Have you been experiencing occasional headaches, irregular sleep, mood swings, or brain fog?
Perhaps you've had a low libido or weight gain despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If the answer was yes to any of these, you may have estrogen dominance.
Read on to find out what you can do to help your body!
Estrogen dominance is usually written off or attributed to a bad case of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), however, it's a very common condition in women between the ages of 35-50. Despite estrogen being a hormone associated with the female reproductive system, it is possible for this hormone imbalance to also occur in men.
Hormones send signals to our organs telling them what to do. When the body is producing an improper amount of a certain hormone, these signals can become garbled.
Estrogen is the hormone responsible for developing and maintaining the female sexual reproductive system. Additionally, estrogen plays a role in skeletal, cognitive and cardiovascular health.
Progesterone is another reproductive hormone that has been attributed to regulating the menstrual cycle and preparing the body for pregnancy.
Both hormones are vital — and when they fall out of balance there can be serious implications for our health.
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During times of chronic stress, our body's cortisol production ramps up. Cortisol and progesterone are both steroid hormones, which are synthesized from cholesterol molecules. When our body enters the fight or flight response, cortisol production from cholesterol is prioritized over progesterone, so progesterone levels drop.
A study done by Yale University showed that high levels of estrogen in comparison to progesterone (estrogen dominance) increased the effects of stress on rats. This perpetuates the cycle of stress increasing cortisol production, which decreases progesterone production, which further imbalances the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, worsening estrogen dominance.
Diet can also play a large role in estrogen dominance. Sugar and processed foods create excess fat (adipose) tissue. Adipose tissue can convert other hormones into excess estrogen. This is when estrogen dominance can lead to weight gain (more adipose tissue creating excess estrogen), which can put you in a frustrating loops that seems impossible to break.
Additionally, chemical substances that can be classified in the category of "xenoestrogens" mimic the molecular structure of estrogen and bind to estrogen receptors. This increases the total amount of estrogen effects in the body, further causing the estrogen dominance you're trying to avoid.
Unfortunately, we're exposed to xenoestrogens in daily life. They're in everything from pesticides to home and beauty products.
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Estrogen dominance is a naturally occurring hormone change that happens during menopause, but there are things you can do to lessen the side effects. To start, regulating stress levels is imperative. Many people turn to exercise or meditation to maintain normal cortisol levels; in addition, boosting magnesium levels has shown to be beneficial in controlling stress response.
To regulate estrogen levels with diet, foods high in vitamin B-6 can help raise progesterone levels to balance out the excess estrogen in the body. Foods with vitamin B-6 include pork, eggs and some whole grain cereals. Furthermore, some studies have shown that a diet high in fiber results in lower estrogen levels due to higher rates of estrogen breakdown and removal from the body.
In terms of avoiding xenoestrogens, try to avoid products that list ingredients like parabens, phthalates, and benzophenones. Additionally, avoid products that contain BPAs. All of these chemicals act as xenoestrogens and can disrupt the natural processes of your body.
Estrogen dominance is common, and if you're suffering from it, it's important to know that you're definitely not alone! There are numerous resources out there to help. The most important thing you can do right now to help your body is to educate yourself.