As a follow up from my article about the causes of estrogen dominance (find it here) this article addresses some of the best foods to help the body in processing unwanted/used up estrogens. To recap, estrogen dominance is usually not an issue with how much estrogen is produced by the ovary but rather with how much estrogen is retained in the body. It is possible and common to have low estrogen and estrogen dominance at the same time. Estrogen dominance can occur to a build-up of our own endogenous estrogen not being adequately excreted out of the body but can also occur from a high intake of external estrogens like meat and dairy as well as a build of toxins from our environment that act as xenoestrogens in the body which can mimic estrogen. In order for the body to properly dispose of unwanted estrogens the liver, gall bladder and gut must be functioning optimally. The following list of foods is known to help these organ systems to help process estrogens correctly and efficiently. Although food is not the only aspect of estrogen dominance it is a powerful start in the right direction. I highly recommend reading the article on my blog about the causes of estrogen dominance to get a better understanding of how estrogen is metabolised and processed in the body. There are of course many other foods that can help with healthy estrogen clearance, but these are my top picks.
Broccoli sprouts: top food for estrogen clearance. Broccoli sprouts contain the highest known source of sulforaphane, a compound found in all cruciferous vegetables that helps the liver process toxins. Sulforaphane has also been found in numerous cancers to protect against breast cancer and other estrogenic cancers. Broccoli sprouts contain 100x more sulforaphane than broccoli. Chewing the sprouts to break them down greatly increases sulforaphane content.
Cruciferous or Brassica vegetables: vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts (and others) all contain substantial amounts of sulforaphane needed to support toxin elimination in the liver as well as prevent numerous cancers in the body. They also contain a compound called DIM (diindolylmethane) which helps enhance the livers clearance of estrogen while also metabolising estrogens into their less harmful forms.
Bitter foods: rocket, dandelion, nettle, bitter melon etc help both the liver and gall bladder to release adequate bile to help with digestion. They also help increase the peristalsis action of digestive organs which can enhance elimination. Adequate bile production is needed to excrete estrogens (and fats) from the liver and gall bladder. Dandelion in particular is shown to have antidiuretic effects which can help with water retention.
Beetroot: is known as both a liver detoxifier and blood builder because it is a highly nutritious food high in iron, vitamin b6, betacarotene (which turns into vitamin A) these nutrients help replenish nutrient stores in the liver while also protecting the liver from inflammation and oxidative stress. Beetroot enhances the liver’s ability to remove toxins including unwanted estrogens from the body.
Spirulina & chlorella: spirulina and chlorella are highly nutritious algae that are known as wonderful blood builders. They contain a broad spectrum of nutrients including protein that is needed for liver health. Spirulina and chlorella also have a very high content of chlorophyll which is a mild detoxifier. Chlorella, in particular, is more powerful at detoxifying and is known to help remove heavy metals from the body. Both also contain prebiotic fibre to help with gut health.
Flax seeds: flax seeds are the highest source of lignans. Lignans are wonderful fibre like compounds that can help assist the gut microbiome. Gut microbes convert lignans into specific compounds that have estrogen balancing effects (useful to lower or raise estrogen as needed).
Artichoke: is another top prebiotic food that is mostly composed of inulin fibre. Inulin fibre is known to help reduce constipation, improve and diversify the microbiome. Studies have shown that women with high fibre diets have large stool volume and excrete more estrogen in their stool.
Chickory: is one of the top prebiotic foods, containing high amounts of fibre (mostly inulin) to help diversify and nourish the gut microbiome. Chickory has been shown to lower constipation (and therefore excrete more estrogen). Chickory has also been shown to improve fat digestion and increase bile in the liver and gall bladder. Adequate bile production helps with the adequate excretion of estrogen from the body.
Brazil nuts: brazil nuts are a very high source of selenium, selenium is a crucial mineral needed by the liver for adequate function. Too much selenium can be harmful to the liver so it is best to obtain selenium from foods. 1-2 brazil nuts a day will generally provide you with all the selenium you need in a day
Seaweed: seaweed is one of the best sources of iodine. Iodine is a common deficiency amongst all diet groups, adequate iodine has been shown helpful in estrogen-sensitive breast cancers, helpful in reducing cyclical breast pain as well as improving period pain (as well as endometriosis pain). Iodine appears to affect the genes involved in estrogen metabolism, up-regulating genes required for estrogen clearance, whilst down-regulating oestrogen-responsive genes, especially in areas with a high concentration of estrogen receptors like breasts.
Raw Carrots: Carrots contain a special balance of soluble and insoluble fibres. These fibres, when consumed raw greatly enhance the gut’s ability to remove estrogen in the stool. Carrots are also a high source of beta carotene which is important for the liver. Many women have noticed major improvements to their PMS symptoms simply by eating one raw carrot a day, or a raw carrot salad over a month or just in the luteal phase of the cycle before an expected period.
Dark Chocolate/Raw Cacao: dark chocolate (72% and above) is a potent antioxidant, proven mood booster and is believed to be the highest known source of magnesium. Magnesium is crucial for hundreds of processes throughout the body, one of them is assisting the liver in clearing out estrogen. Magnesium is also wonderful as it can also assist in increasing both estrogen and progesterone levels by acting on the pituitary gland. Dark chocolate or raw cacao can therefore assist in maintaining adequate hormone production while also helping to remove unwanted estrogen.