Here on our blog we try our best never to be too ‘preachy’. The main reason we started this was to share our health journeys with our families and friends. From there it stemmed to every aspect of our lives, including: Recipes, natural living, kids crafts, and homeschooling. Those have become the main themes of our blog, and it is truly a joy to share with all of you! However, when I find something that I feel could be very beneficial for my friends and family, I have to share it! As I said, this will not be a regular occurrence on our blog. Just some food for thought that I feel could help A LOT of women today. So, without further introduction, I wanted to talk a bit about something called “Estrogen dominance”. If this post helps even one of our readers, it will have been well worth it!
Estrogen dominance is defined as the hormonal imbalance between a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels, in which their body favors estrogen. Many think of estrogen as being the most vital female hormone. This is not true. A woman DOES need estrogen, but it needs to be in balance with her progesterone hormones. In today’s society, with our masses of estrogen mimicking chemicals, foods, and personal care products, it is in fact rare to have low estrogen levels. High estrogen levels on the other hand seem to be an epidemic.
According to Dr. Ray Peat (ray peat, http://raypeat.com/articles/aging/aging-estrogen-progesterone.shtml),
By the middle of the century, many toxic effects of the estrogens were known, and more are being discovered.
Cancer, abnormal blood clotting, and infertility were known to be caused by estrogen before 1940, but at the same time the drug companies began calling estrogen “the female hormone,” and claiming that it would improve fertility.
Since the 19th century, some people argued that aging was caused by hormonal deficiency; for example, the symptoms of thyroid deficiency resembled aging. The estrogen industry exploited this idea to create the “hormone replacement” business.
And thus began the myth that high estrogen levels were beneficial for women. High estrogen levels, or being estrogen dominant, is extremely inflammatory in a woman’s body. Women with high estrogen levels face a host of problems that doctors “Just can’t seem to figure out”. Some symptoms include: Spotting before period, migraines, cystic breasts, miscarriage, and unsteady mood. For a complete list see here:
- a luteal phase less than 12 days
- sugar cravings
- ovarian cysts
- low basal body temperatures
- irregular periods
- allergy symptoms
- spotting in the days before your period begins
- recurrent early miscarriage
- blood clots during menstruation
- cold hands and feet
- brittle nails
- cracked heels
- decreased sex drive
- menstrual cramps
- depression or anxiety
- fibrocystic breasts
- gallbladder issues
- Foggy thinking
- headaches and migraines
- vaginal dryness
- slow metabolism
- mood swings
- weight gain, especially around the middle
- Thyroid problems
Courtesy of (http://www.naturallyknockedup.com/symptoms-of-low-progesterone/)
Any of these symptoms seem familiar? One of the most interesting things that I have found about excess estrogen is that it can cause infertility! When your progesterone levels are higher, it is actually “pro-gestational” and not only helps a woman get pregnant, but helps her retain her pregnancy. Having optimal progesterone levels also improves thyroid function, reduces risk of breast cancer, and lowers PMS symptoms. When your progesterone levels are in balance with your estrogen, your whole body works at its optimal capacity. Cool eh?
So if you think this sounds like you, your next step would be figuring out what to do about it! I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the best (and some very surprising) tips to help you get your hormones in check:
1. Hormone balancing carrot salad. Dr. Ray Peat found in the 1970′s that a medium sized raw carrot eaten daily can raise thyroid function, lower inflammation, and reduce excess estrogen amounts stored in the body, while favoring progesterone. Amazing right!? Eaten every day, this is a quick and easy fix for balancing your hormones! To increase its effects, try this carrot salad recipe mixed in coconut oil. Coconut oil!?? I know, but listen. Raw veggies alone are great, but did you know your body needs fats to absorb the nutrients in them? That is why Mediterranean cultures always serve salad (or any vegetable really) with olive oil. Without that added fat your body only absorbs a portion of the nutrients. Coconut oil is very nourishing to the thyroid as well as our womanly hormones! So, try eating this salad every day for a month, and watch it work its hormone balancing magic!
2. Gelatin. Did you know that the glycine in gelatin is anti estrogen, and actually promotes progesterone production? Its true! Try to get gelatin into your diet daily in the form of homemade bone broth or a good quality packaged gelatin (The only ones known to be additive free and made from the best, all organic beef collagen are: Bernard Jensen and Great Lakes brands). How to get it in? Try making deserts and sauces with gelatin as a base. The internet is full of recipes, like this one.
3. Vitex or Chasteberry herb. This herb, taken daily, has been found to reduce estrogen levels while increasing progesterone.
4. Turmeric. Taking turmeric daily has been proven to balance estrogen and progesterone levels.
5. Avoid soy products at all costs! Soy is very estrogenic, and lately that has been touted as a health enhancing feature for women. Wrong! Soy phytoestrogens wreak havoc on your endocrine system, lower thyroid function, raise your own estrogen levels, and promote breast cancer in women. The problem is that soy is in everything! It is best to avoid all processed foods because most all of them, even most chocolates, contain soy!
6. Avoid plastics (especially heating plastics in microwaves). Plastics, even the ones considered BPA free, contain chemicals that act as estrogen in the body. In small amounts this seems to be fine. But when accumulated through the years, it can cause problems. Microwaving plastic is especially dangerous as it allows these chemicals to seep into your foods!
7. Eat a real foods diet. A diet based on humanely raised grass fed meets, Growth hormone free organic dairy products, pesticide free organic produce, and traditional fats will be your best bet. Eating this way will reduce your exposure to estrogenic processed foods and factory farmed nasties.
8. Exercise regularly. Moderate daily exercise has been proven to help balance your estrogen levels.
9. Lower your stress levels. Excess stress lowers adrenal function, as well as tips the estrogen progesterone balance, favoring estrogen. Find activities that are relaxing to you, or give yourself a time out when you are feeling stressed. Do whatever it takes!
10. Talk to your doctor about using a natural progesterone cream. Synthetic estrogen creams can cause problems over time. Bio identical natural progesterone creams, on the other hand, (the ones with no crazy preservative ingredients) actually work exactly like your own progesterone, and are a safe and effective way to raise your progesterone levels. Make sure to get specific instructions from your doc on how and when to use it, because progesterone creams can only be used at certain times in your cycle. When it comes to brands you should use, I thought this one, Beeyoutiful, sounded great:
While all natural progesterone within the cream is the same, the other ingredients in it make a big difference. Some creams and lotions actually contain xeno-estrogens – kind of contradicting what the cream is meant to do! Beeyoutiful’s cream contains just coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil infused with organic wild yam root, organic comfrey root, and cayenne, 1000 mg USP progesterone, sweet orange essential oil, rosemary essential oil, candelilla wax, beeswax. It goes on easily, absorbs quickly, and has no smell. http://www.naturallyknockedup.com/symptoms-of-low-progesterone/
So that’s all folks! This is something that I personally plan to work on, to help me get rid of my thyroid problems. I hope this article has helped some of you out, and given you hope. Nothing has to last forever, and perfect health is always within our grasp if we are willing to work for it!
Till next time