HOLISTIC HEALTH - September 2015 - Kansas City
It’s probably not what you think!
By Nancy Russell, M.D.
In our society, estrogen dominance is very common due to diet, lack of exercise, xenoestrogens and stress. When a woman has an overload of estrogen in her system, other hormones are likely out of balance. Typical symptoms include breast tenderness, painful or irregular menstrual periods, uterine fibroids, weight gain, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, breast cancer, fuzzy thinking, anger and irritability issues and premenstrual syndrome.
A healthy woman’s body maintains appropriate ratios of estrogens, progesterone and testosterone throughout her lifetime. A complex set of feedback loops determines how much or little or each hormone is being made at any one time. This ongoing communication takes place between the brain, the ovaries and the adrenal glands, acting in concert with all the other body systems.
Diet and lifestyle have a tremendous effect on this balance of hormones which cascades into effecting not only the female hormones, but the nervous system and immune system. This system is also known as the neuro-endocrine-immune system. Negative thoughts, processed foods, lack of exercise and excess fat on our bodies can upset the delicate hormone balance in the body. Genetics sets the stage for how well you keep your hormones in balance, however lifestyle pulls the trigger on the intensity of the disruptions.
Xenoestrogens, from our environment disrupt hormone metabolism and balance as they cause excess estrogen to accumulate in the fat cells of the body. These xenoestrogens include pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics and hormone residues in our food supply as well as air pollutants, chemicals in cosmetic products, laundry products, food dyes and unfiltered water.
The human ovary releases hormones in a cyclic manner, which is referred to as the menstrual cycle. The three phases of this cycle are follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Estradiol (the main estrogen) and progesterone (the main progestin) have normal values for each phase. These levels can be evaluated with a Female Hormone Panel which measures hormone levels in the saliva. This month long saliva test measures the hormone levels eleven times during the menstrual cycle. The levels measured are estradiol, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone. This valuable test that assess whether estrogen dominance is present and if other hormones are out of balance. For example; are your estrogen levels holding steady in perimenopause, while your progesterone levels are plummeting? Or, have your estrogen and testosterone levels been well above normal range, while progesterone has always been low? Or, are you adding extra estrogen unknowingly through certain diet and lifestyle choices?
No matter what your age or individual levels of hormones, there are ways to give your body the natural support it needs to build better hormonal balance and optimal health. For most women, an integrative, holistic approach achieves positive results. Resolving estrogen dominance takes time and effort yet can be achieved over time. Lifestyle is a critical factor in the production and storage of estrogen.
Follow these steps to achieve more optimal hormone balance:
Limit exposure to xenoestrogens. Choose organic foods when possible and wash your produce. Select animal foods that were raised without hormones and harmful chemicals. Avoid plastics for heating or storing food, and limit body care and cleaning products to all-natural ingredients.
Eat a plant based diet. Eating plenty of vegetables provides fiber, which feeds the beneficial flora in your intestines, which help metabolize hormones properly and phytoestrogens which can protect your body from the damaging xenoestrogens. Foods to avoid re refined flours, sugars, partially hydrogenated and trans fats and artificial ingredients.
Restore balance with supplements. Nutrients such as B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids work as molecular messengers to help increase the body’s ability to balance its hormone ratios. Female herbal support with black cohosh, chasteberry and adrenal support can also be beneficial. Occasionally adding over the counter or prescription natural progesterone is necessary for optimal balance.
Last, yet certainly not least is to manage stress levels. Under stress, high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones can alter the feedback loops that regulate sex hormones.
Hormonal balance is your body’s normal state when you feel and look your best. To enjoy the benefits of balanced hormones, start to make positive changes today. I am happy to assist you on this journey to hormone balance and optimal health.
Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.
Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is www.nancyrussellmd.com where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.