Why does our hormonal balance change as we age?
The good symphony of our hormones plays a key role throughout our lives by intervening in the proper functioning of the entire body: mood, sleep, sexuality, muscle and bone development, etc…
In Greek, the word “hormone” evokes the notion of excitement and stimulation: hormones are the conductor of our body. And if each hormone has a particular function, it is essentially the good interactions and synchronization between them that guarantee our proper functioning (For example, a situation of estrogenic dominance, the stimulating hormone, inevitably induces a relative deficit in progesterone, the soothing hormone, since the two act in synergy).
Did you know that? Hormonal decline occurs from the age of 25/30 years on average.
From the age of 30/35, the level of most hormones decreases by 2% per year.
From the age of 40, the ovaries will progressively reduce estrogen production until the menopause (but also a physiological decrease in testosterone and progesterone)
Most of the time, the decrease in hormone levels is progressive and spreads over 10 years. But unlike men, there is always a stop, the menopause.
Among the most common signs of menopause and especially of the decrease in estrogen: disturbed sleep, hot flashes, vaginal and mucosal dryness and atrophy, decreased libido, accelerated hair loss, more pronounced wrinkles (estradiol stimulates collagen), but also loss of memory and bone density, decreased libido, weight gain, night sweats… It’s a dream come true, right?
A female curse? A fatality?
None of this, just a physiological phenomenon that is totally normal and can be lived with (even liberating in many cases!). The main thing is to listen to the signals sent by our body and to work on our “terrain”, which is unique to each of us.
And good news, many natural bio-actives have demonstrated great benefits on the proper functioning of hormones!
Which nutrients are essential for proper hormonal function?
Keep in mind that the most important thing in our eyes is to work on your “terrain”, that is to say your metabolism, but also your way of life and your mind, and the main determinant of your health and your balance in the medium to long term. If you are waiting for a “medicine” from traditional allopathic medicine, it is often already a little late and the imbalance has turned into a pathology.
Thus, no food is capable of instantly boosting the production of our hormones, with a few exceptions (insulin, serotonin, dopamine in particular), but a correction of our diet is quite capable of helping the body to self-correct this incipient imbalance.
Also, the absence of certain nutrients can cause a drop in hormone production or their proper use in the medium term!
Hormone-friendly” nutrients to focus on :
– The iodine/ zinc/ selenium trio, deficiencies of which are common in women:
According to the SUVIMAX* survey, iodine deficiency is a public health problem: 8.5% of men and 20% of women have a daily intake of less than 100 micrograms per day * The WHO recommends systematic iodine supplementation for pregnant women. This iodine deficiency affects not only the proper functioning of the thyroid gland but also the cholesterol level (since the latter cannot be transformed into hormones in case of thyroid insufficiency)
=> Be sure to buy iodized salt and to add salt at the end of cooking because iodine is a very volatile mineral that is largely destroyed by cooking (cooked fish contains almost no iodine, unlike shellfish and raw fish). It is mainly found in seaweed (bladderwrack, kombu breton..) but also in seafood, fish (cod, haddock..) and dairy products.
Zinc and selenium :
These 2 minerals are essential for a good thyroid function.
=> Choose seafood (oysters are particularly rich in zinc), but also oilseeds, beats and meat (beef, calf’s liver..), and wheat germ.
– According to the SU.VI.MAX study, 23% of women have insufficient iron reserves. First of all, in order to contribute to the good absorption of iron, boost your intake of vitamin C and avoid tea or coffee during iron-rich meals.
– Increase your consumption of animal iron, the form best absorbed by our body (meat) but also think about certain plants rich in iron: cumin, thyme, spirulina, sesame, soy …
But beware of the risk of overdosing! If you are not sure of yourself, prefer a blood test before supplementing with iron.
Vitamin D3 :
According to the 1997 SU.VI.MAX study, nearly 74% of men and 78% of women suffer from vitamin D deficiency in winter. A study conducted in 2012 by the AMF (French Academy of Medicine) concludes that 80% of French adults are in deficit: a sign that in 10 years the situation has not improved! However, vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of our immune system, but also for the prevention of many diseases and deficits in bone mass (osteoporosis), very common in women after menopause.
Moderate exposure to the sun (15 minutes on the face and forearms) remains the best way to avoid deficiencies. Of course, there is the famous cod liver oil of our grandmothers which is very rich in vitamin D, but it is also the case of small fatty fish (“small” fish being the least polluted with mercury) such as herring, mackerel and sardines, but also dark chocolate, milk, eggs and mushrooms which are significant sources!
Omega 3 fatty acids :
They are essential for the proper functioning of all our hormones!
Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) is present in plants such as rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans and wheat germ (flaxseed and walnuts as well). However, we must also consume ALA of animal origin such as “Bleu Blanc Coeur” products (milk, cheese, eggs, meat, etc.) obtained from animals that consume flaxseed, lupine or alfalfa, and therefore enriched in ALA.
Finally,EPA and DHA areessentially concentrated in fatty fish such as mackerel and herring, which are less polluted with heavy metals than large fish at the end of the food chain such as salmon.
(My absolute must!)
Magnesium deficiencies affect one in three French people: in the SU.VI.MAX study, 23% of men and 18% of women receive less than 2/3 of the recommended daily intake.
The cause? Our processed food which would be clearly depleted in magnesium, but also stress, public enemy N°1, which overconsumes magnesium, noise, chronic pollution, intense physical exercise..
Age and sex are also important factors: Magnesium deficiency is more common in people over 50 years because the absorption of magnesium often becomes less effective, and women appear more affected than men.
=> Make sure you eat legumes and green leafy vegetables, dried oilseeds, nuts, whole grains, wheat germ, seafood, but also supplement yourself if you think you are in the categories at risk of deficiency.
Good news: dark chocolate would be a very good ally, even if it should be consumed in moderation 🙂
3 SIMPLE golden rules for a good nutritional balance
In addition to the essential nutrients, it is also important to pay attention to the preparation methods and the synergies between the ingredients. If we had to remember only 3 rules, it would be the following 3:
1. Make sure your blood sugar is well controlled
Glycemia is the measurement of the sugar level in the blood.
And this famous glycemia can be the cause of many disorders such as insulin resistance, which is the breeding ground for many inflammations.
To avoid this, limit the consumption of fast sugars in general (sugary drinks, pastries and sweets, beer…) and more particularly in the evening, favor fibers (able to modulate the speed of absorption of carbohydrates), 20 minutes of physical activity per day at least (moving allows to use glucose without needing insulin) and of course, favor ingredients with low glycemic index (vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, whole foods richer in fiber). Favour whole foods (al dente pasta, sourdough bread…). Green tea and cinnamon would also have interesting effects on glycemia.
2. Beware of preparation methods
This is THE subject we tend to forget, but the way we cook and prepare our food has a direct influence on the proper absorption of nutrients!
Prefer gentle cooking (steam, bain-marie…) and “al dente” cooking which preserve nutrients and limit the impact on blood sugar levels, and try to eat fresh, raw or low temperature products as often as possible.
Avoid overheating fats and “caramelizing” ingredients, as this leads to the formation of toxic substances. Finally, choose containers made of “healthy” materials (glass, stainless steel, etc.) rather than plastics, aluminum or other coatings that may release toxic molecules.
3. Choose variety!
All nutritionists agree on this point: diversity is the key to a good nutritional balance. This is the simplest rule that will stimulate our taste buds, our health and our creativity: try not to eat the same main food more than twice a week, add color to your plate, use and abuse aromatic herbs and spices, vary the oils and fats, and try to replace your usual ingredients with new and healthier ones. For example, try substituting vegetable juice for the liquid in a recipe and dates for the sugar in a recipe, and mix different kinds of low glycemic index flours (lentils, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, quinoa…), it works very well.
Some groups are particularly “at risk” of hormonal imbalance:
– If you are already taking a treatment for a hormonal pathology (thyroid, diabetes..), the dosage of your allopathic treatment may not be well balanced, so please refer to your doctor.
– If you are stressed, athletic or in menopause, it is normal that some hormones do not work well: it is then strongly recommended to modify your diet and to take a food supplement and/or phytotherapy to cover all your needs in certain nutrients.
Thanks to Véronique Liesse, dietician, nutritionist and micronutritionist
Food supplement adapted to female cycles specially developed to accompany women during their hormonal variations (premenstrual syndrome, peri-menopause ..) causing emotional and physical imbalances (fatigue, mental fog), preserve their hormonal balance and strengthen our metabolism against oxidative stress and inflammation.