Estrogen is at it again [solutions inside]
Estrogen is a sneaky little hormone that is often overlooked in typical blood tests. It can be related to issues such as weight gain, sleepless nights, sugar cravings, low energy, depression and insulin resistance in both men and women, and irregular periods or intense PMS symptoms just for the ladies.
It has snuck up on me a few times over the years, so now that I’m onto estrogen’s tricks, I’m giving you the inside info to make sure estrogen isn’t getting in the way of you feeling like your best self.
Unexplained weight, acne, low libido, restless sleep, hot flashes and struggling to build muscle, are just some of the common characteristics that can be seen when estrogen is dominating your body.
And Estrogen doesn’t discriminate. It’s just as much of an issue these days with both men and women. I see it all the time in clients coming through my virtual practice door.
My husband is a perfect case in point.
For the majority of his adult life, he was able to manage his body weight with the simple calories in versus calories out equation. When the scale started to tip, he simply cut back on his food intake and exercised more.
That was, until estrogen took control.
The older he got, the harder it became to manage his weight through diet and exercise, and one day it just stopped working altogether. Not only was he not able to lose weight, but one day he stepped on the scale and had actually gained weight despite his efforts to work out harder and monitor his food intake.
For an engineer and scientific-minded guy, this scenario was mind boggling. He applied the equation of calories in versus calories out and it did not produce the outcome it was supposed to.
There’s a million things I could say about the broken calories in versus calories out equation (you can read more of that here), but let’s stay focused on estrogen.
There was obviously something more at play keeping my husband from managing his weight, so we ran the right type of hormone test to collect some clues, and here is what we found…
Clue #1 – A possible genetic predisposition. A few years ago, his mom had been diagnosed with the estrogen driven type of breast cancer called ER-2. About 80% of all breast cancers are “ER-positive”, meaning the cancer cells grow in response to estrogen.
Clue #2 – A Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH) revealed estrogen metabolites (estrone and estradiol) were very high outside the functional range and testosterone was within range. These values can not be seen on a blood test, so they had been routinely missed.
My husband had a classic case of underlying estrogen dominance that was keeping him from losing weight.
What is estrogen dominance?
In men, it’s usually determined when estrogen levels are relatively high in comparison to testosterone. Meaning testosterone levels could be normal or low, and estrogen is relatively high to whatever that number is.
In women, it’s commonly evaluated based upon the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, but as with men, it can also be evaluated when comparing testosterone to estrogen.
In general, when estrogen levels are relatively high to other hormones, it’s not good.
I, too, fell victim to estrogen dominance back in the day. My weight climbed by 15 pounds, I broke out with acne for the first time in my life, I had painful and heavy periods, I didn’t sleep great, and I couldn’t keep my emotions under wraps- all because estrogen had taken over. And I’m also certain estrogen was a tipping factor towards my Hashimoto’s.
In this week’s video and blog, I dive into more detail about what drives estrogen up and what actions you can take to get it back under control or keep it there.
The good news is that estrogen dominance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s preventable and reversible in almost any case.
But if estrogen gets out of control, it can lead to more health issues beyond stubborn weight, acne and pain-in-the-ass periods.
Estrogen dominance can also contribute to:
- Hormone driven cancers such as the ER-2 breast cancer
- Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s
- Yeast and bacteria overgrowth such as Candida
So how can you keep estrogen within its normal playing field?
Making sure estrogen doesn’t start dominating the field means tackling it from a couple of different angles.
Angle #1 – Sort out estrogen sources
One of the biggest reasons why estrogen is on the rise is due to a classification of toxins known as Xenoestrogens. These toxins have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body or block hormone receptor sites resulting in elevated estrogen levels. Common sources of estrogen-promoting toxins can be found in:
- Plastic food and water containers, or other types of containers
- Lotions, shampoos, conditioners, deodorant or other personal care products
- Metal substances such as cadmium, lead, and mercury
Aim to swap out your plastic containers for glass or stainless steel and use the EWG’s Skin Deep Database to find non-toxic personal care products.
Other estrogen-elevating sources also include:
- Non-organic foods containing pesticides or added hormones
- Tap water (yes, even though it’s deemed “safe”) contaminated with pesticides/toxins
- Intestinal parasites, bacteria and yeast that elevate toxic enzymes and trap estrogen
- Excess body fat that absorbs, stores and synthesizes estrogen
- Synthetic hormones found in hormone replacement therapies and/or birth control
- Water damaged buildings with mold growth
- Unrelenting mental or emotional stress
Some actions you can take RIGHT NOW to tackle these sources are eating organic, drinking and cooking with only filtered water, properly addressing water leaks and mold, and taking time to meditate or de-stress daily.
To sort out the synthetic hormones and/or intestinal pathogens, seek out a functional health practitioner (like myself) to assist you with proper and personalized strategies.
Angle #2 – Love your liver
The reality is, we can’t control our exposure to estrogen-driving toxins 100% of the time. But our liver does play a major role in getting rid of excess estrogen that might be circulating in the body, and that’s something you can get behind. By supporting liver function, you can kill two birds with one stone: eliminate toxins you’ve been exposed to that might raise estrogen levels, and get rid of excess estrogen.
To support your liver, you can:
- Take a daily liver support supplement with nutrients such as milk thistle
- Eat naturally detoxifying foods such as beets, grapefruits, lemons and dandelion greens
- Regularly use a Queen of the Thrones castor oil pack, do dry body brushing or sit in an infrared sauna
Do all of the above and give more power to your liver!
Angle #3 – Eat and drink anti-estrogenic
The great news is, you can combat estrogen on a daily basis with little effort. Simply aim to eat anti-estrogenic foods, known as cruciferous vegetables, and drink clean, filtered water (from a glass or steel bottle of course!).
Some of the best estrogen regulating foods to consume include:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Collard Greens
By taking action from all three angles, estrogen will be neutralized and will play nicely.
However, in some cases even if you’re adamantly working to lower estrogen levels, there still might be something stopping you from getting where you want to be.
My husband was another perfect case of this. Even after months of taking action to reduce estrogen, his levels only moderately decreased. It certainly wasn’t for lack of effort, but a genetic predisposition became more clear.
Remember, clue number one in his story was his mother’s history of estrogen driven breast cancer. We were able to correlate his family history with his repeated test results to see from a genetic standpoint that his body actually needed more support than most people to keep estrogen under control.
Today I’m happy to report that with the proper diet and lifestyle choices, my husband has lost over 30 pounds. He easily maintains his weight while taking more days off from exercising than ever before and he is proactively preventing a future battle with estrogen-driven cancer.
I have also fully restored balance to my estrogen levels after dealing with mold and a long history of birth control use to feel like myself again, and over the years I’ve helped many clients do the same.If you suspect estrogen is an issue, and you want to get your hands on the right lab tests and resources to get it under control, then click here to schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Session today!