Written by: Taryn Symington
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen is a group of sex hormones that exists in both males and females, but is more predominant in females. It is made primarily in the ovaries, but is also produced by the adrenal glands, and fat tissue.
Estrogen (specifically estradiol) has a main role in the menstrual cycle, but it also plays a role in controlling cholesterol levels, promoting healthy bones, as well as affecting mood, heart health, and other tissues.
What is Estrogen Dominance?
Ideally, estrogen should exist in balance with all the other hormones. When there is significantly more estrogen than another hormone (usually progesterone), this has been given the term “estrogen dominance”.
Causes of Estrogen Dominance
Imbalanced estrogen levels can lead to a slew of symptoms, but isn’t the root cause itself. Estrogen dominance can be caused by stress, excessive alcohol use, high body fat percentage, xenoestrogens, environmental toxins, synthetic contraceptives (i.e. birth control pills, hormonal IUD), or a diet low in fibre, healthy fats, or high in refined carbohydrates.
Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance include:
- Mood swings
- Painful cycles
- Breast tenderness
- Decreased libido
- Bloating/water retention
- Abnormal/irregular menstrual periods
- Headaches and migraines
- Fatigue, insomnia
- Weight gain (especially hips and abdomen)
Foods to Eat to Reduce Estrogen Dominance
The best diet to eat when trying to reduce estrogen dominance is one high in nutrients and fibre from fruits and vegetables, with moderate levels of high quality protein and healthy fats.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale) are some of the most beneficial foods to add in when trying to reduce estrogen dominance because they:
- Are high in fibre
- Don’t spike blood sugar
- Are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate (a B vitamin)
- Contain a chemical called sulforaphane which has anti-inflammatory properties and benefits liver detoxification
- Contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which our bodies break down into di-indolmethane (DIM) to help metabolize estrogen appropriately
Proteins and Fats
- Meat (grass-fed and organic if possible)
- Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
- Cold-water fish – salmon, sardines, trout (wild-caught when possible)
As with most hormone balancing protocols, it’s not all about food and supplements. Some of the most important things to keep in mind in your daily routine and general lifestyle are:
- Reduce and manage stress using meditation, breathing exercises, or spending time with loved ones.
- Avoid plastics and perfumes whenever possible – these can significantly increase the load of chemicals that mimic estrogen, and spike estrogen levels
- Add movement into your day – exercise, walking, etcetera. Bonus if you sync your workouts to the different phases of your cycle!
Ready to put these strategies into action? Schedule your initial session HERE with holistic nutritionist Taryn to get started.