Male or female, there is a good chance that your estrogen hormones are much higher than they should be, and it could be affecting your health. For men, excess estrogen can lead to low libido, growing of breasts—or “man boobs,”—infertility issues, and more. For women, the symptoms can also include low libido and infertility, along with a host of other symptoms: weight gain, migraines, PMS, heavy bleeding with clots, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and miscarriages. It can even lead to breast cancer. You see, when our hormones are off, it affects a lot!
I was one of the “lucky” girls who started menstruating at age 9. This is more common in bigger or overweight girls; however, I was the tiniest in my class. When I developed other health problems a few years later, my periods became unbearable. At age 15, I was put on birth control pills just to lessen my severe symptoms each month. While this was less common 15 years ago, it is far too common now. Did you know that age 9 is now the average age for a young girl to start puberty? Something isn’t right.
Where is this spike in estrogen coming from? Sadly, our developed world is full of “mock” estrogens. Let’s take a quick look at a couple of these.
Xenoestrogens are found in certain chemicals and have been known to mimic estrogen in our bodies when we are exposed to them. They are found in pesticides, laundry detergents, plastic food storage, BPA plastic products, and more. I grew up in a house that was less than a mile from cotton fields. Knowing now how pesticides mimic estrogen, it makes perfect sense that I started puberty early.
The types of xenoestrogen I want to focus on, however, are phytoestrogens. These are natural “estrogens” found in specific foods. If you are one of those who still think that soy is a super food, please consider further. Soy is very high in phytoestrogens. As with most whole foods, soy is not unhealthy in moderation. But in our current day of processed foods, soy is in everything! Add to that the more recent craze of soy milk replacing real milk, and it is apparent that some people are eating and drinking themselves into an estrogen frenzy!
While I have been avoiding soy for many years now, I did just recently learn about other foods that are high in phytoestrogens, and one in particular caught me by surprise: Flax Seed. Also considered a “super food,” flax is high in Omega 3’s, and studies show that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of flax seed can benefit us in a lot of ways. About a year ago, I started adding flax meal to smoothies, baked goods, salads, eggs, just about anything I could sprinkle it on top of. Come to find out, flax contains more phytoestrogens (aka lignans) than soy! This was a huge realization for me. Looking back over the past year or so, I see that my PMS symptoms, menstrual cramps and clotting have worsened. This can be associated with many things, but it definitely has me questioning the connection to my flax seed intake.
I have put a quick halt on eating flax. Do I think it is unhealthy in moderation? No, I don’t. It does indeed have health benefits. But while I am working to overcome Adrenal Fatigue, I need to do everything I can to lower my estrogen, as the two are commonly linked. Also, as a woman hoping to get pregnant in the future, you can bet that I’m not taking my chances with flax or soy.
Next time I clean out our fridge, it will be a happy goodbye to that bag of flax and a welcomed hello to better health!
Update: I happened to be watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory this evening, and here is the opening scene. It made me laugh at the coincidence!
Early Onset of Puberty: http://www.lucinebiotech.com/early-onset-of-puberty/
High Estrogen and Breast Cancer: http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/factsheet/General/fs10.estrogen.cfm
Flax Oil and Premature Births: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/uom-pwc102708.php
Estrogen Dominance and Adrenal Fatigue: http://www.drrind.com/therapies/estrogen-dominance#connection
High Estrogen in Men: http://www.newhealthguide.org/High-Estrogen-In-Men.html
Estrogen Dominance Overview: http://www.drhoffman.com/page.cfm/183