How the Mediterranean diet can help your hormones stay balanced.
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets. It reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and increases longevity. But the Mediterranean diet is also an incredibly healthy nutritional plan to keep your hormones in balance.
That’s because the Mediterranean diet is plant-based.
Over 50% of calories come from vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. To make healthy hormones, your body needs lots of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrient cofactors, that are found in plant foods.
Second, the Mediterranean diet is naturally rich in healthy fats, with 30% of the calories coming from fat.
Optimal hormone production requires healthy fats, specifically anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats, like olive oil. Olive oil can help your body create healthy cell membranes and receptor sites to allow hormones into your cells.
Third, the Mediterranean diet includes lean protein. Protein breaks down into amino acids, which your body needs to make hormones. Approximately 15-20% of the calories in the Mediterranean diet come from protein.
So what does the Mediterranean diet look like?
The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is plants, meaning vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Fiber-rich plants also have plenty of micronutrients that help keep your hormones in balance. Your hypothalamus especially loves it when you’re eating lots of plant foods because your hypothalamus can tell when its environment is healthy and bountiful. You may have noticed that you’re in a more hormonally balanced state when you’re giving your body colorful vegetables and fruits. Daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans, and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices is crucial to keeping your hormones in harmony.
Emphasizing healthy fats is another reason the Mediterranean diet is the best for healthy hormones.
Olive oil is the primary fat, but other foods naturally containing healthy fats are oily fish like salmon and sardines. Avocados and nuts are also a large part of the Meditteranean diet. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil are incredibly anti-inflammatory and provide your body with the fatty acids necessary to help create not just hormones, but also hormone receptor sites and healthy membranes.
While you can get protein from plant sources, the Mediterranean diet also includes animal sources, such as eggs and dairy, usually through cheeses and yogurts. It is also high in fish and poultry, but very minimal when it comes to red meat. In fact, meat intake is limited to just once a day.
The Mediterranean diet provides an adequate amount of protein, so you have the amino acid building blocks to make the hormones your body needs.
Olive oil is used for cooking and dressing foods. Drizzling olive oil on grains, vegetables, and proteins helps to get enough of this super-healthy fat in your diet. Also, cooking with olive oil maintains the nutrients in foods better than any other oil.
So what would a Mediterranean meal plan look like to balance hormones?
Typically, breakfast would consist of fruit and yogurt. I prefer whole fat Greek yogurt because it has more protein and less sugar. Sometimes, egg and vegetable frittatas are a good option, as are grains, like oatmeal and whole wheat bread. The bread consumed in the Mediterranean is a lot lower in gluten than the bread that we eat in America. Anti-inflammatory coffee and tea are part of breakfast rather than juice, which is high in sugar. For the rest of the day, water is the main beverage, including mineral-rich sparkling water.
Lunch is usually the largest meal, eaten later in the afternoon. This usually consists of lots of vegetables, mostly cooked but some raw. It also includes a whole grain and some kind of protein. Red meat is limited to once or twice a week.
Dinner is usually a lighter version of lunch, and may also include red wine, which is incredibly anti-inflammatory and contributes to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is perfect for keeping your hormones healthy and balanced.
And if you prefer more of a vegetarian type of Mediterranean diet, you would just take out the meat.
If you’d like to learn more about the Mediterranean diet, I go into detail with my DMAR Nutritional Path to Healing, where I explain all the healthy fats, as well as the different types of proteins and carbohydrates included in the Mediterranean diet. I even help you calculate your exact carbohydrate needs so that you can keep body fat down, but still have enough energy. You can access my DMAR Nutritional Path to Healing through our free Hormone Reboot Training. Or, if you’ve read my book, Hormones in Harmony, just go to the back of the book, and in the gifts section, you’ll see a download link for the complete diet.
Research Reference: High fat induces acute and chronic inflammation in the hypothalamus, Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain, Physiological adaptations to weight loss and factors favouring weight regain.
*Statements not reviewed by the FDA.