Well, beauties, it sure has been a journey over the last year and a half with a labyrinth of classes including a wealth of nutritional biochemistry classes and hours upon hours of research. While I have loved every second of my journey and know it is not, by a long shot, over, as most of you know, it creates a bit of a backlash when my views do a bit of a 180° in reference to diet and how to treat certain imbalances and dysfunctions.
While I respect everyone’s decision to follow whatever dietary plan works for them, I have come to understand that, as is the case in every generation, there are certain dietary principles that cause more harm than good, at the very least, to those with any kind of gut disorder, hormonal dysfunction, and/or thyroid dysfunction.. One of my favorite dietary dogmas is strict vegetarianism (I don’t use the OTHER V word simply because those decisions are usually made more for environmentally conscious reasons rather than nutrition reasons) and the other is the “no sugar” bandwagon!! I say they are my favorite because, for awhile, as I was trying to find a niche that people would find value in what i had to say, I jumped on both of these trains!! Bear in mind I was also newly married and trying to conceive a child so the consequent breakdown of my own metabolism as a result of these extremes was really fun to undo. (Note the sarcasm!)
Now, I know what you are thinking. “Just because these ways of eating didn’t work for you doesn’t mean they don’t work for others!” You would win a gold star for accuracy there, too. I am not talking about what works in the short term though. I am talking about how many of these nutritional theories do some pretty major damage long term! It is here we begin with my biggest flip-flop. How many of these dietary theories not only don’t work for anyone not in their 20’s or early 30’s if there is any hint of dysfunction (and give me a break, there are 20 somethings with the bodies of freakin’ supermodels downing Doritos and Twinkies espousing that YOU TOO could look like them!), but they can be, over time, downright dangerous to the metabolism.
It’s been awhile since I have addressed, head on, estrogen dominance and my views along with my knowledge on the subject has dramatically changed since the days of Taming Estrogen Dominance and Supplements to Reduce Estrogen Dominance.
So what exactly has changed in my protocol?
Well, I still feel bone broth is your friend (and encourage you to boil your greens with the bone/meat/cartilage and discard them) and still encourage grass-fed meats, preferably with the bone in and slow roasted or otherwise cooked. I still recommend the vegetables (provided they are cooked WELL and have some healthy saturated fat like butter, ghee, or coconut oil) and I advocate fruit with every meal and, by all means, add a non-grain dessert like ice cream or creme brûlee. You need some form of natural sugar to supply glycogen for the liver to detox properly.
I am decisively anti-nut and seed except for macadamia nuts, hazelnuts in small amounts, and the odd few Brazil nuts for their selenium content that is absorbable despite the anti-nutrients. No matter how you soak most nuts there are those pesky anti-nutrients like phytic acid that just don’t let you absorb most nutrients. Legumes like lentils need to be soaked well and eaten in limited qualities.
Beans should be a now and again treat instead of the basis for a diet for the same reason. No matter how you slice it, there are just no really good ways of getting rid of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients (not even sprouting eliminates them totally!) so, refried beans on your corn tortilla once every few weeks, fine. Beans four times a week….not so much. They are great little sources of protein but the protein just doesn’t absorb like from animal sources. Nuts, seeds, and beans are PUFA rich and these fats tend to promote insulin resistance, are anti-thyroid and thus, estrogenic. They are also full of fiber and, for those that have read me extensively, you already know that too much of the wrong kind of fiber (indigestible fiber like cellulose) is like sticks and twigs for the gut. That’s a big flip-flop, I realize, but even though on paper they are nutrient dense, if you can’t absorb these nutrients what is the point of eating them as a basis for an eating plan?
Don’t get me started on fish oils, flax seeds, and the new darling of the nutrition world, chia seeds. The jury is still way out on just how much of these “essential fatty acids” are actually essential. (There is a post forthcoming on this) and, since these fats tend to be polyunsaturated fats and, as in the case of both fish oils and flax or chia seed oils, are often rancid by the time they hit the shelves. Flax and chia are high in linoleic acid as well which has a tendency towards constricting blood vessels which can lead to hypertension. Conversely, the capric acid in coconut oil relaxes these blood vessels therefore are protective against hypertension.
I recommended green tea extract. That hasn’t changed but I would rather you drink the green tea or use matcha in your ice creams and custards as a way of getting those polyphenols in a real food type of way.
I do still love tomatoes, watermelon, guava and papaya but grapefruit, I have found, can actually be estrogenic so I ask my clients to switch to orange juice with a pinch of sea salt instead of the grapefruit.
Eat cruciferous veggies (kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, rutabaga, etc.) to your heart’s content but eat them cooked well and with healthy fats. These are the only way acceptable to eat them to counter the anti-thyroid effect of these vegetables. Also, bear in mind, as with green leafies, they are full of cellulose which must be broken down to be even remotely digestible. This cellulose also locks up the availability of nutrients much like phytic acid does in beans, nuts and seeds, so even though, yes, with cooking, some of the more delicate vitamins (for example C) is diminished, eating them raw really doesn’t make much of these nutrients bio-available anyway.
Bottom line for eating for estrogen dominance detox….. Make sure you are getting plenty of protein, preferably from grass-fed and/or pastured animals, healthy fats from coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil (served cold), butter, and ghee, and natural sugars from a wide range of fruits and natural sugars like maple syrup, raw honey and even a little cane sugar, and a wide range of veggies (mostly low ground and root vegetables) well cooked (tomato, cucumber, onions, garlic, and carrot are all fine eaten raw) and with healthy fats (ditch the raw dark green leafy salads!) and relax and enjoy your food eating in a relaxed manner thus activating your parasympathetic nervous system increasing digestion and releasing stress.
As far as the supplements I still recommend Myomin, a Chinese herbal supplement aromatase inhibitor for reducing estrogen levels. I also, in certain cases, still recommend Calcium D-glucarate as a means of liver support of both detox pathways I and II but I also make sure in these cases that I am adding Nutrisorb A, Vitamin E (in oil form), Vitamin D emulsion, and normally a Vitamin K2 liquid and niacinamide all as support to the body’s detox of estrogen and other used hormones, endotoxin, serotonin, and PUFAs stored in fat cells as they make their way through the detox pathways of the liver into the bowel for excretion. This is, of course, case specific but I have found this is the best protocol for estrogen detox and as a protective protocol for thyroid and adrenals as well.
DIM is one of those supplements I am of two minds about. While on one hand, DIM has been shown to be helpful in the short term for estrogen detox, the fact is, many rely on soy to act as a phytoestrogen and because the supplement is based on a phytonutrient in green leafies like kale, cabbage and broccoli and because of the “raw” movement, many, because of the combination, can be very hard on the thyroid. IF you must use a DIM supplement find one without soy and then take it for the shortest amount of time possible.
For certain women, I recommend a bio-identical progesterone. I used to recommend a cream but I have learned creams are very hard to absorb. My favorite, if one decides to go down the progesterone route (and again, it is case specific), is Progestelle as it is an oil (coconut oil), and is highly absorbable. I also like Kenogen’s Progest-E as a super concentrated USP progesterone dissolved in Vitamin E. I use this personally as I can rub it on my gums and use it vaginally as well. Before you decide to go down the progesterone route, it would be wise to consult with either a physician schooled in bio-identical hormones or a holistic practitioner to discuss your options and help you figure out the best dose for you as the literature can be confusing.
I don’t recommend zinc so much anymore because, with proper Vitamin D and other fat soluble vitamin intake usually the zinc levels normalize quite nicely.
As you can see, some things changed dramatically and some not so much. I don’t recommend a “plant based” diet without a great deal of explanation that it must be balanced out with some sort of animal protein if detoxing from estrogen is to happen efficiently.
I have changed my supplement regimen but mainly the types of supplements rather than the quantity to make the body function much more efficiently in general, rather than merely focusing on estrogen dominance and ignoring the consequential thyroid imbalance that can come from an inefficient detox system.
So there you have it; what exactly has changed in my estrogen dominance protocol and why!