Healthy Hormone Balance . . .
Female hormonal issues are on the rise – PMS, painful, heavy or irregular periods, fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility; the list goes on. Many of these conditions are associated with a situation of 'oestrogen dominance'.
Oestrogen is a complex hormone with many important functions within the body. Traditionally, oestrogen levels have been measured in the blood but it is becoming clear that the way oestrogen is broken down in the body also has a major impact on many areas of our health.
Oestrogen is metabolised by two pathways in women; one via a pathway that produces 'good oestrogen' and the other a pathway that produces 'bad oestrogen'. The ratio between these two oestrogens is gaining acceptance as a predictor of risk for a range of health disorders. Whenever our oestrogen levels get too high we have an increase in bad oestrogen and the effects of this can become clear for many women pre-menstrually.
Fatigue, irritability, sugar cravings, headaches, bloating and general aches and pains can all be signs that your oestrogen levels are too high. Excess oestrogen can also cause you to have painful, heavy periods and, more seriously, is associated with endometriosis, fibroids and breast cancer.
The great news is that there are simple changes we can make to our diet and lifestyle to make sure our oestrogen levels are within a healthy range. For example:
Blood sugar balance
Through a complex cascade of events, your blood sugar levels influence many of your hormone levels including oestrogen. To keep your blood sugar levels stable avoid all sugars and refined carbohydrates found in cakes, biscuits, white bread, rice & pasta, most crackers, soft drinks and sweets. Eat protein with every meal in the form of fish, eggs, chicken, lean red meat, nuts and seeds, or dairy products. If you crave sugar or starchy foods, feel shaky, agitated, or dizzy when hungry you may have a problem with blood sugar balance.
There are a number of chemicals in our environment that act as hormones when absorbed into our bodies, known as xeno- estrogens. We are exposed to these chemicals in the form of pesticides on the food we consume, soft plastics used in food packaging and many cosmetic products. To avoid exposure to these chemicals eat organic produce where possible, minimise the use of plastic wrapping on your food and use naturally based cosmetics.
The liver has an important role to play in hormone metabolism, so it follows that keeping the liver happy improves hormone levels. Alcohol, caffeine, saturated fats and sugars all put extra stress on the liver, leaving it less energetic to deal with hormone balance. A constituent found in cruciferous vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts helps to improve the metabolism of oestrogen in the liver.
Regular exercise and an increase in lean body mass, which can be achieved through regular strength training exercise, have been shown to have a favourable effect on the ratio of 'Good: Bad Oestrogen'.
So, it's clear that to stay healthy we need to keep our oestrogen levels within a healthy range and promote the breakdown of oestrogen down the good oestrogen pathway. And by doing so, you'll find your health is taken to a whole new level.
Article by Jessica Donovan, Naturopath
Jessica is an Adelaide-based naturopath, a specialist in live blood analysis, and the founder of Bounce Optimum Health & Wellbeing. She helps people achieve health and vitality using nutrition, lifestyle and natural medicines. Jessica specialises in correcting digestive disorders, female hormonal problems and children's health issues.
For more information visit www.bounceoptimumhealthandwellbeing.com or phone 0410 200 244.
Thanks to the Fitness First Magazine for providing this article