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There are ways that women can balance their hormones naturally with the right foods, herbs, and nutritional supplements. But there are also certain foods that can actually cause female hormonal imbalance, so you should avoid them or at least limit them. Learn about four of those foods below.

Dairy Products
Dairy products come from animals that have naturally occurring hormones. When you consume animal products, including meat such as chicken, you’re exposing yourself to those hormones, and that could lead to female hormonal imbalance, whether the animals are given extra hormones or not.

But dairy products, in particular, which come from pregnant and lactating cows, should be avoided. Researchers have found that consumption of dairy could increase estrogen levels and increase the risk for developing estrogen-dependent cancers as well. So stick with nut-based milks and cheese instead.

Soy Products
When you eat soy, whether you like soybeans, tofu, miso, or tempeh, make sure that you purchase organic, non-GMO soy. You should also check ingredient labels, as soy-based ingredients (including GMO soy) are in a lot of processed foods.

While soy can be beneficial to your overall health, you should consume it in moderate amounts. Asian women consume soy products like tofu often, but if you look at their portion sizes, they’re smaller than what the average American would eat. They also include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains in their meals so they don’t need as much soy to feel full and satisfied. Follow their example and enjoy soy in moderation to reap its benefits while avoiding female hormonal imbalance.

Do you often find yourself craving licorice? Well, if you’re a woman, you may want to think twice before buying some the next time that you go grocery shopping. Licorice, like soy, has plant-based estrogenic properties. However, researchers have found that these are quite strong, so you should avoid eating a lot of licorice if you’re a fan of snacking on it. Keep it to a minimum, and stick with anise or fennel, as these have less potent estrogenic effects upon the body.

Foods That Contain Artificial Colors
Finally, any food that contains artificial colors should be avoided because those ingredients can have an adverse effect on your hormones. Many dyes are actually made from petroleum, which disturbs endocrine function, so stick with foods that aren’t colored or that are colored using vegetable and fruit juices.

To keep your hormones balanced, you need to focus on keeping your stress levels down, exercising consistently, and eating a healthy diet. While you can eat foods that can have estrogenic effects on the body, the key is to eat them in small amounts.