I remember all too well, 20 years ago, when I thought 46 years was far, far away. Where did the time go? It’s finally here. The years have come and is going, fast. Now I’m 46 dealing with many of the issues that my mother and grandmother dealt with at my age, hormonal changes.
Hormones influence just about every physiological response in our body including, the menstrual cycle, the reproductive system, our flight/fright response and metabolism. They are our body’s chemical messengers and can be both harmful and beneficial. So, it’s especially important for every woman to know the type of foods to consume and the types to avoid in order to optimize hormone health.
Estrogen is the female hormone that’s responsible for primary sex characteristics like breast development, pubic and armpit hair. It also plays a role in menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, and is crucial for cardiovascular health as it promotes healthy cholesterol levels and causes blood vessels to relax.
However, low or high estrogen levels can lead to numerous unpleasant effects on the body.
Know your hormone levels. It’s always a good idea to see your gynecologist or primary care physician and have a hormone test done. It’ll give you a window into what’s happening with your hormone health.
The key, if you have low estrogen, is to consume foods that support a healthy estrogen balance. If you have high estrogen levels, (there are several reasons for high levels) consume foods and adopt lifestyle practices that reduce excess estrogen and xenoestrogens in the blood.
Foods that support Estrogen health
Foods to eat if you have low estrogen
Low estrogen levels tend to affect women during menopause. However, younger women who are not experiencing perimenopause and menopausal symptoms can also suffer from Low estrogen.
Phytoestrogens: Though estrogen cannot be obtained from foods, plant foods contain phytoestrogens, which has isoflavones, a weak form of estrogen. Here are some foods that contain phytoestrogens.
- Dark Chocolate: loaded with flavanol
- Protein: Buckwheat, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, soy products, egg whites, fish (wild caught), chicken (grass fed)
- Healthy fats: Avocados, ghee, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, pressed seed oils
- Citrus Fruits: grapefruit, orange, tangerine, lemons
- Herbs & Spices: cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, thyme, ginger, garlic
- Fiber: dark green leafy and colorful veggies, and fruits in moderation
- Cruciferous vegetables: brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, cabbage
Foods to eat if you have high estrogen
Excess estrogen or what’s known as estrogen dominance can wreak havoc on a woman’s body, contributing to issues like cystic acne, weight gain, depression, mood swings, headaches, insomnia, and fibroids.
If you suffer from estrogen dominance, avoid phytoestrogens – in soy products, which can exacerbate estrogen production. Also, be mindful of Xenoestrogens, which mimics estrogen ( another post) and contributes to estrogen dominance.
- Probiotics: fermented foods: yogurt, kimchi,
- Green tea: has polyphenols, which can get rid of xenoestrogens and provide liver support.
- Selenium: eat brazil nuts, which is rich in selenium
- Fiber: dark, leafy greens prohibits xenoestrogens from binding to receptor sites.
- Seaweed: is high in iodine and helps to block the absorption of xenoestrogen in the body
- Tumeric: has curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory that can get rid of excess estrogen and xenoestrogens.
- Citrus Fruits: grapefruit, orange, tangerine, lemons all contain anti-inflammatory flavonoids
- Cruciferous vegetables: brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, cabbage. They produce sulforaphane, which increases detoxification enzymes and rids the body of toxic estrogen and xenoestrogens.
Foods that sabotage estrogen health
- Vegetable oils
- processed foods
- Saturated Fats
Hormone imbalance affects women from adolescence through menopause. Be proactive. Be consistent with a good, clean, balanced diet. In addition, practice other lifestyle habits like exercise, prayer, meditation, yoga, using toxic-free beauty/household products, and other activities that will bring some normalcy to your hormone production.
Dixie Lincoln- Nichols is a biological science educator, certified health coach and entrepreneur. Her work has been featured in media outlets like, Oprah Mag, SELF, Yahoo, Redbook, Natural Health, Instyle, Working Woman, Huffington Post, Essence Online, Tampa Tribune and more. She is currently the Chief Self-care Connoisseur and founder of I. O. Beauty Market, where she curates products that are free of toxic, harmful ingredients.