With this week’s snow I am sending wishes for warmth and shelter to any of you in the NY and NJ area still affected by Hurricane Sandy.  I also hope each of you and your families were safe through the storm and are recovering well.This week’s newsletter is an exciting continuation of the Food-Hormone connection series.  After covering how to balance your insulin (a blood sugar hormone) and cortisol (a stress hormone) with your diet, it’s time to get into the sex hormones.  
Your three major sex hormones are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.  We’ll start with estrogen because it’s the most popular, and so many of my clients have either too much estrogen on it’s own, or too much relatively to their low progesterone levels.  Both of these situations can lead to annoying symptoms.
The good news is, if you’ve started integrating the concepts I shared in the “cortisol” and “insulin” Food-Hormone newsletters, you’re well on your way to healthy estrogen levels.  Balanced blood sugars help estrogen stay in check by keeping it bound in an inactive form. 
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you’ll definitely want to read on:

Painful or lumpy breasts
Mood swings
Puffiness and bloating
Heavy bleeding
Foggy thinking
Anxious depression
Migraine headaches
Rapid weight gain
I know it’s a broad list!  And this is just the start.  None of these symptoms on their own means you may have excess estrogen, but they are clues that something might be going on for you.
There are many different types of estrogens produced in your body, and some of these are stronger and more carcinogenic than others.   There are also many substances in the environment that act like estrogens in your body.  These are known as “xenoestrogens”. 
The trick to supporting estrogen balance with your diet is to:
1. Reduce Intake of Xenoestrogens (estrogen-like substances from the environment)

  • Choose organic – Pesticides have an estrogenic effect in your body.
  • Choose plastics with the recycling #2, #4 and #5 – Plastics with the recycling #1, #3 and #6 and #7 can all leach estrogen-like substances, especially when they are heated up.  Interestingly…the lids of Starbucks cups are made of plastic number 6…hmmm, now that’s a good case for a stainless steel travel mug!
  • Avoid Bisphenol-A – We’ve all heard that it was in NalgeneÔ water bottles and baby bottles before this issue was fixed, but do you know that all canned foods are lined with BPA?!  Some organic canned food companies now use alternatives.  Look for cans marked “BPA-free”. 

2. Help Your Body Produce Weaker, Safer Estrogens

The following tips all help your body metabolize estrogen into safer forms, rather than the more potent forms linked to cancer:

  • Eat organic foods – Reduces your intake of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
  • Reduce intake of a chemical called Dioxin – Choose alternatives to saturated animals fats such as meat and dairy, where this toxin accumulates.
  • Eat lots of “Brassica” family foods – Turnips, cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower are all helpful in forming safer types of estrogens.  Just remember to steam them lightly to maintain their medicinal value and avoid their thyroid-blocking potential. 

3. Increase Elimination of Estrogens

When your body wants to get rid of extra estrogens, your liver sends it to your digestive system to take it out.  To make sure it stays out:

  • Eat plenty of fiber – When fiber moves through your digestive tract it grabs onto toxins and prevents them from being reabsorbed.  2 tbsp of ground flax seed, in your smoothie or on food is a great source.  Be sure to follow with a glass of water!
  • Take probiotics – Unhealthy gut bacteria can change estrogen into a form that your body reabsorbs.  Making sure your gut flora is healthy prevents this from happening.

These tips are just the beginning.  There is so much more you can do nutritionally to support healthy estrogen levels but this is an amazing start.  
Re-balancing hormones all starts with a good understanding of what your unique hormone picture is.  This is why creating an accurate snapshot of your health & hormones is the very first step I take with my clients.  From there, I provide expert guidance for nutritional, supplement, herbal medicine and lifestyle support to help them restore their natural balance.