Estrogen and progesterone are paired up in a carefully choreographed dance party. When estrogen levels increase and become out of balance with your other hormones, it can lead to too much estrogen, aka estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance is not only linked to a set of frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms, but it also puts you at risk for other chronic issues. We’re seeing the rates increase dramatically in both women and men across age ranges.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
- Weight gain, mainly in hips, waist, and thighs
- Menstrual problems such as light or heavy bleeding
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Uterine fibroids
- Depression or anxiety
- Enlarged breasts
- Sexual dysfunction
Estrogen is filtered and cleared through your liver and bowel.
The liver functions in your body in much the same way a pool filter functions in a swimming pool. After estrogen has done its job, it is sent to the liver to be broken down and excreted. If the liver is all gunked up from the excess toxins, it cannot function optimally nor remove estrogen. Estrogen that is not appropriately metabolized can be reabsorbed back into the body. The liver metabolizes estrogen into metabolites through different pathways. The 2-hydroxy metabolic pathway is considered “good” since it has the lowest cancer risk and other problems. The 16-hydroxy and 4-hydroxy pathways are referred to as “bad” as they are associated with higher breast cancer risks. Nutritional status, liver health, stress, diet all determine which metabolic pathways are used.
If you are chronically constipated, estrogen won’t be excreted and can be reabsorbed back into the body. Double whammy!
Liver health, gut health, diet, inflammation, and environmental exposures all play a crucial role in estrogen health. Here are a few heavy-hitting changes you can make to optimize your estrogen status:
Reduce Body Fat
Excess body fat (especially stored in the hips, waist, and thighs) is one of the leading causes of estrogen dominance. Not only does fat tissue absorb and keep estrogen circulating in your bloodstream, but it also synthesizes estrogen from your other hormones. Having high estrogen levels cues your body to make more fat cells, producing even more estrogen, creating a vicious cycle that can lead to estrogen dominance.
Practice stress-relieving activities
When secreted in excess, the stress hormone cortisol can increase glucose and insulin. High insulin can perpetuate inflammation and obesity, two risk factors for estrogen dominance. Progesterone, the checks, and balances for estrogen, is lowered by high cortisol and inflammation.
Eat more soluble fiber
Shoot for 25 grams (or more) per day or more. Fiber is essential in supporting detoxing excess estrogen. Optimal pooping means fewer hormones that get reabsorbed, and more will be excreted in the stool, thus eliminated from the body. Getting your fiber from plant foods is always best.
Include more cruciferous vegetables in your diet
Vegetables like Brussels, kale, collards, broccoli, and cabbage contain DIM (Di-Indolyl Methane). DIM is particularly effective at helping the liver process and eliminate excess estrogen. When Diindolylmethane DIM increases the ‘good’ estrogen metabolites, there is a simultaneous reduction in the levels of undesirable or “bad” estrogen metabolites.
Less Pinot Noir allows the liver to dedicate more effort to promote healthy estrogen metabolism and detoxification.
Drink sufficient filtered water
Help the liver do its detox job!
Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens These include non-organic fruits and vegetables (particularly those on the Dirty Dozen list), conventional meat and dairy products, cosmetic chemicals including parabens and plastics containing BPA.
Christina C Wilson MS, CNS, LN