Although weight loss is the first thing that pops up in mind when someone mentions diet, not all nutritional plans are designed for that purpose. Some are prescribed before a certain medical procedure to prepare your body, such as a clear liquid diet. There are some which aim at eliminating the harmful dietary component from a person’s menu, such as lactose-free or gluten-free diets. The last two diets are planned in such a way that lactose and gluten intolerant people do not consume these components and avoid negative side effects that they may bring along. Likewise, there is a list of estrogen dominance foods to avoid. Knowing what foods are on that list is essential to those who suffer from that medical condition and need to balance out their hormonal levels.
If you are among those people struggling with hormonal imbalance, then this article is exactly what you need. Buckle up and read on!
What Is Estrogen?
First things first, let’s figure out what estrogen is.
As you may know, there are so-called “male” and “female” hormones. Estrogen is considered a “female” hormone that is produced by the human body and plays an important part in its maintenance of proper functioning. It promotes cognitive health, bone health, cardiovascular health, and other vital processes. Estrogen is especially important for the reproductive system and female characteristics, such as breasts and pubic hair. This hormone is produced by the adrenal glands, ovaries, and fat tissues. It also performs the following functions:
- Helps stimulate the growth of the egg follicle
- Maintains the thickness of the vaginal wall and plays a part in lubrication
- Enhances and maintains the mucus membrane that lines the uterus and regulates the flow and thickness of uterine mucus secretions
- Used in the formation of breast tissue and regulates the flow of milk after weaning
As you can see, the above-listed functions are performed by the estrogen in the female body. So, if you wonder, “Do men have estrogen?” you may be surprised to find out that male bodies also produce estrogen, although in smaller amounts than female bodies. Increased production of estrogen causes certain health issues, which will be discussed later on in this article.
Since it is made from the placenta, levels of this type of estrogen rise during pregnancy and peak just before birth. Estriol helps the uterus grow and prepares the body for the upcoming delivery.
Estrone is a weaker form of estrogen and can be converted to other forms of estrogen. It is present in the body after menopause.
This type of estrogen is produced in both male and female bodies. Estradiol is the most common type of this hormone in females during their reproductive years. It is responsible for female characteristics and sexual functioning. Estradiol is also important to women’s bone health.
Any deviation from a norm in the amounts of this hormone may lead to certain health issues. High levels of estradiol can lead to acne, osteoporosis, depression, and low libido. Excess of this type of estrogen may even increase the chance of developing breast or uterine cancer. Lack of estradiol may promote weight gain and cardiovascular issues (6).
What Are Estrogen Normal Levels?
The reference values for estrogen varies for men, pregnant women, women who hit menopause, women during their reproductive years, and others.
The normal blood levels of estradiol in women are (11):
- Children and adolescents – up to 350pg/mL
- Adults – 15-350pg/mL
- After menopause– less than 10pg/mL
The normal blood levels of estradiol in men are (11):
- Children and adolescents – up to 40pg/mL
- Adults – 10-40pg/mL
The normal blood levels of estrone in women are (10):
- Children and adolescents – up to 200pg/mL
- Adults – 17-200pg/mL
- Postmenopause – less than 7-40pg/mL
The normal blood levels of estrone in men are (10):
- Children and adolescents – up to 60pg/mL
- Adults – 10-60pg/mL
To find out whether you need to and how to measure the levels of estrogen in your blood, please, consult with a doctor.
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Like with any other hormone, lack or excess of estrogen is a hormonal imbalance, and so, it can lead to various negative consequences (15).
Besides pregnancy, menopause, and menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen may increase or decrease because of the following factors (2):
- Extreme calorie restriction
- Anorexia nervosa
- Strenuous exercising
- Getting older
- Use of medications, such as steroids, estrogen-containing drugs, tetracyclines, phenothiazines, and ampicillin
- High blood pressure
- Turner’s syndrome
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Adrenal glands tumor or ovaries tumor
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Underactive pituitary gland
Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
Estrogen dominance is a hormonal imbalance during which the amount of estrogen in the body exceeds the norm. Both men and women can suffer from estrogen dominance.
In women, excess estrogen can cause weight gain, irregular periods, light spotting, heavy bleeding, more severe PMS syndromes, bloating, cold hands and feet, sleep problems, fatigue, hair loss, headaches, low libido, mood changes, depression, problems with memory, noncancerous breast lumps, uterine fibroids, and swollen or tender breasts. In men, estrogen dominance is accompanied by erectile dysfunction, infertility, and enlarged breasts or gynecomastia (14). A 2018 study suggests that men with excess estrogen may also suffer from depression (5).
Estrogen Dominance Treatment
It is only natural that people who have too much estrogen are searching for a method on how to lower estrogen. If you suffer from estrogen dominance, before trying to do something about it, you need to consult with your doctor. A medical specialist may recommend you some of the following (9):
Based on the cause of your high levels of estrogen, there may be different ways of treating your estrogen dominance with the help of medications.
If your condition is a result of hormone therapy, your doctor may adjust your treatment plan to achieve a hormonal balance.
If you suffer from cancer, that’s sensitive to estrogen, specialists may prescribe medications that block cancer cells from binding to estrogen, such as tamoxifen. Another tool is an aromatase inhibitor, a medication that stops the enzyme aromatase from converting androgens into estrogen.
In other cases, you may be prescribed a medication that stops estrogen production by your ovaries.
If you suffer from cancer that is sensitive to estrogen, an oncologist may recommend an oophorectomy, a surgery that removes ovaries.
Tweaking your diet may also help you reach a hormonal balance. Since fat cells produce extra estrogen, changes such as starting a low-fat and high-fiber diet or weight loss may be effective at fighting your problem.
If your doctor recommended you shedding a couple of pounds, then you need to adjust your diet and create an adequate caloric deficit. You should make sure that you consume plenty of healthy dietary components such as healthy unsaturated fats (found in fish, nuts, seeds, olives, avocadoes, and others), lean proteins (from poultry, dairy, tofu, beans, and legumes), complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and others), vitamins, and minerals.
Proper hydration is also extremely important not only for weight loss but also for optimal wellness. Drink enough water throughout the whole day: right after you wake up, before a meal, before, during, and after a workout, and right before going to sleep.
Keep away from unhealthy components like saturated and trans fats, added sugars, highly processed foods, and refined carbs. This means that your menu should not include junk food, sweets, baked goods, pasta, and other foods made with wheat flour, sugary drinks, ready-to-eat foods, deep-fried foods, alcohol, foods high in salt, and others.
Another way to help your body reach a hormonal balance is to choose your foods correctly.
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For that purpose, here is a list of estrogen dominance foods to avoid:
Estrogen Dominance Foods To Avoid
The following foods could potentially increase your levels of estrogen (1):
Regular alcohol overconsumption may lead to an increase in estrogen levels and a decrease in testosterone. Besides that, alcohol is rich in calories, so it can contribute to weight gain, which can lead to obesity and is a risk factor for many health issues, including estrogen dominance.
Estrogen Dominance Foods To Avoid: Meat And Dairy
Since even male animals produce estrogen, all animal products may contain traces of this hormone. Although 2016 research suggests that consumption of red and processed meat is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women (8), more research is needed to back up these claims. It is therefore still safe to eat meat and dairy in moderation.
Although grains are an overall healthy type of food, some contain zearalenone, a fungus that may disrupt the balance of estrogen due to its similarity to this hormone.
Legumes are rich in proteins, fiber, and micronutrients. They are an inseparable part of a balanced diet and a primary protein source in a vegetarian and vegan diet. It also contains phytoestrogens in the form of isoflavones. Research on mice showed that isoflavones from yam beans, genistein, and daidzein add to the production of estrogen (12). Some isoflavones, like those found in soy, may lower estrogen levels. However, more research is needed to prove whether legumes lower or increase the production of estrogen in the human body.
Foods Rich In Phytoestrogens
As you may already know, phytoestrogens are plant-based substances that resemble estrogen.
Here are the most phytoestrogen-rich foods (13):
- Red wine
- Sesame seeds
- Cruciferous vegetables
Foods To Eat When You Suffer From Estrogen Dominance
Just like there are foods to avoid if you have estrogen dominance, there are some products that may help reduce your body’s estrogen levels and so should be included in your menu.
These are the following (14):
- Cruciferous vegetables (kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage)
- Red grapes
- Whole grains
Now, as you can see, some foods that you are recommended to avoid are also on the list of foods that you should include in your menu. Why is that so? The thing is that to reach optimal health, you need to follow a healthy diet, and some components are an inseparable part of that balanced diet. No food is harmful when consumed with moderation.
Other Ways To Naturally Reach Hormonal Balance
Besides the above-listed, some methods can help you naturally lower your levels of estrogen, thus promoting a hormonal balance.
Here are some of them:
Fight Your Stress
Being under constant stress is never a good thing. It can not only make you feel exhausted and burnt out but can also lead to such negative physical consequences as problems with sleep, weight gain, and hormonal imbalances.
When you are stressed, your body prioritizes the production of cortisol, and so there is not enough pregnenolone to make progesterone, which leads to relative estrogen dominance. Therefore, you need to fight your stress.
If possible, try to avoid any stress triggers. If not, try various relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, relaxation breathing, and others. You can also reduce your stress levels by making some time for yourself. Take a bubble bath, read an interesting book, cook a delicious meal, listen to your favorite music, go on a picnic, or simply do something you enjoy the most.
Keep Plastic At Bay
Avoid this material whenever possible. Switch from plastic containers to cardboard, glass, or wood. They are not only much better for your health, but also better for the environment.
Eat Up On Fiber
Fiber belongs to the healthy dietary components. It can make you feel full for longer, thus boosting your weight loss and saying bye-bye to your hunger pangs. It also plays an important role in your digestion. Besides that, your body naturally eliminates excess estrogen with fiber. Some of the most fiber-rich foods include fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and herbs.
Certain health problems can be helped with a correct diet. Estrogen dominance is believed to be among those problems.
Estrogen is a female sex hormone, which is also produced in male bodies. It plays a primary role in the maintenance of the proper functioning of the female reproductive system. There are three types of estrogen: estriol, estradiol, and estrone. Any imbalances in levels of these hormones may lead to a negative outcome. One of such deviations is estrogen dominance. This condition can be treated with the help of medication, surgery, or a diet. Knowing estrogen dominance foods to avoid can help you naturally reduce the level of estrogen in your body. The best approach, however, is to consult with your doctor or dietitian and stick to their recommendations.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Can some foods reduce estrogen in men? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Do You Have a Hormone Imbalance? (2019, webmd.com)
- Dose-response effects of aerobic exercise on estrogen among women at high risk for breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Everything you need to know about estrogen (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Increased estrogen level can be associated with depression in males (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Low Estrogen Levels in Menopause (n.d., urmc.rochester.edu)
- Normal Testosterone and Estrogen Levels in Women (2020, webmd.com)
- Red and processed meat, nitrite, and heme iron intakes and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Signs and Symptoms of High Estrogen (2018, healthline.com)
- Test ID: E1 (n.d., mayocliniclabs.com)
- Test ID: EEST (n.d., mayocliniclabs.com)
- The Phytoestrogenic Potential of Yam Bean (Pachyrhizus erosus) on Ovarian and Uterine Tissue Structure of Premenopausal Mice (2015, sciencebiology.org)
- Top Foods High in Estrogen (2020, webmd.com)
- What are the symptoms of high estrogen? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about hormonal imbalances (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)