The type of diet we typically have has led to many people showing symptoms of estrogen dominance. Some of the factors that cause this dominance include the way food is produced and packaged. For instance, many foods contain additives that end up boosting the body’s estrogen levels, producing a hormone imbalance that can be the cause of other health issues. On the positive side, you can re-balance your estrogen levels naturally and safely by following a special type of diet. Let’s take a look at 21 foods vital to reversing estrogen dominance without having to take any medications!
As the name suggests, estrogen dominance implies a higher-than-normal level of estrogen in your body. In normal conditions, estrogen has an equal amount of progesterone to balance it out (1)(2). If you have estrogen dominance, this means your body cannot stop producing this hormone.
The reasons behind this are many, including:
- Having problems with your diet or digestion
- Having anxiety or depression
- Going through hormone replacement therapy
- Smoking or drinking alcohol
- Having an unbalanced diet
- Excess exposure to xenoestrogens. (3)(4)
Estrogen dominance, like many other health issues, comes with several symptoms. You may have one or all of them. These are the most common signs of estrogen dominance (5):
- Low libido
- Hair loss
- Irritability and mood swings
- Irregular periods and PMS
- Poor sleep and fatigue
- Weight gain
- Brain fog
- Swelling, tenderness, and even lumps in your breasts
- Cold feet and/or hands
There are certain foods that can alter the levels of estrogen produced by your body and cause dominance. Cutting on these 9 foods can help you rebalance your hormones or avoid this issue altogether:
Most dairy products, no matter their origin (cows, sheep, goats, etc) typically contain certain amounts of hormones, including progesterone and estrogen. The latter is more prevalent in whole milk than in skim because this is a fat-soluble hormone. Thus, consuming dairy products frequently can increase your estrogen levels without you noticing. (6)
Let’s take a look at research carried out in the area (7). The participants of a 2010 study (seven men and five women) drank the milk of pregnant cows for 3 weeks. The difference was that men consumed 600 mL while women took 500 ML daily. Then, researchers analysed urine samples from them one hour after drinking the milk and then every 15 minutes for another hour, discovering that estrogen levels increased significantly during this time.
Did you know that soy can also contain plant-based estrogens? Most specifically, these substances are called phytoestrogens, such as genistein and daidzein, which can mimic the effects of estrogen in your body, making the impact of this hormone more pronounced (10).
A research study with 68 participants investigated how genistein affected women’s bodies. To do this, they gave half of the participants a placebo and the other half, 40 mg of genistein a day for 3 months. At the end of the study, 41.4% of the women who took genistein had more estrogen markers than those who did not take it (11).
Meat almost always contains hormones that make animals grow larger, which in turn maximises the profits for cattle raisers when they send the animals to the slaughterhouse. As a result, most of the meat we eat (unless organic) has traces of estrogen (8).
Research studying Japanese people discovered that problems related to estrogen imbalance, like cancer, have spiked in the past 25 years, which coincides with an increase in the imports of beef from the United States (a country that uses growth hormones in 97% of their cattle) (9).
Crackers, bread, pasta, pizza… All those delicious foods made with wheat contain gluten (among other items). People with a sensitivity to gluten can end up having digestive issues if they consume these foods, and guess what? Consuming gluten can also increase estrogen dominance in your body (12).
Why does this happen? Research discovered that wheat products usually contain estrogen-like fungi such as zearalenone, which can increase the estrogen levels in your body and cause, for example, early breast development in girls and adolescents (13).
Food and liquids that come in a plastic package have been exposed to chemicals that can mimic the effect estrogen has on your body, such as BPA (14). The longer the food stays inside the package or bottle, the more exposed it will be to these substances.
Several research teams studied different foods and beverages packaged in plastic and put the samples in ethanol and saline, discovering that most of these samples leaked alarming levels of BPA(15).
In an effort to make food taste better and last longer, manufacturers usually include food additives like artificial flavours and sweeteners, preservatives, dyes, and others that can end up affecting the estrogen levels in your body (16)(17).
One study carried out in Italy, for example, examined different types of additives and found out that 4-hexylresorcinol (usually added to shrimp to increase its shelf life) has estrogen-boosting levels that can lead to estrogen dominance (18).
Alcohol is primarily made of plants, such as oats, barley, and wheat germ, and all of them contain phytoestrogens. As their name suggests, these substances can modify the way your body metabolises estrogen, particularly in women, sometimes boosting your natural production (19).
Some studies prove that men who drank alcohol regularly had higher levels of estrogen in their blood than those who didn’t. Consuming beverages like wine, bourbon, or beer daily has also proven to increase the body’s activity regarding estrogens, prompting your body to produce more of this hormone (20).
Unfortunately, it seems that both bottled and tap water contain agents that can induce a higher production of estrogen in our bodies due to contamination from both plastic bottles and the environment itself. For instance, some studies have proven that xenoestrogens ( substances that come from animal manure which can cause your estrogen levels to rise) can reach waterways and contaminate the water we drink (21, 22)
The good news is that you can use filters and purifiers to do away with these agents and try to restore hormonal balance in your body (23).
Yes, unfortunately vegetable oils can also lead to estrogen dominance. These oils usually have high levels of fatty acids and saturated fats and too much of them can end up producing hormone imbalance (24).
A study carried out with rats examined the effects of consuming food fried in vegetable oils, particularly on their estrogen levels, discovering that they had higher levels of this hormone after ingesting fried foods (25).
Your doctor has discovered that your body has estrogen dominance and now what? Now you can take action and start a diet to reduce your estrogen levels in a natural, safe way. Here are the top foods to ingest if you are on an estrogen dominance diet.
Cabbage, kale, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts… all these delicious deep leafy greens are part of the Brassica family of vegetables, which contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help deal with estrogen dominance (26). Also, these vegetables have high levels of phytochemicals and Indole-3-carbinol, substances proven by research to work towards converting estrogen into protective layers called 2-OH-estrogens (27) (28).
Broccoli sprouts (that is, immature plants harvested before they grow into full broccoli) are packed with vitamins and nutrients (29) that can help you feel healthier. One of them is di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a substance that contributes to getting rid of excess estrogen in your body. One study discovered that patients with estrogen dominance who consumed 300 mg of DIM daily had lower concentrations of estrogen in their blood than those in the control group who took a placebo (30).
Another substance present in broccoli sprouts that can help your body reduce estrogen production is Suforaphane, which stimulates NRF2 activity (31).
Red grapes are delicious, versatile, and good for your health! In addition to keeping your heart healthy, red grapes can help you fight estrogen dominance because they have natural estrogen-blocking substances such as resveratrol and proanthocyanidin (32).
The best part is that you can eat red grapes refrigerated, at room temperature, mixed in salads, or any other option you can think of! (33)
Rosemary is a delicious, medicinal herb you can use to spice up your foods and beverages in the easiest way (34). Recent research studies have discovered that participants who eat dishes with rosemary had more estrogen detoxification capabilities than those who didn’t (35).
While certain fatty acids in oils can end up increasing your estrogen levels, this is not the case of omega-3 fatty acids present in nuts, fish, soy beans, and avocado, which have the opposite effect and can actually decrease the amounts of estrogen in your body (36).
Certain studies carried out with mice have discovered that the acid DHA present in Omega-3 is useful when regulating estrogen production. These mice were divided into 3 groups, with one of them taking cottonseed oil supplements, the second one taking soybean oil, and the last one, DHA for 28 days. At the end of the study, the mice who took DHA had lower estrogen levels than the others (37).
As stated above, both tap and bottled water can be contaminated and contain estrogens that may make your estrogen dominance worse. If you’d like to avoid these effects, start taking filtered water by reverse osmosis (38). This is a process where water passes through a filter which traps particles as small as estrogen-inducing chemicals, as discovered by a study carried out in 2014, thus lowering your daily intake of this hormone (39).
You have probably heard about the countless benefits of green tea for your health (40), but did you know it can also help you rebalance your estrogen levels? Green tea contains a high level of polyphenol, a substance that can help your body produce enzymes that metabolise estrogen. For instance, this study (41) asked over 100 women to drink green tea daily for 3 months to discover their estrogen levels were between 20% and 40% lower than they were when they started.
Mushrooms like portobello, baby button, or crimini have certain substances (42) that prevent your body from producing the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for converting androgen to estrogen. As these mushrooms stop this conversion, they can help lower your estrogen levels overall (43). The best part? These mushrooms are delicious and can be eaten in salads, sauteed with onions, with meat, and in many other ways.
In addition to all the foods mentioned above, certain herbs and natural supplements can also help you do away with extra estrogen in your body. Here are our top 4 ones:
Maca is a plant that grows in the Andes mountains, in South America, and is used to cook flavourful dishes. As you may have guessed, it can also help you balance your hormones (44).
One study divided twenty-two participants into two groups, where one of them got 20 mg of Maca per day while the other took a placebo (45). By the end of the study, after four months, they discovered that the women who took Maca had lower levels of estrogen than when they started.
This is an extract from different plants that has been used in ancient Chinese medicine. Berberine can also help you regulate your hormones when taken regularly (46).
One study asked 102 Chinese women to take 0.4 gr of Berberine extract three times a day, to discover that after the end of the four-month study, 14 of them had healthy estrogen levels again (47).
Ashwagandha has received a lot of attention lately and for a reason. It has been historically used to cure emotional and physical health issues (48), as it has many powerful effects on your body.
This herb is an adaptogen, and as such it helps your body deal with anxiety and stress (which can trigger the production of estrogen). One research study worked with two groups of women, one taking a placebo and the other one received 30 mg of Ashwagandha daily. The latter saw their stress levels reduced by 30%, which can also help regulate estrogen levels (49).
Probiotics supplements can help balance the healthy bacteria that live in your gut, making your digestive tract healthier (50). How does this help you with estrogen imbalance, you may wonder? Well, certain bacteria in your gut can metabolise hormones, helping you control your estrogen dominance (51).
Start a journey towards healing with these 21 foods to get rid of excess estrogen. Try to incorporate as many of them as possible while avoiding the ones in the list, too. Just make sure you consult with your doctor to ensure this new diet keeps you healthy at all times!