As a functional nutritionist, I help women to identify and address the root causes of their hormone and digestive symptoms. Say goodbye to fad diets, my mission is to empower you in your health and create change that sustains.
Did you know that fiber is crucial for women’s health? Something I cannot stress enough is the link between gut health and women’s hormone health. When it comes to hormones, our gut helps us detox excess estrogen, eliminate endocrine disruptors, balance inflammation in the body, boost our mood, support healthy thyroid function, balance cortisol and the stress response, support insulin output and blood sugar balance, and absorb the nutrients we need for optimal hormone function. This is why I tell my clients and followers that hormone problems are gut problems! We may see issues in our hormones, not realizing the gut is the major player in the issues. One way we can boost our gut health, and ultimately hormone function, is by consuming a variety of fiber.
“hormone problems are gut problems”
You probably have heard of fiber, but what exactly does it do? Dietary fiber comes from plants and is indigestible to the enzymes in our stomach. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. There are two main types of fiber: soluble (the “bulker”) and insoluble (the “mover”).
The first type of fiber is soluble fiber, or the “bulker,” helps manage blood sugar levels and supports weight management because it adds “bulk” to our meals, promoting fullness. Soluble fiber is important for healthy stools and feeds the healthy gut bugs in our digestive tract.
Sources of soluble fiber include:
Our other type of fiber is insoluble fiber, or the “mover.” Insoluble fiber comes from portions of plants that help move waste through our digestive system.
Sources of insoluble fiber include:
Keep reading for the importance of fiber for women’s health.
So we know that fiber is so important for gut health, but why women’s health? Among many positive benefits, a front runner is hormone detoxification. Estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries, then circulates throughout the body until it eventually reaches the liver to be inactivated. Once the estrogen is inactive, it enters the intestines to be excreted. LADIES this is why a daily fully evacuated daily poop is ESSENTIAL for healthy hormones. Here estrogen can be properly expelled from the body and we can prevent reabsorption. Studies show that higher fiber intake reduces estrogen reabsorption in the colon AND increases estrogen in stools. This is a huge deal because estrogen dominance (which is a possible result of excess estrogen left in the gut) is a major factor in hormonal imbalances. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include period pain, breast tenderness, breast size increases, conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts and even hormone-related cancers. Two therapeutic fiber sources specifically for estrogen balance include ground flax seeds (~2 tbsp daily serving) and cruciferous vegetables like cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli- best in their raw form (1/2 cup serving per day). As a whole healthy fiber intake when working on hormone health is essential. So, how do we increase our fiber intake to improve our hormone health? Keep reading for my favorite sources of fiber and how to include them in your diet!
You may feel overwhelmed by the laundry lists of foods containing fiber and are unsure where to start. I recommend foods that are great sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber including vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Aiming for at least 3 cups of a variety of vegetables daily is a great way to meet your fiber needs. If you are cooking most of your meals at home, ultimately what you shop for is what you will end up eating that week! My first recommendation is to INCLUDE fiber rich foods on your grocery list and integrate them as a part of your meal plan or meal forecasting for the week! I often recommending looking for seed, fruit or veggie based fiber with breakfast, 1/2 of your plate coming from fiber rich vegetables at lunch and dinner meals, and including snacks with natural fiber built into them like nuts, seeds, and fruit. That being said, put fiber on your grocery list and look for fiber in your grocery cart!
Some of my favorite fiber sources are:
These foods are all fantastic sources of fiber and can be added into your diet as sides for meals or as snacks. If you aren’t used to eating these foods consistently, there are many things you can do to form a habit of adding fiber into your meals.
My “pro tips” for increasing fiber intake:
Fiber has a positive impact on the microbiome related to digestive function, inflammation, and immune health. We see its positive effects for hormone health related to its impact on blood glucose metabolism, hormone detoxification and elimination, and optimal nutrient absorption. Fiber helps our digestion, ultimately helping get rid of excess estrogen. Including more fiber in our diet does not have to be overwhelming! By using the above tips and finding fibrous foods you enjoy, we can hugely help our health. Try the sources of fiber above or one of my slaw recipes, and your gut and hormone health will thank you.
Are you currently plagued with gut and hormone symptoms and ready to get to the bottom of them? Are you tired of trying different cookie cutter approaches, random supplements, and restrictive diets? Working with a clinician 1:1, you can cut through the BS to identify what YOU need from a whole body standpoint to get on the right track. Uncovering your present imbalances and mapping out a personalized path for healing is the most streamlined approach to finally feeling well again. If you are curious to learn more about what this could look like for you, let’s connect for a call!