post, let's discuss 3 nutrients that nourish your hormones!
Nutrient #1: Selenium
Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential for healthy thyroid functioning and reproduction. In a 2018 study, it was found to reduce markers of depression and increase total antioxidant capacity in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Selenium has also been shown to have a positive relationship on testosterone production in infertile men, as well as decreasing luteal phase deficiency, a marker for infertility in women.
Other Highlights on Selenium:
- regulate the stress response
- antioxidant balance
- normal blood flow
- growth + fertility
- synthesis of thyroid hormones
Sources of Selenium:
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Fish, Meat
Nutrient #2: Zinc
Zinc is a trace mineral that is important for macronutrient metabolism, the immune system, healing, and hormonal balance. It is important for growth hormone, converting thyroid hormone to its active form (T3), leptin (satiety hormone), and melatonin production (sleep hormone).
Zinc deficiency is common in those who contain a predominantly processed-foods diet.
Other highlights on Zinc:
- tissue development + repair
- collagen formation enzyme for metabolism, digestion
- healthy immune functioning
- reproductive development
- sex hormone production
Sources of Zinc:
- seafood, meat
- beans, peas, lentils
Note: Zinc is a common nutrient to supplement. When supplementing with zinc, you should only use it for short periods of time.
Nutrient #3: Iodine
Iodine is a trace mineral that is used by your thyroid to make thyroid hormones that control growth, development, and metabolism. When iodine intake is low, your body cannot produce sufficient thyroid hormones. It is also critical for brain development. Iodine is a nutrient added to table salt to prevent deficiency, however, table salt is highly processed, lacking many essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Sources of Iodine:
- dairy products
- plant foods
- iodized salt*
A simple way to ensure you are including each of these trace minerals daily is to eat more fresh foods! Seafood, nuts/seeds, eggs, and high quality sea salt like Redmond's Real Salt provide many of these trace minerals mentioned.
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Raphaela Cecília Thé Maia de Arruda Falcão ,Clélia de Oliveira Lyra ,Célia Márcia Medeiros de Morais ,Liana Galvão Bacurau Pinheiro ,Lucia Fátima Campos Pedrosa ,Severina Carla Vieira Cunha Lima ,Karine Cavalcanti Maurício Sena-Evangelista. Processed and ultra-processed foods are associated with high prevalence of inadequate selenium intake and low prevalence of vitamin B1 and zinc inadequacy in adolescents from public schools in an urban area of northeastern Brazil. Plos One (2019).
Jamilian, M., Mansury, S., Bahmani, F. et al. The effects of probiotic and selenium co-supplementation on parameters of mental health, hormonal profiles, and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Ovarian Res 11, 80 (2018).