Want a better menopause than your mom had? Here’s a simple, easy tasty tip: start eating food and herbs that work with your body’s estrogen production now! Phytoestrogenic food and herbs help your body avoid dramatic crashes in estrogen levels that have been linked to more intense hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
In our over-fed, under-nourished western culture we typically don’t change what we eat, or take action about our health and wellness until our back is up against the wall and we’re staring illness or pain in the face. You can easily change that for yourself. Every day eat herbs and foods that can ease the effects of your ovaries’ irregular declining estrogen production during your menopause transition years. Avoid foods that contain estrogen. (see list below.)
How does that work?
Many fresh foods produce chemicals that mimic, block or balance estrogens. Lots of bad things can happen when a woman is considered ‘estrogen dominant’ including breast and ovarian cancer.
There are two main types of phytoestrogens – and some foods have both: (1) isoflavones (cooked beans (e.g. yellow split peas, black turtle beans, red kidney beans and red lentils), whole grains, leafy greens (cooked parsley, nettle, cabbage, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, collards, lamb’s quarters, seaweeds and rhubarb stalks, tofu) and (2) lignans (flaxseeds and other edible seeds, whole grains, seaweed (alaria, dulse, hijiki, kelp, kombu, nori, wakame), fruit & berries)
Beneficial phytoestrogenic herbs include borage, evening primrose oil, licorice root, nettles, fennel, red clover, black cohosh, vitex, false unicorn root, elder, fenugreek seeds, dandelion, Honduran sarsaparilla, kudzu root, Lady’s Slipper, Liferoot, passionflower, sassafras, sweet briar, verbena. (If you decide to experiment with these herbs, do your research because some of them can promote excessive bleeding during menstruation.)
Herbalist Susun Weed says “When we consume phytoestrogen-rich plants we allow our individual bodies to create precisely the hormones we need on our unique menopausal journey.” She recommends eating yogurt to create healthy intestinal flora that helps process phytoestrogens and phytosterols.
The most powerful phytoestrogenic foods include non-GMO home-grown sprouts (alfalfa, mung beans & broccoli) and organically grown cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, kale, kohlrabi and collard greens, which are powerful hormone balancers that help detoxify excess estrogens and stop the conversion of estrogens into dangerous compounds. They block the action of estrogens and balance hormones.
Note: you’d have to eat 10 cups of broccoli every day for months to have a negative effect on your thyroid. Nature is a brilliant chef.
Other phytoestrogenic foods include apples, berries, dried beans, lentils & chickpeas, carrots, cherries, flaxseeds, garlic, grapefruit, onions, peas, dried sea vegetables, sweet potatoes, oats, pears, rice bran, sesame seeds, whole grain rice and oats, extra virgin olive oil, and many other fresh fruit and veggies.
Broccoli sprouts contain high levels of estrogen-blocking/balancing chemicals. Lignans are phytoestrogenic compounds found in flaxseeds and cranberries. They can help block the action of estrogen and balance hormones. Just 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed in your morning protein shake can lower your risk of breast cancer and protect you from the effects of estrogen. Non-GMO fermented soy foods (such as tempeh, miso soy sauce) contain estrogens and these can fit into estrogen receptors.
To balance hormones, and help prevent cancer eat some of the following every day. They’re super regulators of hormone levels:
- Brussels sprouts
- Flaxseeds (freshly ground – keep refrigerated)
- Green beans
- Green tea, chamomile tea
Foods that enhance the action of progesterone include the herbs dong quai, nutmeg, turmeric, vitex berries, yarrow flowers and leaves, sarsaparilla roots, wild yam roots. Women who are ‘estrogen dominant’ usually have low levels of progesterone.
All you tofu-eaters out there take note: unfermented soy increases ultimately increases estrogen levels. I’ve already told you that too much estrogen is bad for you. Regular soy also negatively affects thyroid hormone uptake and that upsets the balance of all the body’s hormones. It is a strong estrogen and should be completely avoided. Also avoid omega-6 oils including corn, canola, safflower and soy oil.
Did you know that 3 glasses of wine a WEEK increases your risk of developing breast cancer? Also, for women taking oral or patch-delivery estrogen, you double or triple your risk of breast cancer when you drink even a small amount of wine! Take note: alcohol increases the intensity and severity of hot flashes!
Avoid the following foods that contain estrogens, fit into estrogen receptors or promote the production of estrogen.
- Soy beans
- Soy beverages
- Soy oil
- Cotton seed oil
- Corn oil
- Hops in beer
- Red clover in supplement
- Commercial chicken, pork and beef
- Commercial dairy products
- Farmed fish
Ok, so what does your new grocery list of fresh fruit and veggies really mean?
Eat fresh food daily, starting NOW, TODAY. Eating more nutritious foods is the perfect expression of self-love, and while you’re at it, feed it to your kids and partner too. Be part of the revolution that’s making waves to take back our health. Be in control of your weight and wellness, now, during your menopause years and for the rest of your life!
- Sexy Hormones by Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe, MS & Alvin Pettle MD, 2007
- Managing Menopause Naturally, DVD, 2011
- New Menopausal Years by Susun S. Weed, 2002
Tags: black cohosh, dandelion, dangers of tofu, dong quai, elder, estrogen, estrogen dominant, evening primrose oil, false unicorn root, fennel, fenugreek seeds, herbs, hormones, isoflavones, lignans, menopausal symptoms, menopause symptoms, nettles, red clover, vitex