Methods to Help Manage Healthy Estrogen Balance
Hormonal balance is complicated. As women, we have a constant ebb and flow of hormones in our bodies that can greatly affect how we feel from day to day. Not only that, these hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) work synergistically in the body to keep things running smoothly and hinge on a delicate balance that can easily be disrupted by lifestyle habits and environmental exposures. When that happens, we tend to feel, well, not quite right.
Estrogen dominance is the most common type of hormone imbalance—characterized by frequent headaches, mood swings and anxiety, bloating and weight gain, irregular periods, trouble sleeping, unexplained fatigue, worsened PMS symptoms, and more.1
Some of these symptoms may sound familiar to you. Maybe you’ve already been checked for estrogen dominance or hormonal imbalance. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help manage estrogen dominance—starting today.
- Protect yourself from xenoestrogens.
- This is perhaps the most important factor to consider and the most difficult to track. Now more than ever, we are surrounded by xenoestrogens: harmful chemical compounds that mimic estrogen in the body and may disrupt the delicate balance of the endocrine system. The scariest part is, many common household and beauty products contain them.2-4
- What can you do about it? Whenever possible, choose organic beauty products made with safe, naturally derived ingredients. Common drugstore items often contain parabens, and other harmful chemicals—which are all sources of xenoestrogens. The same goes for common cleaning products and laundry items; those flowery fabric softeners and dryer sheets are thought to potentially do more harm than good. A quick Internet search can provide a plethora of more natural alternatives and DIY methods for keeping your house clean and your clothes soft!
- Switch up your diet.
- You may find it helpful to avoid high-estrogen foods that may be contributing to a hormonal imbalance, like wheat, dairy, and soy,5-7 and eat liver-supportive foods. A healthy liver is key to the body’s detoxification process, as it helps to removes excess toxins (including excess estrogen) from the body. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, healthy fats, and herbs like cilantro, turmeric, and milk thistle are some great options for targeted liver support that you can incorporate into your diet today.8-12 And whenever you face an afternoon slump at the office, sip green tea! It’s packed with antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress.
- Whenever possible, choose foods labeled USDA Organic—free of antibiotics and hormones that could further contribute to hormone imbalance.
- Consider herbal supplements.
- Herbs can be a simple way to help support healthy hormonal balance, and they’re easy to add to your daily routine. It’s important to note, however, that there’s no one-size-fits-all and no one herb will work the same for all women. Consult a healthcare professional to find out if herbal supplementation is right for you.*
- Remember: Always speak to your healthcare practitioner first before starting a new supplement regimen. Herbs can be a powerful ally in your journey to optimal health, but they must be taken under expert, personalized guidance.
- Say no to plastic.
- From plastic water bottles and kitchenware to plastic shampoo tubes, plastic is virtually everywhere. Why? Because it’s cheaper and easier to use. But with that convenience comes a very big cost—namely, the potentially health-compromising chemicals plastics can contain.13,14 That’s why you’ve likely been hearing the buzzword “BPA-free” a lot lately. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is another one of those xenoestrogens—possibly contributing to an increase in hormonal imbalance the more we are exposed to it.15
- As an alternative to plastics, choose glass and stainless steel whenever possible. Think of it this way: Both are easier to clean and don’t harbor stains and smells like plastics do. When cooking, choose cast iron, stainless steel, or copper cookware to protect your food from toxic exposure.16
- Drink filtered water.
- Think tap water is OK? Think again. In 2009, the Environmental Working Group published a three-year study that found 316 chemicals—including xenoestrogens—in tap water across the United States.17 And according to the World Health Organization, even “purified” water is not all it’s cracked up to be. That includes distilled and reverse osmosis water, which have been stripped of their healthful minerals.18 Bottled water is even worse; in fact, researchers have found multiple endocrine-disrupting chemicals in a single bottle of water.19
- For the best source of hydration, invest in a high-quality water filter that removes harmful contaminants found in tap water without compromising mineral content. Best of all, faucet and countertop filters are inexpensive and super easy to use.
- With all the health benefits exercise has to offer, it’s an absolute necessity for optimal health. Studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise lowers estrogen levels in the body20,21—leaving you less susceptible to estrogen-imbalances and helping you build lean muscle mass.22 Not only will you feel better, you’ll look better, too.
- You’ve heard it time and time again: too much stress can wreak havoc on your health. When your body is under stress, it releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. And when the stress is ongoing, the constant release of these hormones can disrupt your overall balance23,24 and cause physical symptoms like low energy, gastrointestinal disturbances, poor sleep quality, low libido, muscle tension, and more. Blow off steam with creative activities like singing, playing music, drawing, and dancing, or practice mindfulness exercises like yoga and meditation. Find what works for you and make it your go-to stress reliever!
Living with estrogen dominance does not have to be a lifelong challenge. With these alternative methods, you can limit your exposure to xenoestrogens and help regulate your body’s natural hormonal balance.
If you have not had your hormone levels checked and show signs of estrogen dominance, please visit your healthcare practitioner.
- Wilson DR. Signs and symptoms of high estrogen. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-estrogen. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- National University of Natural Medicine. Xenoestrogens—What are they? How to avoid them. Women in Balance Institute. https://womeninbalance.org/2012/10/26/xenoestrogens-what-are-they-how-to-avoid-them/. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- Watson CS, et al. Xenoestrogens are potent activators of nongenomic estrogenic responses. Steroids. 2007;72(2):124–134.
- De Coster S, et al. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: associated disorders and mechanisms of action. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:713696.
- The Scripps Research Institute. Estrogen-mimicking compounds in foods may reduce effectiveness of breast cancer treatment. NewsWise. http://www.newswise.com/articles/estrogen-mimicking-compounds-in-foods-may-reduce-effectiveness-of-breast-cancer-treatment. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- Remesar X, et al. Estrone in food: a factor influencing the development of obesity? Eur J Nutr. 1999;38(5):247-253.
- Patisaul HB, et al. The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Front Neuroendocrinol. 2010;31(4):400–419.
- Park G, et al. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2012;25(2):93-99.
- Suryanarayana P et al. Med Sci Monit. 2007;13(12):BR286-292.
- Robbins MG, et al. J Food Sci. 2010;75(6):H190-199.
- Yoshida K, et al. World J Gastroenterol. 2015;21(35):10091-10103.
- Das SK et al. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2006;43(5):306-311.
- Environmental Working Group. Timeline: BPA from invention to phase-out. EWG.org. https://www.ewg.org/research/timeline-bpa-invention-phase-out#.WqHgb5Pwau5. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Bisphenol (BPA) initiatives. NIH. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/endocrine/bpa_initiatives/index.cfm. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- Endocrine Disruptors. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm. Accessed May 2, 2018.
- Environmental Working Group. EWG finds heated Teflon pans can turn toxic faster than DuPont claims. EWG.org. https://www.ewg.org/research/canaries-kitchen#.WqHhBJPwau6. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- Environmental Working Group. EWG’s tap water database. EWG.org. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/#.WqHhUZPwau5. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- Kozisek F. Health Risks from Drinking Demineralised Water. National Institute of Public Health. Czech Republic.http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutrientschap12.pdf . Accessed May 2, 2018.
- Wagner M, et al. Identification of putative steroid receptor antagonists in bottled water: combining bioassays and high-resolution mass spectrometry. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(8):e72472.
- BreastCancer.org. Exercise lowers estrogen levels in older women. http://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/20100216. Accessed March 6, 2018.
- Kossman DA, et al. Exercise lowers estrogen and progesterone levels in premenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011;111(6):1687-1693.
- Maffulli N. Sports Medicine for Specific Ages and Abilities. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone; 2001.
- Maduka IC, et al. The relationship between serum cortisol, adrenaline, blood glucose and lipid profile of undergraduate students under examination stress. Afr Health Sci. 2015;15(1):131–136.
- Plechner AJ. Cortisol abnormality as a cause of elevated estrogen and immune destabilization: insights for human medicine from a veterinary perspective. Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(4):575-581.
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