10 tips to help your hormones – By Dr Martin GayleyThe foods that women eat can affect the levels of estrogen in their bodies.
1) Diet: Always Choose Low Glycaemic Foods. High GI (Glycaemic Index) foods have been shown to increase estrogen production. This may exacerbate the syndrome of ‘relative progesterone deficiency’. Low glycaemic diets that are high in fiber may decrease the levels of estrogen in the body, and close the relative estrogen/progesterone imbalance thereby helping to reduce the symptoms associated with it. All ‘white foods’ therefore should be replaced with ‘brown food’, and patients should seek out knowledge about foods to eat that have a low glycaemic index, and maintain this type of food as their preferred option throughout their diet. See here for more on this from the NHS. Below are some foods that decrease Estrogen levels by increasing or improving elimination. These should be consumed regularly and especially in the luteal phase (the phase just after ovulation).
- The Brassica family of vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale
- Dark leafy greens: dandelion greens, collard greens, mustard greens
- Liver-supportive foods: onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, basil, cumin, fennel, dill, black pepper, horseradish, rosemary, beets, strawberries, peaches, cherries, turnip
- Lemon juice
- Certain red wines (not white) that are high in reservatrol like Merlot, Pinot Noir, mespecially from Sardinia and Sicily.
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar
- Processed foods
- Caffeine > 100mgs daily (coffee, tea, chocolate)
- Excess Alcohol and drugs
- Non-organic animal products
- Drink water from glass bottles or cups
- Always store food in glass containers . Do not microwave anything in plastic containers
- Do not drink hot liquids from plastic or styrofoam cups
- Avoid using tinned products as the linings of these have phalates that leach into the food
- Using organically produced cosmetics and perfumes
- Avoiding sun tan oils unless they are paraben free
- Eating organic food or soaking non-organic fruit and vegetables for at least 15minutes in water before consumption
- Only eating grass fed meats
- Only eating wild fish
- Contaminated water – use a charcoal filter to clean your drinking water
- Wild fish especially larger more mature fish – consume in moderate amounts
- Poor quality omega 3 supplements – buy a good quality product that has low levels of heavy metals
- Food produced from areas of high contamination – e.g. rice from The Far East
- Some would argue that regular chelating therapy, 3-4 times annually should be part of our routine body maintenance
4) BMI Maintain BMI 18- 25. As fat cells also manufacture estrogen, women with higher level of body fat would be expected to have a higher level of body estrogens. Maintaining BMI rate below 25 is extremely important. Calculate what your BMI should be going to http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/BodyMassIndex.aspx#people
5) Take Exercise Correct Exercise, not just any exercise, and certainly NOT only aerobic exercise all week long. Some evidence suggests that circulating levels of estrogen are lower in women who exercise regularly. There is also an increasing number of studies that show that prolonged aerobic exercise can cause oxidative stress and early cell death. It is important to understand the effects of different types of exercise on your body, and aim for a BMI between 20-25 e.g.
- High intensity interval training for reducing fat. This is the most effective type of exercise for regulating hormones
- Resistance training for improving muscle mass and strength
- Core exercise for maintaining coordination
7) Vitamins. Vitamin B’s, folic acid, and magnesium. Some supplements may help excrete estrogen like B6, B12, magnesium and folic acid by promoting excretion via the healthier C-2 pathway. Adequate replenishment of these twice of three times annually by supplementation may help towards keeping these levels optimized. Supplement with Omega-3. Omega-3 fats, which are found in fish, have been shown to promote healthier pathway of elimination for estrogen, particularly EPA omega-3 fatty acids. On the flip side, diets low in omega-3s have resulted in estrogen being metabolized primarily through a less healthy pathway and creating a metabolite of estrogen that is unwanted. Supplementation with a high concentration of omega 3 fish oil (NOT omega 6) daily is recommended for proper estrogen metabolism, and measuring omega 6:3 ratios is very important in determining how much omega 3 you actually need to take to correct this ratio.
8) Quality Sleep. Sleep in a fully darkened room with regular sleeping times. Melatonin has been shown to balance estrogen excesses in the body. Create good sleep hygiene patterns, see here for some added tips. You can also consider using melatonin supplementation but should discuss this with your doctor first.
9) Reduce Stress Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in response to high stress levels. Cortisol competes for the same receptors as progesterone, which can lead to a relative estrogen dominance. Reduce stress by lifestyle adjustments, coping skills, fitness levels, meditation, yoga and exercise.
10) See A Doctor There are a range of treatment options available that can increase progesterone and reduce or eliminate LPD symptoms by restoring estrogen: progesterone balance. Most importantly, find a doctor who is familiar with appropriate treatments for LPD (PMS).