Four Lifestyle Tweaks Necessary For Beating Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance is a hormonal health condition that occurs when estrogen levels become too high in relation to progesterone. It can lead to a host of troublesome side-effects, accelerate aging, and increase the risk for many chronic diseases, including: obesity, hormonal cancers, acne, autoimmune disorders, depression, endometriosis, impotence, and cardiovascular disease. Due to the ubiquity of xenoestrogens (chemicals in the environment that mimic estrogen), most people over the age of thirty-five have some form of estrogen dominance. Unfortunately, levels of estrogen, and therefore estrogen dominance only increase as you age, unless you take conscious steps to reduce them.
The protocol for reversing estrogen dominance typically includes the following 4 steps: the consumption of a whole-foods, plant-based diet; a daily intake of estrogen-clearing supplements (such as EstroBlock); active weight loss; and a reduction of xenoestrogen exposure. While these 4 steps will help to significantly lower estrogen levels, if you’re goal is full recovery then you need to also address the following 4 contributors. If you’re sick of tolerating so many unpleasant and downright dangerous symptoms, then read-on!
Contributor #1: Stress
Stress plays an indirect, yet significant role in estrogen dominance. When you experience stress the adrenal glands release cortisol to prepare you to ‘fight or flight.’ Progesterone is required in order to manufacture cortisol, and chronic stress can cause a deficiency of progesterone because it gets all used up in the creation of cortisol. Chronic stress also forces the adrenal glands to work overtime, which can eventually cause adrenal exhaustion and a reduced ability to produce progesterone. When progesterone is low, it allows estrogen to become the dominant hormone, and you can experience estrogen dominance even if your estrogen levels are in the low-to-normal range.
The Stress Fix
Eliminate all stimulants, including caffeine, sugar, alcohol and energy drinks. Your adrenals respond to these stimulants by releasing the stress hormones — adrenaline and cortisol, which increases overall stress and puts you at risk for adrenal exhaustion. Meditation is also highly recommended; just 15 minutes a day can dramatically increase relaxation, and bring your cortisol levels back down to a healthy range.[i] The lower cortisol caused by meditation also boosts thyroid function, and allows the thyroid to resume its role of regulating the balance of estrogen in the body. Other stress-reducing activities to try include: yoga, deep breathing, tai chi, sex, cuddling, gardening, Epsom salt baths, or simply getting lost in an activity you truly enjoy.
Contributor #2: Sleep
Studies show that regular, deep, restorative sleep can account for a whopping 30 percent improvement in longevity! Sleep is so important because it is the time when your body works on rebalancing your hormones. Sleep also helps to fight estrogen dominance by dramatically reducing cortisol output, and thereby lowering stress levels.[ii] Finally, sleep helps to keep estrogen levels in check by increasing leptin, which is the hormone that helps suppress your appetite by signalling satiety. When you don’t get enough sleep, insatiable hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods such as sugar and refined carbs often occur.[iii] The added calories and poorer food choices caused by sleep deprivation, leads to an accumulation of fat cells. Fat cells create estrogen, so the more fat you have, the more estrogen you will create…which leads to a viscous cycle that is hard to break.
The Sleep Fix
Aim to sleep for 7-9 hours a night, and go to bed as early as possible because peak hormonal restoration occurs between 8 pm and 4 am. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night, keep electronics out of the bedroom, and sleep in a cool, dark and quite environment. If you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, limit daytime naps to a maximum of 20 minutes, engage in aerobic exercise, and expose yourself to natural sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day. Also, avoid stimulants and steer clear of foods that can disrupt sleep, such as: heavy foods, fried, spicy or fatty meals; citrus fruits and carbonated drinks.[iv]
Contributor #3: Exercise
Regular exercise can significantly reduce estrogen levels through a variety of mechanisms. It helps you to detoxify excess estrogens and to eliminate them through your sweat. Exercise also increases sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels, which is beneficial because SHBG binds to excess estrogens and deactivates them. Another benefit of exercise is that it increases your metabolism and lowers body fat reserves, which (as mentioned above) will reduce the amount of estrogen that your body naturally produces. Finally, exercise helps to reduce stress and to induce a good night’s sleep.
The Exercise Fix
For optimum hormonal balancing, a balanced blend of cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility-enhancing exercises should be employed. Moderate aerobic exercises are important; and studies show that just 3 hours of them a week, is enough to lower circulating estrogen levels. Although short, intense workouts and high intensity interval training (HIIT) programs are excellent calorie and fat-burners, they should be done in moderation because they place stress on your body which can upset hormonal balance. Balance out HIIT with gentler forms of exercise such as yoga and tai chi; they are great for increasing flexibility, and reducing stress levels.
Contributor #4: Your Mindset
The 4 steps for overcoming estrogen dominance (mentioned in the intro) in combination with reducing stress, prioritizing sleep, and increasing exercise, is understandably overwhelming. But it’s important to realize that thoughts of resistance such as: “This protocol is way too hard,” or “I don’t have the energy to take this on,” will prevent you from achieving full recovery. If you really want to gain the vibrant health that you seek and deserve, you have to learn to bypass your critical thinking and let go of conscious and subconscious resistance.
The Mindset Fix
Meditation will help to quite your mind and bring you into the present moment. This will make you feel centered and in-turn, help you to realize that everything is possible (including success on the anti-estrogen dominance protocol). Hypnosis and NeuroLingustic Programming are two other extremely powerful tools for reprogramming your subconscious mind. They help to replace negative thought patterns and belief systems with positive ones, so — “I can’t” becomes “I can and I will.” Since we manifest what we think about the most, this reprogramming will virtually guarantee long-term success.
When you’re tempted to quit, remember all your hard work will be worth it in the end. Reversing estrogen dominance will reduce your risk for chronic disease, help you shed those stubborn pounds, boost your happiness levels, improve your sex-life, and give you radiant, acne and winkle-free skin. Stick with it and you’ll be one of the lucky few who gets to inhabit a vibrant and strong body and mind!