Are you prone to hormonal breakouts right before your period? It turns out that your fate isn't just in Mother Nature's hands—what you choose to eat can also help (or hurt) your symptoms. We tapped two nutritionists to give us the lowdown on how our diet affects our skin when it comes to hormone balance.
"How you eat can heal and restore hormone balance or it can completely throw you out of balance and keep you there," says Elissa Goodman, a certified holistic nutritionist. Farah Fahad, a dietitian and the founder of The Farah Effect, agrees as she says, "there are specific foods that have a strong effect on hormones in the body more so than your daily green juice."
Goodman explains that hormonal breakouts are the result of our oestrogen and progesterone levels dropping and our testosterone staying the same so our glands produce more sebum—leading to oily skin, which is a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. This happens as we approach menstruation or when we eat certain aggravating foods.
"Unfortunately, even women with healthy eating habits cannot fully change the relationship between hormones and outbreaks, but they can minimise them through a healthy diet and by maintaining a healthy weight," Goodman says. So if you're looking to do your part in clearing your skin, consistently incorporate the following nutritious foods into your diet rather than switching it up during different parts of your cycle.
Keep scrolling to find out which foods balance your hormones and help you avoid hormonal breakouts.
"Healthy fats are great for your skin, your heart, your brain and your hormones," Fahad says. "Throw some coconut oil into your sugar-free matcha or sautée some broccoli with olive oil." Goodman also recommends getting a good dose of healthy fats from wild-caught salmon, grass-fed butter and avocados.
This family of plants "may help to combat excess estrogen," Goodman says. Not only that but they also boast excellent nutritional value that is essential to your diet at any point in your cycle. Goodman says to seek out kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula and collard greens.
"Probiotics assist in helping the body eliminate toxins (excess hormones) and waste," Goodman says. "Your skin is your largest organ and largest eliminator of toxins. By supporting digestion with probiotics, toxins are more likely to break down in the liver before they accumulate and overwhelm the skin." There are plenty of ways to incorporate probiotics into your diet. Fahad recommends fermented veggies, krauts, kimchi or kombucha, but warns, "just don't drink too much, as kombucha has hidden sugars."
"These herbs promote hormone balance and help decrease excess stress," explains Goodman, who says her favourite adaptogens are ashwagandha, Rhodiola rosea and holy basil. Fahad also recommends maca or lucuma as healthy additions to your diet to work their magic.
As Goodman explains, omega-3s "are vital for proper cell function, especially for hormone function, as these are the building blocks for hormone production." She says to load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s like wild-caught fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products (but steer clear of oils high in omega-6 like safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut).
Goodman and Fahad both call out foods rich in vitamin B—like sweet potatoes, yams and dark leafy greens—for balancing hormones. "Your ovulation period is a great time to load up on vitamin B and zinc in hormone-free meat," Fahad says. Goodman also recommends gluten-free whole grains and legumes.
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