Estrogen Dominance: What You Should Eat & What You Should Avoid
(The following is a guest blog post composed by Caitlin Evans.)
Estrogen is an essential hormone in females. It is relevant for the regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproductive system and the growth and development of secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts. This makes estrogen “the good guy”, but as with anything in life, even too much of a good thing can cause harm.
Estrogen dominance is a health condition common for both women and men, and it affects both genders differently. Some of the symptoms and consequences that can cause inconvenience for women are acne, bloating, breast swelling and tenderness, low sex drive, increased symptoms of PMS, irregular menstrual cycles, anxiety, fatigue, depression or moodiness, and midsection weight gain. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe risks, such as infertility and proneness to breast and ovarian cancer.
In men, symptoms like low libido, enlarged breasts, increased abdominal fat, fatigue, depression, and loss of muscle mass may occur. Men with estrogen dominance are also susceptible to prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.
If you are in your thirties or forties you are more likely to develop estrogen dominance. Other than visiting a doctor and discussing possible solutions, you can make certain life changes to prevent or treat this condition. The most important among them is your diet. So, let’s talk about foods you should eat and the ones you should avoid if you are suffering from estrogen dominance or want to stop it before it even happens.
Why Diet is an Important Factor
Proper diet is essential for addressing the symptoms of estrogen dominance because some foods can affect the level of this hormone in your body.
For example, a low-fiber diet can lead to estrogen prevalence. This happens because fiber helps estrogen to be expelled from your body. Constipation that can occur because of lack of fiber can cause reabsorption of estrogen.
Following a diet low in carbohydrates or calories can leave you without enough fiber.
The conventional guidelines for the amount of fiber recommend about 28g per day, while hormone experts frequently advise 34g or more.
Another factor to consider is the exposure to pesticides from food. These chemical structures have similarities with estrogen and act like estrogen in your organism.
What You Should Eat
So, let’s talk about specific foods you should eat to fight this growing problem:
Green leafy vegetables: These veggies are packed with phytoestrogens which bind to the same estrogen receptor sites as the xenoestrogens. So, if a receptor spot is already taken by a phytoestrogen, xenoestrogens are left homeless.
Cruciferous vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, kale and other cruciferous vegetables ward off xenoestrogens with sulforaphane which stimulates detoxification.
Fish: As a source of omega-3 fatty acids fish is the perfect choice for treating estrogen dominance. However, you should be careful when choosing the fish, because some farmed fish is full of antibiotics which can make things even worse. Whenever you can, go with quality caught fish.
Citrus fruits: Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit have anti-inflammatory flavonoids, so make sure you include them in your diet.
Flax seeds: They contain lignans, a type of phytoestrogen, which is believed to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Some studies have shown that lignans help the body release certain forms of estrogen.
Brazil nuts: This type of nuts is rich in selenium which plays a huge role in estrogen levels.
Iodine-rich foods (e.g., seaweed): Iodine helps kick out unnecessary estrogens from your body.
Sesame seeds: These contain all the relevant minerals and components to detoxify your body.
Cayenne pepper: It contains capsaicin, a very effective anti-inflammatory compound.
Turmeric: Curcumin, just as capsaicin, is anti-inflammatory and promotes detoxification.
Estrogen blockers: When the goal is reducing estrogen dominance, a change in diet often isn’t enough. There are some natural supplements you can take to fight this battle. They are usually packed with mineral and detoxifying ingredients. Some useful supplements in this category include calcium d-glucarate, DIM, liver support (like choline and inositol, turmeric, milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke leaf, and other bitter herbs), chaste tree, progesterone cream, and probiotics.
What You Should Avoid
Just as some foods can help you reduce the prevalence of estrogen, others can make things worse. So, let’s look at the list of things you should avoid:
Wheat and refined carbohydrates: Many people are sensitive to the gluten in wheat (even unbeknownst to them), and this can alter estrogen and progesterone in the body. Gluten causes inflammation as do refined carbohydrates like crackers, bread, cookies, etc. Inflammation can elevate cortisol, causing you to gain weight and store excess estrogen. A high-carbohydrate diet can also raise estrogen levels.
Soy: Genistein found in soy can create an overload of estrogen and reverse the benefits of drugs used for breast cancer.
Food additives: Preservatives and additives possess estrogenic effects. Some of the most frequent hideaways for damaging compounds are vegetable oils, chewing gum, and chicken soup base.
Conventionally produced/grown dairy and meat: Hormones and antibiotics are often used in the food industry, particularly in dairy and meat sector. Some studies have also indicated that the inherent estrogen in milk and dairy may contribute to breast, prostate, and endometrial cancers.
Your body is providing you with the clues to what is good for you and what is not. You just need to follow the signs. If you have symptoms of estrogen dominance, you should definitely make some changes in your lifestyle, particularly your diet, so give these tips a try.
Caitlin is a bookworm and recreational dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science in all its forms. Her fields of expertise could be summed up in health, nutrition, and well-being related topics. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what Caitlin is up to next, check out her Twitter dashboard.
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