The Power of Fibre for Hormonal Health: Balancing Blood Sugar and Supporting Detoxification
When our hormones are in balance, our brains are clear, we feel calm, and we are energised throughout the day. Hormones act as chemical messengers, influencing various aspects of our mental, physical, and emotional health. Factors such as diet, exercise, and stress can significantly impact our hormone levels, leading to imbalances that can result in a wide range of symptoms from skin issues, insomnia, migraines to feelings of rage. One often overlooked but essential component of a healthy diet that can support hormonal balance is fibre, both soluble and insoluble. In this guide, we will explore the importance of fibre for hormonal health, its role in balancing blood sugar levels, aiding detoxification pathways, how it aids good gut health and a healthy microbiome AND I provide my favourite recipes to incorporate more fibre into your diet.
Understanding the basics: Soluble v's Insoluble Fibre
Fibre can be classified into two main types: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. This type of fibre helps regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Soluble fibre can be found in foods such as oats, barley, beans, lentils, psyllium husk, chia seeds, and certain fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, and carrots.
Benefits of Soluble Fibre
Blood Sugar Management: Soluble fibre slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. This helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and supports hormonal balance.
Cholesterol Reduction: Soluble fibre binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, aiding its elimination from the body. This can help lower cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. Instead, it adds bulk to the stools and acts as a natural laxative, promoting regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive system. Insoluble fibre can be found in foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
Benefits of Insoluble Fibre
Blood Sugar Management: Insoluble fibre also plays a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels. It slows down the absorption of sugar, preventing rapid spikes and promoting a more balanced blood sugar response.
Insoluble fibre aids detoxification pathways in the body, particularly in the liver and digestive system. It helps remove waste, toxins, and excess hormones, promoting hormonal balance and overall health.
The Importance of Fibre in Blood Sugar Management
Balancing blood sugar levels is vital for hormonal health. Fluctuations in blood sugar can disrupt hormone function significantly. You may not produce optimal levels of progesterone when your body is disregulated for example which can lead to symptoms like anxiety and the inability to handle stress as well as you normally would.
Both soluble and insoluble fibre play key roles in managing blood sugar levels.
Soluble fibre forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, which slows down the absorption of sugar. This helps prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels after meals and supports a more stable and balanced blood sugar response.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stools, which slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream helps maintain steady blood sugar levels and prevents sudden surges.
The Role of Fibre in Detoxification
Detoxification pathways in the body are essential for maintaining hormonal balance. The liver, in particular, plays a vital role in metabolising and breaking down hormones, including excess oestrogens. Once processed by the liver, these hormones are excreted via bile into the digestive tract, where they are eliminated through bowel movements.
Both soluble and insoluble fibre contribute to the detoxification process.
Soluble fibre helps bind to toxins, cholesterol, and excess hormones in the digestive tract, assisting in their removal from the body. This helps prevent the reabsorption ofthese substances into the bloodstream, promoting hormonal balance.
Insoluble fibre, with its bulking and laxative effects, supports regular bowel movements. It ensures the efficient elimination of waste, toxins, and excess hormones, preventing their build-up in the body. By promoting a healthy digestive system, insoluble fibre aids in the overall detoxification process and contributes to hormonal health.
The Interplay Between Fibre, Gut Health, and Hormones:
Nourishing Your Microbiome
In addition to these benefits for hormonal health, fibre offers an added bonus by providing nourishment to the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. The gut is home to an enormous community of microorganisms that play an important role in many bodily functions, including hormone regulation. Interestingly, hormone receptors are found throughout the body, with a significant number located in the gut. Meaning that gut health and hormone health are intimately connected.
By including a variety of plants in your daily diet and therefore a variety of fibre sources, you not only support hormonal balance but also promote a healthy microbiome. The fibre acts as a prebiotic, serving as fuel for beneficial bacteria in the gut, allowing them to thrive and carry out their essential functions. This symbiotic relationship between fibre, gut health, and hormones is a powerful one.
I encourage you to get experimental with eating different plants.
8 in 10 people in the UK eat less than 5 portions of fruit and veg in a day (1)
When you think of gut health as being the key to overall mental and physical health can you imagine how our health system might look if people were able to get to 30 different plants over a week? When you count grains, seeds, nuts and fresh produce, it's easy to start racking up those kind of numbers. Quitting processed food is a big one though and that's where a health coach can really guide you step by step to start making better choices.
To give you a little head start, here is one of my favourite plant based recipes packed with health gut and hormone rich fibre.
Raspberry Chia Jam
300g of fresh or frozen organic raspberries
4 tablespoons of filtered water
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup or raw honey
In a medium saucepan, heat the raspberries and water over low heat, stirring occasionally until they break down and release their juices.
Mash the raspberries with a fork, wooden spoon or potato masher to the desired consistency and allow to cool for 15 mins.
Add chia seeds, maple syrup or honey (if using), and lemon juice to the saucepan. Stir well to combine.
Transfer the jam to a jar or airtight container and refrigerate for a few hours to allow it to set.
One of my favourite breakfasts at the moment is coconut yogurt, a teaspoon of raw cacao topped with chia jam and pumpkin seeds. Yummo!
It's also great in a smoothie, on toast or just on it's own as an instant snack that won't send your blood sugar balance off track.
Easy Peasy Mango Ice Cream
1/2 a fresh mango
2 1/2 tbsp greek yogurt
1 medium banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon
h.andful of cashew nuts
Optional: raspberries, blueberries, chia jam
Blend in a Nutribullet (or similar blender) for 30 seconds
Pour into your chosen shape or ice lolly mould with optional fresh fruit or chia jam.
Transfer to the freezer for a few hours to allow it to set.
As always, be mindful of your individual dietary needs and consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.
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Let's take care of you.
Mayo Clinic. (2019). Dietary fibre: Essential for a healthy diet. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods
National Institutes of Health. (2021). Dietary supplements for weight loss. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/