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What diet is best for hormones?

We all know that the foods we eat can impact how we feel, but did you know that particular foods can affect your hormones too?

Depending on your symptoms, research has found that employing certain diet strategies can impact your hormones by reducing inflammation, balancing your blood sugar, and decreasing certain signaling pathways that lead to hormonal imbalance.

When you are rebalancing your hormones it's important to take all of these factors into effect, here are some things to consider:

If your main symptom is Hormonal acne:

  1. Try balancing your blood sugar using the Low glycaemic index diet When you eat food, blood sugar levels rise in your blood and insulin comes in to take that blood sugar into your cells to use as energy. Over time if you have an increase in refined carbohydrates or sugary foods, your body doesn't have enough energy to sustain it and your insulin can rise leading to an increase in circulating insulin. This can in turn increase your testosterone level. The glycemic index is a measurement for how quickly a certain food can be turned into energy and used by the body. Foods with a higher GI score can be used up super quickly, whereas low GI foods are digested slowly by the body and therefore sustain energy for longer. I ncluding low GI foods and reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates goes a long way to preventing acne and hormonal breakouts (Mahmood & Bowe 2014). Low GI foods include starchy carbs such as cooked and cooled potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, brown rice, quinoa, and banana so you should aim to include at least ¼-½ a cup of these in each meal.

  1. Reducing Cow's milk dairy - avoid increasing IGF-1 Cows milk dairy contains a protein called A1 casein, which is super important for baby calves as it helps them to grow into big cows. In humans, this protein can cause an increase in something called Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) which also increases the growth of things but not always in a beneficial way (Danby 2005). Some people are genetically predisposed to react to this gene in a way that increases insulin and then hormones such as testosterone, so it can be helpful at first to cut this out for 6-8 weeks to see if this decreases inflammation.

  1. Reduce or remove refined sugar

There is evidence to suggest that there is a link between acne and refined sugar intake (Veith & Silverberg 2011)

If your main symptom is Period pain:

  1. Reduce or limit Histamine rich foods Histamine, a compound released by cells in response to injury and allergic or inflammatory reactions, has been linked to the modulation of pain perception, including menstrual pain. While there isn't an extensive body of research specifically focused on the direct role of histamine in period pain, we can infer its potential involvement based on its known effects on pain pathways and its presence in the menstrual cycle.

  • Inflammatory Response: Histamine is a key mediator of inflammation. During menstruation, the shedding of the uterine lining triggers an inflammatory response in the pelvic region. Histamine release in response to this inflammation could sensitize pain receptors (nociceptors) in the uterus and surrounding tissues, leading to heightened pain perception.

  • Stimulate smooth Muscle Contraction: In the uterus, smooth muscle contractions help expel menstrual blood and Histamine’s ability to promote smooth muscle contraction may exacerbate this process leading to excess pain.

  • Interact with Prostaglandins: Prostaglandins play a significant role in the menstrual cycle and are implicated in period pain. Histamine may interact with prostaglandin pathways, further enhancing inflammation and uterine contractions, thus intensifying period pain.

  1. Include foods rich in Calcium and B6 Studies have shown that Calcium and B6 are both helpful for reducing PMS symptoms such as bloating, psychological imbalances, depression, and mood regulation (Masoumi et al 2016). These two nutrients can increase serotonin and help to metabolize tryptophan, both essential for healthy mood, optimal sleep, and gut function. Foods rich in Calcium include sardines (bones in), tofu, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, kale, tinned salmon (with bones), and dried figs. Foods high in B6 include beef liver, chicken, turkey, tuna, chickpeas, potatoes, spinach, onions, pistachios, butternut pumpkin, bananas, avocados, pineapples, and apricots.

If your main symptom is PMS

  1. include more starchy carbohydrates in the week before your period to reduce food and sugar cravings.

  2. Include more magnesium-rich foods to reduce cramping, breast tenderness, and headaches.

  3. Foods rich in healthy fats can reduce inflammation in the lead-up to a period to help with cramping, breast tenderness, and bloating. Include foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds, good quality olive oil, wild-caught salmon or trout, and chia seeds to increase your intake of healthy fats.

  4. Supplements such as evening primrose oil contain gamma-linolenic and linolenic acid that have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms (Bussell 1998)

As you can see, no one diet can fix all hormonal imbalance symptoms, but there is a lot of research on particular diet interventions for helping with certain imbalances. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it's important to know that help is at hand.

If you would like to find out more, book in a base chat or reach out to me at hello@margaretscottnaturopathy.


Margaret Scott

Naturopath BhSc

Margaret is a degree-qualified naturopath with a focus on women’s hormonal health throughout the lifespan.

Book a session with Margaret here


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Bussell, G. 1998. Premenstrual syndrome and diet. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, 8: 65–75.

Danby.F, 2005, Acne and milk, the diet myth, and beyond, journal of the American Academy of dermatology, vol 52, issue 2, p360-362,

Liu, W., & Li, Y. (2017). Role of histamine and its receptors in cerebral ischemia. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 8(10), 1993–1999.

Ma, X., Cheng, Z., Kong, H., Wang, Y., Un, H., Zhang, X., . . . Yan, Z. (2009). Changes in histamine and its receptor subtypes in the brain of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Neuroscience, 161(3), 942–950.

Masoumi SZ, Ataollahi M, Oshvandi K., 2016 Effect of Combined Use of Calcium and Vitamin B6 on Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms: a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Caring Sci.

Mahmood SN, Bowe WP, 2014, Diet and acne update: carbohydrates emerge as the main culprit. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology : JDD. 2014 Apr;13(4):428-435. PMID: 24719062.

Veith WB, Silverberg NB, 2011, The association of acne vulgaris with diet. Cutis. 2011 Aug;88(2):84-91. PMID: 21916275.

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