Estrogen is the dominant female hormone. It is actually a group of hormones, called the estrogens, that are responsible for the development of female secondary sex characteristics: the development of breast tissue and the proliferation of the uterine lining. Estrogen helps prepare the body for ovulation. Not all estrogens are created equal, however. Some estrogens are associated with an increased risk of certain female cancers, such as breast cancer.
Excess estrogen, especially in the form of these so-called “bad” estrogens, seems to be a common theme among women in North America. Stress, caffeine intake, synthetic estrogens in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy and xeno-estrogens from cleaning products, plastics and cosmetics are among some of the causes of excess levels of estrogen in the body. Because of these environmental factors, many women suffer from something called “Estrogen Dominance”.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include stubborn weight gain, anxiety, premenstrual symptoms of breast tenderness, acne, irritability, fatigue and brain fog. Estrogen dominance can contribute to worsening of health conditions such as infertility, fibrocystic breasts, repeated miscarriages, uterine fibroids and endometriosis as well as increase the risk of developing certain cancers.
Some other signs to look for include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
- Bloating (water retention)
- Headaches (especially premenstrually)
- Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
- Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
- Hair loss
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Sluggish metabolism
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
Estrogen detoxification can be done effectively through a healthy diet that aims at improving estrogen clearance in the liver and regulation of the action of estrogen at cell receptors. By following this diet, patients can experience an improvement in hormonal health conditions, clearer skin and weight loss.
This diet is adapted from Dr. Joseph Collins RN, ND at yourhormones.com
Vegetables from the cabbage family, such as cabbage itself, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, spinach, collard greens and other leafy greens are rich in a nutrient called indole-3-carbinol, or I3C. I3C gets converted to diindolymethane (DIM) in the body, which is responsible for clearance of excess estrogens in the liver. Consume a minimum of 3-4 servings of these vegetables per week.