You know the saying: a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear? We’re convinced hormones are behind it. If your clothes feel a size too small for no good reason, take note: estrogen dominance leads to a whole host of symptoms, and the scale going up is one of them.
What you need to know about estrogen dominance
Having too much estrogen is called estrogen dominance. It can occur when estrogen is normal but you have low progesterone, the hormone that balances estrogen. It can also be a result of hormone replacement therapy.
Estrogen dominance raises your risk of certain cancers and brings frequent (and heavy periods), tender, sore breasts, mood swings, anxiety, and, of course, weight gain. High estrogen signals fat storage around the hips and thighs and is also linked to elevated cortisol. Especially when combined with a sugar-filled diet, high cortisol fuels weight gain by negatively affecting hunger hormones, like leptin, ghrelin, and insulin.
Simple ways to help manage estrogen dominance
Swap out your beauty products
Many of us wear moisturizer or makeup daily. (Or both!) Traditional beauty products, like foundation and lotions, may have chemicals like phalates, parabens, and even formaldehyde (yikes). These substances interfere with your body’s natural hormone balance.
Focus on gut health
A 2016 study, The intestinal microbiome and estrogen receptor, offers up a reminder of how important gut health is to hormones, including estrogen. Having and building healthy intestinal flora plays a part in regulating estrogen levels because it ensures that a specific group of microbes, estrobolomes, are kept in check.
Your liver metabolizes excess estrogen and gets rid of it through the intestines. But, when estrobolome is out of balance, estrogen loses its bond. It’s reabsorbed and recycled back into your blood stream. This causes your estrogen levels to rise. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics and include fermented foods in your diet, like kefir and kombucha.
Get enough magnesium
Nearly half of people in the United States aren’t eating a diet rich in magnesium. That’s bad news. Low levels of this mineral are associated with a number of conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), migraines, colon cancer, and more.
Remember how we mentioned building healthy gut flora to help manage estrogen dominance? Well, go for some magnesium, too. According to a 2018 study, magnesium helps build healthy gut microbiota. Strong microbiome helps your body flush out extra estrogen rather than reabsorb it.
Adding more dietary magnesium means putting leafy green vegetables, quinoa, fatty fish, almonds, and avocados on your shopping list. (Even a little dark chocolate.) Or, try a supplement. There are many different forms of magnesium available, so read labels carefully. Double check with your doctor for what’s best for you, but, according to the National Health Institute, magnesium chloride, citrate, lactate, and aspartate are more easily used by the body than magnesium sulfate or oxide. One note: If you take a zinc supplement, too, plan to schedule it away from when you take your magnesium.
If you have high estrogen, chances are good you have high cortisol, too. Cortisol’s an essential hormone and does a lot of good in the right amount. But too much of it raises blood sugar, insulin, and other hunger hormones that sneakily pack on the pounds. Schedule in some peace and quiet each day or time to do things you love.
Careful which meat and dairy you pick up from the grocery store. Some conventional farmers use hormones (like estrogen) to increase milk supply and encourage animals to gain weight. Taking in hormones through your food messes with your body’s natural levels and balance.
Go for glass over plastic
Switching your food storage and water bottles to glass sounds like a pain. But it’s worth it—even if what you’re using is BPA-free. A study by CertiChem showed that more than 70% of BPA-free products still leeched hormone-like (estrogenic) chemicals. What’s even scarier? That was the result before the products were tested in real-world conditions, like heat and sunlight.
How to combat estrogen weight gain
Limit sugar and refined carbs
Sweets and products made with white flour contribute to high estrogen and raise blood sugar and insulin. These changes influence how we store calories. Instead of boxed goods, focus on plenty of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs (which take longer to digest and don’t spike insulin).
Cut back on alcohol
Like we mentioned earlier, extra estrogen gets processed through the liver. It leaves the body through the stool. When you drink, your body deals with the alcohol first and puts estrogen metabolization on hold. Estrogen re-circulates in the bloodstream instead of being eliminated.
Don’t want to give up your nightcap? We don’t blame you. But it can really help your body to take a few consecutive days off a week. This allows your liver to clear some of the excess estrogen.
Check your progesterone
Progesterone and estradiol (the strongest form of estrogen) should exist in a ratio between 100-500, when calculated during the luteal phase. However, if your progesterone’s low, high estrogen symptoms feel even worse. Why? Progesterone serves as natural diuretic. And that means it helps with bloating and fluid retention. Plus, it’s calming. It also counters the growth- and cancer-promoting effects of estrogen. With so much at stake, we can’t say it enough: please make sure you have adequate progesterone.
Cardio doesn’t have to be the elliptical or a jog. Gardening, cleaning your house, raking leaves, and going for a walk all burn calories. And chasing your kids around the yard or park? That definitely counts too.
Boosting your testosterone levels helps counter weight gain. Try lifting dumbbells or working out with resistance bands. Or, use your body weight for knee-down (or knees raised!) push-ups, lunges, and squats. Testosterone builds muscle. More lean tissue boosts basal metabolic rate. It even affects how we break down fat.