What you eat can have a direct effect on your hormones, brain, and mental health.
Hormones are important for both the reproductive system and brain. Micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals. Your body will need small amounts, which are directly linked to how the brain functions.
Poor eating habits can lead to a decrease in hormone functions and brain health. This has been proven to be true for most children and the elderly, as “exposure to a high fat and sugar diet during childhood and later in life produces more drastic cognitive deficits” (Vellinga 2020). Western diets are shown to have “increased amounts of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats and decreased amounts of fiber” (IFM 2020), which increases cortisol.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, which initiates a stress response for different parts of the body to react to. Nutrition can also have a large impact on women and their fertility. The most severe nutritional disorders can lead to malnutrition or obesity.
Malnutrition is a lack of nutrients that leads to loss of “body weight and physical performance, delayed puberty . . . and increased infertility” (Silvestris 2019). For women, this can reduce the maturity of the ovaries. Obesity is the opposite of malnutrition, where there is an excessive amount of nutrients in the body. For women’s reproductive systems, obesity can “extend the time to conceive, decrease the outcome of infertility treatment and increase the rates of gestational diabetes, hypertension, cesarean section” (Silvestris 2019) and other ovarian disorders. In order to decrease the risks of infertility, women are encouraged to get a healthy amount of protein, carbs, lipids, and antioxidants.
How do we make sure that our brains and bodies are healthy? Here are a few nutrients that are important for both, and where they can be found:
● Omega-3 Fatty Acids - found in fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
● Vitamin B - found in whole grains, lean meats, eggs, dairy, vegetables, avocado, citrus fruit, and bananas.
● Calcium - found in milk, fishes that are fatty, and mushrooms.
● Vitamin E - found in avocado, asparagus, peanuts, and vegetable oil.
● Iron - found in fish, chicken, beans, and red meat.
● Magnesium - found in vegetables, nuts, and whole grain.
Nutrition, therefore, has a large effect on a person’s hormones. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet to get the nutrients our bodies need to function properly. It is also important not to overdose or underdose on nutrients, as it can lead to medical problems.
Nutrition and impacts on hormone signaling. The Institute for Functional Medicine. (2020, February 25). Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/nutrition-impacts-hormone-signaling/.
Silvestris, E., Lovero, D., & Palmirotta, R. (2019, June 07). Nutrition and female fertility: An interdependent correlation. Frontiers. Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2019.00346/full.
Vellinga, J. (2020, November 29). The significant impact of hormonal and dietary influences on Brain Health. TCIM. Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://www.tcimedicine.com/post/the-significant-impact-of-hormonal-and-dietary-influences-on-brain-health.
Author: Kayjah Taylor
Editor: Anum Khan
Public Health scientist: Beth Hanff