Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms or diseases?
• Fibrocystic breasts
• Hair loss
• Memory loss/Foggy Feeling
• Mood swings
• Thyroid dysfunction
• Cancer (breast, uterine/endometrial, prostate)
Are You Estrogen Dominant?
‘Estrogen Dominance’ sounds like a rival book to ‘50 Shades of Grey’; however, this story isn’t one that will rev up your sex drive. Estrogen dominance actually lowers your sex drive and can cause irritability, PMS, depression, menopause, cancer and more. Estrogen dominance is a condition in which the body has less progesterone than it needs to balance out the amount of estrogen present. It doesn’t mean you have too much estrogen. It means you don’t have enough progesterone to match the estrogen in your body. In other words, it is possible to have low estrogen levels and still be estrogen dominant.
And, it is more common than you may think!
Why is estrogen dominance so common? There is a lot of estrogen (called xenoestrogens) in our environment: plastics, industrial waste products, pesticides, carpeting and animal meat. These estrogens tip the balance of our estrogen:progesterone ratio in our body. In addition, many common lifestyle habits contribute to more estrogen in our body: being over weight (greater than 28% body fat), highly stressed or eating low amounts of fiber.
What Can You Do?
Firstly, try to reduce your body’s exposure to environmental sources of estrogens. This can be as simple as avoiding plastic packaging including plastic water bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA). Never heat plastic (including the container you stored last nights’ dinner in) as heating plastic causes the leaching of xenoestrogens into your food. Choose cosmetics without phthalates (commonly included in fragranced cosmetics) as there is sufficient concern that they have been banned by the European Union about their potential to affect estrogen levels. Avoiding non-stick cookware may also be a good idea as the chemicals that make them slippery and waterproof are estrogen-like. In addition, we should recycle old electronics and batteries as they can leach estrogen-like compounds into our environment. Eating organic food can help reduce your exposure to pesticides, which can have estrogen-like effects in your body adding to your potential for estrogen dominance.
Secondly, we can take care of our body. Reducing body fat can help shift the estrogen and progesterone balance in our body. Reducing stress is also a healthy thing for your body that may help reduce estrogen dominance.
Thirdly, we may be able to reduce estrogen dominance in our bodies by detoxing our livers. The liver is a filter that screens and destroys environmental chemicals, including xenoestrogens. Our livers are usually pretty busy detoxing the caffeine, alcohol and drugs we swallow. Throwing environmental estrogens at your liver leaves it over worked and ineffective. Milk thistle is one of the most scientifically supported nutrients that support liver health. Silymarin, one of the active nutrients in milk thistle, is effective at improving liver function and supporting liver cells.
Foods Worth Eating
Stick your fork into cruciferous vegetables to eat away estrogen dominance. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-containing compounds, like indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolymethane (DIM), which help prevent too much bad estrogen hanging around in your body. Bite into citrus fruits and get some d-limonene into your body. It is a natural compound that helps your body detoxify estrogen. Toss a few seeds into your salad, granola or trail mix as they contain estrogen-binding lignans.
- Brussels sprouts
- Sesame seeds
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
Supplements that May Help
Scientists have discovered a few natural compounds that may offer some benefit to a body suffering from estrogen dominance. Below is a short highlight of some of these natural compounds:
DIM is short for diindolylmethane. DIM is a phytonutrient that occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. DIM helps metabolize and breakdown estrogen in the body, promoting balanced hormone levels. It does this by shifting the production of estrogen metabolites away from the dangerous 16-hydroxy form and towards the more favourable 2-hydroxy estrogen form.
Also found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is similar to DIM. However, research on it has shown it may also be a natural compound worth considering in a dietary supplement regime to combat estrogen dominance. I3C has been found in many scientific studies as a potential anti-carcinogenic substance, prompting the National Institute of Health to study it as an anti-cancer agent. Interestingly, a recent rat study found I3C was able to protect the fetus from the estrogenic effects of the environmental estrogen BPA.
In the body, high levels of the enzyme beta-glucuronidase have been associated with an increased risk of hormone-dependent cancers (breast, prostates, colon). Studies have found that oral supplementation with calcium-D-glucarate inhibits beta-glucuronidase. Research suggests that calcium-D-glucarate may be a supplement worth considering by those individuals with estrogen dominance and elevated risk of such cancers.
With a long traditional history of balancing hormones maca is considered a herbal medicine to help balance hormones. According to a more recent study, Lepidium meyenii (maca) may be able to improve low sex drive and reduce psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, in postmenopausal women. To date, there is insufficient evidence to suggest maca for estrogen dominance.
Are hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms becoming unbearable? Is PMS or another estrogen-related condition leaving you seeking a solution? For some individuals, a discussion with a qualified health care practitioner about bioidentical hormones is a good idea. Bioidentical hormones are similar to the estrogens that are naturally created in your body, and may be a viable option for some women seeking a more natural hormone therapy.
Finding Hormonal Balance
Even celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have proclaimed the delight one feels when they discover hormonal balance. From exercise and weight loss, to eating organic and avoiding xenoestrogens there are so many ways we can change our lifestyle to help balance our hormones and shift away from estrogen dominance. Add in a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits and lignan-containing seeds and estrogen dominance doesn’t stand a chance. If you’d like more help, there are a number of supplements or bioidentical hormones to consider.
An article titled, ‘Eating Away Estrogen Dominance’ may not be as sexy sounding as ‘50 Shades of Grey’ but it has the ability to really rev up your sex drive …and promote wellness in many ways.
- Firestone GL, Sundar SN. Minireview: modulation of hormone receptor signaling by dietary anticancer indoles. Mol Endocrinol. 2009 Dec;23(12):1940-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796154/
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