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How to Lower Estrogen Levels
The Basics Estrogen is a hormone that is produced primarily in the ovaries in women and in the testes in men. For men, it plays an important role in sperm production and bone maintenance. Estrogen is also produced by other tissues in both men and women, including fat and the brain. The amount of estrogen needed by men to support these functions is very small, and men tend to have excess estrogen in their systems for two reasons. First, an enzyme called aromatase that is found in tissues throughout the body will turn testosterone into estrogen. It's possible to reduce aromatase by eating or supplementing with nutrients that do this naturally. Second, men have excess estrogen because of the chemical estrogens in the environment, such as BPA and phthalates. BPA is a petroleum based chemical that mimics estrogen in the body. Phthalates are another chemical estrogen that are used in plastics and many personal care products such as shampoo and lotion. The liver converts excess estrogens into compounds that can be excreted by the body. The catch is there are three pathways through which estrogen can be metabolized. The solution is to nutritionally support conversion of estrogen along the C-2 pathway, which can be initiated by ensuring you have a healthy gut. A healthy gut with dietary fiber in the form lignan, such as flaxseeds, can bind to estrogen in the digestive tract so that it will be excreted from the body. Dietary fiber also reduces the amount of an enzyme called B-glucouronidase that uncouples or breaks apart bound estrogen that is on its way out of the body. When the estrogen breaks free in the large intestine, it re-enters circulation and is not removed from the body. This is a bad situation. The solution is to eat adequate fiber and include lignans in the diet, including flax, leafy greens, and bran oat, rye, barley. Body fat itself secretes estrogen, so it is important to keep body composition in the optimal range and avoid obesity. Getting your carbs from vegetable and fruit sources will provide the lignans and fiber needed for gut health and increase antioxidant levels, which can abolish free radicals that produced by estrogen that goes down the C pathway. Omega-3 fats, which are found in fish, have been shown to promote the C-2 pathway over the 16 pathway, particularly EPA omega-3 fatty acids. On the flip side, diets low in omega-3s have resulted in estrogen being metabolized primarily through the C pathway. A high-protein diet will produce a better body composition for most people. Plus, low protein diets have been shown to decrease activity of something called cytochrome P that metabolizes estrogen. The amino acids lysine and threonine have been shown to support liver function and since estrogen is metabolized by the liver, it is thought that these proteins can help get rid of estrogen from the body. Lysine and threonine are found in meat, fish, beans, eggs, and some seeds sesame, fenugreek. Sesame seeds also provide fiber and fenugreek helps lower the insulin response to carbs, making both good additions to your diet. Decreasing body fat and building lean mass are key to cancer prevention and estrogen elimination. Another way to protect the tissues from circulating estrogen is to keep it bound to sex hormone binding globulin SHBG. Flaxseed hulls are especially good at increasing SHBG as well as inhibiting aromatase. When phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors they basically take up the parking sport of the true estrogen, and keep it from exerting its effect. Lignans and isoflavones are the main phytoestrogens, and in addition to binding with estrogen receptors, they can increase SHBG levels protects the body by binding to estrogen , decrease aromatase prevents testosterone turning into estrogen , and shift metabolism of estrogen away from the C pathway to the C-2 pathway the safer pathway. The best phytoestrogens to include in the diet are flax, sesame, leafy greens, kudzu, alfalfa, clover, licorice root, and legumes. If aromatase is present, there are two chances for estrogen to be produced in the body. First, the hormone androstenedione will be turned into testosterone unless aromatase is present in which case it will be turned into estrogen. Then, aromatase will turn testosterone into estrogen as well. Nutrients that have a proven effect on aromatase include selenium, melatonin, zinc, green tea, and citrus flavonones—substances found in orange and grapefruit rinds along with tomato skins. The first step of estrogen elimination is for enzymes to initiate metabolism by joining the estrogen molecule. This will happen at either the 2-carbon position or the carbon position of the molecule, which determines the pathway the estrogen will head down. In contrast, the C pathway produces robust estrogenic activity and promotes tissue damage that leads to cancer. The B vitamins, particularly B6, B12, and folic acid promote the C-2 pathway. B6 is also known to decrease gene activity once estrogen is bound to a receptor, meaning this vitamin can inhibit cell damage and cancer development. DIM is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. It is often taken in supplement form because you would need to eat large quantities of these vegetables daily in order to provide sufficient DIM to have an effect on estrogen elimination. Two things can happen along the way out that cause big problems. This is the second place estrogen detoxification can go wrong. Low vitamin E is associated with elevated estrogen and it has been shown to inhibit the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells. For optimal estrogen metabolism, it's recommended that you eliminate all alcohol besides certain red wine. Sardinian and Spanish wines are rich in antioxidants that help remove estrogens. Other good choices are Pinot and Merlot. Unfortunately, chemical estrogens are everywhere. There is even a movement in public health advocacy that government regulatory bodies and chemical companies need to take action to reduce environmental toxins. Here is a list of ten simple things you can do today to reduce your chemical estrogen exposure. Breast Cancer Research Treatment. Published Ahead of Print. Methylseleninic Acid is a Novel suppressor of Aromatase Expression. Sources of Estrogen and Their Importance. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Estrogen Metabolism and Autoimmunity. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. A Prospective Pilot Clinical Trial.
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