Moodiness, fatigue, cravings, acne breakouts, bloating and uncontrollable emotions…these are common issues women face during puberty, pregnancy, and their menstrual cycle when hormones are “raging!” As women, we hate feeling this way, and most men get a little anxious when the women around them are experiencing this influx of estrogen. But did you know that an increase of estrogen can actually be more than just a nuisance and indeed incredibly dangerous for both women AND men (and not just if they make insensitive remarks!)?
Estrogen is a hormone that is produced primarily in the ovaries in women and in the testes in men. No, it isn’t always an enemy—problems arise when estrogen levels are out of balance. We know that the key to many chronic conditions in our society is hormonal imbalance. In women, we are seeing an increase in the prevalence of breast cancer, endometriosis, and infertility when estrogen levels are too high. It is also possible for men to have excessive estrogen which leads to an increased risk of prostate cancer, weight gain, and low libido.
So, why are we seeing this increase of estrogen in both men and women? The presence of xenoestrogens and other chemical estrogens in our environment is one of the reasons. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors (which affect hormone signaling) and can also mimic estrogen in their structure. Endocrine disruptors can be found in shampoos and conditioners, air fresheners, house cleaners, and also in your food—we’re going to focus on that aspect in this post.
Here are 8 ways to minimize toxic estrogen exposure:
1. Limit processed foods. We can’t repeat this advice enough, yet the encouragement to cut out processed foods is for a different reason this time. Xenoestrogens, such as BPA, are found in the lining of packages which permeate the food stored inside of them.
2. Add more cruciferous veggies. Indole 3 carbinol is a powerful antioxidant found in cruciferous veggies (read: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.) that metabolizes excess estrogen in the body.
3. Use glass or stainless steel containers. Skip the plastic or styrofoam as they leach estrogen-like compounds into your food, especially when they are heated.
4. Be selective. If you tolerate dairy, choose organic since this method ensures that no hormones or antibiotics were used to treat the cows. (And choose grass-fed whenever possible for added vitamins and nutrients!)
5. Choose organic for the “dirty dozen.” These are fruits and veggies that are traditionally loaded with pesticides when grown conventionally. Pesticides are xenoestrogens, so choosing organic eliminates that source.
6. Incorporate flaxseed. Adding ground flaxseed to your smoothies, yogurt, and baked goods is an easy way to add healthy phytoestrogens to your diet. Good phytoestrogens can block the negative effects xenoestrogens have on your cells, and phytoestrogens are shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
7. Eliminate soy products. We don’t recommend soy based on the inconclusive and controversial studies surrounding its use. Some studies have suggested that high concentrations of soy isoflavones contribute to breast cancer. In addition, soy isoflavones can disrupt normal thyroid hormone function.
8. Supplement your diet. Supplementation is not only beneficial, but sometimes necessary for getting rid of extra, unnecessary estrogen. SynerVive™ is a comprehensive herbal and antioxidant blend that specifically helps your body metabolize and detoxify synthetic estrogens, as well as promote a healthy production of good estrogens. We generally recommend this as a daily supplement for women of all ages, and also for men who are experiencing any signs of estrogen toxicity, as outlined earlier in this post. Men can also benefit from Testralin to keep their hormones balanced and block excess estrogen activity. DIM is another hormonal support supplement we suggest taking in conjunction with Estrofactors—especially for women who are trying to lose weight. Meta I 3 C is the other key hormonal balancing supplement we generally recommend because of its ability to promote healthy estrogen metabolism by breaking down extra estrogen that doesn’t need to be there.
While there is still plenty of research to be done on this topic, nearly all of these tips are beneficial for other health reasons too, so be proactive and start implementing these hormone balancing instructions today! For individualized recommendations, be sure to meet with one of our licensed dietitian coaches this week who can get you on track to balancing your hormones.