10 Tips to Keep your Estrogen Levels Healthy

by Natalie on May 2, 2013

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I find hormones fascinating! I love to learn about them as much as I can. I think that hormonal issues are at the root of many of our common maladies – especially as women.

As you probably already know, estrogen is a key player of the female hormonal system. It is used for some very important functions in the body, but an imbalance can lead to health issues. Excess estrogen has been known to increase breast cancer risk, and can also aggravate other female conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis.

To keep estrogen levels from building up, we need to make sure we get rid of unused estrogen effectively.

Here are 10 lifestyle tips to keep your estrogen levels in-check:

1) Be kind to your liver. Estrogen is detoxified in the liver before it is dumped into your stool to be removed by your colon. If your liver is not healthy, it is difficult to maintain a good detox process. To keep your liver healthy, do not overtax it with excess alcohol and caffeine consumption.

2) Eat more fiber. To ensure adequate removal of estrogen, you need to avoid constipation. If you do not have regular bowel movements, estrogen can get re-circulated back into your body. Fiber is found in plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Women need at least 25 grams per day. If you are starting from zero (I hope not!), increase fiber intake slowly to avoid gas and abdominal pain. You need to drink more water when you increase fiber.

3) Take a daily probiotic supplement. There is an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase that is made from bad bacteria in your gut. This enzyme increases estrogen re-circulation. To stop this enzyme from taking over, you need to make sure your gut is filled with good bacteria. Good probiotic strains are lactobacillus and/or bifidobacteria. Some probiotics don’t contain high enough levels to be effective. Look for ones with 10-15 BILLION (yes, billion), colony forming units (CFU’s).

4) Eat more cruciferous vegetables. These powerhouse veggies contain Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C). This substance promotes detoxification of harmful estrogens. Cruciferous veggies include, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, arugula, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

5) Take a daily omega-3 supplement such as fish oil. Low grade inflammation in the body from things like stress, illness, obesity, and pollution can increase the activity of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is used to create estrogen. So when this enzyme is promoted, more estrogen may be created than needed. Make sure your Omega-3 supplement contains both DHA and EPA. 1000 mg per day is a good starting point. Nordic Naturals makes good fish oil supplements.

6) Decrease your intake of sweets and refined flours. Sweets and refined flours can increase the amount of insulin in your body, and insulin can increase the activity of aromatase.

7) Eat less processed foods. Besides just being an overall negative to your health, processed or packaged foods are usually made with cheap oils (corn, soybean, safflower). These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids which also promote inflammation, and as we learned from #5, inflammation increases aromatase activity. Majorly processed foods include things like, microwavable meals, packaged desserts, fast foods, sugary cereals, Velveta cheese, squeezable cheese, margarine, Cool Whip, and many packaged snacks and crackers.

8) Maintain a healthy weight. Fat tissue creates estrogen. When you have more fat mass, you will have more estrogen circulating in your body.  A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.

9)Decrease your stress levels. Increased levels of stress lead to inflammation which increases the activity of aromatase. Some quick stress relievers are, getting more sleep, exercise and deep breathing. Effective time management can help too. Do not overbook yourself, or your children. Get in the habit of saying “NO”. Take time for yourself. Once you take care of yourself, everything else will follow.

10) Eat less canned food. Cans contain the chemical BPA. BPA is a known “xeno-estrogen”, meaning it mimics the activity of estrogen.

After reading these 10 tips, how do you think you are doing with your estrogen balance? What do you need to do more or less of? Leave a comment below. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

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photo by Kewl via Flickr

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Monica Lindsay May 2, 2013 at 11:44 am

Apart from maintaining a healthy weight I don’t do any of these things. Thanks for your amazing advice. Things are going to change….

Natalie May 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Your welcome! Glad you found this helpful. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do, so you are starting at a great place.

Vanessa Martin May 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hi Natalie,

Thank you for sharing the this information. Plan to pass on the information. I have already started on my cruciferous vegetables since I last heard from you. I really appreciate what you shared on foods to avoid breast cancer. My mom just completed cancer treatment.

Keep sharing what you’re learning. Thanks again!

Vanessa

Natalie May 8, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Your welcome Vanessa! Great job on the cruciferous veggies. I am happy to hear your mom just completed her treatment. I wish you both the best.

Maria Catherine P. Bajande May 29, 2013 at 8:15 am

Hi Natalie, Thank you for this fascinating information. I’m glad i can count this knowledge for my healthy lifestyle. I appreciate all the things you shared.

Donna June 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I am 51 and searching for alternatives to Tamoxifen. I was diagnosed with Invasive lobular cancer with two tumors in my right breast. Bi-lateral mastectomy in Feb. Just finsihed chemo. Radiation next month. The more I read on Tamoxifen the more I can’t bare the thought of it. I eat fairly well but have to get these 30 extra lbs off of me in addition to wanting to naturally lower my estrogen levels to minimize reaccurance. Thank you for this info.

Natalie June 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Your welcome Donna. Wishing you well as you go through your treatment!

Alli June 28, 2013 at 8:24 am

I’m estrogen dominant and struggling to lose the weight that is causing the self-defeating cycle of too much estrogen causes weight gain, too much weight gain causes more estrogen. I’ve read these tips before and have begun implementing many of the suggestions, but I’ve been looking for numbers for the fish oil and the probiotics. Thanks for posting!

Natalie June 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Your welcome Alli. I am glad you found the information helpful.

Paula Baron July 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for these tips. I was told by gyno that I have to much estrogen….Scared me to death thinking I had endometrial cancer. The wall of my uterus is too thick, and the Doctor told me to lose weight. Even though I’m told I’m not fat…..oh well…Which of these tips would be the most important one to get started on? I have no thyroid and am told to stay away from cruciferous veggies…..

Natalie July 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for your comment Paula. I think the best place to start is sugar reduction, fiber, and exercise! Best to you

Debbie August 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Thank you for this information. I too have been looking for a natural way to reduce estrogen. I am post menopause and my endometrial lining is thickened. The biopsy showed no cancer yet, but doctor wants me to reduce my weight and estrogen levels. Thank you!

Natalie August 21, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Your welcome! Reducing weight is the best way for postmeno women to decrease circulating estrogen. Once we go through menopause, the main source of estrogen in our body is fat tissue.

Barbara September 15, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I just read what I will need to lower estrogen level and I think it is fantastic. I have been taking Arimidex for over a year. Do you think I will have to advise my doctor, I am a cancer survivor .. which I was at level 1 … the pills are very expensive and now that I am 65 the insurance I am with will not pay for my pills … what is your advise …thanks

Natalie September 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Hi Barbara, you should definitely consult your doctor regarding your medication. Although lifestyle changes can help keep estrogen levels healthy, they will likely not have the same effect as taking Arimidex. Pharmaceuticals are usually much stronger than any diet or lifestyle change. You should not go off your medication without consulting with your doctor first. Thank you for your questions.Be well!

Terena Huffman October 2, 2013 at 6:17 am

Hi! I am 44 yrs old and told i have high estrogen levels. My Dr thinks this is okay! I think she is wrong. I have cysts on my ovaries! Dr doing nothing about it! I have cyst like nodules in my throat by my thyroid glands. I have been spotting with my period for weeks on end . Sometimes it goes on for months. I almost always have a yeast infection and have a very stressful life!!! I don’t sleep well snd take a lot of sleeping pills and ativan to help with anxiety! I read your foods list to lower my estrogen but i canot eat a lot of veggies!! Cause i can’t chew them very well. I don’t have a lot of back molars for chewing raw veggies!! What should i do?? I am a mess!! But i want to get healthier!! I am not over weight! But maybe exercise will lower my estrogen and maybe vitamin suppliments!!! Help me plse if you can!

Natalie October 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Hi Terena. It does sound like you have a lot going on. If I were you, I would seek a second opinion regarding your estrogen levels. Consider a doctor specializing in functional or integrative medicine. Those doctors have been trained to seek root causes, and to take a look at every aspect of your health. Use the institute for functional medicine to seek a doctor near you. Best to you!

Rhonda August 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm

You can always blend your veges.. they are important. Get a vitamix blender or something similar. You will love it. So many wonderful healthy receipes will come with it. NO more making excuses.. help yourself.. This article was your first step. You can do it. Do not depend on the ‘medical’ profession alone. They are trained to only do so much for you if anything..just treating the symptoms really. You with the help of a nutritional expert like you find here and online can help you the rest of the way. Help yourself!!!

loretta October 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Thanks so much i just went through breast cancer and treatments a
Dr. is now talking about chemo i appreciate your article it helped me to start to make a lifestyle change.

Natalie October 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

It’s great to hear you are making a lifestyle change Loretta, glad my article could help. Best to you!

ester lascar November 6, 2013 at 5:26 am

This has been very insightful.

Helen November 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Natalie,
Thank you so much for this very informative post! I am someone dealing with a giant fibroadenoma. I’m going to try my best to use these estrogen lowering methods to decrease its size, however I want to hear what you think about phytoestrogens like those in soy. Do you think soy consumption should be avoided? Or would they help in blocking your more damaging estrogens?

Much appreciated!

Natalie November 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Hi Helen, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Great question regarding soy. I think things like healthy weight loss (if you are overweight), exercise, avoidance of xenoestrogens (such as BPA), and a high fiber diet, will have a more significant impact on reducing harmful estrogens than eating soy. Definitely avoid processed soy foods like isolated soy protein, as they have been shown to be more stimulating to estrogen receptors. If you would like to eat soy, I think its best to keep to less than 3 servings per week, and keep it whole soy foods like edamame, tofu, soymilk, tempeh, and miso, but it is not necessary to eat soy. I think more of the research looks promising for including ground flaxseed on a daily basis (1 to 4 Tablespoons per day), in helping to convert harmful estrogens into a more healthy form.

Claudia Kienzle January 4, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Will lowering estrogen levels through diet and exercise help to shrink a uterine fibroid? I am just beginning menopause and my dr has said I should get a hysterectomy but I feel fine, and I thought reducing estrogen might help it just shrink naturally. Can you advise on this?

Thanks, Claudia Kienzle

Natalie January 8, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Hi Claudia. Thanks for your comment. Fibroids are estrogen sensitive, so to my knowledge, they can be improved by ridding the body of excess estrogen. Keep in mind that after menopause, your estrogen levels naturally decline. However, if you are overweight, estrogen can still be created by fat tissue, which may affect your fibroid. You could always experiment with diet and exercise to see if it improves your fibroid, just be sure to discuss this with your doctor, so you are all on the same page:)

Jill March 17, 2014 at 8:33 pm

I have heard conflicting things about foods high in phytoestrogens like cruciferous veggies and soy regarding their effect on estrogen dominance. One school of thought is that they are advantageous because they attach to the estrogen receptors and block other estrogens. Another school of thought says that people with estrogen dominance are often that way because they do not efficiently clear estrogen, so adding any further estrogen may not quite work the way school of thought #1 claims.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you!

Natalie March 20, 2014 at 11:32 am

Hi Jill, thank you for your comment. To my knowledge, cruciferous vegetables are not high in phytoestrogens. Soy on the otherhand is. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in indole-3-carbinol, which helps switch estrogen metabolism to a less potent form. So cruciferous vegetables are helpful for estrogen dominance. Soy is a bit more tricky. At this point there is not a clear answer about soy and other foods high in phytoestrogens such as flax. If I knew I had estrogen dominanc, I would start a trial of daily phytoestrogens (1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed) for 2 to 3 weeks and then ask my doctor to check more hormones to see if it had any effect. In all cases, avoid processed soy (isolated soy protein, soy protein concentrate). This is a very processed form of soy which seems to have a very stimulatory effect on estrogen receptors. Hope this helped!

Harrytheyoungsta April 4, 2014 at 4:52 am

Great list,i would also like to add high intensity lifting,reduce estrogen so is interval cardio!

Harrytheyoungsta April 4, 2014 at 4:54 am

Hey,do u know if eggs and green tea are anti estrogens?,from many sites i read they mention them,but i also found other ones that claimed the increase estrogen

Natalie April 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I have not heard anything about eggs being an anti estrogen. Same goes for the green tea, however, caffeine seems to have an effect on estrogen levels. One study I know of reported altered estrogen levels in women who consumed more than 200mg of caffeine daily. The interesting part is that the results were different based on race. Asian women experienced an increase in estrogen whereas white women did not. In general, tea is lower in caffeine than coffee.

Louisa Stasi January 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm

I am in post menopause trying to stop a very small amount of a soy supplement which I have taken for around a year. When I tried stopping before, my hair was affected majorly as in it fell out. This time I am very slowly trying to have a tiny bit of soy milk alternating with even lesser mounts than 2 milligrams of the soy supplement. I am doing this every other day for a few weeks before stopping all soy. Do you think this is a good way to trick my body into thinking it can make its own estrogen so I do not have another hair issue as previously when trying to stop soy. My blood work and weight are all good and I am very active etc. but due to the soy supplement I am estrogen dominant for now. Thank you—-

Nidhi April 17, 2015 at 6:11 am

hey natalie, i am going through my endometriosis whuch is caused by increased estrogen i guess but my doc advised me to drink coffee , which also increases estrogeb level. i m confused what should i do. please help me in my endometriosis to reduce it.
anyhow find the blog really helpful.
*praises*

Kathy May 17, 2016 at 10:19 am

I recently began to have trouble sleeping and, being close to age 52, I thought it might be related to menopause and the estrogen dominance that comes with waning progesterone. I am self-educating, so hopefully I am getting this right. I am going to try some of your suggestions in hopes of bringing my hormones into as much balance as is possible at this age. Does this make sense?

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