April 25, 2016

Avoid Foods High in Estrogen

foods high in estrogen
Grilled tofu mushroom kebab on skewer served on plate.

Are you looking to increase your estrogen levels but do not want to consider hormone replacement therapy? If so, there are some ways to increase your natural estrogen. And, one of those ways has to do with the foods you eat.

There are many symptoms associated with low estrogen levels which hits women as they go through menopause. Those symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and more. Would it not be nice to do something about those symptoms? Look towards your diet for help.

Foods High in Estrogen

Some foods are reported to increase estrogen. This is somewhat incorrect. The foods we are about to discuss contain compounds or nutrients called phytoestrogens. A phytoestrogen is a naturally occurring nutrient found in plants that possess estrogen like activity. These foods may raise estrogen levels slightly, but more importantly they replicate many of the same functions of estrogen in the body.

Consumption of phytoestrogens are associated with lower risks  of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and menopausal symptoms. There are hundreds of phytoestrogens found in a whole range of foods including soybeans, grains, seeds, nuts, herbs, and fruits. In other words, getting more phytoestrogens in your diet should not be difficult.

Foods high in phytoestrogens include:

  • Flaxseed
  • Soy products – soybeans, soy milk, tofu, tempeh
  • Fruits – apricots, dates, and prunes
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Peas
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Bran cereals
  • Herbs – anise, parsley, licorice, red clover, thyme, tumeric, and sage.

Other foods high in phytoestrogens include apples, beets, cherries, carrots, celery, cucumbers, olives, papaya, plums, pomegranates, potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes, and yams.

There two kinds of phytoestrogens – lignans and isoflavones. Lignans are found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Isoflavones are found in soy, grains and dairy products.

Fruits can be eaten dry which will provide a higher concentration of phytoestrogens but also a higher concentration of sugar. The best fruits for estrogen activity are apricots, dates, and prunes. Flaxseeds can be eaten directly or can be added to foods. They are also high in fiber and can help lower cholesterol.

They are also a source of omega-3s but they are not the best source for omega-3. ALA, the omega-3 found in flaxseed needs to be converted and is not the same as omega-3s found in fish and other animal sources.

Like flaxseeds, sesame seeds are high in fiber. The can be added to other foods and can be consumed in oil form, too. Chickpeas are most commonly consumed in the form of hummus and are high in fiber and protein. Beans are touted for other characteristics – being high in fiber and protein – but they are also high in phytoestrogens.

There are a variety of soy products that are high in phytoestrogens allowing for versatility in the way they can be consumed. Alfalfa sprouts are low in calories and carbohydrates while being high in phytoestrogens. They are usually consume by adding to salads. Like the other foods we discussed bran is high in fiber and phytonturients.

What are Xenoestrogens

There are other types of estrogens in the food you eat beyond phytoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are man-made products that can find their ways into the foods we eat. Xenoestrogens include herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other synthetic chemicals involved in food processing, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and plastics.

Xenoestrogens are up to 1,000 times more potent than natural human estrogen and lead to imbalances in estrogen and other hormone. Xenoestrogens probably explain the precocious development we see in prepubescent children these days and contribute to breast cancer risk by overwhelming the body with too much estrogen activity.

Other Ways to Increase Estrogen

Besides changing your diet there are other lifestyle changes you can make to increase estrogen levels.  These include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce sugar intake

Smoking has several negative effects on the endocrine system. Pre-menopausal women who smoke are more likely to have menstrual dysfunction, infertility, and reach menopause sooner than nonsmokers. Like smoking sugar has many detrimental effects on the endocrine system.


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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