For every brother, son or husband who has watched helplessly as a sister, mother or wife deals with monthly “hormone issues,” there probably is a female who might be thinking, “Not so fast there. Men's health involves hormone issues, too, you know.”
And it's true. In some ways, hormones are non-gender specific. But there also is a group of hormones affecting men's health known as “the male hormones” (with testosterone arguably being the most well known of all).
Like women, men can feel—and even feel captive to—subtle hormonal changes. And so it makes sense that hormones themselves are touchy entities. As the National Institutes of Health says: “It takes only a tiny amount to cause big changes in cells or even your whole body. That is why too much or too little of a certain hormone can be serious.”
Oftentimes, poor dietary choices can be the trigger, says the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine: “Poor nutrition is at the root of many diseases and can also create an imbalance of male hormones.”
Fortunately, the reverse is true, too: Healthy food choices can bring some balance to this equation—and men can fortify these choices with a creative, fresh meal planning tool that can help integrate them into a sensible diet every day.
Think of hormones as “messengers”
Hormones are known as the body's “chemical messengers” that send signals to the organs and tissues. Hormones begin their journey from the endocrine glands, which cover a vast biological territory, including the adrenal, pineal, pituitary, thymus, and thyroid glands as well as the pancreas and, in men, the testes. Hormones are ambitious multi-taskers, sending signals that primarily affect your:
- Cognitive function
- Growth and development
- Body temperature and thirst
- Metabolism (or ability to process food)
- Reproductive growth and health
- Sexual function
Certain hormones shatter the glass ceiling
A physician treating a man for a possible hormonal imbalance might zero in on one of four groups of so-called “male hormones”:
- Cortisol and epinephrine, known as the stress hormones or the “alarm system” hormones that make the heart beat faster and send oxygen to the brain.
- Cholecystokinin, ghrelin, insulin and leptin, known as the weight hormones because they work as a group to help the body respond to hunger and the feeling of satiation.
- Thyroxine, which is known as the energy hormone for its ability to convert calories into energy.
- Testosterone, which triggers the physical changes that help turn a boy into a man and enable men to produce sperm to conceive children. Testosterone is the most well known hormone associated with men's sexual health, but it's not the only one. Its key “companions” include a luteinizing hormone (LH) and a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Foods to offset an imbalance
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale
- Olive oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red grapes
- Ricotta cheese
- Salmon and shellfish such as crab, lobster, oysters and shrimp
- Wheat bran
Add the final magical touches
A vitamin D supplement can help augment these healthy food choices. And Cancer Treatment Centers of America recommends that certain influences should be minimized or eliminated:
- Polyunsaturated fats (such as those from vegetable oils)
Nothing can help a man achieve optimal hormone balance like healthy food choices. And for every man who enjoys to eat, a long list of “hormonally correct” foods might seem like a cornucopia. But like all lists, this one requires planning and organization to make it work, especially because men's health experts caution that it's equally important for men to maintain a healthy body weight (and avoid excess belly fat buildup) as they attempt to achieve an ideal hormone balance.
You can find all the help you need—and then some—in Meal Plan Magic. This fresh meal planning tool can help you plan meals, generate a shopping list, choose the freshest ingredients at the store and then create delicious snacks and meals every day. Think of Meal Plan Magic as your own personal sous chef—a trusted kitchen companion that can guide your best efforts to achieve better health.