Estrogen dominance is a sinister hormone imbalance that typically isn’t caused by one single factor.
Our previous two articles – What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?, and Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have – outlined the main reasons why someone may have estrogen dominance and the health conditions associated with having poor estrogen metabolism.
Understanding that liver health, diet, inflammation and environmental exposures all play a crucial role in your estrogen health, here are a few simple changes you can make in order to optimize your estrogen status
1. Support liver health
We have a whole article on why liver health is important, and now we know that liver health is also important in preventing estrogen dominance.
Improve your liver health by eating clean, emphasizing consumption of bitter leafy greens, drink a good amount of water and reduce your toxin load by reducing preservative-laden foods.
2. Eat Brassicae family (Cabbage) vegetables
This food group is particularly important in estrogen dominance.
Brassicae family vegetables contains a compound called Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which has been found to favour healthy phase 1 conversion of estrogen to 2-OH-estrogens in women, which we know is protective against estrogen dominant conditions, while decreasing other metabolites (16-OH-estrogens), known to exacerbate estrogen dominant conditions (1-3).
This group of veggies are a great source of fibre, which is also great for binding and clearing estrogens, contain tonnes of antioxidants that help protect the liver against oxidative damage.
Members of this family include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard Greens
I always suggest lightly cooking these vegetables before consuming – raw forms can be hard on the stomach and can also slow down thyroid function.
3. Reduce stress
Practicing stress-relieving activities is good for overall health.
The stress hormone cortisol, when secreted in excess, will alter blood sugar metabolism – increasing glucose and insulin.
High insulin states perpetuate inflammation, and promote obesity, two risk factors for estrogen dominance.
Imbalanced cortisol on its own has been linked to higher inflammatory states. Progesterone, the hormone that balances estrogen and regulates its effects, is also lowered by high cortisol and inflammation.
Try reducing stress by exercising, practicing mediation and mindfulness.
You can read more about how to reduce stress from a previous article.
4. Eat clean meats and reduce meat consumption
Diet full of poor quality saturated fat and trans-fats promote inflammation – poor quality meats tend to be riddled with high amounts of these type fats.
Animals fed grain and corn aren’t as lean and tend to be fed antibiotics and injected with hormones to increase their weight for greater profit.
These added chemicals not only increase the chemical load on our body when we consume these foods, the added hormones add estrogen to our bodies, promoting estrogen dominance!
Go with grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, or at least try to pick meats that are raised hormone and antibiotic-free.
Compounds found in well-cooked meat (heterocyclic amines and metabolites) can bind to and active estrogen receptors (4).To control levels of inflammation related to increased meat consumption, try eating 4-5 ounces, high quality red meat 1-2x a week, poultry up to 3x/week, and fish 2-3x/week.
Focus on legumes and eggs to fill the protein for the rest of your meals. If you go with soy, pick organic soy, and eat 1 cup cooked 1-2x/week for a balanced phytoestrogenic effect.
Dairy should be avoided as many people are sensitive to dairy and it’s proteins (not just lactose), and milk from pregnant cows are very high in estrogen.
If you choose to eat dairy, go for ethically raised, organic cheeses and yogurt as they are better for the digestion, and stay away from liquid milk forms as a whole.
5. Avoid chemical products
As we saw, there are a number of chemical compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, increase aromatase, are liver toxic, and in general are carcinogenic.
Chemicals specifically found to lead to estrogen-dominant conditions, specifically cancers, include (4):
- Found in cosmetic products and soaps:
- metalloestrogens such as aluminum salts
- triclosan (found in hand sanitizer)
- UV sunscreens
- Plastic packaging:
- Styrene – a widely used plastic for food packaging
- Bisphenol-A (BPA): the WORST – found to activate aromatase, lower progesterone effect, bind and activate estrogen
6. Balance your progesterone
Many women are walking around with low levels of progesterone, typically due to stress – which could be the biggest reason why estrogen dominance is present.
Symptoms of low progesterone include
- PMS symptoms such as depression (intense), breast tenderness in the upper outer quadrants of the breast, acne, migraines and night sweats
- Pre-menstrual spotting or spotting throughout the cycle (breakthrough bleeding)
- Many women come in feeling that their PMS symptoms start long before 1 week before their menstrual flow – typically starting right after ovulation. This is a classic sign progesterone deficiency.
If you suspect that you might have estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, or you’re unsure, book with one of us – we are able to provide a thorough assessment on your hormonal health.
We also offer testing to assess estrogen dominance through measuring the different estrogen metabolites (such as 2-OH, 4-OH, 16-OH) through urine testing.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
- Rogan EG. The natural chemopreventive compound indole-3-carbinol: state of the science. In Vivo. 2006 Mar-Apr;20(2):221-8.
- Michnovicz JJ. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 May 21;89(10):718-23.
- Reed GA., et. al. A phase I study of indole-3- carbinol in women: tolerability and effects. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1953-60.
- Fucic A et. al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain. Environ Health. 2012 Jun 28;11 Suppl 1:S8