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Hormone balancing foods: eat your way to hormonal harmony

Hormone balancing foods: eat your way to hormonal harmony

Including healthy fats and protein-rich foods can support our hormonal health, say experts
Foods for hormonal health
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Insulin is a hormone that swoops in after we eat a meal. Its job is to open the doors of the cells so that glucose can enter them from the blood and provide us the energy we need. Cortisol is another hormone, which kicks in when we are in danger. It keeps us alert and focused during challenging times.

These are just two of the umpteen number of important things our hormones do for us. Of course, these are not the only two hormones we have either. The human body is known to have at least 50 hormones and each one of them has a crucial role to play. They maintain balance and harmony. Without them, the body will not function at its best and could even succumb to health conditions.

Foods play a major role in regulating the production of these hormones. They are, essentially, the raw materials required in hormone production. Chethana Nagesh, dietitian at Sathwaa Nutrition, Bengaluru, says, “Including healthy fats and protein-rich foods can contribute to the healthy functioning of the hormonal system. Hormones are chemicals produced by the body’s endocrine glands, that come in either a fat or protein form.”

The fat-based hormones are called steroid hormones. Oestrogen, testosterone, and cortisol (stress hormone) are a few examples of steroid hormones. The other type is protein and peptide hormones, composed of amino acids. Examples include insulin, somatotropin (growth hormone), and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

Hormone balancing foods

Flaxseeds, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and chia seeds contain healthy fats which can help regulate oestrogen levels and improve overall hormonal health, according to Nagesh. She adds that avocados are rich in folate, healthy fats and other nutrients which are great for a fertility-focused diet. They also keep us full for longer.

Consuming nourishing fats can not only support hormonal well-being but also aid in managing hormone-related health conditions. A 2022 research published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition indicates that when women with PCOS have higher levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, it could have a positive influence on their metabolism (how the body uses and processes energy) and body composition (the amount of fat and muscle in the body). This means that it might be helpful for weight management and overall health.

Smriti Mishra, founder, and consultant at Fitgenix, Mumbai, says that one can get omega-3 fatty acids from sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and fatty fish. 

And for supporting the production of protein or peptide-based hormones, experts agree that consuming protein-rich foods like eggs, pulses, legumes, nuts, and seeds can be beneficial.

Vitamins and minerals

Just as the hormonal system need proteins and fats, it also needs vitamins and minerals. Together, they bring about certain chemical reactions necessary in hormone production. Mishra says that vitamin D and B in particular are crucial for ideal hormonal function.

A study published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology indicates that vitamin D plays a crucial role in women’s reproductive health. Deficiency of this vitamin is associated with many health conditions in women including endometriosis, and PCOD. It is also vital for maintaining fertility.

According to Mishra, sunlight exposure, fortified dairy items, fatty fish, and egg yolks are good sources of vitamin D, while whole grains, leafy greens, meat, poultry, and fish are ways to get vitamin B.

When it comes to minerals, zinc and magnesium play a vital role in maintaining hormonal health. While magnesium can positively influence insulin sensitivity and help alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), zinc plays a role in the secretion of hormones like insulin, oestrogen, and testosterone.

Read more about PMS and diet here

To get zinc, foods like pumpkin seeds, lentils, and chickpeas are a great addition to the diet. As for magnesium, options like almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains can contribute to your intake.

And let us not forget iodine, as it plays a crucial role in the production of thyroid hormones. It can be taken through foods like seafood, eggs and iodised salt.

Prebiotics are also one of the ways to maintain your hormonal health as they act as hormone regulators. Nagesh suggests eating prebiotic foods like garlic, almonds, apples, bananas, coupled with probiotics in kimchi, yoghurt, and fermented foods like idli and dosa.


It is certainly important to have a balanced diet for the optimal functioning of the body and its hormones. Having said that, nutrition is just one aspect in supporting a healthy hormonal system. Your stress levels, sleep patterns, exercise (or lack thereof), and genetics too play a role in how your hormones function.

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