Is this dominant hormone out of whack?
Discover the vital role of estrogen, spot imbalances, and restore equilibrium naturally.
Estrogen 101: Recognizing an imbalance
It’s no secret that hormone health is vital to our well-being. From birth to our very last breath, hormones play a role. Think: growth, sex drive, fertility, metabolism, body composition, and more. But despite their influence, they’re equally sensitive.
If you’re no stranger to painful (or irregular) periods, tender breasts, digestive issues, and / or poor sleep, you likely have an underlying hormone imbalance—specifically, estrogen imbalance. Today, we’re exploring what estrogen is, how to recognize imbalances, and holistic approaches to restore equilibrium.
Why estrogen matters
Did you know that estrogen is actually a group of hormones? That’s right. With an emphasis on the female body, estrogen is primarily responsible for the development and regulation of the our reproductive system. However, it also contributes to bone strength, heart health, cognitive function, skin aging, and more. In other words, estrogen plays a significant role in protecting against conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease! Males also have estrogen, but it’s present in smaller amounts.
Recognizing estrogen imbalance
When should you get your estrogen levels tested?
- Day 3 of your menstrual cycle: This is typically the best time to measure estrogen levels. On the third day of your menstrual cycle (counting the first day of full flow as day 1), estrogen levels are generally at their lowest. This can provide a clear picture of your baseline estrogen levels.
- Mid-cycle (around day 14): If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation usually occurs around day 14. During ovulation, estrogen levels peak. Testing around this time can help determine the highest level of estrogen you experience during your cycle. This can be particularly useful if you're trying to track your fertile window.
- Luteal phase (around days 21-23): Last but not least, estrogen levels remain relatively stable during the luteal phase (second half of your menstrual cycle). Testing during this time can give you an idea of your estrogen levels before your period starts again.
Let’s talk protein. After all, consuming enough protein is essential for positively influencing hormone production. In other words, adequate protein consumption = building blocks for balanced hormones. Most experts recommend 20-30 grams of protein, per meal.
Top sources include organic chicken breast or turkey, wild-caught fish, steak / ground beef (ideally, pasture-raised), pastured eggs, organic cottage cheese, lentils, or non-GMO tofu. Hemp seeds, nuts, and spirulina contain protein as well!
Protein-rich breakfast ideas:
- Veggie scramble sauteed in ghee or olive oil—2 eggs + 1 egg white, ¼ cup shredded cheese, a large handful of spinach, ¼ cup mushrooms, and a side of fruit (kiwi, apple slices, etc.) with a spoonful of nut butter.
- Cottage cheese bowl with nuts and berries—¾ cup cottage cheese (or Greek yogurt) with 2 tablespoons walnuts, a dash of cinnamon, 1-2 scoops Beeya seeds, and berries.
- Chia seed pudding with tahini—2 tablespoons chia seeds, 2 scoops Beeya seeds, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons honey, a dash of vanilla yogurt, and ¾ cup milk of choice. Mix well and store in the fridge overnight. In the morning, top with tahini and sliced banana.
- Bento-style box—2 hard-boiled eggs, 2-3 slices deli turkey, ½ cup grapes, 2 tablespoons roasted almonds, and a handful of crackers (Simple Mills, Mary’s Gone, etc.).
A few favorites from this week.
Holistic ways to balance estrogen
Fortunately, there are a variety of natural ways to support balanced estrogen (whether your levels are too high or too low!). By paying attention to your body's signals and adopting holistic approaches, you can pave the way for improved hormonal health.
For low estrogen:
- Nutrition: Incorporate foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as flaxseeds, non-GMO soy, and lentils. These plant compounds can naturally boost estrogen levels.
- Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity (with an emphasis on strength training) to improve blood circulation, bone density, and overall hormonal balance.
- Stress management: Given that chronic stress can impact hormone levels, practice daily relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
- Herbal support: Certain herbs, like red clover and dong quai, are known to support estrogen balance.
- Healthy fats: Include 1-2 healthy fats with every meal. Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish help support hormone production.
For high estrogen:
- Fiber-rich diet: Focus on a diet high in fiber (leafy greens, colorful veggies, seeds, low-sugar fruits, whole grains, beans, etc.) to aid in estrogen metabolism and elimination.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain compounds that assist in detoxifying excess estrogen from the body. A raw carrot salad can assist with this, too!
- Weight management: Incorporate joyful, moderate physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and promote balanced hormone levels.
- Stress reduction: As mentioned, chronic stress can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Engage in stress-reducing activities that relax your mind and body.
- Liver support: Consume ingredients like garlic, onions, and artichokes as they support liver function. In turn, this helps process excess hormones.