Everything You Need to Know About Estrogen in Order to Prevent It From Ruining Your Health
Estrogen and progesterone levels need to be maintained in a specific ratio for optimal health, and when there is not enough progesterone to balance estrogen out, it creates a harmful health condition called estrogen dominance. The condition effects men and women alike, and it’s caused primarily by excess body fat, the birth control pill, overexposure to environmental estrogen-like compounds (xenoestrogens), and the consumption of animal products (because they’re naturally very high in estrogen).
Estrogen Dominance Increases the Risk For:
- Breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer
- Menstrual irregularity
- PMS and symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings
- Blood sugar disorders
- Weight gain
- Stubborn acne
- Chronic fatigue
- Hair loss
- Irritability, depression and moodiness
- Decreased sex dive
- Male breast growth
- Sexual dysfunction and/or infertility
- Thyroid disorders
Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance
Xenoestrogens are so harmful because they act as endocrine disruptors, or in simpler terms, they interfere with the endocrine (hormonal) processes in the body. There are many endocrine disruptors in our environment, and overexposure to them can trigger estrogen dominance. Some of the most dangerous endocrine disruptors include: phthalates, fire retardants, arsenic, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), mercury, dioxin, pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals can bind to your estrogen receptors, and stay attached to receptors longer than estrogen itself. This causes the estrogen receptor to be turned-on and prevents it from turning off. Indefinite activation of estrogen receptors is dangerous, because it increases estrogen load and provides hormone-receptor-positive cancer cells with the perfect environment to grow and thrive.[i]
One of the most popular examples of an endocrine disruptor that shows up in a variety of different places is BPA (Bisphenol A). BPA is highly toxic, it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body, and it’s been linked to hormonal cancers, fetal damage, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, behavioral problems in children, and infertility.[ii] [iii] It used to be found in almost all plastic water bottles, food containers, and even in baby bottles. Fortunately, however, increased awareness of BPA and its dangers caused many companies to remove BPA from their plastic products. This does not mean we are safe from BPA exposure however, BPAs are still widely used in the chemical coatings inside food and beverage cans; they’re used in some dental sealants and composites; they’re in cash register receipts; in many reusable plastic water bottles; and in certain other consumer goods.[iv]
Good Versus Bad Estrogens
Not all estrogens are bad, some estrogen compounds such as 2-hydroxyestrone are beneficial, they do not contribute to estrogen dominance symptoms, and they even help prevent the growth of cancerous tumors.[v] The pathway that estrogens take and what they are broken down into (estrogen metabolites), determines whether or not an estrogen is helpful or harmful.
The Highway Analogy
One analogy provided by Dr. Jennifer Landa to help better understand the estrogen metabolism and pathway process is to think of estrogen as 3 separate highways. Estrogen needs to travel on a highway (or estrogen pathway) to be metabolized and removed from the body. If estrogen travels down the 2 highway (or 2-hydroxyestrone), then estrogen is safe and healthy…this is the highway you want to drive most of your estrogen down. The jury is still out on the health effects of the 16 highway (16-alpha-hydroxyestrone); and the 4 highway (4-hydroxyestrone), is the one you want to avoid at all costs.
Once you’ve redirected as much estrogen as possible to the 2 highway, you need to make sure the estrogens get off at the right exit (or usher them out of your body). Methylation is a chemical process in the body where a single carbon and three hydrogen atoms join another molecule. Methylation is important for preventing and reversing estrogen dominance, because it converts estrogens into a form that can be removed from your body, so that it ‘gets off at the right exit’.
Hormone Testing For Estrogen Dominance
Urine testing is particularly beneficial for measuring estrogen because it’s able to measure the 3 main estrogen metabolites (breakdown products of estrogen) – estriol, estradiol and estrone. The five-point urine test is highly recommended because it measures all 3 estrogen metabolites, as well as progesterone, testosterone, DHA, and cortisol. Also, it measures your hormones at 5 even intervals over a 24-hour period, which is important since hormones are constantly fluctuating.
Consume a healthy, wholefoods, plant-based diet and minimize your consumption of animal products, refined, packaged and fried foods; stimulants, alcohol and vegetable oils. This type of diet helps to lower estrogen levels in the body by both reducing their intake and by aiding in proper methylation. Raw, cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, Bok choy and arugula are particularly beneficial and should be consumed frequently. These veggies are so helpful because they are naturally rich in a potent anti-estrogen compound called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C).[vi]
Additional Lifestyle Tips
Saunas and exercises that induce sweat are a great way to detoxify and eliminate harmful estrogens. Also, the importance of regular bowel movements cannot be overstated. Harmful hormone metabolites are excreted out of the body through bowel movements, and constipation not only stalls the elimination process, it can also cause the toxins to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. To encourage elimination, consume plenty of fiber and drink 8 or more glasses of purified water a day.
Supplements that contain I3C and its cousin compound — diindolylmethane (DIM) are extremely helpful at reducing the amount of harmful estrogens that are in your body. EstroBlock contains clinically effective doses of I3C and DIM as well as a proprietary blend of other nutrients that help clear toxic estrogens from the body (http://estroblock.com/). Be sure to combine these ingredients with supplements that encourage methylation, to help usher the estrogens out of the body. Supplement ingredients that aid in methylation include: trimethylglycine (TMG), dimethylglycine (DMG), SAMe and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.
To watch the video that this article was based off of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nss3A9oYlwk