Do you feel like you’ve tried everything to lose weight? If your nutrition, exercise and sleep are all on track then you may benefit from having your hormones checked. Although there are several hormones associated with weight gain, I’m going to address the main culprits over the next few weeks
Estrogen is the female hormone that gives women curvy hips and breasts. Men have it too, but at far lower levels. When an individual has too much estrogen they will experience estrogen dominance. The result of estrogen dominance is weight gain. Hooray! Right? You may experience a change in your mood associated with PMS if you are premenopausal. Fat and moody is one thing, but on a more serious note, it must also be considered that estrogen dominance is thought to be responsible for many types of cancers. This particular hormone imbalance could be one of the leading causes of breast, uterine, and prostate cancer.
What Causes Estrogen Dominance?
There are only two ways excess estrogen accumulates in the body.
1. We produce too much of it on our own. Mainly in women, with stress and age, there is a natural decline in testosterone and progesterone levels, leaving a relative excess of estrogen. Men are not excluded from having excess estrogen, they too can experience weight gain from this.
2. We acquire it from our environment and/or diet. Unfortunately, accumulating estrogen is not hard. We are constantly exposed to estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides, and growth hormones. Many of these toxins are known to cause weight gain, which serves to fuel the production of more estrogen from our own fat cells. More weight gain then leads to insulin resistance which increases the risk of estrogen dominance. Pharmaceutical hormones, such as those found in hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) or birth control pills, can also increase estrogen.
How to Correct Estrogen Dominance
It’s important to make sure you are consuming enough fiber. Insoluble fiber will bind to excess estrogen in the digestive tract, which is then excreted by the body. A good target to shot for is 35-45 grams of fiber per day for women, and 40-50 grams per day for men. A FIBER supplement can also affect the composition of intestinal bacteria and reduce the build-up and re-absorption of free floating estrogen. Good sources of fiber include the skins of fruits and vegetables (apples, pears, berries, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and carrots), nuts (especially almonds), and seeds (particularly sunflower seeds).
Switch to organic. The chemicals and pesticides found in non-organic fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry exert estrogen like activity when absorbed into the body. One way to avoid exposure to these toxins is to purchase organic fruits and vegetables and meats. You will pay more initially, but the long term health benefits is what needs to be kept in mind.
Limit dairy. Cow’s milk is another source of estrogens. Ganmaa, a physician and scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health states that dairy milk accounts for up to eighty percent of the estrogens consumed. Cows are milked frequently during pregnancy when estrogen levels are their highest. These estrogens end up in the milk supply and can promote growth of fibroid tumors of the uterus and stimulate breast tissue. I know this may sound appealing, us women typically want extra breast tissue. However, it could potentially increase the risk of certain types of breast disease. Try substituting cows milk with a non-dairy milk such as almond or cashew milk.
Avoid soy. Estrogen believe it or not is commonly found in some plant sources, particularly soy.
A regular exercise program has shown to reduce estrogen levels as well. Try some moderate cardio or weight training to get your heart rate up. Not only will this help regulate estrogen dominance, but you’ll reap the benefits of a exercise.
Dealing with chronic stress on a regular basis will really mess with your adrenal glands. It will result in decreased progesterone and increase in estrogen. We all have stress, and sometimes its unavoidable, but the key is figuring out how to handle it effectively. Sometimes some deep breathing or MEDITATION can help resolve high stress levels.
So if you’re struggling with weight loss, get your hormones checked and make sure you have the above items on point, and educate yourself further on female hormones associated with weight gain.