CHAPTER 5 – Whole Foods that Naturally Maintain Hormonal Balance and Reduce Inflammation
I posted Chapter 5 from my book, “The Forever an Athlete Program”, to highlight the link between food, mood, performance, and the role of anti-inflammatory foods:
A key to overall health includes focusing on a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean proteins, whole grains; exercising every day; and paying attention to mental and spiritual health. An extension to this is making sure your lifestyle promotes hormonal balance. Proper hormone functioning, healthy cell membranes, fighting general systemic inflammation, and building lean muscle mass, are benefits from eating a wide range of foods containing lean protein and mono- / polyunsaturated fats. The problem with the modern American diet is that it is too high in Omega-6 fatty acids, and too low in Omega-3s. This skewed ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is due to excessive consumption of fats found in fried foods, and manufactured items like cakes, chips, and cookies, and minimal consumption of Omega-3s found in salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and flax seeds.
Several physicians, including Dr. Barry Sears, author of popular books in The Zone Diet Series, (HarperCollins, 1998-2010), encourages his clients to eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Dr. Sears argues that increasing Omega-3s, as opposed to increasing Omega-6s, helps to elevate the compound EPA, which is vital in reducing cellular inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many nuts, flax seeds, and salmon. Similarly, in The Warrior Diet (Blue Snake Books, 2007), Ori Hofmekler discusses important testosterone boosting foods, many of which contain monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. The list below includes some of Mr. Hofmekler’s identified food sources, as well as other sources.
The foods below are some of my all-time favorites in terms of providing nutrients for healthy brain function; lean proteins; trace minerals such as zinc and selenium; and the Omega-3 essential fatty acids ALA, DHA and EPA. ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) is found in plant oils such as flax seeds, and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Ecosapentaenoic Acid) are found in fish oils. Try to include many of these foods in your diet as part of your plan to promote proper hormone balance and to reduce systemic inflammation:
- Oysters – rich in zinc, trace minerals, and protein
- Whole Free-Range Eggs – high in protein and cholesterol, consume prior to entering REM sleep or post-workout to help build cell walls and enhance muscle protein synthesis
- Avocados – rich in potassium, Vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory compounds
- Walnuts – contain the amino acid arginine (which promotes Nitrous Oxide production in the body), copper, and magnesium
- Seeds, Brazil nuts, Sunflower seed butter – high in arginine and unsaturated fats
- Pumpkin Seeds and Seed Oil – rich in zinc, magnesium, ALA, fiber, and helps reduce cortisol
- Olive Oil – high in monounsaturated fats, and very versatile in the kitchen. Choose cold-pressed versions
- Fish Oil – a powerful anti-inflammatory that contains DHA and EPA. Choose wild-caught deep sea fish oils and wild-caught Alaskan Salmon, that are sustainably harvested
- Watermelon – rich in electrolytes and polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds with a wealth of disease-fighting attributes
- Cabbage, arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery – cruciferous vegetables are high in phytonutrients and indoles, which are anti-estrogenic and can reduce hormone-dependent cancers
- Garlic – high in sulfur compounds and with antimicrobial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory effects
- Dark Chocolate – high in polyphenols, as well as having anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects. Choose chocolate that is 70% or more cacao. Dark chocolate is also an aphrodisiac
- Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger – increases circulation as well as reduces blood sugar levels. These spices are also potent anti-inflammatories, and ginger is beneficial for treating nausea.
For more on high performance foods and improving physical performance, read more here: “The Forever an Athlete Program”!
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