Hormones allow you to feel happy, healthy and energized. Your endocrine system, a network of glands including your thyroid and ovaries, produces and secretes them. Much the way a thermostat regulates heat, a normal-functioning endocrine system regulates hormones based on bodily needs. If you lack certain hormones, it releases them. If your levels become high, it doesn't. A nutritious diet can help keep your endocrine system healthy. For specified guidance, seek counsel from a registered dietitian.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils provide more fiber per serving than other natural foods. A high-fiber diet can help manage polycystic ovary syndrome, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne, which causes menstrual irregularities, high insulin levels and other hormone-linked symptoms in up to 10 percent of women. Fiber-rich foods can also reduce symptoms and complications of thyroid disease, such as excessive appetite, constipation and undesirable weight gain. One cup of cooked beans or lentils provides 15 to 16 grams of fiber, or roughly three-fourths of a woman's recommended minimum intake of 21 grams per day.
Fruits and Vegetables
The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, help your body resist and heal from illnesses, including those that affect your endocrine system. Antioxidant-rich foods can also help reduce thyroid disease symptoms, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. For best results, incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as berries, tomatoes, bell peppers and winter squash, which tend to be highest in antioxidants, into your diet. High-fiber varieties include raspberries, which provide 8 grams per cup, pears, apples and other berries.
Whole grains provide significant amounts of antioxidants and fiber. One cooked cup of whole-wheat pasta or barley provides about 6 grams of fiber. Whole grains also contain iodine, a mineral added to table salt. Consuming too little iodine can cause thyroid disease, and Americans reap about 70 percent of their salt from processed food lacking iodine, says Cheryl Harris, a registered dietitian and writer for "Today's Dietitian." Eating more whole grains and fewer processed foods, such as pretzels, potato chips and white bagels, can help keep your iodine levels in check, and your thyroid gland healthy. Nutritious examples include quinoa, barley, wild rice, brown rice, air-popped popcorn and oatmeal.
Cold-Water Fish and Flaxseeds
Cold-water fish and flaxseeds are top sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and may minimize menstrual pain and guard against breast cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3s also boost immune function and reduce inflammation in people with thyroid disease. Fish particularly rich in omega-3s include salmon, albacore tuna, herring, halibut and sardines. Flaxseeds are also rich in fiber. To make yogurt, cereals, baked goods and smoothies more endocrine-healthy, add ground flaxseeds.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com