The traditional medical approach for the past 20 years has been to address progesterone deficiency by prescribing progesterone cream, rather than addressing estrogen excess. Women typically feel better almost immediately after starting on the progesterone cream, since it buffers excess estrogen. However, this symptomatic approach can result in the body ceasing to produce its own progesterone, which leads to a cascade of endocrine imbalances. The good news is that you can address estrogen dominance directly by optimizing liver function and making the following changes to your lifestyle and diet:
Optimize liver function
Optimal liver health is important in preventing estrogen dominance. The simplest way to improve your liver function is to eat clean, minimize alcohol consumption and have warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. Bitter leafy greens can also support liver health. Some of my favourite herbs for stimulating liver function are Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Globe Artichoke, and Schisandra. Spring is the best time to cleanse the liver, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I offer the following:
One-on-one Comprehensive 30 Day Spring Cleanse – Detoxify the whole body, with an emphasis on the liver. You will receive the following; dietary coaching, shopping list, meal plans, healthy recipes for meals and snacks, dining-out suggestions, hydrotherapy recommendations and a detoxification supplement specific for your needs. Click here to book your cleanse!
Maintain healthy body weight
Since fat cells produce estrogen, losing visceral weight can decrease estrogen dominance. In particular, a low carb diet can help keep sugar levels stable throughout the day. Simple carbohydrates cause our sugar levels to spike and then drop, and the adrenal glands respond by secreting cortisol, which in turn blocks the uptake of progesterone, allowing estrogen to dominate.
Minimize animal protein
Most of the animal sources of protein are now pumped with antibiotics and hormones to increase their weight for profit. These chemicals add to the toxic load in our bodies and the hormones further contribute to estrogen dominance. Animal protein has saturated fat that contributes to inflammation and increases cholesterol, which further hinders liver function. It is suggested to emphasize a plant based diet, to keep red meat intake to 2-3 times per month and choose organic grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, or at least hormone-free and antibiotic-free.
Eat more cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous or cabbage family of vegetables contain Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which supports the conversion of harmful estrogens (16-OH-Estrogens) to one that is protective against estrogen dominant conditions, called 2-OH-Estrogen. This group of vegetables is also high in fibre, which binds to endogenous estrogens in the digestive tract and helps with proper excretion of excess estrogen. Other foods that are high in fibre are; wheat bran, psyllium, legumes, flax seeds and avocados. Here is a list of cruciferous vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, rutabaga, rapini and collard greens. I typically recommend that my patients lightly steam these vegetables, which is easier on the digestive system and the heat helps to inactive goitrogenic compounds that can slow down thyroid function.
As we learned previously, cortisol causes inflammation and has a negative effect on the overall endocrine system, including reduction of progesterone. The more progesterone is used up to make cortisol, the less is available to balance off the estrogen.
I encourage my patients to implement daily stress relieving techniques, such deep breathing, yoga, meditation, mindfulness and exercise, as long as it is not strenuous, since that can actually increase your cortisol.
The previous article listed the most common sources of xenoestrogens, and there are MANY! To minimize the xenoestrogen load you can start by avoiding the following;
– Plastics. Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel
– Non-organic meat, fruits, vegetables
– Farmed fish – organic wild is best
– Canned foods
– Personal care products that contain parabens, sulfates, emulsifiers, etc.
Balance your progesterone
If you suspect you have estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency, let us help you do a proper assessment and provide you with an individualized treatment plan to balance YOUR hormones. We offer salivary hormone testing, which can give you information about your female hormones and your adrenal function, since high cortisol can be contributing to the low progesterone. Estrogen dominance can also be assessed by measuring estrogen metabolites (2-OH, 4-OH, 15-OH) though urine. The treatment plan will focus on dietary and lifestyle factors, along with herbal and nutraceutical recommendations to bring your hormones back to balance.