I’ve written recently on oestrogen dominance – it’s a fascinating subject, and unearthed some additional helpful nutrition research on it this week. While oestrogen is a hormone needed for healthy functioning of the reproductive system, it can become dominant under certain conditions with symptoms like PMS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibrocystic breast disease and endometriosis.
The main outward sign is weight gain in strategic places – namely bottom and thighs – mainly because these are all efficient places to store fat without impacting on the body’s general function or stability.
The body needs to store a certain amount of fat in order to be able to have children. And since oestrogen is associated with fertility, it may be that as the body produces more, it accumulates safely around the lower half to ensure a woman is sturdy enough to carry a baby.
The Pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can also raise oestrogen levels, and weight gain in this area can also indicate poor oestrogen metabolism. So if the shape change is significant and unusual for you it would be worth speaking to your GP about changing medication and looking closely at your diet.
The fact that the liver plays a vital role in hormone synthesis and clearance of waste products and unwanted substances including hormones should tell you all you need to know about the way forward with this. Here are just a few options for helping to clear the body of excess oestrogens:
1. Support liver function
Including more of any of the following in your diet will help your liver to process oestrogen. One of the most significant changes you can make, however, is to drink more water – I can’t stress this enough, it really works to take down the puff associated with menopause and oestrogen imbalance:
- B vitamins found in meats, nuts and seeds, eggs and leafy green vegetables support liver detoxification pathways. Additionally they support the stress response possibly associated with conditions of excess oestrogen.
- Antioxidant-rich foods – berries, onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric – support the function of liver detoxification, reduce inflammation associated with conditions of oestrogen dominance and enhance immune function.
- Fibre like chia seeds, nuts and seeds, flaxseed, vegetables, oats bind to oestrogen and increase excretion.
- Selenium found in brazil nuts may improve liver detoxification of oestrogens.
- Bitters like kale, rocket and endive improve liver function and clearance.
- Adequate water intake ensures hydration and promotes fluidity of the blood.
- Brassica vegetables like broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower enhance detoxification and contain antioxidants.
2. Create hormone harmony and synthesis
Certain food can help to balance hormone activity and stop the rollercoaster in daily life, helping to control weight, improve sleep and mood. Include plenty of these on your shopping list:
- Vitamin D found in eggs and fish, enhanced through exposure to sunlight, supports immunity and regulates steroid hormone synthesis.
- Vitamin E found in olive oil, almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, is anti-oxidant and helps to restore oestrogen synthesis.
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed, reduce inflammation, support hormone regulation and relieve coexisting symptoms of oestrogen dominance.
- Vitamin B6 found in chicken, eggs and walnuts, help to balance hormones, support stress associations and liver detoxification of hormones.
- Zinc is a cofactor in many biochemical reactions in the human body; it regulates reproductive hormones including oestrogen.
- Probiotics like kim chi, sauerkraut and fermented foods, coconut yogurt, live yogurt, cooked and cooled sweet potatoes – will balance microflora and help to eliminate bad bacteria that may cause oestrogen excess.
3. Eat protein with every meal
It’s no secret that eating enough protein is important for increasing muscle mass, but protein also plays a role in fat loss too. Spreading your protein intake across all three meals can aid in fat loss according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. After reviewing 24 studies on protein consumption, the researchers found that people who consumed protein throughout that day saw better weight loss results while preserving more lean mass.