Estrogen Metabolism Diet
Dr. Joseph J Collins, RN, ND
The good news is that most of the things that increase healthy estrogen metabolism can be achieved with diet changes. Women and men can both make the following lifestyle and dietary choices to increase the "good" estrogens, such as 2-hydroxyestrone and 2-hydroxyestradiol. These choices can also decrease the "bad" estrogens, such as 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone. You can also increase the “really good estrogens” (2-methoxyestradiol and 2-methoxyestrone) which may actually have anti-cancer actions on cells that have transformed into cancer.
CABBAGE FAMILY VEGETABLES - Also called the cruciferous vegetable family, these vegetables include the various forms of cabbage, as well as cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, bok choy, wasabia, kale, turnip greens, watercress, Chinese cabbage, and Chinese kale. These vegetables are a rich source of a phytonutrient called indole-3-carbinol, which your body converts to diindolylmethane (DIM), the activated metabolite of indole-3-carbinol. These vegetables can be eaten every other day to get regular intake of indole-3-carbinol.
If you do not consistently consume the mentioned vegetables at least 3 to 4 times a week, consider using a DIM supplement, such as DIM Enhanced, which has other herbs to also promote healthy estrogens metabolism. That formulation also includes standardized wasabia (yes, the herb used to make Wasabi in sushi restaurants), which is a very potent member of the cruciferous vegetable family. ROSEMARY - This herb increases healthy estrogen metabolism and is enhances the formation of 2-hydroxy estrogens - the good estrogens. It is also a great antioxidant and has even been used to help improve memory. Consider using it more often in your diet, or choose a supplement that has concentrated rosemary extract. Rosemary also helps with thyroid function and is included in ThyroMend™, discussed below.
FLAX SEED – If this is the only thing you are doing to increase healthy estrogens, use at 1 to 3 tablespoons of ground seed each day. It is the unique fibers (lignans) in flax seed that promote healthy estrogen metabolism. The omega-3 oil (alpha-linolenic acid) in flax does not promote estrogen detoxification. The whole ground seed, or defatted flaxseed meal, is rich in the important lignans.
Dietary Recommendations to Increase Good Estrogens
How estrogens are metabolized in the human body is one of the strongest factors for determining risk of developing cancer, as well as auto-immune disease and inflammation disorders.
Women and men both have estrogen in their bodies, and both can be benefited by healthy estrogen metabolism.
Women with history of PMS/PMDD, fibrocystic breasts disease, monthly breast pain, miscarriages, infertility and those who use birth control pills are more likely to have poor estrogen detoxification and increased risks of cancer as well as worsening of PMS/PMDD, fibrocystic breasts disease, monthly breast pain and repeated miscarriages and continued infertility.
Even though men have less estrogen than women, poor estrogen metabolism can increase risk of prostate cancer, auto-immune disease and inflammation disorders in men. Thos risks are increased in men that are overweight, since increased adipose (fat) tissue causes increased conversion of testosterone to estrogens.
SALMON - Salmon is a good source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a complex omega-3 oil that is capable of increasing the formation of 2-hydroxy estrogens - the "good" estrogens. Since, under ideal situations, barely 5% of simple omega-3 oils, such as alpha-linolenic acid from flax, get converted to the more important eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), look to cold water fish such as salmon for your EPA. If you do not eat salmon at least once a week, consider very high grade Omega-3 capsules such as QUELL Fish Oil High EPA. ISOFLAVONES - The isoflavones (such as daidzein and genistein) can enhance the formation the good estrogens by increasing 2-hydroxylation. Though these isoflavones do occur in soy, non-soy sources of these same isoflavones are found in Trifolium pratense, as well as Pueraria montana & Pueraria lobata. These non-soy sources of isoflavones are included in EstroMend™ to promote healthy estrogen metabolism is that formulation. ACTIVATED FOLIC ACID – Activated folic acid assists with the conversion of good estrogens (2-hydroxy estrogens) into “really good estrogens” (2-methoxyestrogens). These 2-methoxyestrogens (2-methoxyestradiol and 2-methoxyestrone) may actually have anti-cancer actions on cells that have transformed into cancer. About 30 percent of people are unable to adequately convert folic acid to the activated form, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, also called Methyl Folate. Activated folic acid is essential for ideal hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, homocysteine metabolism, and nervous system function. Make sure that other B-vitamins are taken as well, such as B6 & B12 since they work with folic acid to make “really good estrogens”. Methyl Folate is available as an individual supplement. A good combination of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, with activated B6 and the best form of B12 (methylcobalamine) is B-Complex with Metafolin.
EXERCISE – Exercise, which benefits the body in many ways, will also increase good estrogens by increasing the process of 2-hydroxylation, as evidenced by a number of studies.
HEALTHY THYROID FUNCTION - Healthy thyroid function is directly related to healthy estrogen metabolism. Low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) may increase the amount of "bad" estrogens, even if you are making good dietary choices. Optimal thyroid activity is dependent on seven specific functions starting with providing a safe and proper amount of iodine to thyroid cells (thyrocytes), to increasing T3 and decreasing Reverse T3, to helping the cells throughout your body to listen to the thyroid hormones. ThyroMend™ is uniquely formulated to perform these seven specific functions. For information on specific protocols, please go to: Protocols
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As noted above: Study each of the Hormone Health Diets to understand how foods affect your hormones.