Keeping Estrogen in Check
Healthy hormone balancing really starts at home. We can effect the hormone health of each member of our family by the choices we make at the market…from the home cleaning products we purchase and use to the food we consume. It has been widely published that young girls are entering puberty at earlier and earlier ages…secondary sex characteristics such as hair growth and breast development are starting at an average of 8 years old and as young as 5. Infertility is effecting young women at an ever increasing rate. It is no longer women in their mid -30’s to 40’s seeking fertility treatment. A once rare ovarian and endometrial cancer is becoming unfortunately a more familiar cancer. Males are not immune to the effects of estrogen and in fact are less prepared to handle it. Boys are developing smaller genitalia, increased occurrence of descended or underdeveloped testes, breast development…you get the idea. Estrogen dominance is a condition where there are high amounts and effects of estrogen (some mentioned above) as compared to other opposing hormones in the body. Chemicals in our environment and food are major contributors to this condition as can estrogen dominant dietary habits, unopposed hormone replacement therapy, compromised liver and ovarian function and insulin resistance.
The following dietary recommendations support the goal of reducing the body’s load of estrogens by:
- supporting estrogen metabolic processes in the liver
- inducing enzyme detoxification of carcinogens
- supporting pathways of elimination ( kidney, liver and intestine)
- reducing the toxic burden on the body
- providing nutrients required for optimal cellular function
The optimal source of nutrition is from organic whole foods. Conventional agriculture depends on applications of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation and seeding and harvesting practices which do not promote the natural life-cycle of the plant. This practice results in a reduction in the natural plant production of anticarcinogenic bioflavonoids. In addition, fertilizer, pesticide and herbicidal residues may imitate hormones in the body, stimulating tissue growth altering metabolic processes and increasing the toxic burden.
Sprouts of broccoli, radishes, beans, alfalfa and clover.
Sprouts are high in nutrients, and energetic potential. Care must be taken in selecting sprouts that are fresh, and not contaminated by purchasing them from a local organic grower, and washing thoroughly before eating, or even better yet, sprouting them yourself.
Brassica family vegetables:
Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnips, wasabi, and their sprouts.
Proposed mechanism of action – diindoylmethane, a compound found in these vegetables is capable of shifting estrogen metabolism to increase favorable 2HE, and decrease 16HE; can induce enzyme detoxification of carcinogens; is anti-estrogenic; inhibits cancer cell growth independent of estrogen receptor.
High to moderate intake may not be recommended for people with hypothyroid condition or predisposition to hypothyroid.
Whole Grains and Beans:
Whole wheat, oats, rye, barley, brown rice, millet, kamut, buckwheat and quinoa.
Whole grains contain more minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber than refined grains, even if the refined grains have been fortified. Fibet binds to estrogen in the bowel, preventing the reabsorption and thus lowering blood levels of free estrogens. In addition to this, fiber can support healthy weight loss, and balance insulin levels by slowing the rate of absorption of sugars.
Beans also contain lignans with may block estrogen effects. Soybeans contain a compound called isoflavones which act as weak estrogens on tissues. If adding soy to your diet avoid soy concentrates, and instead use traditional whole soy products such as the soy beans, miso, tempeh and tofu, up to 2 – 4 servings/week.
Freshly ground flaxseed contains dietary phytoestrogens (lignans and isoflavones) and fiber that have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Omega 3 fatty acids(Wild salmon, Sardines, Herring), Nuts and Seeds
Fatty acids are important for optimal cellular function throughout the entire body. They are considered essential because we cannot make these ourselves, and must be provided by the diet. It is important to choose a high quality, purified fish oil, as oils can easily become rancid nullifying the benefits. Also, when eating fish choose local varieties that are fresh or that were vacuum sealed soon after being caught. See oceanwise guidelines for fish consumption.
Again, choose dairy products that are organic, and broaden your horizons by including goat dairy. When buying yogurt it is important to purchase plain yogurt only, as the fruit added yogurts are full of sugar and sweeteners. Add fresh fruit and/or home made granola instead.
Foods to Avoid
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- High fat animal meats
- Refined flours
- Refined sugars
- Canned meal drinks
- Processed meats
- Processed foods