Hormones are vital to your health, as they do everything from regulating your reproductive system to managing your blood pressure. However, hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on your body, and may be caused by health conditions, environmental factors, or even the foods we eat. Over the past few decades, more science-based evidence surrounding hormones has emerged and made it evident that more and more people are experiencing an excess in the hormone estrogen. Is this a good thing or not? Can too much estrogen disrupt your hormones and lead to negative side effects? Read on to learn more!
What are Hormones?
Did you know that our bodies create just the right amount of hormones to keep us healthy? All hormones are signaling agents who usually have a beautifully choreographed dance, and when working together, they keep your body in tip-top shape. Hormones are necessary for health, and they affect many different processes, including growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, mood, and much more!
Can Too Much Estrogen Disrupt Your Hormones?
While all hormones are vital, one hormone that is important in both male and female health is estrogen. Even though estrogen (also known as the “female” hormone) is more prevalent in women, men also produce this hormone in small amounts. This hormone not only plays a role in women’s reproductive systems, and in males’ sexual function, but it also contributes to both genders’ cognitive health, bone health, cardiovascular system, and other essential bodily processes. But can too much estrogen disrupt your hormones?
Your body’s hormones are like a seesaw: when they’re perfectly balanced, your body works as it should, but when they’re unbalanced, you may begin to experience problems. For example, science-based evidence over the past few decades has shown that excess estrogen could be coming from external sources (such as food or the environment). After all, could it be purely coincidence that young girls are developing larger breasts than we did, or that men are having breast reduction surgery?
This excess estrogen is changing the balance of hormones in men, giving them larger breasts, smaller muscles, larger bellies, lower sex drive, and prostate problems. In women, higher estrogen makes for more troublesome PMS, increased depression, higher body fat, and a higher risk of breast cancer. In children, excessive hormones encourage premature sexual development. In everyone, excessive estrogen increases the risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke.
Body fat is quite active and produces estrogen in both men and women. It is also an active storage unit for toxins. This is why with rapid weight loss, people can feel quite unwell, since it’s a toxin dump along with the excess weight.
Excess Estrogen in Food
Naturally produced estrogen is a normal biological function, but we run into problems when we encounter additional hormones from external sources (such as our food and the environment). Today’s “factory farmers” use hormones and other drugs and chemical to accelerate weight gain in animals to increase profitability. This practice includes chickens, cows, pigs, and even fish farmers. Hormones also keep dairy cows lactating on a constant basis, including while they are pregnant. When we consume these foods, we absorb the hormones. This can be avoided by always choosing “hormone-free” animal products. “Grain fed” doesn’t eliminate the chances for added hormones and chemicals. If possible, try to purchase organic, grass-fed, and free-range to avoid exposure to hormones and other chemicals in animal feed.
Excess Estrogen in the Environment
We are ingesting and absorbing a large amount, of what are called “estrogen mimickers” and “estrogen disruptors,” from commonly used products and pesticides. These chemicals seem like a real estrogen to the body’s receptors, but what is dangerous is that it does not function correctly. They can actually disrupt hormonal signaling pathways, which can be a truly disruptive function and have a large impact on wellbeing.
A chemical called BPA (bisphenol-a) is a very potent estrogen mimicker. These types of chemicals are also known as Xenoestrogens, and their actions can have potentially hazardous outcomes. You can find BPA in plastic food wrap, cups, containers, and the inside of cans. Another chemical to be on the lookout for is triclosan. This can be a common ingredient in soaps, deodorants, lotions, shampoos, hair sprays, perfumes, toothpastes and room sprays. Parabans are also listed as an endocrine disruptor and is a common ingredient in skin and beauty products.
Another major estrogenic chemical category includes pesticides and gardening chemicals. Even if you don’t use these chemicals, you may be exposed to them in your daily life, as these chemicals are inhaled from the air or absorbed through the skin.
What Can You Do?
It’s impossible to avoid everything that can disrupt hormones. However, if you know where they are, and how you can substitute products, it’s the best that you can do!
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