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Hormone Balancing Foods for Female Fertility – (Part 1) by Sarah Trimble

By June 24, 2022August 25th, 2022No Comments

Hormone Balancing Foods for Female Fertility –  (Part 1)

The sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone control our reproductive organs, and imbalances in the levels of these hormones can have a significant impact on a woman’s reproductive health, influencing factors such as ovulation and egg quality. Having too much or too little of these hormones can influence our fertility. While extreme deficiency of certain hormones may require medical intervention, dietary changes and eating key hormone-balancing foods can positively impact hormone health and support reproductive health and fertility.

Oestrogen balancing foods

Oestrogen levels that are too low can negatively impact the menstrual cycle and chances of conceiving. However, having oestrogen levels that are too high, a state called oestrogen dominance, is linked to several health conditions that can impact fertility, including endometriosis and fibroids. Other symptoms of oestrogen dominance include breast tenderness, heavy and painful periods and PMS.

The female body uses oestrogen, breaks it down, and removes it as if it were a toxin. Eating foods that support this process of oestrogen breakdown and removal can help reduce oestrogen dominance and support a healthy balance of oestrogen for reproductive health.

Eat more cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, Brussell sprouts and rocket, are superfoods for female hormonal health thanks to their ability to improve the body’s ability to break down and metabolise oestrogen safely. Oestrogen can be metabolised into a more aggressive inflammatory form (called 16-hydroxyestrone) or a less inflammatory form (called 2-hydroxyestrone). All cruciferous vegetables contain a naturally occurring compound called indole-3-carbinol which encourages the metabolism of oestrogen into the less inflammatory form.

Eating at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables every day can help promote healthy oestrogen activity in the body; choose from broccoli, tender stem broccoli, purple sprouting broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, pak choi, rocket, radishes, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, watercress, cabbage and broccoli sprouts. 

Nutritional tip: eating two types of cruciferous vegetables together will enhance your absorption of the hormone-balancing compounds in these vegetables, as well as dressing the vegetables with mustard. So why not try a rocket salad with some broccoli and radishes with mustard-based salad dressing?

Fibre and Flaxseeds

We all know that fibre is important to keep our bowel motion regular, and having regular bowel motion is, in fact, really important for our hormonal health. Oestrogen is removed from the body via the gut and bowel, and if you aren’t having a regular poo and are constipated, the oestrogen that the body is trying to excrete can get reabsorbed through the bowel wall. Eating plenty of fibre will help to mop up this oestrogen in the gut and increase the chance of a regular bowel motion.

Aim to eat a high-fibre diet packed with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and lentils. A general rule is to try to include a fibre source every time you eat.

Milled flaxseeds are a fantastic hormone-balancing source of fibre because they are known to increase levels of a hormone-balancing protein in our bloodstream. Eating flaxseeds regularly increases something called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG is a carrier protein that controls the amount of free and active hormones in our bloodstream; if we don’t have enough SHBG, we end up with more free and active hormones, which is bad news if you have excess oestrogen. So, eat two dessert spoons of flaxseed daily to provide fibre and support hormone balance.

Eat to control Aromatase.

You might never have heard of it, but aromatase is an enzyme in our body that converts androgens (testosterone) into oestrogen. Controlling aromatase activity is important to prevent oestrogen imbalances. Aromatase activity is increased in people who are overweight (the more fat tissue we have, the more aromatase we produce), as we age, in people with high insulin (such as PCOS), by stress and by alcohol. However, certain foods also act as aromatase inhibitors to help control and reduce the activity of this enzyme. These foods can therefore help balance hormones in oestrogen-dominant conditions.

Aromatase inhibiting foods to include in your diet are:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (see list above)
  • Calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy products
  • Nettle tea
  • Mushrooms
  • Purple foods (blueberries, pomegranate, raspberries, blackberries, acai, red grapes, black beans)
  • Citrus fruits

Progesterone balancing foods

Inadequate levels of progesterone are associated with reduced chances of conceiving, this hormonal imbalance can cause irregular periods and reduced chances of successful implantation. Signs of low progesterone levels include irregular periods, short menstrual cycles and short periods. Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum and helps to thicken the uterus lining to support implantation.

While low progesterone levels may require treatment with progesterone medications, nutrition can also support an improvement in progesterone levels.

Eat foods rich in Vitamin B6 – vitamin B6 is probably the most important hormone-balancing nutrient, and having adequate levels of B6 is important for progesterone production. It can lead to a regular menstrual cycle and a longer luteal phase. So aim to eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin B6 and ensure you take a multivitamin such as NuaBiome Women to support fertility that provides vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6-rich foods include whole grains (oats, brown rice, whole wheat), turkey, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, edamame beans and eggs.

 Eat foods rich in Vitamin C – eating plenty of vitamin C-rich foods can support the body’s natural production of progesterone. Women who took a 750mg supplement of vitamin C every day saw their progesterone levels increase by 77%.

Vitamin C-rich foods include strawberries, citrus fruits, peppers, Brussel sprouts, Broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, kiwi, kale, papaya, spinach, mango and cabbage.

Check your vitamin D levels – vitamin D is a vitamin that acts as a hormone in our body, and it can support the activity of our sex hormones. Vitamin D has been shown to enhance progesterone activity in female reproductive organs by around 13%.

Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight, and it can be difficult for us to get enough in the winter months. It is impossible to get enough vitamin D from our diets, and therefore at times, we might be reliant on a vitamin D supplement to boost our levels if we are deficient – you can read our blog post on the importance of vitamin D when trying to conceive HERE.

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Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists

 

Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins

MBBchBAO MRCGP

 

Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist

 

Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists

 

Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife

 

Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic

 

Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Lisa Corcoran

Business Development Executive

 

Lisa has 15 years of commercial business experience. She has proven her capabilities in Investment Property Sales and, Management & Business Development for Technology companies that have provided her with an understanding of different customer needs across several sectors. Lisa appreciates the value of customer education and relationship building in long-lasting partnerships.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer

 

Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!
 

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.
 

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.
 

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.

Deborah Brock

Founder & CEO of Nua Fertility

 

Deborah has a personal passion for fertility health, supporting people and communities. With over 15 years experience of working in the Non profit and Education sector, I have had the honour of working together with people and communities focusing on their strengths, capacities and assets. With extensive senior management, project management and creative programme development experience.

How did your experience with fertility inspire you to help start Nua Fertility?

My own personal fertility journey opened my eyes to the world of fertility health. Trying for a baby is one of the most exciting yet vulnerable times in your life. It took myself and my husband over three years and the helping hand of science to become a mum.  I have always worked with people and communities and felt my vision for Nua Fertility could genuinely support others who have fertility challenges.

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

I'm am curious person and love all things research. My ideal evening would be reading and exploring scientific journals! I like to think I am a little bit creative and I LOVE paint by numbers! Its probably the only time I slow down, I become immersed in the painting and think of nothing else.

What do you want to tell someone trying to conceive or already pregnant?

Educate yourself! Knowledge is power. The more you inform yourself about your fertility health the more you are empowering yourself with knowledge. Own your journey and take control over your own fertility health.

What’s something you wish someone told you while trying to conceive?

Open up and talk with friends and family. I was surrounded by amazing friends and family but I never opened up. When your struggling to conceive, a non-judgemental ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on is so powerful.