Over the years, I have come to understand that balance is generally the key to a happier and healthier self. The same applies to hormones. For women, keeping our oestrogen and progesterone levels in harmony is golden, because an imbalance can feel debilitating. The good news is that there is a lot you can do – from a holistic and natural point of view – to keep those oestrogen levels in check and remedy the problem should your balance get thrown out of whack.
What is oestrogen?
Oestrogen is produced by the hormonal/endocrine system. Oestrogen and progesterone are the two sex hormones found in a woman’s body. Oestrogen is important for daily bodily functions, including:
- Cholesterol support
- Bone density
- Skin health
- Brain health
- Heart health
- Hunger and satiety
It is also essential for:
- The reproductive cycle
What is oestrogen dominance?
The right balance of oestrogen and progesterone is important to keep your body in a state of healthy homeostasis (auto-regulated healthy state).
Oestrogen dominance, which is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that women experience, occurs when oestrogen levels are considerably higher than progesterone levels.
The causes of oestrogen dominance
The causes of oestrogen dominance
As women age, it is natural for oestrogen levels to increase. Research shows that the majority of women over 35 have a significant increase in oestrogen. External factors can also trigger an unnecessary – and premature – increase in oestrogen levels. The most common culprits are:
- Birth control pills.
- Personal care products: many cleaning and fragrance products contain chemicals such as xenoestrogens, parabens and benzophenones. These ingredients mimic oestrogen which in turn disrupts hormone balance.
- Factory-farmed animal products such as concentrated animal feeding operations (or CAFOs) add oestrogen to feed.
- Oestrogen is also found in bottled and municipal water.
- An inefficient digestive system.
Signs of oestrogen dominance
Signs of oestrogen dominance
Common symptoms of oestrogen dominance include:
- Weight gain (particularly in the hips, midsection and thighs)
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Abnormal menstruation
- Reduced sex drive
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
How to maintain an oestrogen balance
Even though our hormonal structure does change as we age, I do believe there are many things we can naturally do to fine-tune our lifestyles and keep our hormones in check.
As a first, get your bloodwork done
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, I recommend speaking to an expert to get your hormone bloodworks done to know for certain if – and where – an imbalance lies.
Take care of your liver
Your liver is one of your most vital organs and it is important for regulating hormones. It transforms and removes any excess hormones, including oestrogen, from your body. Visit my Instagram post for nutritional tips to support a healthy liver.
Get that digestion right
Given the clearer understanding of the intricate role that the gut system has to play in our overall health, this structure is being studied more closely than ever before. As our digestion assimilates food, absorbs nutrients and disposes of waste, the more efficiently it functions. This in turn means it is more efficient in ridding our bodies of excess substances like oestrogen. So it makes sense to feed your gut to promote good bacteria. Do this by supporting your gut with a healthy diet including probiotic foods (fermented foods, where tolerated) and prebiotic food sources (non-digestible fibres that help healthy gut bacteria grow) such as artichokes and garlic, or supplement where necessary.
Nutritional and supplement support
Eat to nourish with optimum nutrition. If you eat animal products, eat quality animal products and pack your plate with a variety of greens, including cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts to support healthy oestrogen levels. The process of digesting cruciferous vegetables creates a natural detoxifying compound (sulforaphane plus diindolylmethane (DIM)) that also promotes correct oestrogen levels.
If supplement support is needed, the following are nutrients to be considered – but its always best to work with a professional when embarking on a supplement regime:
- Milk Thistle – supports liver renewal – and a healthy liver is vital for hormone balance.
- Sulforaphane – has the unique ability to trigger the phase 2 liver detoxification system. Sulforaphane has also been linked to being an effective chemopreventive agent for oestrogenic cancers.
- Glutathione – a powerful detoxifier that supports overall liver health
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) – encourages active and healthy oestrogen metabolism
- Vitamin D – reduces the production of oestrogen
- Berberine – evens out the sex hormones, controls insulin and helps women control weight gain, specifically around the waist.
Foods to avoid:
- Factory-farmed animal products
- Processed carbs
Minimise toxin exposure
We are surrounded by toxins. They are in the air, home, clothes, products, cleaning, plastic containers, to name but a few. They all contribute to oestrogen dominance by putting our detoxification processes under pressure. Read my blog for tips on how to reduce toxins in your home in this post on clean beauty [link live in June].
Ongoing and chronic stress can contribute to oestrogen dominance. When we are chronically stressed, progesterone levels reduce, which then means that oestrogen levels rise. Meditation and walking are my go-to’s. Visit my blog for more tips on lowering stress naturally.
Filter your water
In fact, triple-filter your water with a sediment, ceramic and activated charcoal filtration system.
Lastly, quit birth control pills.
Oral contraceptives contain oestrogen, and can exacerbate oestrogen dominance. Depending on the dosage, birth control pills can be very potent, and remain in the body for a long period of time. We have to go with our natural cycle as much as possible to maintain a happy and harmonious hormone balance. Speak to your gynaecologist about alternative family planning measures.
It sounds all very simple, I know, but if there is one thing I want you to take from this piece is that if you are not feeling yourself and are over 35 years of age, check in on those hormone levels and take comfort from knowing that you can regain your balance with a natural approach.