In women who have a hard time losing weight no matter how much exercise they do, there can often be an issue with “estrogen dominance.” Estrogen is a hormone produced in the ovaries, and it promotes cell division, cell growth, and in excessive amounts, formation of fat tissue. Another hormone found naturally in women is progesterone, and progesterone protects against the “pro-growth” effect of estrogen.
Normally, estrogen and progesterone work together to achieve hormonal balance. But as women age, and especially between the ages of 35 and 50, the decline in progesterone occurs much faster than the decline in estrogen, and this gradual drop in estrogen combined with a steep drop in progesterone is what initiates a problem with estrogen dominance and growth of excessive fat tissue.
While this “estrogen dominance” is a normal, expected part of aging, the weight gain that it causes can be significantly increased by lifestyle or dietary factors that increase the amount of estrogen in the body.
Here are some of those “extra” sources of estrogen that can contribute to estrogen dominance and weight gain in women, along with what you can do about it:
- Pesticides and herbicides. Check out the Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies that are best to buy organic so you ingest as few pesticides as possible.
- Poultry or beef raised on hormones. As much as possible, eat free-range or grass-fed animals that are hormone-free and when you’re eating out at restaurants, consider opting for the fish unless you know the beef and chicken is hormone-free.
- Chemicals found in consumer products. Creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, hair sprays, and deodorizers all contain chemicals. The Silent Springs institute has created a research report on which consumer products are safe and which are not.
- Industrial solvents. Glues, paints, varnishes, fingernail polish, and fingernail polish remover are the biggest culprits of industrial solvents. These can be tough to avoid completely, but you can reduce your exposure by using any chemicals like nail polish or nail polish remover in fresh air and open spaces.
- Stress and poor sleep. Both of these can decrease progesterone output. Simple ways to reduce stress include yoga, deep breathing, nature walks, and planning so that you have as much hectic-free time as possible to accomplish your daily tasks. Before bed, limit computer, phone and TV use, and sleep in a quiet and dark room.
- Excessive calories. Consuming too many calories can cause body fat that converts steroids to estrogens. People often “sneak” excess calories into their diets with mindless eating in the workplace in front of the computer or grabbing morsels from their kids’ snacks. Instead, pay attention to what and when you are eating and choose foods that are high in proteins, healthy fats, and fiber that can keep your appetite satiated. Check out this podcast for some of the best appetite-satiating foods.
- Poor liver function. The metabolism of estrogens takes place primarily in the liver, so you need to care for that valuable organ! High alcohol intake or use of pharmaceuticals can put a strain on the liver, so limit yourself to no more than 1 drink of alcohol per day, avoid pharmaceutical drugs unless entirely necessary, and if you have been drinking or using drugs heavily, consider including liver supporting supplements into your diet, such as cucumber juice, milk thistle extract, calcium d-glucarate, folic acid, and taurine.
- Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is necessary for metabolizing estrogen in the liver, and a magnesium deficiency can be created from low veggie and fruit consumption combined with high consumption of processed foods. Consider using a magnesium powder before you go to bed at night, and spray topical magnesium on any sore muscles after you exercise.
Source: Ben Greenfield, Get-Fit Guy.