Have you been told you have high estrogen levels, but you’re not sure what to do about it? Did you know that certain foods and lifestyle changes can help lower estrogen? Or perhaps you aren’t even sure why you should care.
The thing is, hormonal imbalance- especially high estrogen levels- can affect more than just the menstrual cycle and menopause symptoms. If you are estrogen dominant it can increase your risk of a wide range of health issues including some cancers.
I’m a Registered Dietitian and Cancer Health Coach. Many of my clients are concerned about their estrogen levels, and for good reason. Maybe you are too?
Why Balancing Estrogen Matters
You’ve probably heard that hormone imbalances, especially estrogen dominance, can increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancers, polycystic ovary syndrome, irregular periods, and cardiovascular diseases.
But did you know that hormonal imbalances aren’t limited to women in their reproductive years; they can impact anyone, at any age or gender?
These hormone imbalances, including being estrogen-dominant, can often be managed and improved through effective lifestyle changes. Minor adjustments can profoundly impact your overall health and reduce the risk of estrogen-related conditions.
Foods That Help Lower Estrogen
If you’re looking to manage hormone levels, you may be interested to know that diet plays a pivotal role. Want to learn about key foods and the compounds they contain that help lower estrogen levels? Read on!
Glycosolates break down into active compounds like indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and DIM (Diindolylmethane) during digestion. I3C and DIM help detoxify excess estrogen and improve the way your body processes estrogen (1).
But there’s another key player in the cruciferous powerhouse: sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane, also found in cruciferous vegetables, helps regulate estrogen in your body, potentially leading to healthier forms of this hormone. (2). This is important because some types of estrogen can be harmful and have been linked to an increased chance of getting breast cancer.
It’s a good idea to eat at least one cruciferous veggie a day to help keep estrogen levels balanced.
Pro-tip: Chop cruciferous veggies at least 40 minutes before cooking to increase sulforaphane content.
Check out this article to learn more about the health benefits of broccoli.
Whole grains like oats, barley, and quinoa help manage estrogen levels in two ways. First, they are packed with dietary fiber, which helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, and thus promotes hormonal balance.
In addition, the fiber attaches to estrogen in the digestive system, helping to remove it and prevent it from getting reabsorbed back into your body.
Pro-tip: Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day from whale grains, veggies, and fruit.
If you’re not eating flax seeds regularly, you are missing out on their potent nutritional benefits! Flax seeds are unique because they contain high levels of lignans, a type of phytoestrogen (plant-based estrogen).
Lignans, after being processed by bacteria in your gut, turn into substances that can mimic estrogen and also block its effects. (3). They bind to estrogen receptors and help regulate the body’s estrogen production, often having a balancing effect.
Pro-tip: Flax seeds are most beneficial when freshly ground and added to smoothies, yogurt, or baked goods. An inexpensive coffee grinder is the perfect tool to use.
Have you ever tried tofu, soy milk, edamame, tempeh, miso, soy nuts, textured soy protein, or textured vegetable protein? These delicious soy foods may help reduce the symptoms of menopause and protect against certain cancers.
Soy foods contain isoflavones, another type of phytoestrogen, which are similar in structure to estrogen. Isoflavones can mimic or block estrogen in the body.
While the research is mixed and sometimes controversial, as a Cancer Coach and Dietitian I often recommend soy foods. The phytoestrogens found in soy bind estrogen receptors. Because they are weak estrogens, they “box out” more harmful estrogens.
In several countries, particularly in Asia, soy is a staple part of the diet. Studies suggest that the regular intake of soy foods like tofu and edamame may help protect against breast and prostate cancers (4, 5).
Who doesn’t love a frothy cup of matcha, am I right?
Green tea and matcha, which is just green tea leaves ground into powder, are loaded with catechins.
The most important one is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). These catechins help your liver clean out excess estrogen, keeping the amount of estrogen at a healthy level.
EGCG is also a strong antioxidant, protecting your body’s cells from harmful free radicals. Drinking green tea or matcha regularly is not just good for balancing estrogen but also for overall health because it fights off oxidative damage.
Want to learn about the many other benefits of green tea? See our article Green Tea vs Herbal Tea: Which is Best for You?
Ah, the lowly mushroom. It often doesn’t get the respect it deserves! Yet, shiitake, Portobello, and other mushrooms are tiny nutritional powerhouses.
They inhibit the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for converting androgens (often called “male sex hormones” although women have them too) into estrogens. By inhibiting this enzyme, mushrooms can help reduce estrogen production in the body (6).
And there’s more! Mushrooms are known for their potential anti-cancer properties, largely due to their high content of antioxidants and unique compounds like polysaccharides, which may help boost the immune system and inhibit tumor growth (7).
Did you know that your favorite red wine’s secret ingredient, resveratrol, comes from the skin of red grapes? This natural compound not only makes your glass of wine enjoyable but also acts as an aromatase inhibitor, which can reduce estrogen production (8).
Researchers are excited about resveratrol because it might help prevent cancer. It is believed to help prevent cancer by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, thus inhibiting the growth of cancer cells (9).
Want to learn more about how a healthy gut microbiome helps to balance hormones? Read on!
The Role of Gut Health in Estrogen Balance
Did you know that gut health is a key factor in managing hormonal imbalance, particularly estrogen levels? Here’s a deeper dive into how gut health impacts estrogen:
Understanding the Estrobolome
Your estrobolome is a collection of bacteria in the gut that helps metabolize and regulate estrogen. These bacteria produce enzymes that can either activate or deactivate estrogen in the body.
A healthy and balanced estrobolome ensures that estrogen is processed properly, reducing the risk of hormonal imbalances. Disruptions in the estrobolome, caused by factors like antibiotics, stress, or poor diet, can lead to too much or too little estrogen.
Probiotics and Fermented Foods
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi introduce these good bacteria into your digestive system.
A healthy and varied microbiome helps efficiently break down estrogen. This not only helps with balancing hormones but also improves overall digestive health.
Benefits of Plant-Based Diets
A varied plant-based diet contributes to a diverse gut microbiome, which is beneficial for the estrobolome. Different types of plant fibers feed various bacteria in the gut, promoting a balanced microbiome.
This diversity is key to effective estrogen metabolism and maintaining healthy estrogen levels. The more varied your veggie and fruit intake, the healthier your microbiome!
The Importance of Fiber-Rich Diets
Dietary fiber, especially from plant-based sources, is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. Fiber acts as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria and aids in regular bowel movements, ensuring the proper excretion of estrogen through the digestive tract.
This process is vital for preventing the reabsorption of excess estrogen back into the bloodstream, thereby helping to maintain balanced hormone levels.
Nurturing your gut through healthy dietary choices and lifestyle changes can improve your estrogen metabolism and overall hormonal health.
But there’s even more you can do! Let’s have a look at how other lifestyle factors play a role.
Lifestyle Factors and Estrogen Levels
Beyond diet, several lifestyle factors play a significant role in managing estrogen levels. Let’s explore:
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to managing estrogen levels. When we carry extra body fat, it produces more estrogen, which can throw off the hormone balance.
So, it’s important to focus on weight loss if needed and prevent gaining excess weight to keep estrogen levels in check.
Excessive alcohol consumption impacts the liver’s ability to process hormones, including estrogen. Lowering your alcohol intake- or better yet, avoiding it altogether- helps maintain healthy estrogen levels.
Healthy Fats and the Mediterranean Diet
The type of fats you consume directly impacts estrogen levels. Healthy fats, especially those found in olive oil, nuts, and seeds, as part of a Mediterranean diet, can have a positive effect on maintaining balanced sex hormones.
Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. However, not all olive oils are created equal. Learn more about how to choose a good olive oil here.
When you stay active, you help maintain a healthy weight, reduce fat tissue, and improve overall metabolism. Exercise lowers estrogen levels and reduces the risk of breast cancer and other estrogen-related diseases.
Who’s not stressed these days? Unfortunately, chronic stress contributes to hormonal imbalances by affecting the adrenal glands, which produce sex hormones.
Stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, yoga, or regular relaxation, help maintain balanced hormone levels.
Want to know more about yoga for stress? See our article 6 Amazing Yoga Postures for Stress Relief.
So you see, simple changes like moderating alcohol consumption, engaging in regular exercise, managing stress, and choosing healthy fats can all contribute to a healthier hormonal balance.
Foods that Lower Estrogen: Part of a Holistic Approach to Hormone Health
The best way to manage estrogen levels is to embrace a holistic approach that includes a combination of healthy dietary habits, lifestyle modifications, and mindful practices.
When you combine dietary changes with lifestyle factors such as regular exercise, stress management, and weight control, there is a synergistic effect that enhances your hormone balance.
If you’re considering hormone therapy or other medical interventions, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider. They can offer guidance tailored to your specific health needs and conditions.
The steps you take today to balance your hormones can have a lasting positive effect on your health. What can you do today to help balance your hormones?
Want to learn more about related topics? Check out these articles:
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Pam is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s of Public Health and a Certificate in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Passionate about the science of health and nutrition, she loves to share her knowledge to help others live healthy, vibrant lives. When not working, Pam can be found hiking, traveling, and enjoying great-tasting, nutritious food.