As a follow-up to my recent blog post on DIM, the estrogen balancing supplement for women, the brain fog busting/ hormone balancing smoothie recipe below is one of the new things I have added to my daily regimen. It has helped me so much that I decided I just had to share it here on the blog. That’s because if you are a woman over 40 who is not feeling energetic, calm and clear-headed chances are you could possibly use a “hormonal tune up.”
Even if you are not going through menopause (which I am not yet), if you are a woman over 40 then your hormones ARE changing. Some women are more sensitive to hormonal changes than others, and I think I am one of them.
As my new favorite hormone expert, the Harvard educated Sarah Gottfried, M.D., explains in her must-read book The Hormone Cure , the hormonal chaos can typically be traced back to three hormones she calls your “Charlies Angels”: estrogen, cortisol and thyroid.
But don’t worry, it’s not all downhill after 40 😉 The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to balance things out.
Listen to Ivy talk about the smoothie on WPTV
Before going further, I feel I should also point out that I do not currently take birth control pills. I only took birth control pills for a 2 month period in 1998 in my early twenties, but I stopped as soon as I was diagnosed with MS . For what it is worth, twenty years ago I did not know what I know about birth control pills today but my gut instinct told me that any medication that interferes with the body’s natural hormonal cycle could potentially cause serious side effects. Little did I know how very detrimental birth control pills can be to a woman’s body–and mind! I sure am glad I listened to that little inner voice…
A “Get the Job” Done Hormone Balancing Smoothie Recipe
I do have to be 100% honest, the hormone balancing smoothie recipe is probably not going to win the “Best Tasting Smoothie of the Year” award. It’s not that it’s downright terrible or anything, it’s just that it doesn’t exactly taste amazing either. This is more of a “get the job done” recipe. In fact, I created the recipe for myself and never even intended to share it here on the blog, but it is making too big of a difference in how I feel not to share. That’s because from day 1 you will notice a difference….
No More Sugar Cravings
Although thankfully I have not had to battle sugar cravings in a while (by the way, this was what I did to finally stop sugar cravings), every single friend who has tried the hormone balancing smoothie recipe says the same thing: they are not hungry for hours after and it totally shuts down their sugar cravings.
As for me, I have been drinking the hormone balancing smoothie recipe consistently for almost 2 weeks now and have noticed a very real difference in my energy as well as my ability to handle stress. I’ve stopped feeling so overwhelmed at each and every little thing. If I run out of toothpaste it’s not such a big deal. That wasn’t the case just a few weeks ago 😉
Brain Fog Be Gone!
AND! The brain fog is gone.
The funny thing is, I didn’t even think I was having brain fog, I just thought I wasn’t handling stress as well as I once did. But now that my brain is clearly working better, I think one of the things that was causing me so much stress was that I just wasn’t getting my work done as quickly or as efficiently as I once did. I might have worked for 2 hours straight editing my soon-to-be-released Clean Cuisine Cookbook, but only accomplish an hour of quality work (so frustrating!) But thankfully I am definitely getting more done and more efficiently since I’ve started the smoothie. Thank goodness.
How the Hormone Balancing Smoothie Recipe Works
The brain fog busting/ hormone balancing smoothie recipe is chock full of superfoods & adaptagens that increase mental flow, boost energy (without caffeine!), support healthy estrogen & progesterone levels, boost mood & curb sugar cravings. Again, even from day 1, you should notice feeling more energized, calm and clear-headed.
MACA: I’ve been talking about the benefits of maca for years now, but I’ll be honest, I have not been consistently taking it until now. From insomnia to low energy, hot flashes to vaginal dryness and low libido, and even anxiety and depression, maca has consistently been shown to help women (and men!) with an array of bothersome hormonal symptoms. Dr. Gottfried explains in more detail why mood-boosting maca is a girls best friend in on her website here.
ASHWAGANDHA: Thanks to hormonal changes, many women over 40 may start to notice anxiety for the first time in their lives (or if they have had anxiety in the past, they may notice it all of a sudden getting worse with age.) Ashwagandha is an adaptagen that works by lowering cortisol levels and mimicking the “calming” neurotransmitter GABA.
An effective, evidence-based remedy for anxiety, stress, and insomnia, ashwagandha also has anti-inflammatory properties. FYI: It is best to take ashwagandha in the root form (as a powder) rather than the leaf form.
GROUND FLAXSEEDS. If you have our first book, The Gold Coast Cure (HCI Books, 2005), you know omega-3 and lignan-rich ground flaxseeds were one of the superfoods we recommended eating every day for both women AND men for hormonal health, extra fiber and anti-inflammatory benefits.
For years I made it a point to eat 2 or 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds everyday, but you know how life goes…somehow I got out of the flaxseed habit (until now!) But when it comes to hormonal health, the lignans in ground flaxseed can make a BIG difference.
One study showed that eating just 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds twice a day for six weeks reduced hot flashes –a key symptom of hormonal imbalance–by half, and diminished the intensity by 57 percent. Flaxseeds are one of nature’s richest food sources of lignans, potent antioxidants that fight free radical damage and act as phytoestrogens.
As we stated on page 73 of the Gold Coast Cure, lignans and a few other naturally occurring phytoestrogens have been shown to provide protection against hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer (1), ovarian cancer, uterine cancer (2), prostate cancer (3) and even colon cancer. Flaxseeds are also rich in fiber and fiber helps flush out “bad” estrogen. All in all, flaxseeds are potent anti-cancer and hormonal-health superfoods. And I am back to eating them every single day.
HEMP SEEDS. Just like flaxseeds, I’ve been talking about the health benefits of hemp seeds for years now. But just like flaxseeds, I have not been consistently eating hemp seeds every single day (until now!) An incredible plant based source of biologically available and easily digested protein, hemp seeds also contain a healthy anti-inflammatory 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat. In addition, hemp seeds contain an especially beneficial type of omega-6 fat called GLA (gamma linolenic acid). GLA is a direct building block of good anti-inflammatory hormones.
Unfortunately, this special omega-6 fat is not typically found in foods (hemp seeds are just about the only edible food source of GLA.) While it’s true your body can convert the typical food version of unprocessed omega-6 called linoleic acid (LA) into the “useable” GLA form your body needs, the conversion process can be thwarted by many internal and external factors.
For example, the older you get the less efficient the enzymes your body uses to convert LA into GLA become. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, infections, and even stress can reduce your body’s ability to convert dietary LA into GLA. And, if you also happen to be experiencing hormonal hair loss or hair thinning, it’s good to know GLA is a powerful inhibitor of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a derivative of the male hormone testosterone. Whether you are a male or female, DHT is the enemy for your hair. Simply put, GLA blocks DHT…and that means less hormonal hair loss.
RAW CACAO POWDER. Thanks to life stress compounded with hormonal changes that make it more difficult to manage stress, many women over the age of 40 struggle with a constant cortisol surge. Not only does the cortisol surge make them feel miserable, but it restricts blood flow to the brain, thus impairing cognitive function and memory, which inevitably leads to more stress and more cortisol! It’s a viscous cycle.
In what might be the most popular study ever performed on cortisol, cacao-rich dark chocolate was shown to lower cortisol. It has also been shown to increase serotonin levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. But you do NOT want to just grab a sugar-loaded Hershey’s bar and call it a day.
Cacao is the active health-promoting ingredient in chocolate. Raw cacao is a true superfood. In addition to being one of the highest plant-based sources of iron (which is essential for hair and thyroid health) and magnesium (the most deficient mineral in the Western world), raw cacao powder has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries and more calcium than cow’s milk (by the way, here are 10 reasons why milk does not do a body good.)
CAMU POWDER. Another superfood, vitamin-C rich camu is another one I have talked extensively about on the blog in the past. But just like some of the other ingredients in the hormone balancing smoothie, I was not consistently taking camu until now. Here’s the deal, the camu berry is a Peruvian superfood and one of the world’s most abundant sources of vitamin C, containing as much as 60 times more C per serving than an orange! But unlike vitamin C supplements, camu powder is a whole food. Unlike vitamin C supplements, camu contains a full spectrum of the naturally occurring bioflavonoids your body needs in order to properly utilize and metabolize vitamin C.
And if you are a woman over 40 years old, you need to make certain you are getting plenty of vitamin C. One of the hormonal changes that occur in middle age with women is that they start to make less progesterone, which contributes to the dreaded (but very prevalent) estrogen dominance problem. Vitamin C is the only over-the-counter nutraceutical treatment for low progesterone that is proven to be both safe and effective.In addition to balancing estrogen, progesterone plays a critical role in optimizing your thyroid health and if you are over the age of 40 you are at risk for thyroid dysfunction. The vitamin C in camu is also critical for your adrenals to function properly.
The more stress your body is under, the more vitamin C your body needs. And your body doesn’t just need vitamin C to lower cortisol and fight stress, this critical antioxidant is essential for more than 300 different functions in your body. Vitamin C even plays a critical role in the creation of key feel-good neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. And there is no better way to get your vitamin C than from a whole food, which is exactly what camu is.
TYPE I & II COLLAGEN POWDER (unflavored). Collagen is in every tissue of the body and is the connective tissue in structures such as skin, hair, nails, bones, lungs, heart and liver. It is often referred to as the glue that holds the body together. Adequate intake is necessary to produce our own collagen as well as maintain healthy metabolism.
Traditionally, collagen used to make its way into peoples’ diets through foods like bone broths, slow-cooked organ meats, kidney pies, baked beef hearts, whole crustaceans, and whole-fish soups and stews. But if you are not routinely eating these types of foods (I know I am not), then chances are your body is not getting the naturally occurring collagen protein it needs to help restore and rebuild itself, which indirectly can negatively impact symptoms related to hormonal health.
Collagen powder contains numerous amino acids and is rich in l-lysine (an amino acid) and other amino acids including l-arginine. Several studies, one randomized, of more than one hundred subjects who supplemented with the amino acids L-lysine combined with L-arginine showed that the combination reduced salivary cortisol levels as well as anxiety.
In another study, 90 percent of women with thinning hair (which happens to many women over the age of 40), were deficient in the amino acid l-lysine as well as iron. The point is, if you do not give your body the building blocks it needs to repair itself on an ongoing basis then you can’t possibly expect to perform at peak performance. Adding collagen powder to your hormone balancing smoothie recipe simply fills in any missing nutrition gaps.
ACAI (or WILD BLUEBERRIES.) Both Acai and wild blueberries are packed with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, fiber, anti-inflammatory antioxidants and phytonutrients that all work indirectly to boost energy and stamina, curb appetite hormones and support a healthy metabolism.
Whether you choose acai or wild blueberries, both “superfruits” reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, two major underlying causes of cognitive problems, including loss of memory and “brain fog”, that can occur with hormonal changes in women over 40.
If you are going to go with blueberries, you definitely want to choose wild blueberries because they pack a much more powerful antioxidant and nutritional punch than conventional blueberries. *
Wyman’s brand of frozen wild blueberries are also available in the frozen section of most supermarkets.
FROZEN CAULIFLOWER. I know green smoothies are still all the rage, but when it comes to reducing estrogen dominance, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower (as well as cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts) are better than leafy greens. For what it is worth, cauliflower works it’s hormone balancing magic through through phase 1 and phase 2 detoxifcation.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should not eat your greens. If you have our Clean Cuisine nutrition book or are familiar with our anti-inflammatory food pyramid, you know eating a large serving of nutrient-dense dark leafy greens every day plays a very important role in our overall nutrition recommendations in the past and it still does.
However, when it comes to the practicalities of daily life, I find it so much more convenient to eat a salad than I do to make cauliflower (or any other cruciferous vegetable) on a consistent basis.
Frozen cauliflower is the one that blends most easily and without any funky aftertaste into a smoothie. I simply prefer to get my daily cruciferous vegetable in my smoothie recipe and eat my greens in a salad, but of course you can always substitute kale or spinach for cauliflower if you wish!
You definitely want to use frozen cauliflower rather than fresh as frozen has already been pre-blanched.
OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS (dates, stevia and pure vanilla extract): These are additional optional ingredients in the hormone balancing smoothie recipe that are added simply for boosting sweetness. Feel free to omit if you do not want your smoothie to be sweet.
A “Get the Job” Done Hormone Balancing Smoothie Recipe
I do have to be 100% honest, the hormone balancing smoothie recipe is probably not going to win the “Best Tasting Smoothie of the Year” award. It’s not that it’s downright terrible or anything, it’s just that it doesn’t exactly taste amazing either. This is more of a “get the job done” recipe. In fact, I created the recipe for myself and never even intended to share it here on the blog, but it is making too big of a difference in how I feel not to share. Even if it is just controlling your appetite and improving your focus, you should notice a difference in how you feel from day 1….
And if you are doing everything right but not losing weight, you might want to look into 12-hour intermittent fasting…
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For those of you with food allergies and food sensitivities, it’s helpful to know this Hormone Smoothie Balancing Recipe meets the following dietary restrictions:
Egg Free / Grain Free / Bean Free / Gluten Free / Dairy Free Option / Soy Free / Nut Free / Paleo-Friendly / Vegan Option (eliminate collagen) powder)