Last week we launched a series about estrogen dominance with holistic nutritionist and women’s wellness expert, Kristin Dahl. This common, yet largely misunderstood condition could be at the root of a slew of uncomfortable symptoms. The more we know about estrogen dominance, the better we’re able to spot symptoms and step in to help ourselves heal.
In part one, Kristin explains what estrogen dominance is. Below, she breaks down everything you need to know about xenoestrogens and why they matter when it comes to keeping hormones balanced. Sign up for our weekly newsletter here so you don’t miss out on the next part of this month-long series.
What The Heck Are Xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens are synthetic substances that mimic estrogen. However, unlike estrogen, which the body eliminates after its job is done (typically within about 12 hours), xenoestrogens are stored in fat cells where they disrupt the proper functioning of the reproductive system and increase the risk of disease in the breast and ovaries.
Where Are Xenoestrogens Found?
Conventionally raised meat and dairy | Farmed animals raised by conventional methods are fed harmful synthetic hormones. These hormones bioaccumulate in the animals over time and remain in the body of the animal even after slaughter. When we consume meat or dairy we consume whatever the source animal consumed. Always choose meat and dairy from organic, pasture and grass-fed sources — these are fed without synthetic hormones.
Birth Control Pills | Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones. The pill raises estrogen levels and often causes further hormonal imbalances and complications. Your liver is then taxed with having to detox these hormones which, in excess, gets recirculated in the body in a more harmful form. (Speak to a holistic practitioner about alternatives for your specific condition.)
Personal care products | Many personal care products such as cosmetics, shampoos, hair creams and body lotions contain many harmful chemicals. For example, one of the most common chemicals found in personal care products is fragrance, which can be made up of hundreds of various chemical compounds. Fragrances are linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer and endocrine disruption, which interferes with adrenal, thyroid and reproductive glands. When we use these personal care products, we inhale the toxins as well as absorb them through our skin (the largest organ that connects to the inside of our body). Opt for natural plant-based alternatives with simple ingredients that have names you recognize and can pronounce. Check EWG’s website for a list of safe cosmetics and rating scale.
Water | It’s great that the water from our kitchen tap is treated to remove harmful bacteria and other pollutants, but here’s the truth: The chemicals used to do this are not filtered out of the water by the time it reaches our homes. The other sad truth is that the water still contains many harmful substances that treatment plants simply cannot remove. For example, hormones in birth control pills that are excreted in urine are not filtered out. The EWG identified 45 hormone-disrupting chemicals in public drinking water. A common practice to avoid this is to buy bottled water, which is often in plastic. Unfortunately, hormone-disrupting chemicals from the plastic also leach in the water. Your best alternative is to invest in a good quality water filter for your home or opt for spring water home delivery.
Plastics | Our world is filled with plastics, many of which leach hormone-like chemicals into the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Even BPA-free plastics still leach some estrogenic chemicals. Instead of plastic chose glass or stainless steel containers, and never heat food in plastic.
Pesticides | Pesticides contain a plethora of harmful chemicals that wreak havoc on the reproductive system. Eat organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. A good guide to follow is the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.
Xenoestrogens can also be found in plants. They’re called phytoestrogens and they have a similar structure to estrogen but a weaker estrogenic effect inside the body than other xenoestrogens. This subdued effect can decrease estrogenic activity and can be beneficial for healing estrogen dominance. Sources of phytoestrogen include oats, alfalfa, lentils, barley, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, sesame seeds, licorice root, red clover and soy products (tempeh, miso).
Next week, we’re talking with Kristin about how to balance estrogen levels with food and lifestyle habits…
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.