In last weeks post “13 Signs you Have Hormone Imbalance” we determined what the symptoms of living in hormonal hell would be.
Have you been eagerly anticipating results from last week’s post? Perhaps you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting to find out where you fall on the scale of hormonal dysfunction! (or maybe life hasn’t been that boring) …but here goes!
If you marked yes between 1-3 you are low but not free of hormonal dysfunction. Having said yes to even one of those questions you may have some degree of hormonal imbalance. The good news is you aren’t too far gone YET and with a little guidance you can get your body back on track pretty quickly.
If you marked 3-7 you are probably experiencing a sure-fire case of moderate hormonal hell.
Welcome to hell!
Now before you jump off the next bridge you see, hang in there because there is hope for your hormones!
There are five main hormones that seem to have the largest effect on how women feel and their weight. They are; Thyroid, Cortisol, Testosterone, Progesterone, and Estrogen.
In the next series of articles, I will be diving a little deeper into each one and going over the signs and symptoms of imbalance and what you can do about them. Let’s start with….
Estrogen the sexy beast!
Estrogen is fundamental to the formation of female sexual characteristics and reproductive function. In other words it’s what helps grow breasts, pubic hair and armpit hair. It also stimulates growth of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) during the menstrual cycle, increases uterine growth, improves lubrication of the vagina, and thickens the vaginal wall while increasing blood vessels to the skin.
If all is in check, Estrogen gives us soft, voluptuous, wrinkle free womanliness AND the ability to make us orgasm! If Estrogen is not in check she becomes the beast making us overweight, angry, and certainly not sexual!
When estrogen levels are too high or the ratio between estrogen and progesterone is off (called estrogen dominance) you may experience a wide range of symptoms such as;
- Acceleration of the aging process (those damned wrinkles)
- Allergies, including asthma, hives, rashes, sinus congestion
- Autoimmune disorders such as lupus erythematosis and thyroiditis, endometriosis and possibly Sjoegren’s disease
- Breast cancer
- Breast tenderness (sore breasts prior to your menstrual cycle)
- Cervical dysplasia
- Cold hands and feet as a symptom of thyroid dysfunction
- Decreased sex drive
- Depression with anxiety or agitation (bitchy)
- Dry eyes
- Early onset of menstruation
- Endometrial (uterine) cancer
- Fat gain, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs (Muffin top)
- Fibrocystic breasts (lumpy sore breasts)
- Foggy thinking
- Hair Loss
- Headaches or migraines
- Hypoglycemia (Hangry= hungry + angry)
- Increased blood clotting (increasing risk of strokes)
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Memory loss
- Polycystic ovaries
- Sluggish metabolism (can’t lose weight)
- Thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism (can’t lose weight, tired)
- Uterine fibroids
- Water retention, bloating
On the other hand, if you have low levels of estrogen which is common as we age and start going through perimenopause you may experience symptoms of;
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats (waking up feeling like you peed the bed)
- Vaginal dryness (sex is awesome…not)
- Decreased energy and ambition (dragging your ass)
- Depression or mood swings (raging bitch)
- Mental confusion
- Urinary incontinence (oops.. just peed in my pants a bit)
As you can see it’s a very important hormone to have in check!
There are a few reasons why estrogen dominance is the most common hormonal imbalance found in women, one reason being that our overall estrogen levels (in women and men) are too high because of xenoestrogens — man made chemicals in the environment that mimic estrogen in our bodies and act as endocrine disruptors even in minute concentrations.
Many of these xenoestrogens are proven carcinogens. They are also well known for their ability to damage the immune system and interrupt hormonal balance. Our cells can’t always distinguish fully between our own estrogen and xenoestrogens. One of the main sources of xenoestrogens are pesticides which are in every non-organic thing we eat, including meat!
Xenoestrogens are also in the many growth hormones given to livestock and poultry, most of which contain fat-soluble estrogens. When we consume those animals or their milk, we ingest that estrogen.
Xenoestrogens are in plastics, household chemicals, dry cleaning, bleach used in feminine-hygiene products, chlorine, air fresheners, perfume, shampoos, lotions, soaps and cosmetics that contain paraben or phenoxyethanol. (In general, the hormones taken orally are first metabolized by the liver 80%-90%. However, when these hormones are applied to the skin, the hormones are directly absorbed by the body. Thus, any skin dose is 10 times that of an oral dose.)
As you can see we are literally swimming in estrogen and it only gets worse. Not only are we being bombarded in the outside world but also in inside our own bodies. If you are overweight you will also be producing too much estrogen and the heavier you are the worse it can be. This is because fat cells produce estrogen so the more you have the more you are producing.
What you can do about it?
1.Remove the xenoestrogens
Try to eliminate all sources of xenoestrogens you can do this by eating organic food including meat. Avoid harsh chemicals in your home and switch to all natural products wherever you can. Use essential oils for air fresheners and perfumes.
2.Improve your digestion
Healthy gut bacteria will help assist the body in breaking down excess estrogen and carrying it out of the body. Eating plenty of probiotic foods or taking a probiotic supplement is essential because it will increase the good bacteria in the gut and support neurotransmitter function.
Eating a healthy diet rich in fiber can bind to excess estrogen in the digestive tract and carry it out. Women should be aiming for 25-30 grams of fiber a day.
3.Lower alcohol consumption
Yes… even wine ladies. Alcohol can change the way a woman’s body metabolizes estrogen (how estrogen works in the body). This can cause blood estrogen levels to rise. Estrogen levels are higher in women who drink alcohol than in non-drinkers. It also taxes the liver and your liver is responsible for eliminating excess estrogen out of the body.
4.Lose excess body fat and get regular exercise
– especially strength training.
5.Detoxify your liver
Traditional Chinese Medicine explains that menopausal symptoms are caused by blocked liver and kidney chi. When the liver has to work hard to eliminate toxins such as alcohol, drugs, caffeine, or environmental agents, the liver’s capacity to cleanse the blood of estrogen is compromised.
A diet high in conventionally raised red meat and refined carbohydrates can cause estrogen overload! Eat a diet rich in pasture raised meats, nuts, fresh low glycemic fruits and vegetables. Stay clear of white bread, sugar and majority of processed foods. A paleo based diet is what I recommend the most to estrogen dominant women. You can start with my 10 Day Paleo food challenge for free at www.karenmartel.com
I recommend taking Di-indolemethane (DIM) to help lower excess estrogen. DIM comes from the Brassica, or cruciferous, vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. Unfortunately, you would have to eat bushels of Brussel sprouts to benefit your estrogen balance. You can instead take DIM in a capsule form at 100mg/day.
Calcium – D-Glucarate
Calcium-D-Glucarate allows the body to excrete used hormones, such as estrogen before they can become reabsorbed. Large doses of Calcium-D-Glucarate have been shown to lower serum estrogen levels in rats by 23 percent. Normal detox dose is 500-1000mg. People with cancer or high estrogen may benefit from taking as much as 3000-4500mg a day.
Estrogen and progesterone work together with each other as checks and balances to achieve hormone balance. From age 35 to 50, there is 75% drop of progesterone. Estrogen only declines 35%.
With the gradual drop in estrogen but severe drop in progesterone, there is not enough progesterone to balance the amount of estrogen in our body. Many women in their mid-thirties, most women during peri-menopause (mid-forties), and essentially all women during menopause (age 50 and beyond) are overloaded with estrogen. Most women are suffering from progesterone deficiency because of the severe drop that occurs with aging. Taking a natural form of progesterone called bio-identical progesterone can help eliminate the symptoms and discomfort of estrogen dominance without the side effects associated with synthetic hormone replacement therapy. You can talk to your MD or ND about a prescription for Bio-identical progesterone and to discuss if that could be an option for you.
Bottom line here ladies is estrogen is a key factor in how you feel and how you look. It can make you a sexy, voluptuous woman or an overweight train wreck! Do not take this lightly and start implementing these changes today! Next we will be discussing the other most popular lady hormones PROGESTRONE! Stay tuned and please comment below and tell me are you living in hormone hell?