In our modern world, hormonal disruption has become a common issue.
Be it because of the toxicity which surrounds us or because of bodies cannot handle properly the estrogens we produce. Whichever is the case, it can lead to an estrogen overload called estrogen dominance. And aside from the male issues you might think it leads to, it can cause serious health complications for both men and women. Thinking of shedding some body fat? Want to increase strength? Stave off cancer? Have better cognition? Conceive a child? Conquer depression? Estrogen dominance can disrupt all of those.
This article is not about how macho we have to be by driving down estrogen as much as possible. In fact, be it in male or female, estrogen is necessary for normal body function. It regulates a lot of body functions in both females and males, however a dysfunctional management of estrogen can spell disaster for your health.
This usually translates to too much estrogen and too much of the wrong form of the hormone in the body.
Estrogen comes in two broad categories: endogenous and xeno-estrogens.
Xeno-Estrogens – The “Other” Estrogens
Xeno-estrogens are foreign substances that mimic the action of estrogen in the body. And as you’ll learn in this article, they are quite common all around you. Those substances can bind to the cell receptor sites and activate them, hence increasing the estrogenic activity in your body. They have also been linked to a whole slew of health issues: mood disorders, ED, cancers, obesity and cardiac dysfunctions being the most common.
The scary part? Not only are they almost unavoidable, but they can have a combined action scientists call the “cocktail effect.” No need to say they are the primary source of estrogenic dominance in the body.
The Inside Job
The other category, endogenous, comes from our own body’s production. Issues can derive from over-production, under-production, dysfunctional management or elimination, and increase in a process called “aromatization” in which you convert your testosterone in estrogen. Let’s explore the possible issues
Possibility # 1
Your aromatase enzymes are doing overtime, converting testosterone into estrogen. This can happen in 2 circumstances: lack of certain nutrient such as zinc, magnesium, selenium or vitamin D3 will either increase aromatization activity or prevent its inhibition, or your bodyfat is too high. Aromatase enzymes are produced in the adipose tissue i.e the fat cells. So the fatter you are, the more aromatase you will have
You cannot detoxify the estrogen properly. The body’s hormones have a “lifespan” of sort, meaning that once they have fulfilled their use, they will be recycled or excreted. A number of conditions can prevent the liver and other detox organs from doing so with estrogen, leading to an accumulation in the body. These include, but are not limited to: lack of liver cofactors for phase 2, gastro-intestinal health issues, lack of fiber in your diet.
Possibility # 3
You are a poor methylator. Methylation is a key metabolic process with many functions, but it is also one that is very fragile. Lack of certain nutrients or poor genetic methylation abilities can increase the circulating estrogens.
Possibility # 4
You are a regular drinker. Alcohol, especially beer can increase aromatization activity and reduce testosterone production in the body. Furthermore, the liver cannot function properly for many functions while it is treating alcohol present in the bloodstream.
Possibility # 5
You are losing weight too fast. Fat cells can store chemicals, and losing fat releases those molecules in the body, contributing to its toxic estrogen load.
Notice that in many of the causes mentioned above, nutrient deficiencies play a part. This is in part why treating estrogen dysfunction cannot be done adequately without a dietary intervention first.
This reasoning is part of the two-pronged approach to treating estrogen overload: support the heatlhy processing and elimination of estrogen with food and supplements and avoid exposure to toxic chemical that can mimic estrogen’s action in the body.
An Ounce of Prevention in the house…
I always start with a review of the chemicals in your home environment that you need to avoid. Yes, estrogenic, androgen-killing substances are unavoidable, but switching some basic products we use for others that are non-toxic will go a long way in reducing that exposure.
Go to the Environmental Working Group web site and check the following product categories in their search engine for more info on their toxicity from xeno-estrogens:
Personal Care Items:
- Body lotions
- Hair products
- Any and all skin care lotions/creams
- Nail solvents and polish
- Detergent for laundry
- Windows spray
- Dishwashing soap
- All-purpose cleaners
- Stovetop cleaners
- Oven cleaners
- Scented candles
- Air fresheners
- Floor polish
- Stain remover
Additional tips and tricks
- Most receipts contains BPA, so avoid manipulating them
- A lot of recycled paper also contains BPA, as do plastic bags (so use cloth bags)
- Smells in particular can carry a lot of particules, so beware of new car smell and the likes. Air them out rather than letting them disappear by themselves
… And a pound of cure in the kitchen
A lot of toxicity can be avoided by making the proper food choices. Not only will those help reduce the toxic load on the body, as they often are laden with estrogen-mimicking pesticides and insecticides, but the most sprayed foods are usually the most beneficial to detox, such as green leafy vegetables.
Common Food Items
- Boxed or canned foods
- Non-organic leafy greens
- Fats (olive oil in particular)
- Poor quality meats
- Water or juice in plastic bottles
- Any and all forms of soy (more info here and here)
Look on the EWG.org website for their “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” to learn which veggies and fruits are the worst offenders and which are the best to eat from conventional sources.
Finally, eat from steel or glassware containers as a lot of plastic containers will leech plastics in your food. The most common is BPA, one of the most well-known source of fake estrogens, but you can find other plastic-related substances in food stored in plastic containers. This is even more true for liquid containers, especially the reusable kind as they tend to degrade over time.
Aluminum plates and cookwares are another offender in the kitchen. Although not related to estrogen issues in itself, aluminum is a common cause of fat accumulation via toxicity, leading to more aromatization.
It’s also important to note that a big part of the benefit of organic food is not what more micro-nutrients it contains, but rather what it does NOT contain in terms of pollutants. The worse foods are often the fatty foods, such as fat sources like butter and various oils, and meat, fish and poultry. Fat has the ability to store those molecules, which it does in the human body to prevent a toxic overload, but in foods, it means that whatever the animal or plant was exposed too will be absorbed. Eating those foods will then expose you to the same chemicals, and they can accumulate over time and have compound effect. Guess there is a downside at being at the top of the food chain after all!
Basics of the Non-Estrogenic Diet
The very first diet strategy to help with estrogen re-balance is to eat a low-carb, protein-rich diet as it will promote fat loss and body recomposition. Keeping insulin low helps lower free estrogen in the bloodstream. Phase 2 detoxifying is a task for which the liver needs plenty of amino acids. So this type of diet will help with both detoxification, inhibit production of new estrogen by reducing aromatization and reduction of aromatase-producing fat cells.
Get The Green Edge
A lot of foods can also help in this regards. Leafy green vegetables where already mention, provided that they are organic. Another important category is cruciferous vegetables rich in indole-3-carbinol which turns into Di-Indole Methane (otherwise known as DIM) when properly chewed. So include cabage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli and others in your regular diet. Make sure you chew them thoroughly to enjoy their benefits though. As mentioned, the I3C need an enzyme called glycosinolate to turn into DIM. This enzyme is activated my mechanical stress, so when the plant gets chewed. Plus, chewing helps with mixing the enzymes and I3C.
The Rainbow of Foods
Nuts and seeds are another part of this nutritional anti-estrogen overhaul as they are rich in vitamins and minerals required to support a healthy estrogen metabolism. They also provide unique phyto-nutrients that have many benefits, including acting on phase 1 and 2 liver detox. Such nutrients include: selenium, melatonin, zinc, magnesium, folic acid, and B6 and B12. This list is far from complete but it covers the basics. So add foods such as nuts and seeds, but also kudzu, alfalfa, collard greens, clover, licorice and citruses. Spices like curcumin and black pepper in combination also have a potent effect on estrogen management.
Another clinical pearl is, make sure you ingest at least 25 (for females) to 35 (for males) grams of fibers every day. These will not only help with gut health but also bind to the estrogen and help excrete them.
Fatty fish providing omega-3s can be of help as well, as its been shown that EPA and DHA can promote a healthy estrogen metabolism by shifting it down to the least harmful pathway, producing 2-hydroxyestrone.
Supplements That Can Make The Difference
Many compounds found in plants will help manage estrogen metabolism and improve expression of the best pathway and increase excretion. All of those processes are what we call detox. Please make sure you have the diet and lifestyle measures in place before loading on supplements. If you still have an issue with xeno-estrogens after all of this is in place, then you can start with a proper supplement regimen
One of the issue with the food measures is that those foods sometimes do not necessarily contain enough of the necessary molecules to have optimal results. Additionally, some of those compounds need to be processed in the body via enzymatic pathway, reducing their availability even further. Nonetheless, it’s a smart choice to include those foods in your diet before supplementation, as they provide energy and nutrients. Plus, not all of their active compounds have been identified yet.
My favorite product to work with is ATP-Lab’s Estro Control). It’s a very potent blend that will help with estrogen reduction. Make sure you consult with a qualified health practitioner first, as I’ve seen people over-dosing on this product and being too low in estrogen.
Any of the substances mentioned in the diet intervention paragraph can also be supplemented with, the most popular with curcumin and DIM. One that is not mentioned but worth adding to this list of supplement is calcium-D-glucarate, an inhibitor of the β-glucuronidase enzyme
Estrogen dysfunction is an ever-present health issue in our modern era. Whether you are exposed to hormonal disruptors such as xeno-estrogens and phyto-estrogens, or whether you have an hormonal imbalance in your body, both situations can have the same consequences on your health. But with some simple, consumer-smart strategies and some dietary changes, you will prevent most of the problems related to it.
Yours in Health,
Coach Charles R. Poliquin