Hormone Imbalances

Hormones are a very hot topic today, especially bio-identical hormones. There is debate, discussion and interest from many regarding hormone replacement, testosterone shots or creams, birth control pills, etc… Currently research has shown that synthetic hormones may cause cancer. Synthetic birth control pills and synthetic hormone replacement therapy are considered cancer causing chemicals according to the EPA. In addition to the estrogen people are knowingly consuming, we are  inundated by estrogen from unknown sources, such as plastics, drinking water, non-organic food, etc… There are over 87,000 registered chemicals in our environments. We now know that a huge number of them are what we call endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic and act like estrogen in the body. Toxins have been linked to a large number of cancers, including breast and prostate, autoimmune diseases, pain syndromes, infertility, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.

Hormone related health challenges are one the biggest issues in today’s society. The human body did not start working less efficiently. Did our ancestors 100 years ago need thyroid hormone, estrogen replacement, testosterone replacement, just to feel normal? The answer is NO they didn’t. They lived in a time before pesticides were sprayed on food, they worked, were active, ate organic, weren’t vaccinated at birth and breast fed. They didn’t live in a world with 87,000 different chemicals. Aging is not synonymous with feeling fatigued and being in pain. That is a consequence of a toxic lifestyle in terms of environment, food choices, ways of buffering stress, and overall happiness.

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Bio-identical Hormones

What are “bio-identical hormones”?

Bio-identical hormones are hormones which are manufactured in the lab to have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. By contrast, synthetic hormones are intentionally different. Drug companies can’t patent a bio-identical structure, so they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable (Premarin, Prempro, and Provera being the most widely used examples).

Though bio-identical hormones have been around for years, most practitioners are unfamiliar with them. There are several branded versions now available for customized hormone replacement therapy. Some women are choosing this over synthetic hormones that are often a one-size-fits-all dosage regime.

Bio-identical practitioners have great success with an individualized approach. Replacement therapy begins with laboratory testing of hormone levels (a so-called “hormone panel”). When warranted, you would then be prescribed a precise dosage of bio-identical estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and/or DHEA that is prepared at a registered compounding pharmacy. Then you are monitored carefully through regular follow-up hormone panels to ensure that you get symptom relief at the lowest possible dosage. In the initial stages, hormone panels are drawn every three months. Once balance is restored,  an annual exam is usually sufficient however it’s ultimately up to your licensed healthcare provider to determine the timing.

Is bHRT the first step to hormonal balance?

Bioidentical hormones can work wonders by using a natural approach that combines pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, gentle endocrine support, dietary and lifestyle changes. We recommend that every woman start with this combination approach as the foundation to her health.

Are bioidentical hormones better than synthetic hormones?

Ultimately that is for you and your licensed healthcare provider to decide. The greatest appeal of bio-identical hormones is that they are natural, and our bodies can metabolize them as they were designed to do, minimizing side effects. Synthetic hormones can be quite strong and often produce intolerable side effects. Moreover, the compounded bioidentical hormones can be matched individually to each woman’s needs — something that’s just impossible with mass-produced products.

 Are bioidentical hormones safer than synthetics?

European medical studies suggest that yes, bio-identical hormones are safer than synthetic versions. This makes perfect sense. But we must be cautious here, because they have not been well studied, especially for long-term use. It stands to reason that the same hormones that kept you vibrantly healthy in your youth and prevented disease would have the same benefits at any age. However, ongoing research may be able to prove more definitively the benefits and long term safety.

Can bio-identical hormones be used for breast cancer patients?

The pendulum has swung so far that today, very few practitioners will prescribe any type of HRT — synthetic or bio-identical — for women who have had breast cancer or even a family history of breast cancer. In fact, many such women are given anti-estrogen drugs. Of course this is most true in the case of an estrogen fed cancer.

We just do not have enough data to rule out HRT in every case, and each woman’s particular situation, history, pathology, and blood work should be carefully evaluated to determine the risk/reward ratio. Suzanne Somers is one example of a woman who used low-dose bio-identical hormones by choice. Many women have researched the issues, discussed them with their healthcare providers, and made a well-informed decision for themselves. We encourage you to do the same.

 

So – Are Bio-Identical Hormones for you?

Our goal is to encourage women to become informed about their options so that they can make  choices that are best for them. A woman’s hormonal balance is ideally in a dynamic equilibrium that shifts from day to day, week to week, and through the years. When you give your body the support it needs, it can effectively reset itself, because it’s equipped and programmed for balance and wellness. So we recommend beginning with the gentlest form of support possible to allay your discomfort and tweaking it as you go.  The good news is that women can feel incredibly well right through menopause.

If you are suffering from breast cancer, PMS, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and other issues that estrogen might exacerbate, the following estrogen inhibiting foods might be of interest to you.

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  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Buckwheat
  • Cabbage
  • Citrus Foods
  • Corn
  • Figs
  • Fruits (except apples, cherries, dates, pomegranates)
  • Grapes
  • Green beans
  • Melons
  • Millet
  • Onions
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Squashes
  • Tapioca
  • White rice
  • White flour
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Food with Hormonal Effects

Hormones are chemical substances in the human body that act like messenger molecules. After being made in one part of the body, they move to other parts, where they help to control how cells and organs function. For example, insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas but which regulates how cells use up food sugar elsewhere.

Over the years, it has been proven that there are substances in our daily food that have an almost magical ability to behave exactly like hormones. These are actually plant hormones called Phytoestrogens. These substances came to light during the recent period of modern nutrition and its renewed interest in micro-nutrients, enzymes and plant hormones.

How Do Phytoestrogens work?

Here’s an interesting fact about Phytoestrogens. Even after digestion and absorption, a component of the plant hormones stays active. The good thing is that being natural, these plant hormones are completely safe and have only a mild effect on the body. Though there are over 300 plant based compounds which have such hormone-like effects, such as soy, there are many foods which have an indirect effect on the hormones, such as cabbage, peanuts, wheat bran, and the overall fat content in your diet.

Cabbage and Cruciferous Vegetables

These are known to influence levels of hormones, like estrogens, in the body by affecting intake and breakdown of the compound by the liver. This total effect is especially beneficial for women with a genetic predisposition to tumors or women with a family history of breast cancer.

Fat Content

The fat content in one’s diet plays a major role in the production of hormones. It has been observed that children on a high fat diet of cheese, chips, butter and the like, common in most urban settings, produce excess hormones leading to early puberty. This is another reason why it isn’t advisable for children to be fed foods with an unbalanced proportion of fat. Besides direct fat, there is the trend in Western nations to consume meat and poultry which has been fattened by the use of growth hormones. These growth hormones eventually find their way into the human body, where they exert extra hormonal effects.

Protein-rich foods

Raw nuts are a rich source of protein and boron. Boron is an important component in the production of several hormones. Thus eating boron-rich foods can boost estrogen levels in post-menopausal women.

Wheat Bran

This is known to help control excess estrogen levels in the blood stream. This in turn is known to help reduce the risk of breast cancer (Women with high estrogen levels are more prone to breast cancer than others).

Non-vegetarian food

A very high consumption of non-vegetarian food such as red meat and poultry can also influence hormonal levels in the bodies of those who eat it. The reason is that there is ample proof of large residual levels of growth hormones in meat and poultry. Trends toward consumption of organically fed livestock and poultry will be a great boon to people around the world who are dependent on a non-vegetarian diet.

How Food Change Hormones

Estrogen levels in a woman’s blood are constantly being readjusted. And one thing that can impact these levels is a low-fat, high-fiber diet, which can significantly reduce estrogen levels. Cancer researchers have taken a great interest in this phenomenon, because lowering the level of estrogen in the blood helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Less estrogen means less stimulation for some cancer cell growth.

If a woman eating a Western diet cuts her fat intake in half, her estrogen level will be about 20 percent lower. If the amount of fat is cut even more, the estrogen level will drop further, which is a positive change, because a lower hormone level will have less effect on the uterine cells. In addition to lowering estrogen, a low-fat diet may also be beneficial because high-fiber vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains help the body to eliminate estrogens.

Estrogen is normally pulled from the bloodstream by the liver, which sends it through a small tube, called the bile duct, into the intestinal tract. There, fiber soaks it up like a sponge and carries it out with other waste. The more fiber there is in the diet, the better the natural “estrogen disposal system” works.

Animal products do not contain fiber. When an individual’s diet consists primarily of animal products such as chicken, fish, or yogurt, daily fiber needs may not be met. The result can be disastrous. The waste estrogens, which should bind to fiber and leave the body, pass back into the bloodstream. This hormone “recycling” increases the amount of estrogen in the blood. However, the reabsorption of estrogens can be blocked with the fiber found in grains, vegetables, beans, and other plant foods.

So by avoiding animal products and added oils, estrogen production is reduced. And by replacing chicken, and other non-fiber foods with grains, beans, and vegetables, estrogen elimination is increased.

In a research study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in February 20008, a low-fat, vegan diet significantly reduced pain and PMS for many women. The diet change was designed to do two things. First, it eliminated all animal fats and nearly all vegetable oils. Second, its emphasis on plant-based foods means that there was more fiber in the diet.

 

Putting Foods to Work

The key to success lies in strictly following the prescribed diet, so that its beneficial effects are evident after a cycle or two.

Have plenty of:

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  • whole grains: brown rice, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, etc.
  • vegetables: broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, etc.
  • legumes: beans, peas, lentils
  • fruits
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Reduce:

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  • animal products: fish, poultry, meats, eggs, and dairy products
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Avoid completely:

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  • added vegetable oils: salad dressings, margarine, and all cooking oils
  • fatty foods: doughnuts, French fries, potato chips, peanut butter, etc.
    This sounds like a significant change, and it is. However, while everyone feels a bit at sea for the first several days, virtually everyone makes the change in about two weeks. Those who have the best time with it are those who experiment with new foods and new food products and who enlist the support of their friends or partners at home.
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As the benefits kick in–reduced menstrual cramps if you cycle, weight loss, and increased energy—most women find the diet change is so rewarding that they wish they had tried it sooner. It is important to avoid animal products and oily foods completely. Even seemingly modest amounts of them during the course of the month can cause more symptoms at the end of the month.

Be sure to choose foods in as natural a state as possible, such as brown rice instead of white rice and whole-grain bread instead of white bread, in order to preserve their fiber.

Now with better food choices to choose from, you can eat healthy while you help to regulate your body’s hormones. This is great news for people who’ve been struggling with hormone-related problems. Don’t wait anymore; get on the right track with the right foods!

In our Lifestyle section you will find seminar information about this topic. Where and how we are getting estrogen exposure, what we can do to minimize exposure, how can we get rid of the estrogens already in our bodies, how we can continually detoxify these estrogens, and ultimately how we can reverse the damage already done by living in this toxic world.

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