Estrogen dominance is understood by most women to take place throughout (and after) menopause, but the truth is that we are seeing a rise in the condition at a much younger age – and not only in women. What could be causing this steady increase in hormonal disruption in both genders?
You don’t have to look far for the answer. Research is placing blame on numerous unhealthy environmental factors:
1. Poor Diet: A diet full of chemicals from commercially raised meat, pesticides, produce containing herbicides, and processed foods drastically raises the levels of xenoestrogenic molecules and puts the body into an estrogen dominant state.
2. Obesity: Fat cells have an enzyme that converts adrenal steroid hormones into estrogen. The greater the percentage of body fat one has the more this conversion takes place.
3. Heavy Metals: Mercury, lead, aluminum, and other heavy metals block the liver and lead to poor toxin filtration and increased estrogenic molecules. (Consider your dental fillings and braces as sources)
4. Nerve Stress: The spine and nervous system can be blocked or interfered with, causing elevated cortisol levels. This steals pregnenolone which leads to lowered progesterone levels. (A chiropractor can help!)
5. Liver Issues: The liver is in charge of neutralizing and filtering xenoestronic molecules, but cannot due so when estrogen levels are lowered.
6. Blood Sugar Levels: Poor blood sugar control leads to elevated insulin and cortisol. These factors encourage estrogen release and lead to deficiencies in key nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and B6 which neutralize bad estrogen metabolites in the liver.
7. Hormone Replacement Therapy: A prescribed hormone replacement is simply a synthetic toxic estrogen that damages the DNA and increases risk of cancer.
8. Caffeine: Caffeine consumption increases estrogen secretion and leads to depletion of key nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and B vitamins that are necessary for the process of neutralizing bad estrogen metabolites in the liver.
9. Chemicals: Plastics, cleaners, makeup, lawn fertilizer, pesticides, hygiene products, etc… all can cause an increase in estrogen.
10. Poor Sleep and Stress: These increase adrenal burn-out.
Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones that women have. Estrogen is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. Men have estrogen, too, and are at risk for estrogen dominance, especially with the SAD (Standard American Diet), exposure to estrogen in water, and other environmental possibilities.
Estrogen is produced mainly in the ovaries and progesterone is produced predominantly by the corpus luteum, which is the outside lining of a mature egg after ovulation. As egg quality declines in perimenopause, so does the quality of the corpus luteum, leading to lower progesterone levels and relative estrogen dominance. Likewise, many perimenopausal women are periodically anovulatory, which means that estrogen goes unopposed during those cycles. This is why many women associate estrogen dominance with menopause.
For many reasons though, your body can make too little or too much estrogen. Or, you can take in too much estrogen – through birth control pills.
Estrogen dominance can be identified with the following:
- Abnormal menstrual periods
- PMS symptoms
- Mood swings
- Loss of sex drive
- Sluggish metabolism and/or weight gain
- Poor concentration
- Hair loss
- Thyroid imbalances
- Sleep disturbances
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Fuzzy thinking
- Loss of ambition
- Water retention
Cancer is one of the scariest outcomes of estrogen dominance. The American Cancer Society estimates one in three women will develop some type of cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer rates have increased from one in 20 in 1960 to one in eight today, though the rates have slowed since the 1990s. The connection between excess estrogen and certain cancers is clear.
Harmful estrogens are difficult to detoxify and are stored in fat. Obesity is linked to breast cancer. Women with a higher body mass index have elevated hormone levels.
By reducing BMI, a woman can lower her estrogen levels, along with most other troublesome hormone levels.
To restore proper balance to the hormonal system:
- Eat a diet full of organic whole foods and fiber and get at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
- Decrease any chronic stress.
- Support adrenal and thyroid glands.
- Restore digestive imbalances.
- Decrease exposure to xenoestrogens.
- Decrease use of alcohol and nicotine.
Within men, low testosterone levels are triggered by increases in estrogen levels. Men will gain weight, experience moodiness and irritability, and get bloated. Men also need to feed their bodies well, helping to increase their testosterone levels.
When trying to rebalance hormone levels, there are many things to consider. Working with a natural-minded doctor may help you reach your desired end goal without medical intervention.
You may want to consider the following:
- Reduce stress levels
- Lose excess weight
- Increase water intake
- Use clean/organic/natural personal care and beauty products
- Avoid hormonal birth control
While on this journey, your meal planning will also change. The foods you want to include are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Napa cabbage
- Bok choy
- wild caught fish
You should avoid the following:
- Soy & soy products – These include tempeh and tofu.
- Foods high in pesticides
- Meat and dairy where hormones are used.
- Wheat and grains
- Food additives
- Tap Water
- Birth control pills
Supplements to consider:
- Milk thistle
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Diindolylmethane (DIM)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin B6, B12, Folate