Hormone Series: Using Food and Lifestyle to Balance Estrogen: Estrogen 2 of 3

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Dr. Aaron Hartman

February 8, 2022


Age-appropriate estrogen balance throughout a woman’s lifespan is critical for wellness, well being, longevity, and vibrance. Today we’ll discuss how estrogen imbalances are addressed through food and other lifestyle factors. This will give you an idea how of a functional medicine practitioner would begin addressing estrogen irregularities.
As we often say here – food is medicine; hormone health is no exception.

Boost Estrogen with Food

If you’re dealing with low levels and want to increase estrogen, there are many foods that effectively boost your hormones. This is probably most useful for women as they age and experience decreasing hormones.
Foods that increase estrogen include:

  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Bell Peppers
  • Parsley
  • Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Tomato
  • Spinach

In addition to the above vegetables, fruits such as apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, dates, grapefruit, pear, pineapple and even certain beans like chickpeas and kidney beans can help increase low estrogen levels.
Nuts and seeds can help boost your body’s internal estrogen levels. Finally, many healthy fats like olive oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil, and even coconut oil can be very helpful with boosting estrogen levels.

Reducing Elevated Estrogen

Estrogen is a “Goldilocks” hormone, so while low estrogen can be problematic for women, elevated estrogen can increase risks for certain cancers, decrease libido, cause heavy menstrual cycles, cause low thyroid levels, increase mood swings, and cause weight gain.
What can cause elevated estrogen levels?

  • Low fiber diet
  • Environmental estrogens
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Supplementation overdose


Detoxifying Hormones with Food, Exercise, and Environment

There are a whole host of foods that are well-known to induce detoxification of hormones in the body. This is especially important when you’re supplementing hormones.
Foods to induce detoxification include:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, or brussel sprouts)
  • Mushrooms (like shiitake or portobello)
  • Flax seeds
  • Green tea

Fiber, first and foremost, is the primary way your body binds estrogen breakdown products in the gut to detoxify it and remove it from the body. This is why I recommend flax seeds, which are high in polyphenols and are very effective at detoxifying hormones. Taking two to four tablespoons of flax a day is my favorite fiber source to lower estrogen levels and reduce your risk for breast cancer. Green tea is well-known to detoxify estrogen due to its polyphenols, which are anti-inflammatory molecules. These foods are important for those with elevated estrogen and for those using estrogen supplementation of any kind.
A lack of exercise can lead to elevated levels of estrogen. Studies have shown that regular, moderate exercise can reduce circulating levels of estrogen in menopausal women. Weight loss can also reduce levels of sex hormones.
Environmental estrogens are another big factor in our hormone health. The many chemicals in our environment, products we put on our bodies and in our bodies often include synthetic estrogen chemicals that can adversely affect our hormones. When treating hormone imbalances, it’s important to remove hormone-disrupting chemicals in our personal care and household products.

Next time

In our next post in this series, we’ll talk about some things to think about when considering bioidentical hormone therapy. I hope this information on using food and lifestyle to support estrogen balance is useful for you as you navigate your own personal health journey.
Take care and be well.
Since 2010, Richmond Integrative and Functional Medicine has been helping people to restore their health and hope with an integrative approach to conventional and alternative medicine that’s entirely science-backed. We at RIFM believe everyone is made for health. We offer a comprehensive, in-person patient membership program to ensure you get access to the care you need to thrive.


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