Estrogen can be one of the most misunderstood hormones. It causes women the most grief during peri-menopause and menopause.
I'll break it down and then share some foods with you that can help keep the balance.
Estrogen is the hormone that dominates the female body. It isn’t a single biological compound though. In fact, there are several forms of this hormone. The three primary forms are estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). If that isn’t confusing enough. There are also phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances found in plants) and xenoestrogens (chemical pollutants that mimic estrogen in the body).
The E2 hormone’s primary function is to regulate ovulation. During menopause E2 levels decrease as the ovaries don’t produce any more eggs. We have over 300 estrogen receptor sites in the body. This dominating hormone plays a role in over 400 bodily functions. Many of these functions include mood, energy production, muscle strength, intestinal function, libido, brain function, and bone density. So, you can see how things can get a little wonky if your estrogen levels are either too high or too low. E2 helps the body absorb minerals, decreases LDL cholesterol, increases HDL and balances triglycerides, which reduce your risk of heart disease. If E2 levels are too high, you have an increased risk of uterine and breast cancers. E2 levels tend to be low in menopause. This will put you at risk for difficulties with sleep, fatigue, memory issues, depression, and increased risk of blood clots.
E1 is the main form of estrogen produced after menopause. The ovaries ask the liver, fat cells, and adrenal glands to assist in the production of E1. If your liver is sluggish and your adrenals are taxed, it makes this job more challenging. During a woman’s reproductive years the body converts E1 to E2, but after menopause, this conversion ceases.
E3 is a milder form of estrogen. Its primary function is to protect the intestinal tract, vaginal lining, and breasts. Studies show that vegetarian women have higher levels of E3 and lower rates of breast cancer.
Taking synthetic hormone replacement therapies can put you at risk for breast cancer and heart disease. This is why I always look to food, lifestyle changes, and supplements first.
3 Foods to Balance Estrogen
Cold-pressed Virgin Coconut Oil provides the body with lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride, which improves hormone production, overall cholesterol levels, skin health, and much more.
Kale, and other dark leafy greens like spinach, provides the body with a boost of natural magnesium. An essential mineral needed for over a hundred enzymatic processes including hormone synthesis. They also provide iron and zinc, which are necessary for hormone health.
Nuts & Seeds, such as - Ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens. These work to give the body an additional boost of healthy estrogen while suppressing estradiol (E2), the culprit in most estrogen dominance situations. Sunflower and sesame seeds contain high amounts of zinc and Vitamin E, which have been correlated with a higher production of progesterone. This is critical for women who have estrogen dominance, a common problem. It can help to counteract it and stabilize with high levels of progesterone. Seed rotation is one of the best ways to get hormones back on track.
A Quick and Easy Estrogen Balancing Recipe
Heat a saute pan over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of Cold-pressed Virgin Coconut Oil. Add a heaping handful of Kale and other dark leafy greens, plus 1 clove minced garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and top with Nuts & Seeds. Salt and pepper to taste or drizzle some coconut aminos over it and enjoy!
Other options: add clean protein and top with pomegranate seeds.