How to Balance Your Estrogen Levels Naturally

Think you may have an estrogen imbalance? Experiencing symptoms like fatigue, hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, anxiety and bloating?

An estrogen imbalance will upset the equilibrium of the body and brain, which can be extremely intrusive and disruptive to a woman’s health, wellbeing and lifestyle.

But there are many ways to naturally encourage healthy estrogen levels and optimal estrogen metabolism.

Being aware of the causes of estrogen imbalance is a crucial part of helping a woman discover in the first place what is behind their hormone dysregulation. Usually it’s not just one thing.

 

natural ways to promote balanced estrogen for women blog post

9 Causes of Estrogen Imbalance

A woman's hormone levels are governed by many internal and external factors.

Here are some causes of estrogen imbalance, which in the majority of women results in too much and symptoms of high levels of estrogen (often referred to as estrogen dominance), rather than too little and symptoms of low levels of estrogen (referred to as estrogen deficiency).

Because of the estrogen dominance trend, the focus is more on what’s triggering an estrogen imbalance caused by excess estrogen levels than low levels.

Although the how to balance your estrogen levels part can apply to both estrogen deficiency and excess estrogen.

1. The Contraceptive Pill

The contraceptive pill floods the body with high doses of artificial estrogen and progesterone, which turns off the natural production of hormones, preventing ovulation.

Women who don't ovulate don’t produce natural progesterone. This hormonal imbalance scenario can lead to estrogen dominance.

Ethinyl estradiol the synthetic estrogen is stronger than natural estradiol so it dishes out a bigger dose of estrogen and can impair estrogen metabolism. It can also damage gut microbiome which ultimately carries broader health implications.

2. Conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

The synthetic hormones often prescribed in perimenopause and menopause for uncomfortable symptoms, can lead to estrogen dominance in much the same way as hormonal birth control.

Conventional HRT provides high levels of synthetic estrogen too, which the body classifies as a toxin and therefore finds it much harder to get rid of than natural hormones.

In the same way progestin is a synthetic progesterone that mimics the endogenous progesterone that is naturally produced by the body.

Essentially, synthetic HRT can eliminate symptoms but does nothing to replace the natural hormones women lose at this stage of their life.

3. Xenoestrogens (Chemical Estrogens)

Not only are we exposed to estrogen from internal hormone production, but also through xenoestrogens.

These can be found in skin, beauty and household products, pesticides, processed foods, heavy metals, clothes, furniture, plastics and water… Basically, they’re everywhere.

Xenoestrogens, can mimic estrogen in the body. Exposure to these chemicals may increase TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) too.

4. Excess Body Fat

This is probably one of the biggest causes of estrogen dominance.

Excess body fat and weight gain can be a source of estrogen, as fat cells produce too much estrogen.

The more fat stored, the more estrogen levels increase.

If you’ve read my blog post on Estrogen Dominance: What It Is & How It Can Affect A Woman’s Health  this is essentially like histamine and estrogen in that fat cells lead to more estrogen production.

And high estrogen signals to the body to make more fat cells.

It’s a “catch 22” situation.

What’s more, fat tissue also synthesises estrogen from other hormones. For example, fat cells have the ability to convert testosterone into estrogen through an enzyme called aromatase.

As the ovaries decrease estrogen production and then eventually cease production during menopause and at postmenopause, fat cells can take over.

5. Compromised Liver Function

It’s not just about estrogen levels in total, but also how well the body can break down estrogen metabolites.

Yes, the liver is the primary organ of estrogen metabolism.

Estrogen is metabolised through 3 different pathways. The pathway these metabolites take determine whether the estrogen metabolites are protective and beneficial or symptom-causing and antagonistic.

It depends on the exit pathway the body chooses, as to whether estrogen will be converted into good ("clean" estrogen) or bad ("dirty" estrogen) metabolites.

The metabolism of estrogen is largely dependent on the health and efficiency of your liver and gut health, though genetics can play a role too.

6. Genetics

Family genes can affect how well a woman metabolises estrogen.

For instance, the COMT and MTHFR gene mutation if switched on can impair the body’s ability to methylate and detox hormones.

When stressed and the body is making more adrenalin, it’s harder for a slow COMT enzyme to break down estrogen metabolites.

7. Constipation

Understandably slow gut motility i.e. constipation sets the scene for inefficient elimination of estrogen metabolites and re-circulation of estrogen throughout the body. This is incredibly toxic.

It’s a vicious circle that prevents the endocrine glands from producing more “fresh” hormones for the body to use, and leads to a buildup of estrogen, making it challenging to lower estrogen levels.

8. Insulin & Cortisol Imbalance

These two hormones are involved with stress responses and blood sugar levels in your body.

If there is an imbalance they can affect other hormones and disrupt how they operate. In particular the thyroid stimulating hormone and your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and melatonin (sleep hormone) levels.

When the body is chronically stressed progesterone levels deplete because the brain signals for cortisol to be made instead of progesterone.

Inevitably this leads to excess estrogen as progesterone levels fall.

The body will always prioritise survival hormones over reproductive hormones.

9. Gut Dysbiosis

Gut health can be a huge factor in a woman’s exposure to circulating estrogens and the health issues associated with this.

You may not be aware that the gut ecosystem in the digestive tract is also responsible for regulating estrogen levels.

The gut microbiome maintains a close relationship with the endocrine system. This connection between gut health and hormones is especially important in the case of the hormone estrogen.

Gut dysbiosis is bad news for excess estrogen as it causes estrogens to be recirculated in the body rather than excreted.

When they are recirculated back into the bloodstream, these estrogens are in a more toxic form than when they entered the liver in the first instance.

The collection of microbes in your gut that’s job is to metabolise estrogens into estrogen metabolites are called estrobolome.

These estrobolome microbes produce beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme that de-conjugates estrogens into their active forms.

When the gut ecosystem is imbalanced or the gut is inflamed, beta-glucuronidase activity is altered. Beta-glucuronidase is a marker found on most gastrointestinal tests.

So, a healthy, balanced gut microbiome is important for proper beta-glucuronidase activity, which supports the body in eliminating excess estrogen.

The more beta-glucuronidase that is produced, the more estrogen is recirculated rather than excreted. And high levels of circulating estrogens creates estrogen dominance.

Restoring and optimising gut health is usually a critical part of bringing estrogen levels back into balance.

7 Ways to Naturally Balance Estrogen Levels

While an estrogen imbalance, especially estrogen dominance is not what you want, there are steps that can be taken to encourage a balanced estrogen levels.

1. Reduce Toxin Exposure

To metabolise estrogen efficiently you’ll want to reduce toxin exposure.

Look at the products in your home and if necessary change them for chemical free ones.

Things like alcohol, tap water and food, skin and body products that are loaded with endocrine disrupting chemicals can be avoided or reduced.

Switch to natural brands for your household cleaning products, toiletries & cosmetics and eat as clean as you can to limit your exposure to pesticides. I use and recommend this vegan brand of skin and beauty products

Drink filtered water.

These changes alone will make a difference and lessen xenoestrogen load which is a massive contributor to estrogen imbalance.

2. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables

Eat cruciferous vegetables that contain glucosinolates. This will help with the detoxification process in the liver and gut.

Cruciferous vegetables include - kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and rocket. These vegetables help shift estrogen down the safe and beneficial breakdown pathway.

Even better, start incorporating sprouted broccoli into your sandwiches, salads, soups and stews.

Broccoli sprouts contain as much as 17 to 30 times more sulforaphane than regular broccoli. Sulforaphane is rich in glucosinolate.

Vegetables are also nourishing and loaded with fibre.

Fibre helps you detox excess estrogen more efficiently and keeps your digestive system in good working order.

You want to be consuming 30g - 35g of fibre a day to help with estrogen clearance.

3. Burn Excess Fat & Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess fat especially around the middle is a sign of estrogen dominance irrelevant of age.

Losing weight isn’t always easy, especially as we get older.

Weight loss or fat loss unfortunately isn’t as simple as burning calories consumed with exercise either.

Although meal portion size, movement and exercise are a really important part of any weight management plan.

Calorie deprivation will slow metabolism further as the body starts to store more fat.

So what’s the answer?

Quite simply, to shed and sustain excess fat reduction your body’s physiology and systems need to be in a healthy place first.

If you’re struggling with too much fat, do you know what’s causing your weight gain or weight loss resistance?

If not, it’s crucial to work out the real trigger(s) of your weight gain and tackle this.

For example, estrogen dominance could be one contributing factor.

4. Manage Cortisol & Insulin Levels

In the hormonal hierarchy when cortisol goes up, insulin becomes hard to manage.

When there is too much insulin in your system, your body produces too much sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).

If there is too much SHBG, estrogen production can rise and lead to an excess.

Estrogen’s interaction with metabolic hormones like insulin and cortisol can determine whether the food you eat is burned or stored as fat.

Two of the biggest culprits driving insulin resistance are stress and sugar. Both can contribute to estrogen dominance due to their association with insulin.

Reducing stress and eliminating added sugar isn't as straightforward as it sounds, I realise that.

We are human beings. And a symptom of estrogen dominance is sugar cravings.

Sugar and stress also tend to feed into one another. If you feel stressed you’ll likely crave sweet foods, and if you consume too much sugar it ups the body’s stress levels.

Where possible eliminate foods with added sugars from your diet. Scrutinise those food labels. White starches are converted into glucose (simple sugar) when ingested too.

Habits are the hardest part and can make or break stress management and sugar reduction efforts.

Consistent action is vital for achieving and maintaining positive results.

Perfection isn’t the goal, but a guideline I follow and recommend to help with habit changing and consistency is the 80 / 20 lifestyle concept, or 90 / 10 lifestyle if you prefer.

This means 80% of the time you do the healthy thing and the other 20% you may not.

5. Intermittent Fasting Could Be Helpful

Intermittent fasting is one practice that can stablise blood sugar, insulin and estrogen levels as well as promote fat burning.

But it’s not for every woman.

It needs to be personalised to make sure it’s not placing additional stress on the body.

I think time-restricted eating is the safest method and a great way to start if you are in good health and intermittent fasting is something you’d like to try.

6. Commit to Regular "Zen" Breaks

More on stress because it is a major, major trigger behind estrogen imbalance.

Chronic stress can cause HPATG (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-gonadal-thyroid) axis imbalance or dysregulation, which can deplete progesterone and create imbalance in estrogen receptor sensitivity.

Even if you don’t feel like you’re stressed, ongoing, unresolved physiological stress will still be interpreted by the body as chronic stress.

This includes things like gut infections, candida overgrowth, mycotoxins (mold toxins),  leaky gut syndrome, sluggish detoxification, adrenal fatigue.

A "Zen" break every day will translate into more benefits than you could imagine. Build in more if you can. They don’t have to be long, but aim for at least 10 minutes.

If there’s one big thing to take away from this blog post, it’s scheduling time for self-care and health-care.

Restorative breaks for the body and mind are an essential part of any healthy lifestyle, no matter what your state of wellbeing is like at the time.

When you commit to short snippets of "Zen" time throughout your day, it also helps to increase your stress resilience levels.

You start to notice how better you can manage stressful situations and the body and mind feel less beaten up afterwards.

Such a simple thing, but extremely powerful.

Check out my simple mind-body health strategies post for more ideas if you want some.

7. Optimal Levels of Nutrients Are Crucial

There are numerous reasons as to why your body could be lacking in the micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macro nutrients (protein, carbs and fats) it needs to produce and metabolise estrogen properly.

These include flaws in diet whether that’s due to a lack of nutrient rich food and fibre, lack of diversity within the diet, or too much of the wrong foods.

The body requires B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, omega 3 oils and protein to effectively metabolise estrogen. If you aren't getting enough of these nutrients, then estrogen levels can increase.

Secondly, if your gut health is compromised in any way, poor digestion will deplete your body of nutrients as nutrient absorption is limited.

Eat a balanced diet that’s as “clean” as it can be.

If you want to plug nutritional gaps and optimise cell health I recommend these advanced cellular nutritionals as a broad spectrum, safe and bioavailable product.

The supplement industry isn’t regulated and you want to avoid contaminating your body with contaminated supplements. What you take needs to work which means supplements must be bioavailable, otherwise they’ll have no impact.

Your hormones dictate how you feel, affecting your every waking moment - thoughts, decisions and actions. That's a huge reason to keep them balanced and happy.

 

Hormone Health Testing & Support

Are you keen to learn more about your hormone levels and how well your body is metabolising estrogen?

If you've read this far, by now you've probably realised why hormone testing is crucial.

It’s not really enough to go by symptoms alone when there are so many potential triggers at play.

Symptoms and conditions also aren't always that clear cut in terms of what's causing them.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about how I can help and support you with hormonal balance.

Hormone tests are chosen to suit your specific needs.

One of the best tests I recommend and personally use tracks individual sex and stress hormones.

It includes:

  • tracking your stress hormones throughout the day and potentially sleep hormone
  • progesterone, DHEA & testosterone levels
  • the 3 main types of estrogen (so you can see your estrogen ratios and compare them to the ideal estrogen quotient),
  • how well your body is metabolising estrogen, showing the different pathways estrogen is taking when it leaves the body
  • and markers of detoxification support functions to give a complete hormonal health picture.

It’s brilliant!

 

The more we can learn about our body and what’s happening at a physiological and functional level and not just how we operate in our external world, the better equipped we are to bring about positive healthy outcomes.

 

If you haven’t read my Estrogen Dominance blog post this could be helpful for understanding more about - Estrogen Dominance: What is It & How It Affects a Woman’s Health. 

Do feel free to share anything you’ve found helpful for balancing your estrogen levels in the comments below.

Nicola x

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Meet Nicola - blog posts

Meet Nicola

Hello, I'm a Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, Breathwork Instructor and Pain & Stress Management Therapist with heaps of experience of helping others tweak and transform their health and life. 

Let's work together to optimise how you look, feel and function for better health and wellness.

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