Guest post by Magda Hjalmarsson | The Nourished Mother
Every single choice we make influences the body’s richly complex hormonal dance. From what you choose to do first thing in the morning to how you relax and nourish yourself at the end of the day, each choice you make along the way is intertwined with a hormonal response. The body, in its wisdom, is constantly modulating hormone levels to help us to thrive in the environment in which we are asking it to live.
One of the most common factors contributing to hormonal imbalance is having too much estrogenic activity in the body, AKA estrogen dominance. The dreadful PMS with symptoms ranging from strong waves of anxiety to headaches to heavy bleeding and cramping are all exacerbated by elevated levels of estrogen.
Where does this excess estrogen come from? Are women’s ovaries just going crazy making too much estrogen?
This dynamic is most often courtesy of a combination of the estrogen-mimicking compounds that we’re exposed to from our modern environment, an inability to effectively clear excess estrogen, and/or insufficient progesterone to balance estrogen. Progesterone primes estrogen receptors and allows estrogen effects to take place. It is within the balance, the ebb and flow of progesterone and estrogen, that we achieve true sex hormone vitality.
What are the most common contributors to estrogen dominance & what can we do about it?
Minimize Xenoestrogen Exposure
We live in a toxic soup. We are bombarded by “estrogen mimickers” in our modern environment every single day. These are chemicals that look enough like real estrogen to fool our bodies into making hormonal changes, AKA endocrine disruptors.
Top Endocrine Disruptors to Avoid
- Bisphenol-A (BPA) : a potent estrogen mimicker found in plastic food wraps, plastic cups, most food can linings, and containers labeled #7 in the little recycling triangle. Yet another reason to just say NO to plastic! BPA is also on cash register receipts which can be avoided by asking a cashier ahead of time for no receipt where possible.
- Triclosan : an antibacterial agent present in many consumer products including toothpaste, soaps, deodorants, detergents and children’s toys. The ingredients of the products you use every single day may be surreptitiously wreaking havoc on your hormones.
- Parabens: found in beauty and personal care products. Check your product labels, and use a database like EWG’s Skindeep to look up the safety of products you use.
- Hormone Laden Food Products: Today’s modern “factory farmers” use hormones and other drugs to accelerate weight gain in animals and increase profitability. When we consume these animal foods, we absorb the hormones. You can avoid this source by always choosing “hormone-free” animal products, ideally also organic and pasture raised to avoid exposure to other chemicals in animal feed and drugs. If you have a suspicion that estrogen dominance may be contributing to your unwanted hormonal symptoms, experimenting with a month-long trial of avoiding all dairy foods which are naturally hormone-laden, may be helpful as well.
- Xenoestrogens in pesticides: Conventional agriculture uses pesticides that contain xenoestrogens. They not only leak into our waterways and air, they are sprayed directly onto the food being grown. Filtering your drinking water and eating organic is a great way to cut down exposure to these toxins (but don’t simply sub tap water for bottled, as the plastic leaches chemicals into the water).
Support Excess Estrogen Clearance
Minimizing our exposure to xenoestrogens is vital, however we can also support the body in clearing excess estrogen and estrogenic compounds. How well the body is able to do this is determined by the health and capability of phase 1 and phase 2 liver clearance. We can support this with :
- Cruciferous vegetables! Broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, brussel sprouts, kale, arugula, etc. contain a compound called indol-3-carbinol, which accelerates the body’s ability to detoxify estrogen via methylation and sulfation. Incorporate cooked organic cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis to help with daily estrogen clearance. Raw cruciferous contain varying levels of goitrogens, enzymes which can influence thyroid function. Cooking these veggies deactivates these enzymes.
- Sufficient levels of essential B vitamins. These are also important to ensure proper methylation which assists in the final processing and clearance of estrogenic compounds. Since specific B Vitamins can up regulate methylation and therefore detoxification, it is best to start low and slow and ideally alongside a wellness practitioner.
While there are many possible contributors to estrogen dominance, our manifestation of symptoms and the underlying contributing factors are nearly always unique. Our genetics, nutritional intake, environment, and health history, all influence our ability to achieve true hormonal balance. If you would like guidance and support in this area, I would be honored to help you achieve rapid relief from your unwanted symptoms as we address the root cause of dysfunction to bring you true wellness and longevity.
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Be well beautiful!
Magda is a functional medicine practitioner with a focus on supporting women to optimize their digestion and achieve true hormonal balance. In her practice she helps women understand their unique biochemistry, identify where key nutrients may be missing and hone in on underlying layers of interconnectedness | thenourishedmother.us