I find hormones fascinating! I love to learn about them as much as I can. I think that hormonal issues are at the root of many of our common maladies – especially as women.
As you probably already know, estrogen is a key player of the female hormonal system. It is used for some very important functions in the body, but an imbalance can lead to health issues. Excess estrogen has been known to increase breast cancer risk, and can also aggravate other female conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis.
To keep estrogen levels from building up, we need to make sure we get rid of unused estrogen effectively.
Here are 10 lifestyle tips to keep your estrogen levels in-check:
1) Be kind to your liver. Estrogen is detoxified in the liver before it is dumped into your stool to be removed by your colon. If your liver is not healthy, it is difficult to maintain a good detox process. To keep your liver healthy, do not overtax it with excess alcohol and caffeine consumption.
2) Eat more fiber. To ensure adequate removal of estrogen, you need to avoid constipation. If you do not have regular bowel movements, estrogen can get re-circulated back into your body. Fiber is found in plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Women need at least 25 grams per day. If you are starting from zero (I hope not!), increase fiber intake slowly to avoid gas and abdominal pain. You need to drink more water when you increase fiber.
3) Take a daily probiotic supplement. There is an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase that is made from bad bacteria in your gut. This enzyme increases estrogen re-circulation. To stop this enzyme from taking over, you need to make sure your gut is filled with good bacteria. Good probiotic strains are lactobacillus and/or bifidobacteria. Some probiotics don’t contain high enough levels to be effective. Look for ones with 10-15 BILLION (yes, billion), colony forming units (CFU’s).
4) Eat more cruciferous vegetables. These powerhouse veggies contain Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C). This substance promotes detoxification of harmful estrogens. Cruciferous veggies include, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, arugula, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
5) Take a daily omega-3 supplement such as fish oil. Low grade inflammation in the body from things like stress, illness, obesity, and pollution can increase the activity of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is used to create estrogen. So when this enzyme is promoted, more estrogen may be created than needed. Make sure your Omega-3 supplement contains both DHA and EPA. 1000 mg per day is a good starting point. Nordic Naturals makes good fish oil supplements.
6) Decrease your intake of sweets and refined flours. Sweets and refined flours can increase the amount of insulin in your body, and insulin can increase the activity of aromatase.
7) Eat less processed foods. Besides just being an overall negative to your health, processed or packaged foods are usually made with cheap oils (corn, soybean, safflower). These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids which also promote inflammation, and as we learned from #5, inflammation increases aromatase activity. Majorly processed foods include things like, microwavable meals, packaged desserts, fast foods, sugary cereals, Velveta cheese, squeezable cheese, margarine, Cool Whip, and many packaged snacks and crackers.
8) Maintain a healthy weight. Fat tissue creates estrogen. When you have more fat mass, you will have more estrogen circulating in your body. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
9)Decrease your stress levels. Increased levels of stress lead to inflammation which increases the activity of aromatase. Some quick stress relievers are, getting more sleep, exercise and deep breathing. Effective time management can help too. Do not overbook yourself, or your children. Get in the habit of saying “NO”. Take time for yourself. Once you take care of yourself, everything else will follow.
10) Eat less canned food. Cans contain the chemical BPA. BPA is a known “xeno-estrogen”, meaning it mimics the activity of estrogen.
After reading these 10 tips, how do you think you are doing with your estrogen balance? What do you need to do more or less of? Leave a comment below. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
cabbage photo by Kewl via Flickr