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Hormonal imbalance – it’s so commonly heard of these days, but seldom understood. It causes acne, hair loss and sleep disorders, as well as serious issues like PCOS and endometriosis. But in most cases, it is left undetected until the symptoms get worse. How do you deal with it, you ask?

There are several medical treatments available, and if you suspect a hormonal issue, you must visit your doctor of course. But the good news is you can alleviate the condition and its symptoms by altering a big part of your life – nutrition.

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Nutrition is not only about what to eat but also what not to eat. So avoid these foods and replace them with healthy alternatives for better hormone health:

1. Sugar

The harms of excessive sugar such as weight gain, diabetes, and addiction, are already known to the world, but here’s another.

Processed sugar in any form, whether organic, white, brown, or even high fructose corn syrup (found in packaged food and snacks) spikes your blood sugar levels. This requires your body to give out insulin in order to balance out the blood sugar.

With increased consumption of sugar, your body has to produce more and more insulin, and eventually becomes resistant to it.

Increased insulin results in your body making more testosterone, which is a major cause of PCOS in women.

A good alternative: Natural sugars from fruits

2. Dairy

While there may be benefits of drinking milk, it is best to be cautious of dairy consumption if you’re going through hormonal imbalances. Avoiding milk in general, is good for you.

Here’s why: In order to increase dairy output, cows/buffalos are kept pregnant all the time, which results in extremely high estrogen in their milk. When you drink milk, you’re exposing your body to these hormones.

Milk also has androgenic properties, so it raises testosterone levels in the body, further messing with your health.

A good alternative: Nut milks, such as almond milk (available in stores and also easy to make at home)

3. Soy

Soy has been considered one of the biggest offenders of hormone health. Soybeans are rich in a substance called phytoestrogens that mimic human estrogen, thus activating the estrogen receptors in the body.

Phytoestrogens interfere with menstrual cycles in women, and are associated with low sperm count in men. Other effects include acne breakouts, hair fall, and low sex drive.

While there’s still a lot of ongoing research on the effects of soy, consume it with moderation.

A good alternative: Rice protein

4. Poultry

We’ve all been told that white meat is healthy (well, it is a good source of lean protein, of course). But you gotta be careful if you have hormonal issues.

That’s because in India, the chicken we get in shops is raised in a poultry farm and given soy-based feed, which contains phytoestrogens. Else it is genetically modified and fed GMO corn.

So even though it is illegal to inject hormones in the chicken (to fatten it up and make it juicy), it isn’t illegal to give them soy-based feed that already contains these hormones.

A good alternative: Grass-fed poultry

It’s important to note that hormonal imbalance is not self-diagnosed — you must get it checked by an endocrinologist if you notice the symptoms. That said, eating right will always contribute to better health.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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