Estrogen has a lot of roles to play when it comes to women's health and well-being. It keeps inflammation controlled, supports vaginal and urinary tract health, supports bone, skin and hair health, helps regulate stress, supports cardiovascular and cognitive health, helps in the production of neurotransmitters, maintains healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels and prepares the uterus for pregnancy…just to name a few. But in order for estrogen to do it’s jobs properly, we need to have balanced levels of it; and unfortunately high estrogen levels have become a lot more common. While it’s completely normal for hormone levels to fluctuate throughout the month for women, when estrogen levels are too high the symptoms you might experience will be intense and past the point of what we deem as “normal”. Symptoms include: Heavy periods, menstrual cycles under 21 days, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, mood swings, anxiety, depression, breast tenderness, irregular vaginal bleeding, migraines/headaches, cervical dysplasia, and weight gain or the inability to lose weight. If these sound all too familiar to you, then make sure to see your healthcare provider to have your hormone levels tested, so that you’re able to balance your hormones and avoid any risk for any long-term issues.
Once you know for sure that your estrogen levels are too high, there are a few simple changes you can implement in your daily life to help your body return to healthy hormone levels:
1. Nutritional Support - Focus on adding in fibre-rich plant-based nutrients in to your diet to prevent further elevating estrogen levels while supporting your body’s ability to remove excess estrogen. Dark leafy greens and brassica veggies like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage help our bodies detox hormones and eliminate estrogen. High fibre foods are great for ensuring our bodies are excreting estrogen metabolites, and Flaxseeds specifically are incredibly powerful at support balanced levels of estrogen. A few things to stay away from or reduce would be industrial dairy and animal products because of the added hormones and bioaccumulation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in animal fat, as well as alcohol and caffeine.
2. Reduce Xenoestrogens in your Environment - Xenoestrogens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in regular household items like cleaning products, cosmetics, plastics, and an incredibly large amounts of foods that aren’t organic because of the use of pesticides and herbicides. Easy ways to reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens would be to overhaul your cosmetic and cleaning products and switch to natural non-toxic versions, eating organic when possible, choosing glass food storage containers over plastic and avoiding BPA.
3. Healthy Gut Healthy Hormones - Eat a gut-healthy diet, make sure you’re pooping regularly and focus on supporting your liver. A diet rich in vegetables, greens and fibre will support gut health, but to take it to another level include lots of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and coconut yogurt. If you’re constipated, the estrogen that’s trying to leave your body will be reabsorbed into your bloodstream and therefore increase your estrogen levels. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fibre-rich foods, drinking enough water and exercising daily to help get things moving. The liver is incredibly important in hormone detoxification and metabolism so it’s definitely important to focus on liver health. But luckily if you’re eating a healthy diet, working to reduce xenoestrogens in your environment and supporting your gut health, your liver will thrive.
Julia Gibson is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, functional foods recipe developer, and write currently based in Toronto. She hopes to inspire and empower others by creating nourishing foods, living a sustainable life, promoting holistic healing and sharing thoughtful writing.
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