Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Secret Womens Business!

Beyond Babies and Bones - The importance of healthy oestrogen balance.

Most of us know about oestrogen's role in maintaining bone density but did you know that it also helps to regulate the circadian rhythm (our sleep/wake cycle), control food intake, and influences energy expenditure as well as insulin secretion. As oestrogen levels decline, women's metabolic rate lowers, favouring fat storage and insulin resistance - that's why weight gain is so common after menopause.

The 3 Types of Oestrogen...

  • E1- the dominant postmenopausal oestrogen.
  • E2 - the predominant reproductive oestrogen, aids egg release from the ovaries and also has positive effects on the heart, colon, bones and brain. It is the decline of E2 that causes hot flushes and night sweats.
  • E3 - produced mostly by the placenta during  pregnancy.

It's all in the balance...

The delicate balance of  oestrogens can be disrupted by:
  • Xenoestrogens - xeno meaning other or outside the body - such as plastics, pesticides, contraceptive pills and HRT.
  • Oestrogens - in intensively farmed animal products.
  • Endoestrogens - from within the body, often produced from unhealthy bowel flora and the liver.
  • Phytoestrogens - oestrogen like compounds found in plants which can be used to correct oestrogen balance.

When you have too much of a good thing... 

Oestrogen is a growth promoter which is great for bones, our gut and embryo development but not so good for precancerous or cancerous cells.

Current research has uncovered a link between the liver's metabolism of oestrogen and an increased risk for cancer. Essentially, oestrogen is metabolised by the liver, and can be converted to a weaker form (ideally) or a stronger, growth promoting form.

When the stronger form of oestrogen comes into contact with oestrogen sensitive tissues such as breasts, the uterus and prostate gland this can lead to the development of fibroids, endometriosis, period pain and hormone sensitive cancers.

Naturopaths have known for a long time that simply by improving a womans' liver function her endometriosis, period pain, fibroids, fertility or PMS will improve.

Restoring the balance...

How can a woman (and men for that matter) reduce her risk of oestrogen related diseases?
  • Support the liver to encourage the production of weaker noncancerous oestrogen.
  • Optimise bowel flora -  as a considerable amount of oestrogen passes from the liver to the intestines, healthy bowel flora work to further breakdown oestrogen. Therefore, daily bowel motions are essential to remove oestrogen from the system. 
  • Maintain body fat in a healthy range.
A primarily plant based diet provides the antioxidants, fibre, phytochemicals and nutrients necessary for healthy oestrogen metabolism.

In cases where oestrogen metabolism is so disrupted, herbs and targeted nutrients can be employed to restore the balance, often within just a few months.

Key foods for Oestrogen Detoxification



  • Broccoli, cabbage and other brassica family vegetables.
  • Leeks, shallots and other onion family vegetables.
  • Flaxseeds - must be ground to release the phytoestrogens.
  • Grapefruit.
  • Green Tea - I recommend organic.
  • Soy products - Controversial I  know - but the evidence demonstrates protective effects against hormone sensitive cancers.

Check out this quick and easy brassica recipe.

Need help with improving your oestrogen balance click here