As women, we often find ourselves in positions where we care for others; it's just the nature of who we are. We have roles that vary from being a businesswoman, an employee, keeper of the house, a wife, mother (pet mom), daughter, partner, or boss.
BUT the one role you can't ignore is caring for yourself and the delicate dance that is your female hormones.
In today's blog, we look at the role of oestrogen. This essential hormone varies as you age and throughout your monthly cycle.
What most women don't know is that we need to keep the 'right oestrogen' optimised and manage the reduction of the 'wrong oestrogens'.
Whether you do or don't suffer from hormonal health issues, this is essential information for keeping your oestrogen in the right balance and beneficial for all the women that you know and love.
In the blog below we look at a few things you can do daily that will help your body find its balance naturally. These tools may be all you need to get your body on an even keel again.
Getting the Oestrogen Balance Right
Oestrogen, it’s what makes you feel more like a woman and when a woman's hormones are in balance, she feels fabulous, her skin glows, she has energy and vitality.
Oestrogen helps makes you feel sexy and flirtatious, helps your libido and it’s one of the most powerful hormones and performs about 400 functions in your body.
There are at least two dozen known oestrogens all with various functions and they are produced in the ovaries and the adrenal glands.
The most commonly discussed oestrogens are oestrone, oestradiol, and oestriol and the main function of these oestrogens, as a group, is to tell cells to grow and proliferate.
The Good Oestrogens
Stimulate endometrial cells in preparation for pregnancy, prompt breast tissue growth, maintain function of the sexual organs, stimulate the menstrual cycle, and initiate the bodily changes that occur at puberty.
The benefits of oestrogen you may not have considered:
- keeps the heart healthy, maintains stable blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease
- improves blood flow to the brain, helping with memory and fine motor skills.
- plays a critical role in maintaining bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
- helps to increase muscle mass and strength, which can aid in weight management and overall health.
- helps to keep serotonin levels stable, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- supports the effectiveness of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
- protects the vaginal walls from thinning and atrophy, keeping the tissues well lubricated and reducing the risk of painful intercourse or vaginal infections.
The ‘Bad’ Oestrogens
There are detrimental oestrogens known as xeno-oestrogens or ‘outsider’ oestrogens these are foreign substances with oestrogen like effects on the body.
Most xeno-oestrogens are derived from petrochemicals and include pesticides, industrial chemicals, cleaners, plastics (water bottles, food containers), nail polish, and car exhaust.
Previously, these small amounts of oestrogenic activity were dismissed, but recent findings indicate all those little exposures add up.
How The ‘Bad’ Oestrogen Affects You
Unfortunately, due to the world we live in, we’re exposed to a lot of the ‘wrong’ type oestrogen which can very easily lead to imbalances like PMS, loss of sex drive, sweet cravings, heavy periods, weight gain, breast swelling, water retention, fatigue, depression and cells multiplying unnecessarily, leading to dangerous situations, such as cancer in some cases.
How can you support your body to increase the balance of good oestrogen versus the bad?
There are a few simple things you can do daily that will help your body find it's balance naturally, these tools may be all you need to get your body on an even keel again.
While it is clearly important to minimise our exposure to these external xeno-oestrogens, the good news is that there are other ways of helping nudge oestrogen levels back into balance through phyto-oestrogens found in food and herbs.
Phytoestrogens exert mild oestrogenic effects and block the negative xeno-oestrogens effects on your body, the active chemical constituents are isoflavones, coumestans and lignans, and they work as hormone balancers. They mimic natural oestrogen or block it at oestrogen receptor sites on cells throughout the body. Imagine these receptor binding sites as parking spots reserved for hormones.
Once “parked,” the hormone can exert its effect on the cell. If the body’s ‘good’ oestrogen levels are low, phytoestrogens fill those parking spots and gently mimic the role played by oestrogens. If the levels of environmental oestrogens in the body are too high, phytoestrogens block their access to oestrogen receptor sites, substituting their own milder oestrogenic activity for the excessively strong oestrogenic effects created by environmental xeno-oestrogens.
To promote the good oestrogens increase your intake or make sure you eat these foods which contain phyto-oestrogens daily:
My favourite functional foods for women to help keep oestrogen in check include – flax seeds, raspberries, organic soy, carrots, apples, cruciferous veg like broccoli and cabbage, chickpeas, beans, lentils, asparagus, fennel, garlic, oats, pears, peas, pomegranate, dried sea vegetables, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, squash and wheat germ.
Apples & carrots have special fibres that help with detoxification and elimination of bad oestrogens. They bind up excess oestrogen that would otherwise recirculate in the body to cause symptoms like PMS, so that they are eliminated through your bowels.
Flax contains lignans, which attach to oestrogen receptors. These lignans have a much weaker oestrogenic effect on the body, thus they are protective against oestrogen excess. Flax seeds are also able to inhibit aromatase, further supporting healthy oestrogen levels. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts our androgens into oestrogens.
Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, which supports methylation of oestrogens in phase 2 liver detox.
Oestrogen metabolism is SO important. It’s not just about how much oestrogen you have, but how you’re metabolising it.
Hummus is an easy way a women can increase her intake of phyto-oestrogens daily.
Particularly powerful phyto-oestrogens are found in soya products. The high soya content in traditional Japanese diets is likely to be why Japanese women tend not to suffer from menopausal symptoms.
Herbal phyto-oestrogens that I use to manage hormonal imbalances like PMS are as Mexican yam, Black cohosh, Dong quai, Agnus castus and many others.
Many women find immense relief from various hormonal problems and peri-menopause by supplementing with phyto-oestrogens.
A qualified herbalist will create blends of herbs to address your specific issues combining the best ‘medicine’ for the job.
Do what you can to minimise your exposure to xeno-oestrogens—you’ll find them in some unlikely places.