Many women need to avoid oestrogen because of family risk of hormonal cancer, but these foods can give you a natural, non-hormonal, boost.
Although this article is primarily aimed at helping women boost their oestrogen levels naturally, it can also help with oestrogen dominance as these will be foods to avoid.
Why oestrogen foods can help
Women have two primary hormones throughout life: progesterone and oestrogen and both are equally important and best in balance with each other.
Phytoestrogens are a form of dietary oestrogen we get from food and studies indicate they can mimic or enhance the natural hormone’s health benefit for women who need it.
Severe symptoms such as vaginal dryness, or severe sweats not responding to progesterone alone, do need some oestrogen. If you are not able to have the hormone itself then plant based nutrients such as phytoestrogens can help.
However, they can block or disrupt oestrogen in your body if you are sensitive consuming large amounts so it’s important to talk to your doctor before any major changes to your diet if you are at risk for conditions such as breast cancer.
What conditions do they help?
The phytoestrogens in foods are linked to several health benefits:
Menopause’s physical symptoms, like the frequency of hot flushes and vaginal dryness.
Osteoporosis requires progesterone to build bone and oestrogen to clear away old bone. For renewal bone clearance is necessary and studies show that phytoestrogens from food may support this effect.
Lowering cholesterol levels, which may lower risk of heart disease
Studies show phytonutrients may help manage cholesterol and maintaining good cholesterol levels keeps your arteries free from fatty build-up, reducing the risk of heart problems and stroke.
Best oestrogen-boosting foods
Each of the following phytoestrogens has antioxidant properties. This means that in addition to the nutrients’ potential health benefits, they fight cell damage in our bodies linked to a wide range of chronic diseases.
Many types of food-based phytoestrogens are studied for their potential health benefits. These include:
Lignans are found in seeds, whole grains, and vegetables and are precursors to phytoestrogens.
They may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumour cells.
Isoflavones are produced almost exclusively by the members of the bean family.
The potential health benefits may include protection against age-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, hormone-dependent cancer and loss of cognitive function.
Resveratrol is produced by several plants and food sources include the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts.
It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to protect you against diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. The anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol also make it a good remedy for arthritis, and skin inflammation.
Flavonoids are a large family of plant compounds and naturally occur in fruit, vegetables, chocolate, and drinks like wine and tea.
Phytonutrients like flavonoids have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects and they protect your cells from oxidative damage that can lead to disease. These dietary antioxidants can prevent the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementi
The best dietary sources of phytoestrogens
1. Flaxseeds are the richest dietary source of lignans and researchers believe they lower breast cancer risk.
You can sprinkle flaxseeds on many dishes, bake them into bread and biscuits, or blend them into soup, smoothies and spreads.
2. Soy contains high levels of isoflavones, phytoestrogens that may mimic oestrogen’s effects
Soy is also rich in a range of essential vitamins and minerals and can support heart health as an alternative to red and processed meats.
It’s also extremely versatile — you can include soy in your diet with foods like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soymilk.
3. Peaches have a high lignan content, and studies show that eating two servings of peaches or nectarines a week reduces a woman’s breast cancer risk.
Researchers find similar effects from consuming blueberries and strawberries.
4. Garlic can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and prevent clots — all heart disease risk factors.
Regular garlic consumption can influence oestrogen levels in the body, perhaps helping reduce age-related bone loss, but more research is needed to study this effect.
5. Red wine is rich in resveratrol, a phytoestrogen researchers believe reduces heart disease risk by regulating cholesterol levels.
Another study found that phytoestrogens in red wine may stop cancer cell growth, particularly among postmenopausal women.
6. Sesame seeds affect oestrogen levels, with potent antioxidant activity fighting chronic disease risk factors.
Simple to add to almost any meal — and they may help improve your cholesterol levels.
7. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale contain phytoestrogens with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatoryproperties.
Diets rich in cruciferous vegetables are also associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, including heart problems.
8. Nuts like cashews, almonds, peanuts, and pistachios are a great source of heart-healthy phytoestrogens.
They’re easy to add to your diet, BUT most nuts are high in calories and fat, so limit your portions to the recommended serving size.
Adding these foods to your diet can help if you need to increase oestrogen and cannot have the actual hormone itself.
Women with oestrogen dominance can use these foods to limit their oestrogen intake and get better hormone balance.
If you need a little oestrogen, and have no concerns about the hormone itself, you could use a combination cream with both progesterone and oestrogen to help symptoms such as vaginal dryness or severe hot flushes, anxiety and depression.