Hormonal factors have a massive impact on body composition.
Do you feel as though you’re doing everything right, exercising regularly, eating healthier than most, and still your weight won’t budge? If this sounds like you, a little hormone balancing may be in order.
As I discussed in Part 1 of this series on hormones where I focused on thyroid hormones, carrying extra weight is just a small symptom of what is going on in the body. My job as a Nutritionist is to find the root cause and bring balance back to your body, so you feel amazing.
There are four main hormones that can really impact weight loss, estrogen, insulin, cortisol and thyroid hormones. They all play significant roles, and it’s very common to see one or more completely out of balance.
So today for Part 2 of this series, I’m going to talk about some simple strategies to keep your estrogen levels healthy and balanced. Proper estrogen balance is absolutely critical for achieving fat loss. Too much estrogen is a condition referred to as estrogen dominance. In women, it can show up as weight gain, water retention, fibroids, ovarian cysts and even chronic inflammation. It can also look like either a pear or apple shape. In men, it can look like a beer belly, low libido, and even depression. Those suffering from it will often have adrenal and thyroid insufficiencies also. This is because everything in the body is connected, it’s never just one thing that is out of balance. The solution is to connect the dots and support the body holistically. That’s why I’m talking about hormones in a series of blog posts. Be sure to read them all.
The following simple tips will help your body keep estrogen balanced.
That’s right, having a good poo is super important for maintaining healthy estrogen levels. So many of my clients only have a bowel movement every other day or every few days when they first come to see me. This is always the first thing I address. While not having a daily bowel movement may be your normal, it’s not optimal, and it’s a contributing factor of estrogen dominance. Anything in the body that is no longer needed must be excreted through your bowels. Making sure there is a good balance of bacteria in your gut is also critical to improve digestion, so I recommend taking a good human micro flora probiotic.
This obviously ties right into having daily bowel movements. To say it’s important to get the recommended 30 grams a day, is an understatement. In fact, I recommend you shoot a little higher and get in at least 40 grams. If you don’t have enough fiber in your diet, estrogen will be reabsorbed in your intestines and stay in your body. Not what you want! Always remember that just about anything we want to remove from the body needs to be attached to fiber and excreted through the bowels. I don’t recommend whole grains as the main source of fiber for those who have estrogen dominance. Instead get your fiber mainly from nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Carrots are amazing for this purpose! Eating carrots a few times a day will give you the perfect type of fiber to bind to estrogen and help excrete it. I’m also a huge fan of coconut flour and fermented coconut yogurt for fiber rich foods. Bamboo shoots can also be used instead of carrots.
There are many vegetables that have an anti-estrogenic effect on the body. Some of these include green beans, figs, pears, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, celery, sprouts, squashes, and artichoke. Plus carrots, yes, again, carrots! Additionally, sulfur-containing vegetables such as garlic and onions contain indoles and flavonoids that are estrogen inhibiting.
Some seeds such as flax and hemp, sprouted legumes, and cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, and kale contain lignans that are plant compounds that contain important insoluble fiber. Lignans are great for estrogen dominance because they can disrupt the circulation of estrogen in the liver. Please note that cruciferous vegetables should be cooked if you are dealing with hormonal imbalance as the raw versions can interfere with thyroid function.
Both plastics and pesticides are examples of xenoestrogens, which are compounds that mimic estrogen in the body and interfere with endocrine function. So make sure to buy and store your food in glass containers as much as possible and make buying organic products a priority, especially animal products.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, you are likely low in the hormone melatonin, which helps to prevent estrogen dominance. So do yourself a favor, get some beauty sleep! I recommend you go to bed by 10pm and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis.