Estrogen deficiency is a significant characteristic of the menopausal stage of a woman’s reproductive life. This shortage in the levels of an essential hormone in the female body brings about unpleasant signs and symptoms.
In the period leading to my menopausal stage, I remember experiencing hot flashes, sudden changes in mood, and vaginal dryness with the attendant pain during sexual intercourse. When I described these signs to my doctor, she clarified that they were due to an imbalance in the hormone supply. My estrogen hormones were in short supply.
Estrogen is popularly known as the female sex hormone because it is essential for breast development and the control of menstrual flow. There is estrogen in everyone’s body as part of the hormones secreted by the body, but the female body secretes a greater quantity of this hormone than the male body.
Estrogen levels are improved by consuming certain foods known as phytoestrogens. These are a type of dietary estrogen that we inject into our bodies by eating. There has been a lot of research on these estrogen-rich foods and what good and evil they can do to our bodies. The research relates to balancing women’s hormonal deficiency during menopause.
This research has shown that as much as these plant-based hormone supplements can do great good to the bodies of menopausal women, helping balance their estrogen levels, they can also pose some challenges for natural estrogen production in the female body. You may consider speaking to your doctor concerning improving your estrogen levels with food supplements before you embark on that estrogen hormone balance treatment.
Hormones are natural chemical substances secreted in the body by special glands. They are produced to influence the growth and development of target body areas.
The endocrine glands are responsible for the secretion of hormones in the body. They send these chemicals into your bloodstream for transportation to the various tissues and organs where they are needed. Major processes in the body, such as metabolism and reproduction, are regulated by these chemicals known as hormones.
Hormonal imbalance refers to the excess or lack of a particular type of hormone. The slightest shortage below the required levels or overabundance of a hormone can severely affect the body.
It does not mean that hormone levels do not fluctuate. They do it several times during their lifetime. Different reasons are accountable for these changes in hormone levels, and aging is one of them. Aging in women means menopause, and that period of a woman’s reproductive life is characterized by severe fluctuations in hormone levels, especially a shortage of estrogen.
Many women yet to experience menopause are usually at a loss regarding how it works or what to expect. For instance, I expected to see signs and symptoms of menopause from age 45. I honestly felt that that was the ideal age, but my 45th birthday came and passed. Yet, there were no signs of menopause.
However, sure subtle signs were markers of the advent of menopause. I experienced some slight symptoms that the doctor said were normal for women during the period leading to menopause– perimenopause.
Different women get into the menopausal phase at different times. Many women like myself hit menopause after the age of 50. Others may experience it at an earlier or even later age.
Menopause itself sets in when your ovaries quit production of estrogen and progesterone. It signifies the end of conception and childbirth. You are certified postmenopausal when you have gone 12 concurrent months without seeing your period.
Menopausal women go through a lot due to the imbalance in their hormone levels.
Signs and Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Menopausal Women include:
- Acne on the face, chest, as well as upper back
- Menopausal bloating
- Hair thinning or loss
- Weight gain, mainly in the hips and thighs.
- Darkening of the skin: occurs in some areas of a woman’s body, such as the neck.
- Frequent tiredness
- Anxiety and extreme sadness
- Painful sexual intercourse due to vaginal dryness
- Skin tags and non-cancerous lumps
- Dryness of the vagina
- Mood swings
- Vaginal atrophy
- Cold flashes/ night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Gas and water retention
- Reduction in libido
There are many treatment options for managing estrogen hormone imbalance or its symptoms. These treatment methods range from complex medical procedures to simple lifestyle adjustments. Here are some of them.
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy: The replacement therapy involves a medical procedure in which doses of estrogen hormones are injected into the body to compensate for the inadequacy of producing enough estrogen. This method is effective against hot flashes and other unpleasant effects of estrogen shortage. It is of utmost importance that you consult and follow the advice of a qualified medical practitioner if you decide to try this treatment option. Your doctor will check your medical history and other vital information to determine if you are medically worthy of this treatment.
- Vaginal estrogen products: Estrogen products are effective against dryness of the vagina and the consequential pain during sexual intercourse. They come in different options, such as estrogen tablets, creams, and rings. It is a preferred treatment choice for many women because it is localized and targets the area where the discomfort is experienced. It also helps avoid the dangers associated with systemic estrogen.
- Anti-androgen medications: Androgens are male sex hormones. These hormones are, however, found in both women and men. Women with high androgen levels and low estrogen levels may choose to take medication that blocks the effects of androgens. Such products may include hair loss or thinning, hair growth on the face, and acne.
Apart from the aforementioned medical approaches to managing estrogen deficiency, there are also some natural remedies and supplements that, when applied, can go a long way to augment the low supply of estrogen in the bodies of menopausal women.
Keep in mind that many nutritional supplements are available in the marketplace. All claim to provide solutions to menopause and estrogen hormone imbalance discomforts. However, only a small number of them effectively bring your fluctuating hormones to everyday normalcy.
Many of these supplements are made up of hormones derived from plants. They are known as bio-identical hormones. It is because they are chemically akin to the hormones secreted by the body. They have not been proven more efficient and effective than the standard hormone replacement therapy.
Simple changes in lifestyle and habits can be beneficial in combating the symptoms of estrogen hormone imbalance.
Some women have testified to the effectiveness of yoga in treating symptoms of estrogen hormonal imbalance. Yoga is a system of exercises proven great for mental and physical health. Yoga helps you build your strength and improve flexibility and balance. It is also used to achieve weight loss, which is fundamental for regulating your estrogen hormone levels.
Other lifestyle adjustments that can yield excellent results towards improving your estrogen hormone levels include:
- Losing weight. Weight loss has been shown to aid the proper secretion of vital hormones such as estrogen.
- Improve your diet: what you eat affects the way your body works. A balanced diet is an indispensable part of your healthcare. Certain foods have been great for boosting estrogen levels in women’s bodies. We shall discuss them in greater detail later on in this piece.
- Drink water: Be sure to avoid alcohol and drink more water instead.
- Treat vaginal discomfort: Because of estrogen shortage, glycerin and paraben-free lubes can significantly help reduce pains in the vagina.
- Stay away from things that set off hot flashes: Identify things that usually encourage hot flashes, such as warm places, hot foods, or hot drinks.
- Remove unwanted hair. If you have excess facial or body hair due to a shortage of estrogen, you can take care of that by applying hair removal cream, laser hair removal, or electrolysis.
- Be active: you must engage in energetic activities such as exercises or sports. It will improve your heart rate as well as your estrogen production capacity. You will also benefit from building your strength. You enjoy so many benefits from exercising and living an active and energetic life over just lying in bed around the house all day.
- Give up smoking: smoking is associated with many health risks and is at the root of many malfunctions in the body. Giving up on smoking tobacco, marijuana, and other substances will give your body the much-needed detox and cleanliness it needs to work correctly and normalize your estrogen production levels. It will also prevent further damage to your organs while giving you the required energy boost to go out and exercise.
- Ask your Doctor for Medical Advice: it is of grave importance that you visit your doctor to get properly examined and get professional advice before starting any treatment for estrogen shortage.
Estrogen is essential in a woman’s body. Its functions are indispensable for a woman to live a comfortable life. It is crucial for the proper functioning of the following organs in your body:
- Ovaries: it is instrumental in stimulating the growth of the egg follicle.
- Vagina: the thickness and lubrication of the walls of the vagina is made possible by the presence of estrogen in adequate proportion in a woman’s body.
- Uterus: it preserves and improves the mucous membrane covering the uterus walls. It also controls the flow and concentration level of mucus secretions in the uterus.
- Breasts: estrogen is used by the body to generate breast tissues. It also signals the breast to stop the flow of breast milk after the period of weaning.
Certain foods have been scientifically proven to raise the estrogen levels of menopausal women. These foods are high in estrogen and thus make up for your body’s inability to produce up to the required amount of estrogen hormone. These foods are known as phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are a type of estrogen that we derive from food. Much research is currently being done concerning the benefits and risks of using these plant-based nutrients to boost estrogen levels. Studies have shown that they can complement or preserve the medical benefits of naturally produced estrogens.
However, as much as these foods are beneficial to menopausal women, there are also attendant side effects that you may experience from eating these foods. There have been instances where they have hindered the natural production and functioning of estrogen in the body.
Moderation and doctor’s advice are crucial to utilizing these foods as hormonal balance options. Here are the top 10 foods high in estrogen and their benefits and side effects for menopausal women.
Top 10 Foods High In Estrogen And Their Benefits To Menopausal Women
Flaxseeds are also known as linseeds. They have lignans which are a great form of phytoestrogen. Flaxseeds are the most widely acclaimed of all foods rich in lignans. They are believed to minimize the chances of the development of breast cancer.
You can infuse flax seeds into your food in many ways: sprinkle them as a garnishing ingredient in your dishes, mix them into the dough for bread and cookies and bake them. You can also blend them into homemade soft drinks and bread spreads.
These simplified ways of adding flaxseeds to your daily meals make it possible to get a good dose of dietary estrogen daily. Flax seeds help you regulate cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure and hot flashes, and control weight gain during menopause. Research conducted in 2015 shows that postmenopausal women who infused flaxseed supplements in their meals witnessed reduced menopausal symptoms.
Soy is an excellent food for menopausal women who, due to menopausal symptoms, might not be able to run around shopping and cooking food. Moreover, soy products such as soya milk and yogurt are excellent in improving estrogen levels in the body.
The nutrient-rich products help nourish your body while treating the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, such as dark skin and bone thinning. It is proven to be an excellent addition to your daily meals. It will beef up your estrogen levels in no time because it is packed with isoflavones. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens that work just like the natural estrogens to keep your hormones at an equilibrium. Soy is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals suitable for vegetarians.
Like flaxseeds, peaches are also rich in lignan, an excellent phytoestrogen. They work well to regulate blood sugar levels in menopausal women. They also treat menopausal symptoms like bloating and acne. They have also been proven to have nutritional properties akin to berries.
Garlic is an excellent addition to your meals. You can use it in steaming your meats and cooking other dishes as it brings out the flavor in your foodstuff. Frequent addition of garlic in your cooking will help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and prevent clots.
It works against all symptoms of heart disease that come with old age. The effect of garlic in your system is the reinvigoration of your body to keep you active and strong. Studies have also revealed that garlic can influence estrogen levels in the body and even help reduce age-related bone loss that menopausal women usually witness. But more research is needed to confirm this effect.
- Red Wine
While many people drink red wine for celebration, studies have shown that drinking red wine, rich in resveratrol, can help reduce the chances of heart diseases during old age by regulating cholesterol levels.
It has also been established that phytoestrogens’ properties found in red wine are powerful against cancer cell growth, especially among postmenopausal women. Red wine also has a calming effect that treats menopausal symptoms like insomnia and mood swings.
- Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are great antioxidants that help in the treatment of menopausal bloating. They also help you regulate your weight. You can easily make them a part of your meals and watch your estrogen hormone level improve.
- Cruciferous Vegetables
These are vegetables that are packed with anti-inflammatory properties. They include cabbage, Brussel sprouts, turnip, kale, and broccoli. Their phytoestrogen and anti-inflammatory properties are effective against menopausal symptoms like vaginal discomfort and pain.
These include almonds, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachios, etc. They are foods that are good for your heart and great for improving your estrogen levels. Eat them in moderation as they are high in calories and fats; thus, they may have unpleasant side effects when taken in excess. Consult your doctor for a recommended amount to achieve the desired results without adverse effects.
- Whole Grain Bread
Bread made with whole grains such as barley, wheat, or oats is naturally packed with high amounts of lignans, a well-known phytoestrogen. The effectiveness of this food as an estrogen booster is dependent on the part of these phytoestrogens available in the loaf. Bread is a staple food for many. Thus, it would be easy to amass more estrogen by just eating. Eating whole-grain bread gives you the energy to exercise and combat tiredness symptoms associated with menopause.
Unlike other foods in this list of top 10 foods rich in estrogen, dairy foods do not just contain phytoestrogens. Instead, they are packed with estrogen from the animals from which they obtained the dairy products. For this reason, there have been concerns in some quarters about what the effect of this would be on natural human estrogen production. Dairy products effectively relieve uncomfortable menopausal symptoms such as hair and bone thinning.
Animal studies have shown no adverse effects of using one animal’s estrogen-rich milk to boost another animal’s estrogen levels. No known human experiments have been concluded yet.
Certain studies have pointed to the possibility of phytoestrogens posing adverse health effects to people who use them.
However, the research findings of scientists conducted on animals and some of these research are not in agreement.
Some researchers lament the adverse side effects of phytoestrogens as working against the functions of endocrine glands. They posit that increased intake of phytoestrogens can inhibit the natural production of estrogens by the body.
In addition to these fears, phytoestrogens have also been criticized because many women are allergic to estrogen-rich foods. For example, soy products do not sit well with many women. It is advised that such women try out other foods in this list of top 10 foods rich in estrogen.
Nonetheless, phytoestrogens are preferred over hormone replacement therapy for balancing the deficiency in estrogen hormone production during menopause. They are effective against menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, weight gain, bone thinning, vaginal discomfort, mood swings, etc. However, more research is underway to consolidate these claims further.
As always, you should consult with your medical doctor, who will give you the best advice on what treatment method to undergo for your estrogen deficiency after due examinations of your health status and health history. If you decide to go for any or all of these top 10 foods rich in estrogen, then be sure to get a recommended size added to your meals.
There are hardly ever standard recommended eating portions for these foods. It is best to add them in moderate proportions to your daily meals. As innocuous as these foods seem, they can have severe health effects if not taken cautiously.