Estrogen is the dominant female hormone. It is actually a group of hormones, called the estrogens, that are responsible for the development of female secondary sex characteristics: the development of breast tissue and the proliferation of the uterine lining. Estrogen helps prepare the body for ovulation. Not all estrogens are created equal, however. Some estrogens are associated with an increased risk of certain female cancers, such as breast cancer.
Too Much Estrogen?
Excess estrogen, especially in the form of these so-called “bad” estrogens, seems to be a common theme among women in North America. Stress, caffeine intake, synthetic estrogens in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy and xeno-estrogens from cleaning products, plastics and cosmetics are among some of the causes of excess levels of estrogen in the body. Because of these environmental factors, many women suffer from something called “Estrogen Dominance.”
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include stubborn weight gain, anxiety, premenstrual symptoms of breast tenderness, acne, irritability, fatigue and brain fog. Estrogen dominance can contribute to worsening of health conditions such as infertility, fibrocystic breasts, repeated miscarriages, uterine fibroids and endometriosis as well as increase the risk of developing certain cancers.
Some other signs to look for include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
- Bloating (water retention)
- Headaches (especially premenstrually)
- Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
- Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
- Hair loss
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Sluggish metabolism
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
Estrogen detoxification can be done effectively through a healthy diet that aims at improving estrogen clearance in the liver and regulation of the action of estrogen at cell receptors. By following this diet, patients can experience an improvement in hormonal health conditions, clearer skin, and weight loss.
This diet is adapted from Dr. Joseph Collins RN, ND at yourhormones.com.
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Vegetables from the cabbage family, such as cabbage itself, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, spinach, collard greens and other leafy greens are rich in a nutrient called indole-3-carbinol, or I3C. I3C gets converted to diindolymethane (DIM) in the body, which is responsible for clearance of excess estrogens in the liver. Consume a minimum of 3-4 servings of these vegetables per week.
Rosemary, when added to meats as a seasoning enhances the formation of good estrogens (the ones less likely to cause cancer or health concerns). Rosemary has the added benefit of antioxidant activity. It also enhances memory and mood and helps with thyroid function, improving weight loss, metabolism and energy levels.
2-4 tablespoons per day of ground flaxseed promotes healthy estrogen metabolism. The seed contains lignans, which help clear excess estrogens from the body. Flax also contains phytoestrogens, which control how much estrogen can bind to estrogen receptors. This means it can decrease excess estrogen activity or increase deficient estrogen activity, making it an effective remedy for a variety of female health complaints.
Flax is rich in healthy omega-3 fats and contains fiber, making it an important remedy for treating inflammation and constipation. Flaxseed is digested and absorbed when ground and best stored in the fridge as the oils in the seed quickly go rancid at room temperature.
Salmon and Other Fatty Fish
Salmon and other fatty fish contain EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is an important anti-inflammatory oil. It has been shown to be effective in treating inflammatory conditions, cardiovascular disease and mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD. It helps increase the formation of “good” estrogens in the body. Enjoy 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week, or supplement with a quality fish oil.
Isoflavones, such as those found in soy, are antioxidants effective at increasing good estrogens in the body. Since soy is often heavily processed, using herbs such as Trifolium pratense, Pueraria montana, and Pueraria lobata either in teas, capsules or tinctures, will help provide an adequate dose of isoflavones.
Activated Folic Acid
Folic acid is responsible for converting estrogen into a very healthy, methylated form that can decrease the risk of certain cancers. Many people are unable to convert folate into the active 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which is essential for hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, homocysteine metabolism and nervous system function (good mental health, memory, and energy).
Other B vitamins to supplement with are B6 and B12 as they help folic acid metabolism estrogen into their anti-cancer form. Folic acid is found in dark leafy greens, which also contain your daily doses of indole-3-carbinol.
If you are experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance in the form of a female health complaint, book an appointment to learn what else you can do to experience healthy, happy, pain-free periods and look and feel your best. Contact me.
This article was republished with permission from taliand.com.
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