Estrogen dominance is a hormonal condition that often affects women and some men. To combat this condition, some dietary and lifestyle changes are required. If you are wondering what a low estrogen diet is and how it could help if you have this condition, read on to find out more.
What Is Estrogen?
Also known as oestrogen, it is one of the main sex hormones found in biological females. While this hormone is often noted as a ‘female hormone’, it is also found in biological males, albeit in smaller amounts (17). The hormone is also classified into 3 categories which are namely:
- Estrone (E1) – found in menopausal women and is produced in the ovaries, the adipose tissue, and adrenal glands.
- Estradiol (E2) – this variation is the primary sex hormone in women and is found in both men and women.
- Estriol (E3) – Produced in the placenta and is found in higher amounts during pregnancy.
What does estrogen do in the body? This hormone is responsible for changes such as the growth of the breasts, pubic and underarm hair, and the start of menstrual cycles as well as keeping cholesterol in control, protecting bone health in both women and men, and affecting your brain, moods, heart, skin, and other tissues.
How To Lower Estrogen Levels?
As stated above, estrogen is just one of the hormones found in both men and women. When we are in perfect health, all our hormones are all on par with none being above their normal levels. That said, in some cases factors such as medication, diet weight gain and more cause estrogen to go above its normal levels and become more than progesterone in women or above its optimal levels in men.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance in women include but are not limited to bloating, swollen and tender breasts, decreased sex drive, irregular menstrual periods, increased fatigue and sleep problems, mood swings, headaches, anxiety and panic attacks, weight gain, hair loss and more.
In men, estrogen dominance is characterized by erectile dysfunction, migraines, weight gain, depression, pulmonary hypertension, and enlarged breast tissue.
If you are looking for ways to lower your estrogen levels, then a low estrogen diet is your best bet. A diet of lower estrogen levels is one that
- Is high in fiber as it helps with the increase of fecal excretion of estrogen making sure that the hormone isn’t trapped at high levels in the body
- Limits red and processed meats as these are associated with higher estrogen levels (16, 7)
- Limits refined carbs and processed foods (7)
- Does not include alcohol – research has shown that in some people, alcoholic drinks can negatively affect your hormone levels and increase estrogen levels (8).
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A Gluten Free Diet For Low Estrogen: Can It Help?
In recent years, with the rise in cases of gluten sensitivity, gluten has come under scrutiny with many people trying to understand what it is and how it can affect your body in both positive and negative ways. While we may not be dealing with the case of gluten sensitivity, many still do not understand what gluten actually is.
According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, gluten is a protein naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. A review by the Food microbiology journal further states that these proteins – formally known as prolamins – are further classified depending on which type of grain they come from. However, the main thing to understand is that gluten plays a key role in determining how wheat absorbs water, its cohesivity, viscosity and the elasticity of dough (5).
Should you try a gluten free low estrogen diet? If you are trying to get your estrogen levels back down to a more manageable level then you should probably hop on the gluten free diet lifestyle since research has shown that these proteins can adversely affect your hormones.
- A study published in 2013 points to inflammation as being one of the main things that makes hormonal imbalance worse in many people (15).
When it comes to gluten specifically, the study points out that for people who are sensitive to gluten, when they consume these proteins and then it gets into your digestive tract, the body produces antibodies to attack and destroy this protein.
Overtime and as you continue to consume gluten, the antibodies end up damaging and destroying the microvilli in your digestive tract leading to the leakage of food particles into the bloodstream and will make it that much harder for food to move through the small intestines and for the body to absorb nutrients. This slower transit time means excess estrogen stays in the body longer, contributing to estrogen dominance.
- Celiac disease, also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy is an autoimmune disorder that’s triggered by gluten. According to two studies – published in 2010 by the World Journal of Gastroenterology and another in 2015 by the Gastroenterology and Hepatology from Bed to Bench, women suffering from this disease have a greater risk of impaired fertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes (13, 12).
- Gluten sensitivity has also been shown to greatly affect women going through perimenopause. Not only does sensitivity to these proteins in wheat affect estrogen and progesterone but may lead to adrenal hormonal imbalance, leading to the overproduction of the stress hormone, cortisol (10).
If you are looking for a simple gluten free low estrogen diet plan to help you not only combat gluten sensitivity – if you have it – but to also help you fight against estrogen dominance, here is an easy 1-day menu to show you what you can eat.
Read More: Foods To Lower Estrogen Levels Naturally
Meal 1 – Coconut Flour Pancakes
Coconut flour is a good flour option that doesn’t have any gluten.
Ingredients – 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 3 large eggs, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/3 cup coconut flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, kosher salt, cooking spray
Calories: 698. Fats: 44 g. Proteins: 26 g. Carbs: 51 g.
Get recipe from Delish (6)
Meal 2 – Baked Chicken And Chickpea
439 g chickpeas, 453 g mini sweet peppers, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp harissa sauce, 4 small skin-on chicken legs, chopped cilantro, for serving
Calories: 630. Fats: 42 g. Proteins: 30 g. Carbs: 22 g.
Get recipe from Womans Day (14)
Meal 3 – Baked Salmon
Ingredients – 4 salmon fillets, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, 3 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp finely chopped parsley, 1 tsp finely chopped dill
This recipe makes 4 servings. You can have the salmon alone or with some cauliflower rice.
Calories: 296. Fats: 34 g. Proteins: 16 g. Carbs: 1 g.
Get recipe from Down Shifology (4)
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1624. Fats: 120 g. Proteins: 72 g. Carbs: 74 g.
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How Do Low Estrogen Levels And Diet Affect Each Other?
According to a review published by the journal of Clinical Biochemistry, researchers stated that the foods you eat can affect the production and secretion of hormones by direct actions on the gut, by nervous reflexes, through changes in the concentration of various metabolites in the blood, or secondary to changes in circulating gut hormone levels (11).
In short, your diet can cause drastic changes in your estrogen levels by either increasing or decreasing them by influencing estrogen metabolism and excretion in the body (9, 1). For example the Western diet is associated with elevated estrogen levels while the Mediterranean diet is associated with optimal estrogen levels (16).
What Causes High Estrogen Levels In The Body?
Because this hormone is found in both men and women, estrogen dominance can happen in both men and women. Factors that can trigger high estrogen levels include hormonal contraceptives, medications like estrogen replacement therapy or phenothiazines including certain antibiotics, weight gain and obesity, age, increased stress levels, tumors and other hormonal conditions.
How To Increase Estrogen Levels In The Body?
According to medicalnewstoday.com, low estrogen levels in the body are often the result of menopause. However, in some cases, this condition can be caused by factors such as premature ovarian failure, congenital conditions, thyroid disorders, too much exercise, being underweight, medical procedures such as chemotherapy and a low-functioning pituitary gland.
Just like with estrogen dominance, changing your diet can help you deal with this issue and even help increase this hormones’ levels. A diet for low estrogen levels is one that is full of estrogen building foods such as tofu, sesame and flax seeds, soybeans, hummus, and garlic. You should also make sure to have more B vitamins, boron and Vitamin D in your diet.
Is An Estrogen Dominance Low Carb Diet The Best For High Estrogen Levels?
The Bottom Line
As seen above, a low estrogen diet is your best bet to getting your hormones back down to normal levels. If you suspect that you have high estrogen levels, please first speak to your doctor to determine if your symptoms are as you suspect them to be.
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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. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A dietary pattern based on estrogen metabolism is associated with breast cancer risk in a prospective cohort of postmenopausal women (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A review of adherence to the Mediterranean diet and breast cancer risk according to estrogen- and progesterone-receptor status and HER2 oncogene expression (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A traditional Mediterranean diet decreases endogenous estrogens in healthy postmenopausal women (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Best Baked Salmon (2021, downshiftology.com)
- Chemistry of gluten proteins (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Coconut Flour Pancakes (2018, delish.com)
- Dietary patterns, the Alternate Healthy Eating Index and plasma sex hormone concentrations in postmenopausal women (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of Dietary Phytoestrogens on Hormones throughout a Human Lifespan: A Review (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- HOW GLUTEN AFFECTS DIGESTION AND HORMONE BALANCE FOR WOMEN OVER 40? (2017, medium.com)
- How our food affects our hormones (1985, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and reproductive disorders (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Reproductive changes associated with celiac disease (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sheet Pan Chickpea Chicken (2020, womansday.com)
- The Dietary Intake of Wheat and other Cereal Grains and Their Role in Inflammation (2013, .ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Western dietary pattern is associated with increased serum concentrations of free estradiol in postmenopausal women: implications for breast cancer prevention (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What is Estrogen? (2018, hormone.org)