8 Herbs and Foods That Help to Optimize Hormone Balance in Men
When we talk about hormone balance, we usually associate it with women’s health, but maintaining optimal levels of the various hormones is just as important for men.
Our endocrine system is involved in everything from muscle regeneration and sexual health, to digestion and sleep.
Some of the most important male hormones include:
- Testosterone - improves sex drive and helps to maintain lean muscle mass.
- Growth hormones - promote muscle growth and bone strength.
- Stress hormones - cortisol and adrenaline can help you remain alert, but can also lead to health issues if their levels are too high for too long.
- Thyroxin - produced in the thyroid gland, it helps to maintain energy, mood and appetite.
- Insulin - secreted by the pancreas, it keeps your blood glucose levels balanced and fat storage at normal levels.
- Sleep hormones - melatonin and serotonin regulate your body clock, allowing you to get a good nights rest and remain cheerful.
When hormones become out of balance as a result of stress, lack of sleep or dietary choices, a number of complications can occur. The normal bodily processes mentioned above fall out of line, and chronic illnesses can start to develop.
In this article, we’ll outline eight of the best foods that you can add to your diet to keep your hormone levels in check, so that you can maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle.
1. Raw Carrots
Raw carrots are a great source of Vitamin-A. Although it is probably most well known for helping to maintain ocular health, it also has hormonal benefits.
Vitamin-A improves liver function, an organ that is heavily involved with the synthesis and detoxification of a number of different hormones. Vitamin-A also helps to improve the health of the thyroid gland, which produces the hormone thyroxin, needed to maintain energy and appetite.
In addition, Vitamin-A is widely used as a natural way to increase the production of testosterone and growth hormone, whilst bringing down levels of the hormone estrogen. This can not only improve sexual performance, but help you to build muscle and lose fat too.
Raw carrots also contain a unique fibre that helps to remove any excess estrogen from the body.
A medium sized carrot a day is enough to do the trick. Just make sure it’s raw, as cooking breaks down the fibre and removes its hormone-balancing properties.
Try grating your carrot over a salad, or enjoy some carrot sticks with hummus as a snack.
Walnuts are jam-packed full of health promoting omega-3 fatty acids. As well as improving heart and brain health, omega-3’s are crucial in the formation of testosterone.
also contain plenty of B-Vitamins and magnesium, micronutrients that have both been linked to improved production of testosterone, and high levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.
If that wasn’t enough, walnuts are a great source of tryptophan, the amino acid that is involved in the production of serotonin and melatonin, hormones that that help to regulate your sleep cycle.
In addition to the tryptophan, studies have shown
that walnuts actually contain
the hormone melatonin, which is usually produced in the body via the pineal gland.
Walnuts are great on their own as a snack, or blended into a smoothie.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
contain high concentrations of the mineral magnesium, which improves levels of testosterone and growth hormones, whilst helping to bring cortisol down.
They are also an abundant source of zinc, an important micronutrient that has been linked with healthy testosterone levels. Research has shown
that low testosterone in males is often linked to a deficiency in zinc.
In addition to their micronutrient content, pumpkin seeds are packed full of protein, which helps to build muscle and maintain the feeling of fullness. This may lead to fat loss and a more favourable body composition, which encourages healthy levels of testosterone, cortisol and insulin.
Enjoy your pumpkin seeds in a trail mix or on top of your porridge in the morning.
Avocados are another brilliant source of healthy fats, which as mentioned above are important in the production of testosterone.
They are also rich in glutathione, an antioxidant that blocks the absorption of harmful fats that can cause oxidative damage to cells.
Avocados contain plenty of Vitamin B6, which aids the body in the production of the sleep hormones melatonin and serotonin. Vitamin B6 also helps the body to absorb more zinc, a trace mineral that acts as one nature’s most powerful natural testosterone boosters.
Try your avocado in a bean burrito, or spread it over some wholemeal bread with salad.
are a great source of soluble fibre, which helps to maintain satiety and promotes a healthy insulin response.
They are also rich in bromelain, an enzyme that improves the body’s ability to break down protein into amino acids. Bromelain has also been shown to increase serum testosterone levels in adult males.
Along with avocados, bananas are another rich source of B-Vitamins, which increase the absorption of zinc, boost testosterone levels, and increase the production of melatonin.
Eat your banana as it is, with some cereal, or in a smoothie.
Garlic is one of the most widely used health foods available. It has a range of benefits, including protecting the body against the common cold, and helping you to shed any unwanted weight. Having a favourable body composition is a key factor in maintaining a good hormone balance.
Garlic is also a potent source of the compound allicin, which has been proven to bring down levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is useful in a short term stressful situation, but when levels remain elevated over long time periods due to chronic stress, the level of other hormones such as testosterone fall out of balance and health issues ensue.
You can enjoy garlic in a range of different culinary dishes, or if you’d rather avoid the bad breath, you can choose an odourless supplement.
7. Goat Weed
Epimedium (sometimes known as ‘horny goat weed’) is an ancient herb that is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural treatment for impotence and low testosterone levels.
It is thought that the plant was named when goat farmers noticed that their animals became much more sexually active after consuming it. Goat weed contains the flavonoid icariin, a compound that behaves similarly to testosterone, the hormone related to sexual performance.
In addition to it’s testosterone mimicking behaviour, goat weed is known as an adaptogen, meaning that it helps support the general health of the endocrine system and improves the bodies response to stress.
Kelp is a sea vegetable that is rich in the mineral iodine. One of the main functions of iodine is helping to maintain a healthy thyroid gland. As mentioned above, the thyroid gland produces the hormone thyroxine, which is involved in a number of bodily functions.
A careful balance of iodine in the diet is needed, as too much or too little can promote hyper or hypothyroidism.
You can include kelp in a stir-fry or with sushi, and it is also available in higher concentrations as a supplement. It may however be best to consult a medical professional before taking the pills.
Patrick Banks is a full-time motivational coach who is truly passionate about fitness and nutrition. He believes that balancing and satisfying the needs of your body and mind are the keys to happiness. He is the main contributor to Wingman Magazine.
Last but not least in our list of hormone-balancing foods and herbs - pseudo grains, the ancient cousins of our modern starch sources.
Foods like amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa are rich in fibre, which as mentioned earlier helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels and a healthy insulin response.
Ancient grains also contain d-asparaginic acid, an amino acid that has been shown to stimulate the release of the luteinizing hormone. The luteinizing hormone travels from the pituitary gland via the bloodstream to the testes, increasing testosterone production.
Pseudo grains are also rich in B-Vitamins, zinc and magnesium, all of which have been linked to improved levels of testosterone and sleep hormones.
Enjoy your pseudo grains with some legumes and leafy greens, or add them to a salad.