Hormone levels can become disrupted by increased stress, the contraceptive pill, weight gain, some drugs and exposure to xenoestrogens (chemicals found in our food and environment which have an oestrogenic effect on the body and may disrupt hormone balance).
Control exposure to external oestrogens
Xenoestrogens are found in plastics, plastic bottles, non-organic cotton wool and tampons, toiletries and spermicides. Red meat and dairy products can also be sources of these chemicals as they are high in saturated fats and this type of fat attracts and stores toxins.
- Eat organic as far as possible – to reduce exposure to pesticides, herbicides and fungicides which may have a xenoestrogenic effect.
- Replace cleaning products with Ecover or similar products
- Replace toiletries with organic, toxin-free varieties such as Green People, Dr Haushka, Ren etc
- Do not wrap fatty foods in cling film
- Never leave a plastic drink bottle in the sunlight
- Reduce the amount of non-organic meat, eggs and dairy consumed (as these can be sources of oestrogens and anti-biotics)
Balance blood sugar levels to prevent hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
High levels of sugar in the blood increase insulin levels. Insulin can stimulate the ovaries to produce more testosterone and decrease its production of a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which binds with excess/spent hormones and aids their excretion. High levels of sugar can increase the production of stress hormones and may lead to suboptimal adrenal function and further hormonal imbalances. High levels of sugar may increase levels of free radical damage.
- Eat low GI/GL foods
- Eat snacks between meals to balance blood sugar levels
- Avoid sugar and stimulants such as coffee, tea, cola and chocolate
- Increase fibre by swapping refined foods for complex wholegrain/brown foods eg brown rice, bread, pasta etc
- Eat protein with every meal – this helps to slow the release of sugar from food into the blood stream
Increase levels of fruit and vegetables
- High in nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and fibre
- Aim to eat 5 portions per day
- They have an alkalising effect on the body
Fibre helps to reduce constipation aiding quick removal of toxins from the body. It also helps to remove oestrogens by binding to them and also feeds beneficial bacteria. These bacteria also play a role in ensuring that oestrogen is not ‘uncoupled’ from its carrier and re-circulated.
- Good sources of soluble fibre are fruit and vegetables, pulses, beans and oats
Eat complex carbohydrates/whole foods
Carbohydrates which are complex such as whole grains, beans and vegetables tend to have a lower GI/GL which means that they release their sugars more slowly, as opposed to refined foods (white bread, rice and pasta) which release their sugars quickly and may disrupt blood sugar balance.
- Include fruit and vegetables, oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, barley, pulses, wholegrain bread, nuts and seeds
- Linseeds, fennel, soya, legumes (chickpeas, lentils), celery, sprouts (alfalfa, mung beans) and red clover
- Linseeds increase the liver’s production of sex hormone binding globulin which binds with and helps excrete excess oestrogen.
Decrease saturated fats
- Such as dairy products and red meat
- Eat lean protein from salmon, chicken, beans, tofu etc
Increase essential fatty acids
- These fats are found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herrings and nuts and seeds
Support the liver
The liver metabolises and excretes excess hormones, toxins and cholesterol so optimal liver function is desirable. To support the liver in its detoxification role add:
- Sulphur-rich foods such as eggs, onions and garlic
- Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts
- Artichokes, asparagus, beetroot and celery
- Dandelion eg dandelion tea and dandelion root coffee
- Berries and fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C including watercress, peppers, watermelon etc
- Avoid alcohol which can overtax the liver
Increase water, decrease caffeine and alcohol
- Aim to drink the equivalent of 8 glasses of water a day (herb teas count as part of your quota
- Alcohol can increase oestrogen levels, is an anti-nutrient, high in calories and can cause blood sugar imbalances. Some research has linked excess alcohol consumption to infertility
- Caffeine found in tea, coffee, chocolate and cola acts as a stimulant and like alcohol can disrupt blood sugar balance, and also contains methylxanthines which can cause fibrocystic breast disease in sensitive individuals
- Increases the number of insulin receptors helping to improve blood sugar balance
- Can lower blood levels of oestrogen and progesterone
- Helps manage weight, which is important as fat cells produce oestrogen
Improve gut health
Beneficial bacteria produce some vitamins and help eliminate toxins and oestrogens. If the gut is not working optimally this may increase the burden on the liver.
- Include prebiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, oats, onions, garlic and leeks
- Live yoghurts contain beneficial bacteria
- Fermented foods
Some useful vitamins and minerals
- B3 provides energy and balances blood sugar levels. B3 is found in mushrooms, chicken, salmon, asparagus and cabbage.
- B6 is very important for hormone balancing and production and is often deficient in women taking the contraceptive pill.
- Magnesium, is required for many enzymatic processes particularly the conversion of B6 to the form used by the body. It promotes detoxification and excretion
- Vitamin E, low levels have been linked to increased oestrogen levels. It is found in seeds, legumes, oily fish and avocado.
Do you have a question about any of the points mentioned in this article or are you concerned about your own hormonal balance? Please call me on 07967 639347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how nutritional therapy can support your health issues. I see clients at a number of centrally located venues in Ealing, West London.