The liver and colon are key organs involved in estrogen detox. For example, when going through natural progesterone therapy, be mindful to eat foods which will support these two organs as it can be a tricky ride. The liver breaks down and metabolises estrogen for it to be eliminated via the colon. Thus hepatic (liver) and gastro-intestinal (colon)health are of upmost importance.
The long and short of this article is this: If estrogen is not SAFELY metabolised by the liver, and not SUCCESSFULLY excreted from the system through the colon, estrogen can build up again by re-entering the bloodstream maintaining the dangerous hormonally imbalanced state of ESTROGEN DOMINANCE in a woman’s body.
General Detox Process in the Liver
How Estrogen is Metabolised by the Liver
Estrogen is metabolised by the liver as it converts excess estrogen into compounds that must be excreted by the body. It is important to understand that there is only one safe way in which this can be done, and 2 dangerous / unfavourable ways. In other words, one way is a “toxic” pathway that is related to cancer growth, and the second one is not ideal for overall health. The safe way is obviously what we are aiming for. Instead of getting too bogged down in the technical jargon of chemical names, it is enough to understand that what we want is to create the conditions favourable for what is called the C-2 pathway, NOT the C-16 pathway or C- 4 pathway. The natural solution is to use proper nutrition to support safe conversion of estrogen along the C-2 pathway, which can be sorted out by ensuring your liver and gut health are optimal.
How to Optimise your Colon Health
Poor gastrointestinal health can negatively interfere with the elimination of unwanted estrogen in a woman’s body and can actually unwittingly promote its absorption, which is what we really DON’T want. A healthy colon with dietary fibre sourced from lignans in flaxseeds and sesame seeds, can bind estrogen in the digestive tract so that it can be excreted through the gut. Dietary fibre also decreases the amount of an enzyme called B-glucouronidase that uncouples or separates bound estrogen which is supposed to be on its way out of the body. When estrogen breaks free in the colon, it regains access into the bloodstream and is no longer removed from the body. This is not what we want.
The solution is to consume a diet which is high in adequate fibre, with a major focus on: lignans from flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds; leafy greens; and certain forms of bran, like oats/rye/barley. Increasing one’s probiotic foods or taking a high quality probiotic supplement is essential because it will up the “good” bacteria in the gut and support neurotransmitter functioning.
Dietary Importance of Increasing Omega 3 Fats, Protein and Lowering Carbs
The management of insulin levels goes hand in hand with avoiding estrogen dominance. This is because by managing insulin levels, one improves body composition and fat mass. Persistently high insulin leads to a high fat mass and poor hormonal balance, and this interferes with estrogen metabolism. Remember that “fat makes estrogen and estrogen makes fat”.
Obtaining your carbohydrates from vegetable and fruit sources will provide the lignans and fibre required for gut health and also increase anti-oxidant levels. The latter is important for taking care of free radicals that are produced by estrogen if it goes down one of the dangerous metabolic pathways mentioned above, the C-16 pathway.
Omega-3 fats found in fish seem to promote the C-2 pathway over the C-16 pathway. This is especially the case with EPA omega-3 fatty acids rich in fish like salmon, sardines and krill. On the other hand, diets low or deficient in omega-3’s have resulted in estrogen being metabolised mostly through the C-16 pathway.
Importance of Correct Proteins
Now let’s look at protein. Enough protein in the diet will produce a better body composition, meaning less tendency towards acquiring high fat mass and ensuring a higher muscle mass, especially with regular exercise. Also, low protein diets have been shown to unfavourably lower something called cytochrome P450 that breaks down estrogen. Furthermore, the amino acids lysine and threonine, found in protein rich foods, have been shown to support good liver function. This is important because we need a well-functioning liver in order to metabolise and get rid of estrogen. These amino acids (building blocks of protein) are found specifically in meat, fish, beans, eggs and some seeds (sesame and fenugreek). Sesame seeds also provide fibre and fenugreek helps to lower the insulin response to carbs, so these may be wise choices to add to your diet.
Decrease Body Fat
As has been mentioned above, the more fat (adipose) cells a woman has, especially when she is pear-shaped, the more estrogen she will have, because adipose tissue increases levels of aromatase enzyme which turns testosterone into estrogen. Lowering body fat composition and building lean body mass are one of the most powerful solutions to resolving estrogen dominance and preventing cancer.
Importance of Phytoestrogens
Mother Nature must have known that one day we would arrive at the Chemical Age. We are provided with protective, plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens), such as alfalfa seeds (one can sprout), flax and sesame seeds, leafy greens, kudzu, clover, licorice root, legumes, etc. These natural compounds of estrogen can bind to estrogen receptor sites on the cell membrane, but yet, they have 1/1000th of the effects on the body as real or chemical estrogen (otherwise known as xeno-estrogens). When phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors they occupy the “parking spot” of the true estrogen and prevent it from causing any harm.
Lignans and isoflavones are the main phytoestrogens, found in the above foods, and in addition to binding with estrogen receptors, they can increase SHBG levels (protective in that they bind to estrogen), decrease aromatase (thus preventing testosterone from becoming estrogen), and shift metabolism of estrogen away from the dangerous C-16 pathway which causes tissue damage that can lead to cancer, to the C-2 pathway –the safe way.
In addition to the already mentioned key nutrients for supporting the safe C-2 pathway are the B vitamins, especially B6, B12 and folic acid, and a substance called DIM (found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower). DIM is often taken in supplement form in order to provide enough DIM to have a therapeutic effect in eliminating estrogen from the body.
Block Aromatase and Stop Testosterone from turning into Estrogen
Ok, although this point is mostly for men, women have testosterone too, and besides, the men in our lives need protection, and awareness about their own hormonal health too. Blocking aromatase is a key thing for getting rid of estrogen as it plays a major role in producing estrogen in men. If aromatase is present, there is double chance for estrogen levels to increase. The hormone androstenedione will be converted into testosterone unless aromatase is present. Unfortunately aromatase will instead turn it into estrogen. The aromatase will turn the existing testosterone into estrogen too.
Nutrients that have a protective effect in this regard against aromatase are: zinc and selenium, melatonin (so healthy sleep patterns are really important in fighting estrogen dominance), green tea, citrus flavonones (substances found in orange and grapefruit rind), and even tomato skins.
Make sure ALL the Estrogen actually LEAVES your body…
So achieving success in terms of what is happening in the liver, that is ensuring through corrective eating and diet that estrogen is metabolised via the safe pathways instead of the dangerous ones is halfway there. But now getting properly rid of the estrogen through the colon (large intestine) is of vital importance once you shift your estrogen elimination to the C-2 pathway.
Let’s have a closer look.
What we want to avoid is estrogen which is heading down the nice and safe C-2 pathway transforming into quinones. These are highly reactive and can damage the genetic information of the cells (their DNA) and may lead to cancer. To safeguard against this dangerous transformation (called methylation) there are two key nutrients we need to have adequate levels of: magnesium and SAMe. Methylation is only the first place where disaster can strike.
The second place is here: as estrogen is heading its way out of the colon, it needs to be bound to glucuronic acid, but alas, therein lies a “bad” intestinal bacteria that contains an enzyme that breaks estrogen apart from the glucuronic acid. When the “bad” bacteria, unlocks estrogen from the latter, estrogen GOES BACK INTO THE BLOOD CIRCULATION, and raises estrogen levels again, and begins to harm the tissues.
To avoid this, YOU NEED A HEALTHY GUT which you can get BY SUPPORTING PROBIOTIC (FIENDLY) BACTERIA and EATING A HIGH FIBRE AND LIGNAN RICH DIET (see above).
Here is a summary of what we need to help break down and eliminate estrogen effectively from the body:
- Summary of Essential Nutrients For Correct Estrogen Metabolism by the LIVER :
- B vitamins (especially B6, B12 and Folic Acid)
- Zinc & Selenium
- Omega 3 fish Oils (EPA) –make sure their safety standards are of the highest quality
- DIM (from cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower)
- Green tea
- Melatonin (ensure high quality sleep)
- For Proper Elimination of Estrogen through the COLON:
- Vitamin E (is another potent antioxidant that helps with estrogen elimination. Low levels of vitamin E have been linked with elevated estrogen levels and have been shown to increase the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells).
- Plant Fibre
- Lignans (from flax and sesame seeds)
Estrogen levels are increased by consuming alcohol in both men and women and it has even been shown to lower testosterone. Certain organic red wines seem to be on the safer side, but besides this, it is recommended that one avoids all alcohol for the best estrogen metabolism. For wine lovers, Spanish and Sardinian wines as well as Pinot and Merlot are rich in antioxidants that help eliminate estrogens.
Minimise your overall Chemical Exposure
Say you are already of a lean body composition, you eat soundly, but still had a great exposure to chemical estrogens, your cancer risk will still be high. Avoiding chemical estrogens is one of the most important strategies for protecting oneself against cancer risk. But we are today living in, what some have coined as a SEA OF ESTROGEN. Estrogen chemicals, otherwise called xeno-estrogens, are everywhere. It hasn’t been for very long that the medical fraternity has seen the link between cancer and the environment created by industry and lax regulation of what they are spewing out into our drinking water, air, foods and other human products, etc.
There is even a movement in public health advocacy that government regulatory bodies and chemical companies need to take more responsibility to reduce environmental toxins. But at the end of the day, us as individuals have to take our own measures in getting rid of estrogen from our body and those of our loved ones…
http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=1603 (* in this link see PDF titled : "Maintaining Healthy Longevity, by Keeping your Liver Healthy in the Midst of Toxins, Distress & Happy Hour" for MORE LIVER SUPPORTIVE FOODS)