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Foods that may be disrupting your Oestrogen levels

Aug 02, 2018

Foods that may be disrupting your Oestrogen levels


Oestrogen plays a special role for a woman, as it governs your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Known as the feminine sex hormone, oestrogen governs the bodily changes experienced as your mature from a girl into a woman at puberty and following this event, increased levels are produced by the ovaries (and some from your adrenals) each month to initiate the ripening and release of the fully matured egg at ovulation. In pre menopausal years oestrogen is the driving force behind womanly characteristics and also plays a cardiovascular protective role in your body.

Although oestrogen is required for your overall health and wellbeing, levels can build up in your body and quickly cause imbalance. With either heightened oestrogen production, oestrogen mimicking substances, potent oestrogen receptor activity, sluggish liver metabolism and/ or recycling of oestrogen back into your system due to poor gut health, a condition of oestrogen dominance can occur.

Both lifestyle and dietary toxic exposures can contribute to oestrogen dominance and the growth stimulating and inflammatory effects this can have on your body. Taking into consideration toxin exposure, inflammation production, oestrogenic effects, insulin disruption and nutritional deficiencies, the following foods can negatively impact your oestrogen levels.

Conventionally Farmed Produce

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide ‘Round Up’, has been linked to impairment of liver detoxification pathways. Glyphosate inhibits important cytochrome P450 enzymes and disrupts your gut microbiome, which both play an important role in efficient oestrogen metabolism and elimination.

According to Neurologist Dr David Pearlmutter, before its current herbicide use, glyphosate was originally patented as an antibiotic.(1) Exposure to glyphosate has shown to alter the balance between pathogens and beneficial bacteria in your gut, along with contributing to deficiencies in a key hormone health mineral, selenium and the detox savvy amino acid, sulfur.(2)


The level of alcohol consumed has been directly linked with an increase in oestrogen levels. Alcohol disrupts the action of the COMT enzyme to effectively detoxify oestrogen from your body, therefore contributing to higher oestrogen levels.(3) Consumption of one to two alcoholic drinks per day, has been linked with a 10% increase in breast cancer risk.(4)

Trans fats

Found in heated vegetable and seed oils and processed foods, trans fats can impact oestrogen, due to their toxicity levels and inflammation production in your body. Do you still use margarine thinking it’s a healthy substitute for butter? It's time to switch over to butter, avocado, olive oil, tahini, nut butter or coconut oil so you can avoid the trans-fat's found in margarine.

High Fructose Consumption

A high concentration of fructose is found in high fructose corn syrup which is used to sweeten soft drinks and many processed foods, the ‘low GI’ sweetener agave as well as sugar and any products containing sugar or agave. These high fructose foods can both drive inflammation and upset liver health, as a result of increased insulin production. This ultimately can contribute to heightened oestrogen activity.

Unfermented Soy

The major isoflavone genestein, which is synthesised by the soybean, has been linked to oestrogenic and goitrogenic activity (5) as well as impacting sperm health. Soy isoflavones are able to cross the placenta barrier in pregnancy (6) and have been detected in breast milk and the urine of breast feeding babaies, after soy consumption.(7) This exposure to soy isoflavones may contribute to immune complications and altered endocrine activity for a developing child.(8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

Although various studies indicate the contrary, some remain which suggest genestein can be carcinogenic in rodents.(15,16) Therefore these dangers of soy intake may be relevant to human consumption, particularly when soy is unfermented.

Unfermented soy includes tofu, soy milk and products made with soy protein. Soy protein isolate is highly processed, which compromises its nutrition, while increasing its toxin load. Soy protein contains aluminium and chemicals such as nitrates, due to a commercial wash procedure involved in the production of soy protein isolate.

There are various other reasons to keep unfermented soy off of your plate as soy also contains enzyme inhibitors, blocking the absorption of minerals required for healthy hormones. Studies show an increased risk of cognitive impairment, brain atrophy (17) and dementia,(18) with regular tofu consumption. Soy intake can also contribute to an underactive thyroid when levels of iodine are deficient in the body.(19) Approximately 93% of soy grown in America is now genetically modified (GMO).(20)

My exception is traditionally fermented types of organic soy such as miso, tempeh, natto and tamari (wheat free soy sauce).

Lack Of Nourishment 

Nourishing wholefoods such as fibre rich vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, as well as healing homemade broths play an important role in maintaining healthy digestion. Irregular, incomplete bowel movements are a major contributor to oestrogen dominance. When the body cannot eliminate hormones efficiently from the body, oestrogen reabsorption can occur and contributes to oestrogen overall increased oestrogen levels. It is therefore important to include foods that can fuel your digestive health into your daily diet.

Look to your plate for hormone health

Along with many environmental causes of oestrogen dominance, certain foods that make up your plate can ultimately encourage hormone havoc.

Going organic where possible, making up majority of your diet from wholefoods, avoiding unfermented soy, trans fats and high fructose containing foods helps to prevent the condition of oestrogen dominance and promotes overall balanced hormone health. Much more information about detecting and balancing hormone challenged is found in my book Balanced, The Natural Way To Healthy Hormones.




(1) FX Medicine Podcast Central. The Grain Dilemma with Dr David Perlmutter. 13 May 2016.
(2) Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013 Dec; 6(4): 159–184.
(3) Valera-Rey M, Woodhoo A, Martinez-Chantar ML, Mato JM, Lu SC. Alcohol, DNA methylation, and cancer. Alcohol Res. 2013;35(1):25-35.
(4) Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast cancer. Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer—collaborative reanalysis on individual datafrom 53 epidemiological studies, including 58,515 women with breast cancer and 95,067 women without the disease. Br J Cancer. 2002 Nov 18;87(11):1234-45.
(5) Daniel R. Doerge and Daniel M. Sheehan. Goitrogenic and Estrogenic Effects Of Soy Isoflavones. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun; 110(Suppl 3): 349–353.
(6) Doerge DR, Churchwell MI, Chang HC, Newbold RR, Delclos KB. Placental transfer of the soy isoflavone genistein following dietary and gavage administration to Sprague Dawley rats. Reprod Toxicol. 2001 Mar-Apr; 15(2):105-10.
(7) Franke AA, Halm BM, Custer LJ, Tatsumura Y, Hebshi S. Isoflavones in breastfed infants after mothers consume soy. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug; 84(2):406-13.
(8) Yellayi S, Naaz A, Szewczykowski MA, Sato T, Woods JA, Chang J, et al. The phytoestrogen genistein induces thymic and immune changes: a human health concern? Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 May 28;99(11):7616-21.
(9) Doerge DR. Bioavailability of soy isoflavones through placental/lactational transfer and soy food. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2011 Jul 15;254(2):145-7. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2010.10.018. Epub 2010 Oct 27.
(10) Möller FJ, Diel P, Zierau O, Hertrampf T, Maass J, Vollmer G. Long-term dietary isoflavone exposure enhances estrogen sensitivity of rat uterine responsiveness mediated through estrogen receptor alpha. Toxicol Lett. 2010 Jul 15;196(3):142-53. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2010.03.1117. Epub 2010 Apr 8.
(11) Hertrampf T1, Ledwig C, Kulling S, Molzberger A, Möller FJ, Zierau O, et al. Responses of estrogen sensitive tissues in female Wistar rats to pre- and postnatal isoflavone exposure. Toxicol Lett. 2009 Dec 15;191(2-3):181-8. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2009.08.019. Epub 2009 Sep 4.
(12) Guerrero-Bosagna CM1, Sabat P, Valdovinos FS, Valladares LE, Clark SJ. Epigenetic and phenotypic changes result from a continuous pre and post natal dietary exposure to phytoestrogens in an experimental population of mice. BMC Physiol. 2008 Sep 15;8:17. doi: 10.1186/1472-6793-8-17.
(13) Takashima-Sasaki K, Komiyama M, Adachi T, Sakurai K, Kato H, Iguchi T, et al. Effect of exposure to high isoflavone-containing diets on prenatal and postnatal offspring mice. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Dec;70(12):2874-82. Epub 2006 Dec 7.
(14) Levy JR, Faber KA, Ayyash L, Hughes CL Jr. The effect of prenatal exposure to the phytoestrogen genistein on sexual differentiation in rats. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1995 Jan;208(1):60-6.
(15) Daniel R. Doerge and Daniel M. Sheehan. Goitrogenic and Estrogenic Effects Of Soy Isoflavones. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun; 110(Suppl 3): 349–353.
(16) Newbold RR, Banks EP, Bullock B, Jefferson WN. Uterine adenocarcinoma in mice treated neonatally with genistein. Cancer Res. 2001 Jun 1;61(11):4325-8.
(17) White LR1, Petrovitch H, Ross GW, Masaki K, Hardman J, Nelson J, et al. Brain aging and midlife tofu consumption. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Apr;19(2):242-55.
(18) Hogervorst E, Sadjimim T, Yesufu A, Kreager P, Rahardjo TB. High tofu intake is associated with worse memory in elderly Indonesian men and women. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2008;26(1):50-7. doi: 10.1159/000141484. Epub 2008 Jun 27.
(19) Daniel R. Doerge and Daniel M. Sheehan. Goitrogenic and Estrogenic Effects Of Soy Isoflavones. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun; 110(Suppl 3): 349–353.
(20) Fernandez-Cornejo J, Wechsler S, Livingston M, Mitchell L. Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States, ERR-162 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, February 2014. Last viewed March 2016.

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