by Sarah Choi on May 17, 2021
72% of women experience the symptoms of estrogen dominance, but very few understand what’s causing these issues.
These afflicted women might be dealing with any of the following: fibroids, lumpy or painful breasts; thyroid nodules; breast, uterine, thyroid, or other estrogen-related cancers; endometriosis; hot flashes; irregular, heavy or absent periods; PMS; infertility; miscarriages, cellulite; mood swings/irritability; insomnia and/or more.
What causes estrogen dominance?
When a woman’s menstrual cycle is normal, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen is balanced by progesterone during the final two weeks of the cycle. Your liver is responsible for neutralizing and collecting excess estrogen and your bowels remove it. If either system does not perform its job adequately then you can develop estrogen dominance.
There are many different causes of estrogen dominance. Excess body fat (greater than 28%), too much stress, (resulting in elevated levels of cortisol, insulin, and norepinephrine production) which can lead to adrenal exhaustion, slowed metabolism, and can also adversely affect a woman’s overall hormonal balance.
A low-fiber diet with an excess of refined carbohydrates and a deficient in nutrients/high quality fats will also disrupt your estrogen balance.
Finally, the most hidden yet most common cause are environmental agents. Environmental toxins known as xenoestrogens can also be responsible for your estrogen dominance symptoms. These are fake or bad estrogens that imitate estrogens, synthetic or natural chemical compounds. Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable, thus, they are stored in our fat cells. Buildup of xenoestrogens are or have been sighted in many conditions/ailments including: breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.
We introduce xenoestrogens to our bodies through various skincare products (sunscreens, all parabens, benzophenone), plastics (BPA, phthalates, PVCs, flame retardants, building materials, electronics, furnishings, vehicles), PCBs, food (food colouring, preservatives), contraceptive (birth control pill), to name a few.
What can we as women do to start feeling better?
Traditional doctors are often dismissive, telling them that’s just the price they pay for being a woman. If doctors do offer suggestions, it’s usually invasive surgery or harsh prescription medications.
The following are some holistic approaches that have been scientifically proven to work.
Clean up your diet/nutrition! Increase your nutrient dense foods, reduce the amount or frequency of processed, packaged, empty foods. Ensure you are eating a lot of fruit and veggies, good quality proteins and proper fats! (*see recent ‘Introduction to Fats’ post for further details on which fat to include and which to avoid*)
Ensure your fibre intake is high! We tend to lack fibre as it is, so aiming for 25 – 30g of fibre from foods (not supplemental fibre) minimum a day. I personally recommend/encourage seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes regularly intake to help ensure reaching optimal fibre levels.
As it is a potential cause for excess estrogen, it is important to maintain a healthy weight. Excess estrogens (and other toxins) will be stored in your fat cells. Reduce your weight to a healthy level will also reduce your risk of high estrogen or toxic levels.
Support your liver detoxification pathways. Foods that do this are things like beets, dandelion, high fiber foods, grapefruit, and cruciferous veggies. As well, supplementation from a qualified Registered Holistic Nutritionist or Practitioner is encouraged!
Of course, it is important to reduce the triggers that lead to stress in your daily life. Ensure that you have explored ways in which to moderate the stress response in your body. Additionally, there are helpful/beneficial herbs, adaptogens and supplements you can take such as Ashwaghanda, that help reduction of stress symptoms. Talk to your qualified Registered Holistic Nutritionist or Practitioner.
Supplementation wise, here are a few starting places to help support your body with estrogen dominance.
One ‘food is medicine’ tool I recommend in my practice is using flaxseed during the first half of your cycle (*review Seed Cycling from previous blog*). I have found that 1 – 2 tablespoons a day can make a big difference! It helps balance your estrogen levels without pushing you into an estrogen dominant level.
Calcium D-Glucarate (CDG) has been shown to promote liver detoxification by enhancing the metabolism of hormones and environmental toxins. It will help prevent the recycling of hormones and undesirable environmental toxins and in doing so, promotes liver detoxification and the excretion of these potentially detrimental substances. Side bonus, it will also reduce cholesterol synthesis, resulting in maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.
A B-Complex is another great starter that will help in the production and metabolism of hormones and neurotransmitters. B vitamins are critical for efficient liver detoxification of unwanted chemicals such as heavy metals, histamines, and bacterial toxins. In addition, the B-complex vitamins have dramatic mood-elevating effects—more so than almost any other nutrient.
As there is no one size fits all approach to healing or supporting your body, if you suspect estrogen concerns with your current health, reach out to gain the best support possible for obtaining optimal health!
Cara Janzen, H. BSc. RHN is an AURA Community member with a belief to help make you rich – nutritionally! As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, she is equipped with a B.Sc. and have a background in Biological Sciences and Psychology.