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The Role of Estrogen in the Female Body

December 18, 2017
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Estrogen is one of our main female sex hormones. It’s heavily involved in secondary sex characteristics such as stimulating the growth and maturation of reproductive organs and breast tissue. It’s also associated with weight gain and fat distribution in women. With respect to the menstrual cycle, it helps with egg development along with LH and FSH. Helps to thicken the uterine lining, and builds and maintains vaginal mucosal thickness and lubrication.

Types of Estrogen

Estrone

This form of estrogen is made in the adrenals and is stored in fat cells. This is the predominant form after menopause kicks in.

Estradiol

This form of estrogen is made in the ovaries and is the strongest and most abundant type (before menopause). Not only is it responsible for the above functions, it also stimulates neuron production, increases serotonin and serotonin receptors. 

Estriol

This form of estrogen is converted in the liver between estrone and estradiol. It’s weaker than estradiol.

Estrogen Dominance

One of the main concerns with estrogen, is that it can be relatively in excess (compared to progesterone). This can lead to a variety of unwelcome symptoms such as:

Menstrual Concerns

  • PMS

  • Dysmenorrhea

  • Fibroids

  • Fibrocystic breasts

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Thickening of uterine lining

  • Endometriosis

Sexual Health

  • Loss of sex drive

Other

  • Acne

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Gallstones

  • Weight fluctuation

Supporting Estrogen in the Body

Liver Support

Once it’s job is done, estrogen prepares to leave the body by passing through the liver and is ultimately excreted in the stool. However, if the liver gets backed up (because of toxin exposure), it won’t be able to eliminate estrogen quick enough. We can support our liver function using herbs, acupuncture, and eating cruciferous vegetables to help support the secondary detoxifcation process!

Supporting the gut

What does your poop look like (check it out here)? I often get weird looks when I ask my patients this question. But this is such an important thing to know because it’s indicative of your gut health! If you’re someone that has a bowel movement every other day and it’s difficult to pass – then you’re likely constipated. Constipation can have big effects on your estrogen levels!

Basically, once the liver metabolizes estrogen by ‘tagging’ it as waste, it’s incorporated into the stool and prepares to leave the body. However, the longer that stool remains in the body, the greater chance that the estrogen will be ‘un-tagged’ and will re-enter the bloodstream (potentially leading to symptoms of estrogen dominance).

Therefore, a healthy gut microbiome and regular bowel movements will help ensure that the tagged estrogen is leaving, and not coming back! We can support the gut by being mindful of any food sensitivities, ensuring we’re eating fibrous fruits and vegetables, and eating prebiotic and probiotic rich foods.  

Decrease Exogenous Estrogens

It’s hard to avoid all toxins in today’s environment. Whether they’re from the air that you’re currently breathing, or the food that you’re eating – toxins are everywhere! Don’t despair – there are small changes that you can make that will help reduce your toxic burden and put less stress on your liver! Do you like to keep well hydrated? Choose a stainless steel or glass bottle to keep BPA at bay. Similarly, if you bring lunch to work everyday, do so using glass containers. Lastly, when meal prepping for the week, choose organic if you incorporating foods from the dirty dozen list

Final Notes

There are so many ways to support estrogen production and detoxification in the body.  If you love learning about your hormones and want to have or maintain a healthy period, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter called The Flow for great and informative content like this

How to Start a Spring Detox

Written by   in 
April 7, 2014

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We’re well on our way into spring, and it’s during this time when most people begin a detox. If you spring clean your house, why not spring clean your body? Detoxification is a great opportunity to press the ‘restart’ button on your body and bring it back to a balance – plus it’s a great way to prep your body for a weight loss regimen.

There are so many ways to complete a detox, and sometimes it’s best to start simple and increase difficulty as you continue. While most people think that detoxing merely involves changing the way you eat – it’s also about practicing self care!

Here are a few simple ways that you can detox:

Drink water | About 2-3L per day, starting as soon as you get up. For an extra kick, add a few slices of lemon to your water to help flush your body of toxins.

Clean diet | Worry not – you don’t need to go completely organic (it can get pretty pricey!) Check out the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’ and choose your foods from there. You may also want to consider decreasing your sugar intake, fried foods, and take-out! I find that preparing my food ahead of time for the week (ie. lunch), prevents me from buying lunch and eating something unhealthy. Do what works for you. I will mention however, the more vegetables you eat (bonus points: green and leafy) the better.

Helpful links: Get the morning started off right with a green smoothie

Deep breathing | Good thoughts in. Bad thoughts out. This one might be a bit obvious, but sometimes it’s best to detoxify the mind and allow for peace to enter.

In the showerAlternating hot and cold showers. Dry brushing.

Exercise | Get your heart rate up, and get those sweat glands open. Hot yoga is a great way to detoxify, and it makes your muscles feel great afterwards.

Love | Call a friend. Cuddle. Give someone a hug.

My 5 Favourite Health & Wellness Apps

The 5 Health and Wellness apps that should be on every woman's smartphone

Instagram, Twitter, and 1010! (best game ever!) are arguably the most used apps on my smartphone. But considering the leaps and strides that have been made in the tech field (especially the health stream), it’s nice to have some more ‘serious’ apps balance out the fluff. Here’s a list of health and wellness apps that I use most often:

P Tracker Lite. I use this convenient app on a monthly basis to track my period. Yes, I know when my period generally starts – but I have the option of tracking symptoms (ie. migraines, moodiness, tenderness) as well as the characteristics of the actual flow (which becomes very interesting when using a DivaCup). Moreover, it gives you the average length of your cycle, as well as an estimate of when you’re fertile and ovulating. I’ve been using this app for about 2 years now and I love it. From a naturopathic perspective it’s a great learning tool, because so many naturopathic doctors who focus on women’s health ask about the menstrual cycle – and it helps engage and empower women to ask and learn more about their cycle.

Nike Training. I’ve written about my love for this app before. I’m still in love with it. Essentially when I’m not working, I’ll put on a movie or watch TV and workout at the same time. Nike’s workouts range by levels, goal, length, and equipment. Plus you can also create your own program!

Skin Deep. This app was developed by the Environmental Working Group. When you enter in a product’s name or scan its barcode it consults its cosmetics database to determine it’s rating. The app will tell you about any health concerns (cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity, allergy), as well as rank the ingredients by hazard (high, moderate, and low). When I’m out shopping for cosmetics, I typically consult this app when I don’t recognize certain ingredients. Some Canadian products are not on this database, which is something to keep in mind.

Health.  This app came pre-installed on my iPhone. I only use this app for the pedometer (although it does have many other features that presumably sync with the Apple Watch). When I was in Europe, there was one day where my partner and I walked 25km – so naturally for the rest of our trip we would guess how much we walked at the end of the day. Obviously this app wouldn’t be very useful if your phone remains stationary for most of the day (which may be an indication that you should move more), but I’ve found it helpful on the days when I’m out and about.

Flipp. My mom introduced me to this great app! This is a grocery app for those of you who like to price match at the check-out line. What I like to do is plan my meals for the week, determine which ingredients I need to purchase, and enter those into the app – where it brings up various grocery stores that have the same product and the cost. The Superstore near my house allows for price matching, so I simply show them the cheaper price, and they match it. It’s a fantastic way to save money, and it makes eating healthy more attainable.

 Are there any apps that I’m missing out on? What are some of your favourites?