Oestrogen is essential for healthy female reproductive function.This hormone plays a part in every stage of a female’s life – from early childhood development to puberty, throughout the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, childbirth and finally, through the menopausal years. Too many women suffer from symptoms related to having either too much or not enough oestrogen and accept it as a normal part of being a women. However, it is not only females that are affected by oestrogen; men also have conditions which are influenced by imbalances in oestrogen metabolism, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The good news is that you can manage this master hormone and no longer be at the mercy of your hormones.
Oestrogen: the “Good” vs. the “Bad”
Oestrogen exists in different forms within the body in both men and women. One of these oestrogen forms is good for the body and is essential to reproductive health; the other is less favourable and is associated with PMS and other hormonal issues. To stay in a healthy hormonal state, your body needs more of the “good” oestrogen and less of the “bad” oestrogen. When the body does not keep these two forms in the correct balance, the body can develop an oestrogen imbalance, which may be associated with conditions such as BPH and breast enlargement in men, or endometriosis and uterine fibroids in women. The following symptoms may also indicate imbalances in oestrogen:
• Bloating or fluid retention • Heavy, or irregular periods
• Fatigue or lack of energy • Sugar cravings
• Weight gain • Mood swings and irritability
• Sleep disturbances • Night sweats
• Headaches • Loss of libido
Herbs and Nutrients – Our Hormone Heroes
Supporting healthy oestrogen metabolism can ensure we have the correct ratios of “good” oestrogen and lower amounts of the “bad” oestrogen. It is also important to assist in the detoxification of less favourable oestrogen to create a healthy balance. Particular herbs and nutrients have been shown to support healthy oestrogen metabolism, including:
• Indole-3-Carbinol: is found in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Indole-3-carbinol is a powerful ingredient that supports oestrogen detoxification to maintain a healthy oestrogen balance.
• Soy isoflavones: have been found to have an oestrogen modulating effect, increasing beneficial oestrogen levels and decreasing the “bad” oestrogens.
• Curcumin: is the active component in the herb, turmeric, which has been used traditionally for the management of period pain. It offers potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and also supports liver detoxification.
• Broccoli sprouts: contain two active ingredients, glucosinolates and sulphoraphane which have antioxidant properties and the ability to activate the body’s natural detoxification system, aiding in the elimination of oestrogens and toxins from the body.
Is the Change of Life Ruining Your Life?
As women near the end of their reproductive years and head towards menopause, oestrogen levels start to drop as hormone production from the ovaries declines. Symptoms such as hot flushes, sweating, palpitations, low back pain, anxiety and insomnia occur in varying degrees during menopause and can greatly impact on many women’s quality of life. To help get the most out of life in these later years, the herbs rehmannia, Chinese yam, peony and zizyphyus have been found to enhance hormone production in peri-menopausal women and may help in the management of menopausal symptoms.
Diet and Lifestyle Tips
The following diet and lifestyle tips can help bring you and your hormones back into a state of balance:
• Include healthy, low-fat protein (e.g. fresh lean fish, lean beef, chicken, eggs, legumes) in your daily diet.
• Eat a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables daily.
• Enjoy nuts, seeds and oils daily. Eat fish on a regular basis to ensure you get plenty of good fats in your diet.
• Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, as these can worsen hormonal symptoms.
• Get moving. Enjoy a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
• Aim for eight hours of sleep every night and take time out to rest and relax.
• Drink at least two litres of purified water daily. Clean, fresh water is vital for all aspects of good health.
Healthy Hormone Balance
Don’t let your hormones rule your life. With the help of these herbal and nutritional hormone heroes and by making simple dietary and lifestyle changes, you really can help to manage your oestrogen levels to bring you back to a state of balance.