Are you trying to lose weight or maybe have been trying for a long time but nothing ever works? Or maybe you’ve put on extra weight but you haven’t been eating differently than before?
This is a very common concern, and very often, the actual cause of problems with weight is a hormonal imbalance. You may have read about correcting hormonal imbalances in general previously on the blog, but in this article, we’re going to target female hormones specifically.
One of the most commonly occurring hormonal imbalances is estrogen dominance. While this type of imbalance can also affect men, weight gain is a symptom of estrogen dominance in women. Read on to find out how estrogen dominance affects your weight and what to do about it.
What is Estrogen Dominance and How it Works
The female sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone – work together to regulate the menstrual cycle and the entire reproductive system. They promote female development and dictate some characteristics of the body, along with other functions. Their ratio is important for a healthy balance, and as the name suggests, estrogen dominance is an imbalance in which estrogen levels are abnormally high in relation to progesterone.
It is an open secret that women are facing varying hormonal changes and imbalances throughout their whole lives. From pregnancy to perimenopause, menopause, and the vibration in hormones never stop in women's bodies. Hormones are used throughout the body to control different important functions. Estrogen levels peak in a woman at 20s and start to slowly decline thereafter. The age near menopause, level becomes half of its peak.
In terms of weight, excess estrogen in relation to progesterone is manifested in bigger hips and thighs. Here’s how estrogen affects your weight: it works to increase fat storage by up-regulating alpha-adrenergic receptors in female fat depots (around the hips and thighs). These receptors work to accelerate or decrease fat usage.
Symptoms of Excess Estrogen
Excess estrogen doesn’t only result in increased fat storage. Another common symptom is water retention and bloating which can really make weight loss efforts seem ineffective. Other symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Irregular periods
- Concentration problems
- Psychological symptoms: mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression
- Sleep problems
- Decreased sex drive
- Swollen or tender breasts
Needless to say, getting your estrogen levels back in balance is important, not just for maintaining weight but for maintaining overall physical and mental health. Estrogen dominance also increases the risk of developing ovarian cysts and diseases such as endometriosis or breast cancer, so it’s an issue to be dealt with immediately.
What You Can Do
Most women experience these symptoms to some extent as a result of our lifestyle and the numerous chemicals we’re exposed to. These chemicals are called xenoestrogens and they mimic estrogen in the body, thus disrupting hormonal balance. That’s why “detoxing” your body from excess estrogen in a natural way with certain lifestyle changes is an important first step—and it might be the only one you need to take. Here’s how.
Decrease Exposure to Xenoestrogens
Use natural and organic skincare products, limit processed foods, use a water filter (chlorine and fluoride act as xenoestrogens), and look for healthier laundry products which contain fewer petrochemicals.
Most plastics contain BPA and BPS, synthetic chemicals which mimic estrogen in the body. Store and microwave food in ceramic or glass containers, because temperature extremes break down these chemicals so they penetrate into your food and drinks. The same goes for non-stick cookware, so replace your cookware with iron cast or ceramic coated pots and pans.
Regulate Your Digestive System
Estrogen is excreted in the bowel, so constipation can result in excess estrogen being stored. Eat more fiber (leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, fruit) and use probiotics to maintain a healthy digestive system and detox from estrogen. Eating raw organic carrots also helps maintain hormonal balance because they have a unique fiber which binds with excess estrogen.
Supplement Your Diet
You can find a natural estrogen blocker supplement whose ingredients reduce estrogen dominance and add it to your diet. Supplements for reducing excess estrogen can be very beneficial, but it is important that you find a quality one from a reliable company that only uses safe ingredients.
Speaking of your diet, keep in mind that the various chemicals and pesticides are hormone disruptors. Organic food isn’t just fruits and vegetables, but also meat and dairy that comes from animals which haven’t been injected with antibiotics and hormones. Conventional farms use estrogenic drugs to fatten up their livestock and increase milk production, so make sure you choose wisely.
Soy is a natural, plant-based estrogen, so although it’s not a chemical source, it’s best to avoid it when you’re trying to lower your estrogen levels.
Physical activity is known to help maintain hormonal balance, and studies show that exercise lowers estrogen levels. Focus on aerobic exercise because it helps the body break down estrogen so it’s easier to expel it.
Get More Sleep
Melatonin (the “sleep hormone”) has a protective effect against estrogen, and when you don’t get enough sleep, its levels are thrown off balance. Sleep is crucial to the normal functioning of the body because it is a period when so many processes and functions are regulated, including the endocrine system, so make you sure you get at least 7 hours each night.
Our bodies are so complex and everything is so intimately connected, which is why it’s important to consider the numerous factors that may be affecting your hormonal balance. These simple lifestyle changes can be very beneficial because they take different components into consideration.
Be disciplined and stick with them to detox the excess estrogen. Hopefully and very likely you’ll see some positive changes. But if your symptoms persist the underlying cause could be something else, so don’t hesitate to go to a trusted doctor and get your hormones checked.