Happy Hormones! Here's How Chocolate Helps Women With Hormone Disorders...
Being a lady can be lots of fun, but it can also be a pain -- sometimes literally! Hormone disorders that plague ladies are no fun, and often it feels like the things we eat or drink exacerbate our days more than helping.
Enter chocolate, the magic ingredient!
Okay, so it's not really magic. But there's an argument to be made for the health benefits of chocolate, especially dark chocolate with a high cacao content and vitamin-enriched chocolate like Moodygirl's chocolate bars. (As an added bonus, sometimes the idea of multivitamin burps just totally turns you off from taking those vitamins -- so why not eat your vitamins and minerals in CHOCOLATE instead?!)
We've taken a closer look at some of the most common hormone disorders that the ladies in our lives deal with on a regular basis, as well as the ways adding a moderate amount of chocolate to our diets can help alleviate some of the worst symptoms.
As an important note, we're not doctors -- we're chocolatiers! The information below is a collection from our own personal experiences as well as what's available online. As always, the best way to take care of YOUR body is by working closely with your doctor. Take your doctor's advice over a chocolate blog, no matter how well-meaning we may be :-)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
What it is: PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by -- like the name suggests -- cysts on the ovaries. These can be anything from a minor nuisance to a MAJOR pain, and common symptoms that come along with PCOS can be irregular periods, abdominal pain, spotting, bloating, and acne or hair growth as a result of too much androgen in the body.
How chocolate helps: Chocolate can be shockingly helpful for ladies with PCOS. The ingredients in high-cacao chocolate are proven to lower blood pressure, reduce testosterone (particularly in women/AFAB folx), and improve heart function.
Moodygirl's best chocolate bar for PCOS: We recommend the original PMS chocolate bar: Moodygirl's Superfood Chocolate Bar. This bar is enriched with magnesium -- one of the main minerals that often presents at a shortage in women with PCOS. Adding magnesium to your diet through delicious, delicious dark chocolate can alleviate some of the more unpleasant PCOS symptoms, according to clinical trials of magnesium supplements!
What it is: Endometriosis is another hormonal disorder that affects women/AFAB folks. This disorder affects the "endometrium", the lining of the uterus -- typically, this lining grows inside, but for someone with endometriosis, the lining begins to grow outside of the uterus instead. This extra tissue gets trapped outside of where it belongs, causing painful periods, fertility issues, ovarian cysts, and other issues that can worsen over time.
How chocolate helps: Chocolate and endo have a complicated relationship. In small quantities, dark chocolate with a low sugar content can be really good for people with endometriosis based on its antioxidant qualities. At the same time, excessive sugar intake is linked to some pretty extreme symptom bursts in people with endometriosis. So generally, the chocolate rule of thumb is to only splurge on chocolate treats every once in a while, and to make sure that it's nutrient-rich, high-cacao chocolate. Luckily, Moodygirl has just the thing.
Moodygirl's best chocolate bar for endometriosis: The Original PMS Chocolate Bar will get the job done, but we recommend the Moody Matcha Bar specifically for endo. A major complaint from people with endo is the feeling of "brain fog" -- and matcha clears away those feelings of confusion, tiredness, and lack of focus. But like we mentioned, be careful on your sugar content -- we use coconut sugar in our vegan chocolate, so it's got a lower sugar percentage than other popular chocolatiers. However, too much sugar can hurt rather than help, so try a few squares of chocolate during a flare-up, see how you feel, and take it from there. And as always, speak with your doctor before you consider adding or removing something from your diet.
Hypo- or hyperthyroidism
What it is: The thyroid is a hormonal gland in the throat that's responsible for buoying energy levels, keeping the body warm, and keeping organs working the way they should. However, many people (particularly women and AFAB folx past puberty) suffer from either an under- or overactive thyroid, resulting in a hormonal imbalance that causes a whole slew of symptoms. Hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid gets too excited and makes way too much of its hormone, is linked to unexpected weight loss, trouble managing the temperature of your hands and feet, tremors, and anxiety. Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormone, is linked to weight gain, fatigue, bloating, and muscle aches.
How chocolate helps: Chocolate shows off its magical hormonal impacts when it comes to play with the thyroid! For example, a severe form of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto's disease often presents itself as puffiness or inflammation in the face -- moderate amounts of dark chocolate can help reduce that inflammation. Both forms of thyroid disease can also have an impact on mental health -- specifically, increasing depression and anxiety. Because dark chocolate is a mood booster, it can really help especially during those down-in-the-dumps days we have before our periods.
Moodygirl's best chocolate bar for thyroid diseases: The Chill Out bar is a great choice for anyone experiencing more anxiety than usual. You get all the delicious, vitamin-enriched benefits of our original PMS chocolate bar paired with mint, ashwagandha, and magnesium -- all of which are linked to stress and cortisol reduction.
An important note on chocolate and the thyroid: Artificial colorings and flavorings can wreak havoc on hormonal systems already unbalanced by a thyroid condition. So, sticking with a chocolate like Moodygirl's that's made with all-natural ingredients and none of those pesky additives is the best way to keep your body on track.
What it is: Diabetes is a condition where the body has difficulties managing its own blood sugar levels. This is usually because of an inability to process insulin, a hormone that helps the body process glucose (sugar) to use it for energy. Typically, someone with diabetes must closely monitor their blood sugar levels because a spike can cause dangerous symptoms like strokes, eye problems, or kidney failure. A sugar "crash" can cause fainting spells, nerve damage, or other issues. There's a popular misconception that only obese or unhealthy people have diabetes. In fact, there are different "types" of this disorder that come from a variety of genetic and lifestyle circumstances: Type 1 occurs when the body simply can't produce its own insulin (typically genetic), while Type 2 occurs when the body stops responding properly to the hormone (often circumstantial, but made worse by genetic pre-conditions).
How chocolate helps: For people looking to improve their health, dark chocolate has been linked to lower risk of developing diabetes. And for people who already live with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, dark chocolate is a great addition to an insulin-conscious diet. This is because dark chocolate contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity. In other words, dark chocolate is a great "maintenance" food for someone with diabetes: when enjoyed in moderate quantities, dark chocolate helps people's bodies balance out the difficulties their bodies have processing "regular" food. However, dark chocolate is NOT the ideal choice for raising blood sugar levels quickly in the event of a crash -- the fat content of natural dark chocolate is so good at leveling out insulin sensitivity that it won't allow your blood sugar to spike the way it needs to during a crash. So, stick to adding chocolate as a treat and as a maintenance food, rather than something to add to your crash kit.
Moodygirl's best chocolate bar for diabetes: We've got to go with the classic! The Monthly Mood Original PMS chocolate bar contains vitamins and minerals that are good for people with low insulin responses. But like we said before, consider Moodygirl chocolate a "maintenance" food for diabetes rather than something to rely on during a blood sugar crash.
Ultimately, your diet should be about what makes YOU feel best. Whether it's your confidence, PMS symptoms, or symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, we hope that Moodygirl's curated vegan chocolate bars offer a vitamin-enriched experience that makes your day that much better.
If you're struggling with symptoms that you think may be linked to a hormonal disorder, make an appointment with your OBGYN or your primary care provider. Your doctors and nutritionists are there to make sure you're as healthy as can be, and the Moodygirl team is here to make your DAY the best it can be with our delicious chocolate!