Estrogen is commonly referred to as the "female hormone," but it's also present in males. According to the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier Universities, estrogen controls female development and reproduction as well as affecting blood fat levels, enzyme production, water and salt balance, bone density, skin and blood vessel elasticity and heart and brain functions. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can interfere with cell regulatory mechanisms, creating imbalance that leads to toxic fat storage, among other disorders.
Many of our foods and personal care products contain estrogen-promoting substances. Conventionally produced meat and dairy are loaded with hormones. Fruits and vegetables are sprayed with chemical fertilizers and pesticides which, once inside the human body, mimic estrogen. Endocrine disrupting chemicals found in synthetic products, such as household cleaners, air fresheners and plastic containers, disrupt the signaling routes of steroid hormones like estrogen, which can disrupt thyroid function and metabolism, according to The Center for Bioenvironmental Research.
Nutrition and fitness author Ori Hofmekler writes in his book "The Anti-Estrogenic Diet" that excess estrogen has been correlated with hypertension, obesity and blood sugar disorders. Weight gain caused by estrogen starts a vicious cycle. Excessive body fat produces the aromatase enzyme that synthesizes estrogen, thus creating more estrogen in the body, which then promotes additional weight gain, and so on, says Hofmekler.
There are two types of estrogen to which we're exposed daily: naturally occurring phytoestrogens and chemically produced xenoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are found in soy and herbs like hops and licorice. Xenoestrogens are chemical compounds called pthalates, which are a type of plasticizer found in food containers, water bottles, childrens' toys, solvents, nail polish, perfumes and adhesives.
To prevent weight gain from estrogen, Hofmekler urges us to both avoid foods and products containing toxins, as well as consciously consume foods that block absorption of estrogen-promoting substances. He recommends not drinking water from a plastic bottle and discarding food that smells like plastic. Foods that fight estrogen include cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, as well as turmeric, garlic, onions, green vegetables and raw nuts and seeds.
Balancing estrogen will bring you more than weight loss. Hofmekler claims that his anti-estrogenic diet will also help you overcome health disorders such as food sensitivities, type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, irregularity and digestive issues. Since food sensitivities are often accompanied by symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, bloating and gas, Hofmekler asserts that following an estrogen-blocking nutrition plan may also clear up these issues.
- “The Anti-Estrogenic Diet”; Ori Hofmekler; 2007
- The Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane and Xavier Universities: Estrogens