Understanding Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance is more common than you may think. Between our normal hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies and estrogen mimicking chemicals in our environment we can end up with far more estrogen floating around our systems than is healthy.
With all that extra estrogen in our systems our bodies develop a myriad of troublesome and dangerous symptoms and diseases.
It’s important to understand what estrogen dominance is and how it could affect you.
What Is Estrogen Dominance?
…estrogen is a sex hormone that’s present in the female reproductive system, although men produce a small amount of estrogen, too. The primary role of estrogen is to promote growth and development. Estrogen is also the hormone that gives females their unique characteristics, such as a menstrual cycle and breasts. Estrogen works with the hormone progesterone to promote fertility.
Estrogen and progesterone are needed in a delicate balance to perform their functions efficiently. So, when estrogen levels become too high, the balance of progesterone is also disrupted—and that’s when estrogen dominance results.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen dominance is becoming an increasingly common health condition. This is because we’re constantly being exposed to estrogen in our food supply and in our environment. Estrogen is present in the environmental toxins that we breathe through the air each day, as well as in the toxins found in household products such as cleaning supplies and cosmetics. Estrogen is also found in plastic containers and water bottles. Any type of estrogen found in our environment (that isn’t from a food source) can be classified as a xenoestrogen, which mimics estrogen in the body. This means that when we drink out of plastic water bottles, or apply chemical-laden cosmetics to our skin, we’re absorbing the xenoestrogens from these substances into our bloodstream.
Another source of estrogen that we’re exposed to in our environment is pharmaceutical drugs, such as the birth control pill. Even if you don’t personally take oral contraceptives, many pharmaceuticals are flushed down the toilet and can end up in our water supply. Therefore, tap water is another potential source of estrogen in your diet. It’s said that estrogen has only found it’s way into our tap water in the past decade.
Specific foods also contain estrogen, which are known as phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogenic foods include soy (such as soy milk, soy protein, edamame, soy sauce, tofu and tempeh), as well as beans and lentils.
Factory farmed animals are a common source of estrogen in our diet.
Factory farmed animal products are another common source of estrogen in our diet. This is because factory farmed animals are given estrogen-containing growth hormones to help them grow abnormally fast and larger. And you guessed it—when we consume these animal products, we’re also ingesting the growth hormones they’ve been injected with. Factory farmed animals include fish, chicken, beef, turkey and eggs. Dairy products produced from any animal injected with growth hormones will also contain estrogen.
As you can see, estrogen comes at us from all directions each day. And the more estrogen we absorb from our environment, the higher our estrogen levels become. Since no one is exempt from breathing in environmental toxins, and most of us come into contact with plastic in some way each day, it’s impossible to avoid estrogen altogether. This explains why both men and women aren’t exempt from experiencing estrogen dominance.
A Note on Progesterone
Based on the close relationship between estrogen and progesterone, it should be noted that low progesterone levels can also cause estrogen dominance. By this, I mean that even if your estrogen levels are at optimal levels, you can still experience estrogen dominance if your progesterone levels are too low. For this reason, it’s also important to understand what causes low progesterone levels in order to determine if low progesterone could also be the reason for your symptoms.
Low progesterone levels are commonly seen in those who experience chronic stress, are exposed to estrogen on a regular basis, and have a diet lacking in essential nutrients. The best way to determine which hormone(s) are affecting your body is by getting your hormones tested by a qualified healthcare practitioner. – Paleohacks
You Can Fight Back Against Estrogen Dominance
If you have symptoms of estrogen dominance there are effective ways to fight back and rid your body of excess estrogen. Take a look at these symptoms and solutions and see if they apply to you!
DO YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF ESTROGEN DOMINANCE? SUCH AS…
-Mood swings & depression around cycle time
-Variations or skipped cycles
-Vaginal dryness or itchiness
-Excessive or scanty blood flow during periods
-Cyclic insomnia, night sweats & fatigue
-Breast cancer, benign breast disease, & pre-cancerous conditions
CAN YOU STOP THE ESTROGEN DOMINANCE MADNESS?
A MULTIFACETED NUTRITION PLAN THAT SUPPORTS THE METABOLISM, LIVER, HORMONES, AND STRESS LEVELS IS A GREAT APPROACH.
Support the metabolism:
-Stop the low-fat dieting, and calorie counting, and instead eat MORE real food. You should especially eat enough protein and carbs to meet your metabolic needs. Your body temperature is a good way to check and see if you’re eating enough.
-Balance blood sugar by eating protein/fats/carbs together during each meal, and eating frequently to help stabilize blood sugar (especially important for those with blood sugar handling issues). Read more blood sugar tips here.
-Listen to your body. It’s ALWAYS talking to you. Are you listening?
Nourish your liver:
-Increase protein to 70-100 grams+ per day based on your weight (about 20-25% of total calories). Make sure to include eggs, dairy (if tolerated, no allergy), gelatin, fish, and shellfish, in order to help balance muscle meats (chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, etc). This will help to create the amino acid (building blocks of protein) balance needed to reflect “eating the whole animal.” By doing this, you empower the liver’s detoxification process to help your body take out the trash, and detoxify estrogen properly.
-Eat easy-to-digest foods to reduce endotoxin that can back up the liver (especially important for those with digestive distress). This means more simple sugars (ripe fruits & honey), roots, tubers, & dairy products (if tolerated).
Support hormone production:
-Increase hormone synthesis promoters in the diet using food: Thyroid (T3), Vitamin A (animal sources, like liver), Vitamin E, copper & bright lights (sun, etc).
-Decrease hormone synthesis blockers: unsaturated fats (PUFA), excess estrogen (hormone replacement, birth control, or liver malnutrition to adequately detoxify used estrogen), ultraviolet light, x-rays, and excess iron (from fortified foods, vitamins, or muscle meat heavy diet).
-Epsom salt bath with 1-4 cups of Epsom salt (magnesium) and soak for 15-30 minutes a few times a week prior to bed (increase Epsom salt amounts slowly).
-Eating 1-2 raw carrots a day can help the colon absorb endotoxin and estrogen for excretion. According to Dr. Ray Peat, “Several women who suffered from premenstrual symptoms, including migraine, had their serum estrogen measured before and after the “carrot diet,” and they found that the carrot lowered their estrogen within a few days, as it relieved their symptoms.”
Reduce stress & environmental toxins:
-Identify and reduce stressors in your life. This could be a variety of things; lack of sleep, insufficient fuel, or food allergies and sensitivities (since they activate the stress response).
-Detox your home by ditching the chemicals in your cleaning and beauty routine. Or take the 30 day Detox your Home challenge to jump-start the process! – Butter Nutrition
Do any of the symptoms of estrogen dominance apply to you?