Elevated oestrogen, in comparison to its protective counterpart progesterone, can create symptoms from heavy, painful periods to weight gain and fluid retention.
Having excess oestrogen long term can contribute to conditions such as fibroids and exacerbate endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts.
Working towards a healthier balance of oestrogen is important for both long term hormonal health and overall wellbeing.
In this article I will discuss the main signs and symptoms of oestrogen excess, what causes it, as well as the dietary changes you can implement today to start your path to healthier hormonal balance.
What Are The Symptoms of Oestrogen Excess?
Common symptoms of oestrogen excess may include the following:
• Breast tenderness
• Fibrocystic lumps in your breasts
• Heavy periods
• Weight Gain
• Fluid retention
What Increases Oestrogen?
Did you know that in order for your body to process oestrogen it requires a two step detoxification process through your digestive system and liver?
Your liver requires several minerals, vitamins and protein to help bind to oestrogen and excrete it through the digestive system.
As your digestive system is a key organ for oestrogen elimination, it’s also important that you pay attention to the health of your microbiome which encompasses thousands of bacterial species. An unhealthy microbiome can allow dysbiotic (bad) bacteria to thrive, displacing beneficial bacteria and creating symptoms of poor digestive health.
If you experience signs of poor gut health such as constipation, loose bowel motions, bloating or gas it could be contributing to your oestrogen excess.
Factors That Increase Oestrogen
Other factors that can contribute to oestrogen excess include:
• Lack of fibre in the diet to bind to oestrogen and remove it through the bowel
• Alcohol excess: just one drink per day can increase blood levels of oestrogen
• Mineral deficiencies: of zinc, selenium, iodine and magnesium
• Vitamin deficiencies: of folate, B6, and B12
• Under-functioning thyroid: by slowing down oestrogen metabolism
• Bacterial overgrowth in the digestive system impairs oestrogen metabolism by making beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that reactivates oestrogen
• Endocrine disrupting chemicals: pesticides, plasticisers (BPA), heavy metal toxicity which impair detoxification or oestrogen
Five Steps To Reduce Oestrogen Excess
1. Eat Phytoestrogen Rich Foods
Phytoestrogens found in soy and legumes provide a weaker form of oestrogen that down regulates your total oestrogen load. They do this by binding to your oestrogen receptor and preventing estradiol (E2), a more potent oestrogen produced primarily by your ovaries from binding to the oestrogen receptor. By doing this it reduces the negative side effects associated with excess estradiol.
When eating soy, ensure you are consuming a non-genetically modified (non-GMO) soy and that it is derived from the whole soy bean such as tempeh.
Other legumes that contain phytoestrogens include chickpeas and mungbeans.
Concerned about soy and thyroid health? Read more about the controversies of soy here in my article, “How Safe Is Soy For Your Thyroid Health?”(link: http://chloedennison.com/safe-soy-thyroid/)
2. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
As little as one alcoholic drink per day can increase your oestrogen levels, and unfortunately no type of alcohol is better than the other. This is also the reason for why regular alcohol consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Fourteen alcoholic drinks per week has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer by 10% and 21 drinks by 30%. Reducing your total alcohol consumption during the week is imperative to reducing your total oestrogen.
If you’re a big drinker, start by reducing your total intake through the week by ensuring you are having several alcohol free nights per week. I usually recommend reducing your intake towards the weekend only and aim to have Monday – Thursday of alcohol free evenings.
3. Eat Magnesium Rich Foods or Supplement
Magnesium is an essential mineral for oestrogen detoxification, it also helps to reduce symptoms associated with oestrogen excess such as period pain. It does this by reducing inflammation and reducing muscular spasms.
Dietary sources of magnesium include: nuts, seeds (sunflower and pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables and dark chocolate.
Magnesium supplementation: Not all magnesium supplements are made the same. Aim for a magnesium amino acid chelate, bisglycinate or citrate for better absorption. I recommend taking 300mg of elemental magnesium per day, which will ensure you are receiving adequate levels of magnesium required for oestrogen detoxification.
4. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables Regularly
Cruciferous vegetables contain indol-3-carbinol, a constituent which supports the metabolism of oestrogen via the liver.
Food sources: broccoli, cauiflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and watercress.
5. Aim for 30 g of fibre per day
Fibre is not only important for digestive health, but also assists oestrogen detoxification through the bowels. Eating a diet rich in plant foods will not only ensure you are receiving adequate amounts of fibre, but it will also provide a plethora of minerals and antioxidants required for liver detoxification.
Food sources high in fibre: lentils, apple and pear with the skins on, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, broccoli, kiwi fruit, quinoa, flaxseeds, brown rice, walnuts, sunflower seeds, prunes and carrots.
How Can I Find Out If I Have Oestrogen Excess?
If you are experiencing signs of oestrogen excess but are looking for extra support on a treatment strategy to get your hormones back in balance, then consider booking Naturopathic consultation.
Through a Naturopathic consultation I can help you with a clearer strategy to reduce your oestrogen excess, by incorporating the combination of tailored herbal and nutritional support for your symptom picture and hormonal imbalances.
I may also consider hormonal testing that can help provide a clearer picture on whether oestrogen excess is a problem for you, and if there are any other hormonal imbalances such as progesterone deficiency or testosterone excess contributing to your current state of health.