Estrogens in our environment constantly attack us through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the chemicals we expose ourselves to. Fake estrogens, or copycat estrogens, which are also called environmental estrogens, come in the form of chemicals (xenoestrogens) and plant-based foods (phytoestrogens). These can mimic the action of endogenous estrogen, which is produced in our cells and can alter hormonal activity in women and men.
There is increasing evidence that xenoestrogens and other hormone-mimicking substances are involved in a wide range of human and wildlife health problems.
Estrogen in our environment constantly attacks us, from the food we eat to the chemicals we use or are exposed to. Estrogen in the form of chemicals (xenoestrogens), or foods and plants (phytoestrogens), mimics the action of estrogen produced in cells and can alter hormonal activity.
It is important for all of us to be aware of the effects of environmental estrogens especially for anyone dealing with a condition caused by estrogen dominance, such as uterine fibroid tumors, fibrocystic breasts, glandular dysfunction, hair loss, increased weight or wdepression.
The dominance of these endocrine disruptors causes an imbalance of the hormones, creating a series of symptoms of estrogen dominance in both sexes.
Problems caused by environmental estrogens can include:
- Imbalance in female hormones known as estrogen dominance.
- Girls and boys who start puberty too early, which can lead to health problems later in life.
- Abnormal growth of breast tissue in men known as “man boobs.”
- Other health problems in men, such as hair loss, atherosclerosis, prostate problems, decreased libido, and impotence.
Phytoestrogens and Xenoestrogens (false estrogens)
Phytoestrogens (phyto which means plant) are natural estrogenic compounds found in a variety of plant foods such as beans, seeds, and grains.
Its chemical structure resembles estrogen. Phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen can affect the production and breakdown of estrogen in the body, as well as the levels of estrogen transported in the bloodstream.
These mimics can have the same effects as estrogen or block the effects of estrogen. These compounds are generally weak estrogens, compared to real estrogen, synthetic estrogen (HRT), and xenoestrogens.
What foods contain phytoestrogens?
More than 300 foods have been shown to contain phytoestrogens. Most dietary phytoestrogens belong to one of the following three chemical classes:
Isoflavonoids: Isoflavonoid phytoestrogens are found in beans of the legume family. Soybeans and soy products are the main food source of these types of phytoestrogens. Isoflavone extracts from soy are known as genistein, daidzein, and glycitein.
Lignans – Lignan phytoestrogens are found in high-fiber foods, such as cereals and beans. Flaxseed contains large amounts of lignans, but some studies suggest that it may have a positive effect on estrogen dominance.
Coumestans: phytoestrogens Coumestano found in various beans, and split peas, lima beans and pinto beans. Alfalfa and clover sprouts are the foods with the highest amount of coumestane.
Foods that contain higher amounts of phytoestrogens:
- Black cohosh.
- Dong Quai.
- Red clover.
- Flax seed.
What Xenoestrogens Contains?
Xeno literally means strange, therefore xenoestrogens means strange or false estrogens. Some of the 70,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States have hormonal effects in addition to toxic effects.
Scientists have suggested that environmental estrogens may be reducing sperm counts in men and causing breast cancer, fibroids, and other reproductive diseases in women.
The synergistic effects of exposure to many xenoestrogens are documented and investigated, but are largely unknown.
These substances can increase the estrogen load in the body over time and are difficult to detoxify through the liver. This further exacerbates the estrogen dominance problem.
Organochlorines: one of the largest sources of xenoestrogens
By-products of the plastics and pesticide industries, called organochlorines, are one of the largest sources of xenoestrogens. These compounds, used in dry cleaning, the bleaching of feminine hygiene products and during the manufacture of plastics ranging from yogurt containers to baby bottles, have been shown to produce hormone disrupting effects.
Additionally, organochlorines are known to accumulate in human fatty tissue and fluids, such as breasts and breast milk. As a precaution, women should try to eliminate these external sources of estrogens through diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
Plastics also expose us to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a breakdown product of polycarbonate, commonly used in many plastics.
Bisphenol A, found in the lining of many food cans and juice containers, is released when polycarbonate is subjected to high temperatures.
The estrogenic effects of bisphenol A became apparent when men working in the plastics industry developed breasts after chronically inhaling the chemical through dust.
Many companies are now producing BPA-free plastic products. However, it is advisable to reduce the use of all types of plastics as much as possible.
Other bad news that scientists have come up with is that environmental estrogens could be reducing sperm counts in men and causing breast cancer, fibroids, and other reproductive diseases in women.
Xenoestrogens can be found in many of our meat and dairy products in the form of chemicals and growth hormones that are administered to animals. These can be quite powerful and should be avoided whenever possible.
Substances and products that contain xenoestrogens and that you should avoid:
- All pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (wash your food well with a biodegradable non-toxic solution if it is not organic).
- Plastic items (release xenoestrogens into the environment).
- Creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients like parabens and stearalkonium chloride (cheap brands tend to include more toxic ingredients).
- Nail polish and nail polish remover.
- Surfactants found in many condoms and diaphragms.
- New carpet (can emit harmful fumes).
- Leaving plastic containers, especially water bottles in the sun (if a plastic water container has become significantly hot, throw it away and do not drink the water).
- Fabric softeners (contain petrochemicals that are absorbed through the skin).
- Heat plastic containers in the microwave. Avoid using plastic wrap to cover microwaveable foods.
- Harmful gases from copiers and printers, carpets, fibreboards, etc.
- Computer monitors, televisions, etc. that emit high levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF).
Practice these habits that minimize xenoestrogen exposure:
- Use a high-quality water filter in your home.
- Buy organically grown whole foods.
- Eat hormone-free meat and dairy products.
- Store your food in glass or ceramic containers.
- Use simple laundry and dish detergents that have fewer chemicals.
- Buy organic soaps and toothpastes.
- Use natural skin care products.
- Natural based perfumes (most perfumes are petrochemical based.
- Soak the fruits and vegetables that you previously washed in a washing product or ozonated water for 20 minutes before consuming them.
Returning to balance.
By learning how you can change and / or maintain your health, you can alleviate many of the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances.
A balance of hormones enables women and men to overcome the stages of hormonal ups and downs with the help of adequate nutritional support, natural hormone replacement, exercise, herbs, and vitamin and mineral supplements.
When there is no proper understanding of how hormonal imbalances can negatively affect us, women and men, synthetic hormones, antidepressants, and a host of medications are often prescribed to alleviate symptoms without addressing the underlying causes.