Hormone Health: things you can do yourself to enhance it
Menopassage: a holistic Journey through the menopausal years
In the course of menopause, our estrogen and progesterone levels vastly diminish, no question about it. And yet, in the framework of enhancing your life in the course of MenoPassage, there are many things you can do for yourself that makes this trend have less of a negative impact. Thus the change in hormone levels can be seen as a great call to pay attention to the foundation of our health to ensure some level of stability and maximize our vitality.
Let’s look at how hormones work for a moment, there are a few principles that we need to understand:
- In general, hormones – sex hormones not exempt – activate receptors inside the cells to stimulate them to act in a very specific way. Now the receptors are set to a particular level of sensitivity, the stronger the signaling, the less sensitive they become. Thus as the hormone levels diminish and the signal becomes weaker, the sensitivity goes up and the response continues to be more than one might expect. This definitely acts in our favor.
- For the hormones to act on our receptors, they need to be taken into the interior of the cells, and this process can be enhanced with essential fatty acids, EFA’s, as they help to maintain ideal cell membrane fluidity, allowing optimal transport of hormones across the cell membrane and into the cell.
- The estrogen we do retain – or supplement for that matter – gets metabolized, meaning broken down and made ready for excretion. This process occurs in the liver and the gut, and can take several pathways, some of which are more toxic than others. One of the pathways can actually end up with carcinogenic metabolites, meaning that it will increase your risk of cancer. There are ways of guiding this in the right direction, especially with appropriate diet. There are also ways of measuring which pathway predominates, I recommend this for anyone on hormone replacement or at higher risk of cancer to begin with. Ask your doctor for the test.
- It is worthy to note that we not only have our own estrogens on board but also are exposed to a variety of estrogens in what we consume, be it phytoestrogens form a variety of vegetables which actually help us stay healthy and vibrant, or xenoestrogens, the wide array of estrogen mimicking compounds present in plastic, packaged food and drink trays and containers, ( more so when they’ve been heated in the sun or an oven ) as well as hormones fed to animals and transmitted through meat and milk consumption. All of these need to be metabolized and eliminated and it behooves us to maximize healthy elimination.
- Hormones are also eliminated through the intestinal tract. There are a few items that will enhance this elimination. For example, a healthy gut flora is essential for this process to occur. Thus PROBIOTICS are particularly helpful for this issue. In addition, plentiful fiber is essential as we will see below.
Thus the four pillars of hormone health are:
1.Healthy lifestyle and dietary choices that support optimal hormone function
2.Complete high-grade multiple vitamin-mineral formulation
3. Omega-3 essential fatty acids rich in DHA and EPA
4. Probiotics with multiple species and high count
Hormone Healthy Lifestyle & Diet
Appropriate diet, exercise, rest, sleep, recreation, social interactions, hydration, and detoxification all contribute to vitality and health. Sleep deprivation, excessive stress, or inadequate exercise can each result in decreased levels of testosterone and thyroid hormones, and in an increased risk of obesity. A balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, salads, fish, and lean meats or poultry will support optimal hormone health.
The foods that actually promote hormone health and promote proper metabolism and detoxification of estrogen include:
- High quality protein, fish, poultry, meat, eggs… will provide the necessary amino-acids that the liver requires for a healthy detoxification process
- Essential fatty acids, as we discussed above, as can be found in salmon and mackerel. EFA’s come primarily in 2 highly beneficial forms, DHA and EPA, and I generally recommend a combined content of more than 2 g/d.
- Eat seeds such as sesame, fenugreek and flax, they produce a fiber called lignan that helps eliminate estrogens form the intestinal tract. In fact dietary fiber of all kinds enhances healthy estrogen metabolism
- Eat cruciferous vegetable, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc… they contain an enzyme referred to as DIM, which helps to safely eliminate estrogens. It ahs actually been shown that people with higher levels of DIM have lower cancer rates,
- Keep your levels of VitD optimal, it definitely is able to promote healthy metabolism of estrogens
- Eat fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchee and pickles and/or add a good probiotic to your diet.
- Avoid sugar! Sugar has been shown to INHIBIT the regulation of testosterone and estrogen, causing imbalances in hormone balance
These are all simple things that are part of a healthy diet to begin with. It behooves us to pay attention to all these details to have a healthy passage through menopause… and in the end, a highly productive MenoPassage, a holistic journey through the menopausal years that opens a door to new levels of vitality and creativity.
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by Angela Ingendaay, MD