Estrogen dominance is the main culprit in many conditions which lead to infertility and worse - estrogen dependent cancers. Some examples of estrogen dominant conditions are PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, low sperm count, poor sperm quality as a result of low testosterone, fibrocystic breast disease and obesity.
There are three different types of estrogen produced by the ovaries; E1 (estrone), E2 (estradiol) and E3 (estriol). Estrogen is a very important hormone for women. It promotes maturation of follicles, development of endometrium for implantation of the fertilized egg, production of fertile mucus, softens the cervix, lubricates vagina during intercourse and helps sperm to swim in the female reproductive system. It is the key hormone for development of female sexual organs and it's important for overall health of your breasts, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the vagina. And when you reach your menopausal years, your can thank estrogen deficiency for hot-flushes, dry vagina and the risk of osteoporosis.
Too much of a good thing?
So how come that something that's so good and important for female health can be also causing a host of conditions which predispose to infertility and cancer?
Balance and moderation is the key to any successful endeavor. Too much exercise can actually break down your muscle tissue and cause you to gain weight. Too much vitamin C can give you diarrhea and too much estrogen can cause a hormonal imbalance.
The fourth type of estrogen we recognize belongs to the group of so called xeno-estrogens. Xeno in Greek means 'foreign' i.e. not made by the body. In this context it refers to estrogens which we get exposed to through the food we eat, drinks we drink, creams, lotions and potions we put on our skin and the chemicals we inhale - some from the environment and some from exposure to commercial perfumes and cleaning solutions. Xeno-estrogens look similar to body-made estrogen and can dock on your estrogen receptors (key-lock system) and activate the same reaction in cell a real estrogen would. As all hormones depend on each other and secretion of one prompts the secretion of other hormones, soon you end up with uncoordinated release of hormones which start creating havoc in the body.
Daily agitation over prolonged time can lead to tissue and function changes ultimately resulting in a chronic condition. Chronic conditions respond best to dietary and lifestyle changes. So what can you do to prevent estrogen dominance in your body?
5 Foods to reduce estrogen dominance
1. Meet the cruciferous vegetable family! They are broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts and cauliflower. This family of vegetables contains sulfur compounds (can be gas forming) and indole-3-carbinol. These guys bind to estrogen and escort it out of the body. Have three servings a day. These veggies can be eaten raw in salads (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale) or steamed (brussels sprouts). Kale makes wonderful healthy chips baked in the oven with some olive oil and sea salt.
2. Hello green leafy vegetables! Spinach, celery, rucola, parsley, dandelions, Swiss chard. Have 2-3 servings a day. Gren leafy's make great salads and can be blended in smoothies. Adding one banana to your smoothie will mask the grassy taste. If drinking a green drink is not your thing, add a handful of frozen blueberries or cherries to make it purple and taste of berries. A dash of stevia and vanilla essence compliment this gourmet combination.
3. Good morning sunshine! Fruits which remind us of our beautiful sun are all the citrus fruits; lemons, oranges, grapefruits (ruby red and yellow), mandarines, tangerines, pomelos and limes. Citrus fruits contain d-limonene which helps detoxify estrogen. Aim for one serving a day. You can juice them, eat them and add their juice to a variety of dishes. Organic lemons and oranges can be blended whole and make a great addition to smoothies making them taste delightful. If you are going to use the peel (which is very healthy) make sure to wash the fruit and use only organic fruits as pesticides can get absorbed into the essential oils found in the peel of citrus fruits. Pesticides act as xeno-estrogens, so you want to avoid getting exposed to them.
4. Grandma knows best! Apple a day, keeps the doctor away. Insoluble fibre found in apples, oats, berries and beans binds to estrogen in your small intestines and stops it from being absorbed. That way you can reduce your exposure to xeno-estrogens from your diet. Aim for two servings a day.
5. Lastly these small seeds contain more than meets the eye! Sesame seeds and flax seeds contain estrogen binging lignans. Aim for two to three tablespoons a day. You can have flaxseed oil or ground up flaxseeds, sesame seeds sprinkled in salad or ground up in a paste called tahini. Flaxseeds are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids.