Estrogen – All About This Female Sex Hormone
Being a woman, you must have at least heard about estrogen. You may have incorrect or incomplete information as the awareness about this essential hormone is not that high. Estrogen, is the primary hormone which is responsible for the feminine features and characteristics which women have. That phase when a woman is growing up and turning into a woman is called puberty and this hormone has a big hand in its onset. However, it still has many uses for a healthy body long after a woman has gone through puberty. In an adult woman, it is responsible for regulating cholesterol levels and mood and protecting bone health among many other body functions.
All About Female Sex Hormones
Estrogen is one of the most important hormones in a woman’s body along with progesterone. Ovaries are the main organ which produces this hormone. That is the primary source of estrogen in a woman’s body. The adrenal glands also produce it but in much lower amounts. These glands are located near the top of the kidney.
Men also have this hormone in their body although in much lower quantities than in women.
Estrogen is not just one hormone. It actually consists of a family or group of similar hormones. These can be mainly divided into 3 distinct types of hormones.
- Estrone (E1): This hormone is also produced in the ovaries. It is stored in the body’s muscle and fat cells. Estrone production goes down during pregnancy. It is the only type of estrogen which the woman’s body produces after menopause or when the menstrual cycle stops.
- Estradiol (E2): This hormone is made in the ovaries. Its production increases during pregnancy. Hence, it is the main hormone for childbearing years. That is why its presence goes down during menopause and it’s the key point in many of the peri/menopause hormone replacement treatments.
- Estriol (E3): This hormone is made by the placenta during different phases of pregnancy. It is present in much higher quantities than estradiol during pregnancy.
Along with regulating your menstrual cycle, estrogen affects many other functions of the body. It has effects on the reproductive tract, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, brain and more. Estrogen is also responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics like pubic and armpit hair. It affects many different organ systems in the body. Those include the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems and even the brain functions.
Roles of Estrogen In Your Body
Estrogen is a major sex hormone in your body. It also performs many other crucial and significant functions and fills a few different roles for your body. It generally works on those parts of the body which has hormone receptors specific to it. Now, let us take a look at some of the important effects it has on your body.
Estrogen is the main hormone responsible for the development of most of your body’s reproductive system. It is the hormone which is used in the development of your vagina and uterus. Furthermore, it is also responsible for the development of your any other secondary sexual characteristics. It is critical in the developments of your breasts and even your armpit and pubic hair. This hormone is what’s responsible for the growth of breasts during adolescence. It is what signals the body to start or stop the flow of milk after childbirth. All these changes in your body signal its maturation and denote its capability to bear offsprings.
It is also responsible for the changes between a man’s and a woman’s body. It is the hormone which gives women their specific shape and structure. That means it is what makes a woman’s bones shorter and smaller. It broadens the pelvis and makes the shoulders narrower. Woman’s body accumulates more fat around hips and thighs due to this hormone. This is responsible for a woman having a more curvy or countered shape than a man. It also changes the body’s hair to be finer and less apparent and pronounced on the body but more permanent on the head. Furthermore, it is also responsible for women’s higher pitched voice as it makes the voice box smaller and shortens the vocal cords.
Your body goes through the menstrual cycle to prepare it for pregnancy. If you are not pregnant at the end of a cycle, your uterus sheds its lining which results in your periods. Estrogen is responsible for the maintenance and production of the mucous membrane that lines the uterus. It also helps move the muscles which expand and contract it. Hence, it is essential in childbirth also as it is responsible for the contractions during delivery. They are also used in getting rid of the dead tissues and uterus lining during menstruation. It is also helpful for the movement of the sperm cell to the egg. Hence, it enables fertilization in that way.
Bone Development and Health:
Estrogen is crucial for the healthy development of your bones. It helps in the preservation of bone strength. It also protects them from bone loss. That is why there is an increased risk to your bones after menopause. That is because there is a significant increase in bone-loss when this hormone is gone from the body. This can lead to bone disease and issues like osteoporosis.
Estrogen helps protect your heart against any diseases. This hormone does a lot of work in your body to aid in keeping your blood vessels in good health. This includes decreasing inflammation and maintaining the cholesterol levels in your body. Overall, it has strong effects on the prevention of heart disease in premenopausal women. In menopause, there is a steady increase in the rates of heart diseases in women as the protection from this hormone is gone. The chances of heart complications increase so much that the leading cause of death in women is from complications of heart disease, in the US.
Maintaining the Brain:
Estrogen also has a significant effect on the brain. It regulates the body’s temperature. It also helps to develop the part of the brain which is connected to sexual development. Furthermore, it can even enhance the effects of chemicals in your brain. Some scientists even believe that it has an effect on how your brain structures are connected to one another. They even figure that it has effects on how your brain cells communicate with each other. It has a hand even in the shape of your brain.
Estrogen also has a pretty notable impact on your mood. It promotes the production of serotonin. Serotonin is the chemicals in your brain which manage and maintain your mood. Consequently, your serotonin levels will go down as well if your estrogen levels go down. This is one of the main reason which can contribute to causing depression in postpartum and menopausal women.
Other than all these above-mentioned functions of estrogen in your body, it also has some other ones which are fairly important for your body. It helps promote the growth of an egg follicle. It is also responsible for the growth of a thick, muscular wall in the fallopian tubes. Moreover, it also suppresses oil-producing glands in your skin. Hence, women are less likely to get acne. It also has effects on your skin. It helps in improving the thickness and health of your skin. Furthermore, it also promotes the production of collagen in your skin which keeps your skin young. It also helps to regulate the production of cholesterol in your liver. Hence, it protects your heart and arteries. This hormone also slows down the body growth in females during puberty. It also increases sensitivity to insulin.
List Of Foods
Any deficiency or imbalance in the levels of this hormone in your body can have devastating effects on you. That is why it is important to make sure that your body has the proper hormone balance.
Now let us get on with the list of estrogen-rich foods.
Flax seeds are one of the richest sources of estrogen amongst foods. People also know this seed as linseed. They contain about 3 times more phytoestrogen than soybeans. Other than that, flax is also a rich source of dietary fiber which helps your inner health immensely. Moreover, it also helps to lower the cholesterol in the body. It is also abundant with omega-3 fatty acids.
You can incorporate this ingredient into your diet very easily. The best and most efficient way to consume it is through powder form. Just powder a bunch of flax seeds and store them. Then, you can use this powder to enhance practically any foods you eat. You can use it by mixing it in your flour, juices and other beverages, yogurt, oatmeal and more. You can use this healthy source of estrogen in any way you see fit to include in your diet.
Soy and its Products
Phytoestrogens which are present in soymilk are called isoflavones. They have a potent effect on the metabolism of estrogen in the body. They are great for rapidly increasing the estrogen levels in your body. You can consume soy through a variety of its derivatives and products. The most common of which is soy milk. It has become quite common nowadays and you can easily find it in the market and any general stores. You can drink it directly or you can also get a flavored version. You can also replace the milk in your coffee with this.
There are other methods also through which you can consume soy. Soybeans are also edible and you can prepare a salad using them along with other healthy veggies. One other way is through tofu. Tofu is a cheese-like substance but it is made from soy milk. You can also consume tofu in any way you see fit. You can include it in your dishes and gravies and can even make a paratha using it. Some other soy products which you can use are soy nuts, tempeh, miso soup, soy protein powder, and soy sprouts. Every one of these is great for your health and will boost your estrogen levels in a hurry.
You can even enjoy soy nuts directly. You can carry some roasted soy nuts with you and eat them whenever you start to feel peckish. Or you can easily and conveniently get soy milk packs from any supermarket as they are readily available. You can also obtain soy yogurt to eat directly with your meals. Soy yogurt, as is obvious, is made from soy milk instead of regular milk. People sometimes also know it as bean curd yogurt.
Sesame seeds can also increase your estrogen levels very effectively. This is because sesame seeds contain large quantities of a type of phytoestrogen called lignan. Lignans are a hormone which helps in balancing the estrogen levels in a woman’s body. Other than that, sesame seeds also contain many other beneficial nutrients and vitamins for your body. They are also an abundant source of dietary fiber which helps keep your digestive system in top shape. Other than all that, sesame seeds are a fantastic source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds.
Regular consumption of these extremely healthy seeds will aid you in blood sugar control, combating arthritis pain, and lowering cholesterol. To optimize your nutrient intake, you can eat sesame seeds soaked, roasted, or sprouted. You can also use these terrific seeds easily by first making a paste out of them. Then, you can use that paste in a variety of ways, most commonly as a dipping sauce. Otherwise, you can also directly add the seeds to your salad, soup, or stir-fried vegetables.
Sunflower is a beautiful flower which provides us with these healthy seeds. These seeds are packed with phytoestrogens along with other healthy nutrients for your body. They provide a large amount of fiber to your body to improve its health. You can easily and safely consume them as they are a tasty and ideal snack. Moreover, sunflower seeds contain many essential compounds for your health. They contain abundant amounts of B complex vitamins. These vitamins are indispensable for your body for a healthy nervous system.
Other than that, these seeds are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin E. Furthermore, they also have minerals like zinc, manganese, copper, chromium, and carotene. Sunflower seeds are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Experts consider these compounds to be a healthy type of fat which can help protect your arteries. Sunflower seeds are a great natural source of zinc and hence, they boost your immunity. They can also help protect against heart diseases while vitamin B in it helps to reduce stress.
Nuts and oilseeds are an extremely rich source of phytoestrogens. Some of the foods under these categories contain the highest amounts of phytoestrogens amongst all of the foods. Pistachio nut is a tasty and enjoyable nut which is also chock full of phytoestrogens. In fact, it has the highest concentration of phytoestrogens among all the nuts. Consuming these nuts is simple and straightforward. You can consume them by themselves as nuts. You can eat them when they are raw or roasted. Moreover, you can add these nuts to a trail-mix of a variety of nuts and consume it regularly. These delicious nuts are very versatile in their properties and usage and a great way to boost your health.
Other than that, pistachios are a terrific source of many different nutrients and minerals for your body. They contain many healthy fats, fiber, protein, antioxidants and various nutrients inside them, including vitamin B6 and potassium. These components provide many health benefits to you such as healthier gut, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar. Furthermore, they will help you with your weight loss and eye and blood vessel health.
Walnut is another one of the great healthy nuts which are rich in phytoestrogen for your body. They are extremely rich in essential nutrients for your body like proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. These brilliant nuts have more anti-oxidants and omega-3 than most other common nuts. These properties and nutrients allow walnuts to supply a wealth of brilliant health benefits for your body. They will help in reducing inflammation and improve heart disease risk factors.
Walnuts contain a decent amount of phytoestrogens in them but the quantity is much lower when compared with pistachio nuts. Walnuts are also extremely versatile when looking to consume them. You can add them to your diet in any way you see fit. You can ingest them directly or in a mix with other dry fruits and nuts. Or you can add chopped or crush walnuts in a variety of your regular foods like salads, yogurts, ice cream etc.
Peanuts are one of the most common and easily recognized nuts of the world. People all over the world consume this nutritious and economical nut to provide essential proteins and other nutrients to their body. Although, many are not aware that they are also a decent source of phytoestrogens. People love eating this nut regularly. They enjoy it directly by ingesting or in their breakfast in paste peanut butter form.
Furthermore, peanuts are a rich and natural source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds. They can also be useful as a part of a weight-loss diet. Moreover, they can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Although, you should be careful not to consume peanuts in excess as they have high-fat content and provide lots of calories to your body.
Everybody loves enjoying these healthy and tasty snacks. They are a rich source of phytoestrogens along with fiber and nutrients for the health of your body. Fruits themselves contain these nutrients in them but drying them increases the concentration of phytoestrogens, vitamins, and minerals in them. The best-dried fruits to obtain phytoestrogen from are dried apricots, dates and prunes. All of these tasty and convenient dry fruits contain significant amounts of phytoestrogen in them. Dried apricots have the highest amount amongst these, followed by dates and then prunes.
These dry fruits are not only tasty and fun to eat, but also a rich source of essential nutrients for your body. You should be enjoying these regularly. Eat them in between meals to curb hunger while also boosting your health.
Alfalfa sprouts are a great and healthy choice to supply phytoestrogens to your body. This healthy vegetable provides multiple nutrients to your body while also being low in carbs. Hence, it is also scant in calories. You can easily consume these sprouts directly, or by adding them to your salads, soups or sandwiches. They will provide a healthy boost of nutrition for your body. Moreover, they reduce and maintain cholesterol levels in your body.
Furthermore, alfalfa sprouts provide a whole array of different health benefits for your body. It will facilitate faster healing of wounds and also fight iron deficiency in your body. It will boost the health of your skin while also helping to build stronger bones. Moreover, it will aid you in weight loss and remove any toxins from your body. It also aids in proper digestion and strengthening immunity. Furthermore, it will help treat menopausal symptoms and prevents irritability. It also provides relief from heartburn and acid reflux. Lastly, it will strengthen your hair and curb hair loss.
Green beans are a tasty and nutritious vegetable which is easy to obtain as well. They contain large amounts of nutrients in them but have a very low amount of calories. They are a good source of phytoestrogens. Moreover, they are chock full of iron content which reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility in your body. Green beans are a tasty and popular vegetable with a satisfying crunchy texture. But they are not without their benefits. In fact, they are abundant with a variety of beneficial nutrients for your body.
Green beans are a potent source of fiber, potassium, and folate. Moreover, they are also a brilliant supplier of protein, iron, and zinc. They contain a decent amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants are similar to those found in green tea, also known as catechins. They improve your heart health and help prevent cancer. Moreover, they help manage and prevent diabetes. Other than all that, they are also a rich source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps in fighting infections and provides protection for your immune system.
Peaches are a delectable, juicy and popular fruit. Moreover, they also provide many benefits and nutrients to your body. They have rich amounts of phytoestrogens in them along with other beneficial nutrients for your body. You can consume this awesome fruit easily. Obviously, you can consume it raw. Or you can use it to prepare desserts like pies or cobblers. Peaches are a curvy and tasty fruit which you can consume in a variety of ways. You can ingest it in any normal way you would any fruit.
Peaches contain many essential nutrients for the body like dietary fiber. Moreover, it is low in carbohydrate but full of vitamins like vitamin C, A, E, and niacin. They also contain decent amounts of minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, and phosphorous. Due to all these nutrients, peaches provide a plethora of health benefits to you. The phosphorus content in peaches will make your bones and teeth stronger. The calcium and Vitamin C in it will also aid in this and will keep your teeth healthy. Moreover, peaches strengthen your immune system and protect the nervous system. It also has anti-aging properties for your skin because of the zinc in it.
Strawberries are amongst some of the most desirable and tasty fruits in the world. People love its taste so much that it has become one of the most common and popular flavors among the masses. Although, it is not just tasty as it supplies ample amounts of phytoestrogen to your body. Moreover, they also possess a whole range of benefits for your health and body. You can consume strawberries raw, like most of the other fruits. Or you can also use them to prepare other dishes and desserts. You can add sliced or chopped strawberries to a variety of your food preparations like yogurt, pancakes or oatmeal. You can blend a milkshake or smoothie using it. Combine it with other delicious fruits like banana and blend them to make a smoothie.
Furthermore, these amazing berries provide many benefits to your health. They are a rich source of antioxidants which will help protect your body against the damage from free radicals. They will protect your heart and increase the good cholesterol in your body. Moreover, these terrific little berries will lower the risk of cancers and lower your blood pressure. Strawberries provide all these benefits because they contain large amounts of essential nutrients for your body. Along with antioxidants, these berries are also packed to the brim with vitamins and fiber. Furthermore, they do not contain any sodium, fats or cholesterol and are low in calories. It is a good source of minerals too like manganese and potassium. It even contains more vitamin C than the orange.
Other Fruits and Vegetables
Along with the above-mentioned fruits and veggies, there are others too which are rich in phytoestrogens. Apples, oranges, plums, and cherries are a few other fruits which are a rich source of phytoestrogens. You can enjoy these delicious fruits to supply a healthy amount of phytoestrogens to your body. Moreover, all of these fruits are rich in nutrients and fiber for your body. Hence, they will boost your general health along with increasing your estrogen levels. You can also use winter squash, olives, and collards if you want to use veggies to provide estrogen to your body.
You can also consume white beans to increase the levels of estrogen in your body. They are extremely healthy for your body. They are a rich source of phytoestrogens, fiber, and nutrients like calcium, iron, and folate. You can consume these beans easily and as you see fit. You can use them in a salad or dish in boiled or cooked forms. Furthermore, you can also use it in a grounded paste form. You can create a dip using white beans paste.
Moreover, white beans provide many more benefits to your body. They are an affordable but still abundant source of proteins for your body. These great beans also contain large amounts of nutrients in them like folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium. They are also full of anti-oxidants which protects and shields your body from harm and diseases.
Red wine can actually be used to raise the estrogen levels in your body. It contains a phytoestrogen in it whose name is resveratrol. Resveratrol helps to boost estrogen levels in your body. Moreover, it also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Although, you should always consume red wine in moderation if you want to reap its health benefits. One glass of red wine per day is the recommended amount you should consume.
You can drink a glass of red wine in the evening or night to increase your estrogen levels. It will also relax you and supply you with much-needed rest and recuperation. Drink it in moderation and with some light snacks like roasted peanuts.
Garlic is also a very useful and potent ingredient to boost your estrogen levels. It is a medicinal herb which has large amounts of phytoestrogen and isoflavones in it. These compounds will aid your body in enhancing its estrogen levels. Garlic can also help to maintain your cholesterol levels. Consequently, it helps your body to fight against cancers and heart diseases. Including garlic in your diet is very easy as it has great taste and high in concentration of nutrients. You can use garlic in the chopped form in many of your curries and dishes. You can simply add it to soups, salads, pasta, and any other dishes you desire.
Most of the health benefits of garlic are provided by sulfur compounds. These compounds are formed when a garlic clove is cut into. Garlic is also incredibly nutritious. It contains essential nutrients like manganese, Vitamin C and B6, and fiber. Moreover, it also contains ample amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1. This amazing herb practically contains a little bit of every nutrient your body needs and minuscule amounts of calories. Garlic has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes by many of the ancient civilizations. Even they were aware of its wide-ranging benefits.
Multigrain bread is made up of a variety of different grains like oats, wheat, barley, and rye. Hence, it strives to combine the benefits and nutrients of all the grains in it. Hence, it is an incredibly rich source of phytoestrogens. Many citizens of the world eat bread in their diet in some form. Usually, they consume it with their breakfast. You can substitute your normal bread with the multigrain version to reap its many benefits. Then, you can eat it as you normally do to enhance your estrogen levels. You can make a sandwich, or eat it toasted with your breakfast or as a snack.
You can get lots of phytoestrogens from the tasty hummus. Hummus is like a spread or a dip which is made from mashing of boiled chickpeas. Chickpeas are a rich natural source of phytoestrogens for your body. They are a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber for your body. They contain a variety of minerals and nutrients which benefit your body. Chickpeas contain decent amounts of vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and more. Furthermore, they are also abundant with iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6.
All these nutrients provide many beneficial properties to hummus. It will help maintain your blood sugar level and hence maintain diabetes. All the minerals in it are highly useful for your bones. Hence, it will make your bones stronger and reduce the risk of any fractures or other issues. Moreover, its low sodium content makes it good for keeping your blood pressure normal. Furthermore, it is good for your heart health too as it lowers the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties too and will even help fight some cancers.
High Levels – Side Effects
- Can harm your fertility. Studies have shown that consuming too much phytoestrogen reduce the chance of pregnancy. Specifically, particular phytoestrogens, known as genistein and coumestrol, if consumed early in life can lead to fertility problem in the future.
- May cause hormonal issues in your body. The long term effects of phytoestrogen consumption are not fully known. But excessive and long-term consumption can lead to issues with your hormones. They can lead to a reduction or even stoppage in the natural production of estrogen which will obviously lead to some issues. Furthermore, it can increase the severity of menstrual cramps and flow.
- May increase the risk of mental issues and cause mental decline. There has been a study which has linked mental decline and dementia with the intake of phytoestrogens. Dementia is a serious mental disorder which leads to severe loss of memory and mental functions.
Hence, be careful to keep your consumption of foods rich in phytoestrogens to a moderate amount. There is not much reason to intake this compound in increasing quantities unless you are going through your menopause.
Tips and Tricks for Maintaining your Hormone Levels
Dealing with the balancing of your hormones can be tricky as they have significant and rapidly apparent tangible effects on your bodily functions. That is why we have compiled this list of tips and tricks which you can use to make sure you are handling your hormones levels efficiently.
- You should keep your sugar intake low. If you consume large amounts of sugar-laden stuff it could lead to estrogen and other hormone imbalances in your body. Hence, it is in your benefit if you keep your sugar intake as low as possible. Switch out sugar from any of your meals and replace it with natural healthy alternatives like honey to improve your health.
- You should exercise regularly to keep up your good health. Exercising regularly will not only provide innumerable benefits to your inner and outer health. Moreover, it will also help to keep your hormone and estrogen levels balanced. Studies have linked regular light to moderate exercise with the balance in estrogen levels. Moreover, it can also reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
- You should cut down on your smoking as much as you can. Smoking has tons of harms for your health and can instrumental in developing many types of cancers. Smoking can have harmful effects on your endocrine system and can suppress it and its functions. The endocrine system is crucial in the production of hormones in your body. Hence, your estrogen and other hormones’ levels can get out of whack.
- You can also drink coffee to increase your estrogen levels moderately. Studies have shown that women who consumed more than two cups of coffee in a day had higher levels of this hormone than those who did not. Although, take care that you drink coffee in moderation as it can be very harmful and addictive to the body if you consume it excessively and irresponsibly.
- You should be on the look-out for any symptoms which may indicate the deficiency of estrogen or hormone imbalance in your body. A few different symptoms which indicate a hormonal imbalance in your body are hot flashes, mood swings, dry skin, insomnia, decreases libido, and erratic menstrual cycle.
- You should adopt healthy habits and get a sufficient amount of sleep. Humans need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day for their body to work to its highest capabilities. There have been researches which showed that sleep disturbances have a detrimental effect on the overall health of a woman. Insufficient sleep can affect your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause.
- You have to be careful to not go overboard with the ingestion of phytoestrogens. That is because phytoestrogen can inhibit the production of natural estrogen in your body. This could lead to problems further down the line. Hence, be very careful and meticulous in how much you consume these foods. Make sure to consult your doctor first to monitor your hormones level before going all in with the phytoestrogens.
You might find this article interesting Beauty & Health Tips For Women Who’re All Over 30
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr.Geeta Sundar on 8/4/2019