Hormones are powerful things; they affect everything. Different hormones, of course, directly affect different things. Here’s what you need to know about estrogen.
Estrogen is typically thought of as a “female” hormone, while testosterone is considered a “male” hormone. In fact, both hormones occur in both sexes, and they can impact your weight.
Estrogen gets the spotlight when anyone is discussing menstruation or menopause; women produce this hormone at much higher levels than men do. Regardless of sex, there still exist other classes of estrogen: phyto-(plant)-estrogens, and xenoestrogens. Estrogen isn’t just one hormone: it’s a group of hormones and their metabolites.
Phytoestrogen found in plants mimics human estrogen in the body; that is, the body can’t really tell the difference between the two. Certain plant foods, such as soy and to a much larger extent, flax, have high concentrations of phytoestrogens. (One should be prudent with flax seed consumption, as some studies have shown too much flax can cause false positives for prostate cancer screening in men; the contributing factor is said to be the high levels of ALA in flax). In general, one shouldn’t worry too much about phytoestrogens, as they occur in fairly low levels and are flushed from the body within days.
Xenoestrogens, on the other hand, are more important to think about. These are estrogens finding their way into our bodies from our environment–and they are everywhere. Pesticides, herbicides, pollution, contaminated water, and plastics are just a few examples. They are in paint, nail polish, lotion, soap. Food. Not only are these estrogens everywhere, but they linger in the body.
Too many estrogens, and you can become estrogen dominant. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are: weight gain in the waist and other problem areas, allergies, recurring sinus infections, water retention, fatigue and mood swings.
WHAT TO DO TO AVOID ESTROGEN DOMINANCE:
De-tox. Clean up your life. Stop with the synthetic products, the excessive trash and packaging, and drink filtered water (not necessarily bottled) if you can. Also, eat a nutritious diet rich in onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables, as they are rich, flavonoids and indoles--things that help block the effects of xenoestrogen. Berries and other anti-oxidant rich foods are always a good idea, as anti-oxidants work to reverse many deleterious effects.
Avoid xenoestrogens found in conventional meat and dairy, and certainly conventional (GMO) soy products. Things heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesitcides (i.e., all conventional food) are also full of xenoestrogens. Avoid drinking things from plastic bottles, and microwaving your food in plastic trays.
Caffeine, also, is a big culprit for estrogen dominance, especially for women (virtually all women who drank coffee had higher estrogen levels than women who did not; women who drink 4-5 cups per day have estrogen levels up to 70% higher than women who do not). Alcohol is another estrogenic compound; that is, it promotes the production of estrogen in the body.
We’ve never lived in a world this polluted before.