by Mimi Warren
The nutrients in certain foods can help moderate the most common symptoms of hormonal fluctuations—mood swings, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog and hot flashes. Here is a list of foods with which to stock the kitchen, along with an explanation of their nutritive value. Consult an experienced nutritionist for individual guidance on quantities and dietary planning.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring compounds in plants that mildly mimic estrogen and may help reduce symptoms by balancing hormones. Foods that provide them include whole grains, apples, celery, leafy green vegetables, parsley, green beans, soy foods, nuts and seeds (notably, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame).
Flaxseeds not only contain essential fatty acids, but they are a good source of protein, some B vitamins, vitamin E and many minerals. All of these nutrients help regulate metabolism, keep hormone levels in balance, stress management and healthy weight maintenance. Buy whole flaxseeds, grind them daily in a coffee grinder and add 1- 2 tablespoons to smoothies, soups, salads or meat dishes.
Omega-3 fats (essential fatty acids), B vitamins and tryptophan can help with depression, irritability, poor concentration, carbohydrate cravings and sleep. Chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna and halibut are the healthiest options and should be staples. Other foods to have on hand include whole grains, nuts, beans and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas.
Perhaps most importantly, always drink water. Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and increased irritability. Increasing water intake can help alleviate bloating caused by water retention and may improve other symptoms.
Mimi Warren, M.S., is a certified clinical nutritionist who maintains a private practice in the office of McCollaum & Associates, 275 S. Main St., Ste. 2D, in Doylestown. For more information, call 215-345-5665 or visit MimiWarrenNutrition.com, July 2013.