Thanks to the nature of the 21st-century diet, there are many people today exhibiting symptoms of estrogen dominance. Factors such as the way some foods are produced or packaged and the use of
food additives can trigger an increase in the body's estrogen levels. This imbalance can be a root
cause of several health problems.
The good news is that following an estrogen dominance diet can help balance out your hormone levels safely and naturally.
Estrogen dominance involves having a higher than normal amount of estrogen in your system without having enough progesterone to balance it out. Progesterone is a steroid hormone that helps keep estrogen in check, and it also plays a vital role in both menstruation and pregnancy. (1)(2) With estrogen dominance, estrogen can run unchecked as your body will keep producing it.
Estrogen dominance has several possible causes, including environmental and dietary ones. They include things like:
Estrogen dominance may come with several symptoms, and you may have one or all of them. Everyone is different, and some people have more severe or prominent symptoms than others. The most common symptoms include, but are not limited to (5):
Eating certain foods can cause your estrogen levels to fluctuate and dominate your progesterone levels. To avoid this, you can cut the following nine foods out of your diet.
Dairy products from goats, sheep, and cows naturally have minimal amounts of different hormones. This includes progesterone and estrogen. Estrogen is a fat-soluble hormone, which means there is more of it in whole milk versus skim. Even though there are small traces of the hormones, consuming milk and other dairy products can cause your estrogen levels to increase. (6)
One study had seven men and five women drink 600 mL and 500 mL of pregnant cows' milk respectively every day for 21 days. They took urine samples one hour before they drank the milk and then again every 15 minutes for an hour, at the 90-minute mark and at the two-hour mark. They found that the estrogen levels increased significantly after drinking the milk. (7)
Non-organic meats almost always contain growth hormones. These growth hormones help to make the animals larger and bulkier to maximize the profit when cattle raisers slaughter them for meat. This also means that they have estrogen traces. (8)
Studies show that Japanese citizens have seen estrogen-related problems like cancer spike tremendously – by as much as four times for breast cancer and ten times for prostate cancer – in the past 25 years. This coincides with an increase in beef consumption of imported beef from the United States. The United States uses growth hormones in 97% of their beef cattle. (9)
Soy contains plant-based estrogens, also called phytoestrogens, including daidzein and genistein. These two phytoestrogens mimic estrogen in the human body. Eating soy products can make the impact of estrogen on your body even more pronounced. (10)
One study took 68 women and split them into a control group with a placebo and a group that received 40 mg of genistein per day for 12 weeks. Researchers tested how the influx of estrogen biomarkers changed and found that, of the women who took genistein, 41.4% saw an increase. This is compared to 37.5% for the placebo group. (11)
Gluten-containing products include breads, crackers, pasta, and anything made from wheat. Gluten is a binding agent, and it can cause digestive issues if you have a sensitivity to it. It can also have an impact on your estrogen levels. (12)
One study found that many estrogen-like fungi called zearalenone thrive on wheat products and some grains, as well as in gluten. These fungi can increase your estrogen levels. One study even linked them to early breast development in young girls. (13)
Food or water that comes in plastic packaging is exposed to different chemicals like BPA, and the exposure increases the longer the food or water stays in the packaging. BPA can mimic estrogen and other hormones in your body. (14)
Researchers took samples of hundreds of different types of plastic packaging used for food and beverages. They then put the samples in ethanol and saline to see if chemicals leached out. They found that almost every sample they took had alarming levels of BPA. (15)
Food additives are artificial ingredients that cause food to look and taste better. They include things like artificial sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, and more. Since these things are artificial, they can interfere with your body's natural estrogen levels. (16)(17)
Newer studies show that certain food additives can boost estrogen production. In one study, Italian researchers screened hundreds of different food additives to find the ones that had estrogen-boosting effects. One additive called 4-hexylresorcinol possess these effects. This additive increases the shelf life of shrimp and prevents discolouration. (18)
When it comes to alcohol creation, common plants that manufacturers use to produce alcohol, like barley, wheat germ, and oats contain phytoestrogens. These substances can change how your body metabolizes estrogen, especially in a female's body. Alcohol also triggers your body to increase your natural production levels of estrogen. (19)
Studies showed that men had higher levels of estrogen when they drank heavily. Both human and animal studies showed that routinely drinking wine, bourbon and beer led to higher levels of activity involving estrogen as well. The same studies also showed that alcohol could interfere with estrogen receptors in your body, and this can prompt your body to make more. (20)
Bottled and tap water both contain estrogen-inducing agents that can cause estrogen dominance due to the agents leaching from the plastic bottles or from coming in contact with environmental contaminants. To avoid this, you'd drink filtered or purified water because it can remove these estrogen-inducing agents. (21)
Studies showed that estrogen activity in water packaged in PET plastic bottles is three times higher than the estrogen activity in water packaged in glass bottles.
Another study showed that xenoestrogens could cause estrogen levels to rise. Xenoestrogens can come from animal manure, and as much as 1% of this manure reaches waterways. If it continues at this rate, it could add up to 15% more estrogen into global water supplies. (22)(23)
Fats like the ones found in vegetable oils can be tricky when it comes to estrogen dominance. The oils have particularly high levels of saturated fats and fatty acids, and having too much of these fatty acids can throw off your natural hormone production. (24)
One study involving rats looked at the effects of frying foods in vegetable oils before feeding it to them and measuring how this impacted estrogen levels. They found that the rats had higher levels of estrogen after ingesting the fried foods. They believed this was due to the vegetable oils disrupting the estrogen receptors of the endocrine system. This disruption can lead to estrogen dominance. (25)
If you find that you are estrogen dominant, there are foods you can eat to naturally reduce your estrogen levels safely and effectively. We've picked out the top eight and outlined why you want to eat them below.
Broccoli sprouts are immature broccoli plants that start to grow around three days after planting them. In the late 1990s, researchers at Johns Hopkins University realised that broccoli sprouts had extremely high concentrations of vitamins and nutrients. (26)
Broccoli sprouts contain high levels of di-indolyl-methane (DIM), and this is a supplement that works to detoxify the body of excess estrogen. One pilot study gave patients with estrogen dominance 300mg of DIM every day for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, they found that the patients had lower concentrations of estrogen and a higher metabolism rate.
Brassica family vegetables include deep leafy greens. The most widely eaten ones are broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, collard greens, and rutabagas. They contain several protective vitamins and minerals that can help with estrogen dominance. (29)
The vegetables in the Brassica family contain high levels of phytochemicals. Research shows that these phytochemicals work to disrupt estrogen receptors and block your body's natural production of estrogen. They also contain Indole-3-carbinol, and this helps to convert estrogen to a protective layer called 2-OH-estrogens. (30)(31)
Red grapes are a convenient way to fight estrogen dominance because they're versatile. They're easy to clean and eat, and you can eat them at room temperature or refrigerated. Ideally, you want to eat organic when you eat grapes, and you can eat them on their own or mixed in a salad. (32)
Studies show that red grapes have natural estrogen-blocking chemicals. A red grape's skin contains a chemical called resveratrol. The red grape's seeds have a natural chemical called proanthocyanidin. These chemicals can interfere with your body's estrogen production, and this can reduce your overall levels. (33)
As we touched on earlier, certain fatty acids from oil sources like vegetable oil aren't good for your estrogen levels. However, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids that come from healthy sources can help to decrease your estrogen levels. Seeds, nuts, fish, avocado, and soy beans are all excellent things to add to your diet to increase your levels of Omega-3s. (34)
Studies show that the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA is particularly important at helping your brain regulate your estrogen production. A study involving mice demonstrated this. Researchers took mice and split them into three groups. One group got a supplement containing cottonseed oil, one group got soybean oil, and one group got DHA every day for 28 days. At the end of 28 days, they found the group with the DHA had far less estrogen compared to the other two groups. (35)
Rosemary is one of the most recognized herbs around the world, and it has decades of therapeutic and medicinal use. This fragrant herb is popular in many Mediterranean dishes, and it's easy to incorporate into your daily diet. (36)
One study took participants and had them incorporate rosemary into their diet while monitoring their estrogen levels. At the end of the study, they found that using an extract from rosemary leaves was effective at enhancing the liver's estrogen detoxification capabilities. (37)
Filtered water removes the majority of contaminants out of the water. Reverse osmosis is a process where your water passes through a filter that has openings that are as small as .0001 microns. These tiny openings trap particles smaller than the estrogen-inducing agents, and it also passes through a triple filtration system. (38)
Since there are trace amounts of estrogen in your drinking water, this reverse osmosis or filtered water works to remove them. One study ran water through this filtration system and found that it was effective for removing the majority of the estrogen-inducing agents in the water. In turn, this lowers your intake. (39)
Green tea is arguably one of the healthiest drinks on the planet, and it has a history that dates back thousands of years. It was a popular medicinal drink in ancient China. It can help with inflammation, hormone problems, digestive upset, and more. (40)
Studies show that green tea has very high amounts of polyphenols. Polyphenols can influence and encourage your body to produce enzymes that work to metabolize and break down estrogen. One study had women drink green tea every day for the course of the study. In the end, their estrogen levels were between 20% and 40% lower than they were at the beginning. (41)
You can eat raw mushrooms in salads, and they're also great sauteed with onions and added to other dishes. There are dozens of varieties available including portobello, shiitake, baby button and, crimini. (42)
More importantly, mushrooms can prevent your body from producing a specific enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme is directly responsible for your body converting androgen to estrogen. Since it stops this conversion, it can work to lower your estrogen levels and slow the overall production of the hormone. (43)
Finally, there are health supplements you can take to help you overcome your estrogen dominance. Since there are hundreds available, we rounded up the top four below.
Maca Root comes from the Andes mountains, and it's an important component in Peruvian cooking to help flavor dishes. However, Maca Root also has a vital role to play with helping to balance out your hormones. (44)
Studies show that Maca Root can help to stabilize your hormone levels and balance out your estrogen and progesterone levels. Twenty-two participants got split into two groups of 11 for the study. Group A got 20 mg of Maca Root per day, and Group B got a placebo. At the end of four months, they found that the group A had far reduced levels of estrogen over the placebo group. (45)
Berberine is an extract that comes from several different plant sources. It has a long history of medicinal use by the Chinese. It's also important for regulating your hormones. (46)
One study involving Chinese women took 102 women and gave them 0.4 grams of Berberine three times a day to help stabilize their hormone levels. At the end of the four-month study, they found that 14 women regained a normal menstrual cycle and had healthy hormone levels. (47)
This medicinal herb is a powerful and natural adaptogen. It has a usage history that dates back over 3,000 years, and it's useful for both emotional and physical health problems. (48)
Since this is an adaptogen, it helps your body to react to and deal with stress and the stress hormone cortisol. One study split participants into two groups with one group getting a placebo and one group getting 30 mg of Ashwagandha. The group that got the Ashwagandha had a 30% reduction in their stress hormone, and this can help regulate estrogen. (49)
Probiotics are a healthy type of bacteria that can help to balance out the bacteria levels in your digestive tract. You usually take probiotics as a supplement and part of your daily diet. (50)
Certain bacteria strains in your system can work to metabolize estrogen, and this can help control your estrogen dominance. Since probiotics increase the good bacteria levels in your gut, they're able to work more effectively and get rid of the excess estrogen. (51)
These 21 foods are a vital part of your estrogen dominance diet. You want to incorporate as many of them as possible if you have too much of this hormone in your system. However, you do want to stay safe while you do so. This is why it's so important to take to your physician before you start anything new to ensure you have a healthy lifestyle.