What’s the Difference Between “Good” & “Bad” Estrogen?

Today’s question comes from the lovely Laurie in Toronto.

Laurie asks:  What’s the difference between “good” estrogens and “bad” estrogens?

A:  To answer your question we have to understand a little bit about the human body and hormone production.  Both men and women produce the hormone, estrogen in their bodies.  This comes in several different forms of estrogen.  Women naturally have higher levels due to our reproductive organs and for the purpose of procreation.  Estrogen is the primary source of our sex hormones and is mostly responsible for our reproductive health.

So our body makes these “good” or healthy estrogens and this is normal.  The levels of our estrogen made by our body fluctuate over the course of our cycle.  Estrogen is typically lower at the beginning of the cycle and highest or peaking the mid cycle, about day 14 when ovulation is occurring.  These “good” estrogens can also help to actually give us energy, boost our libido and protect us from cancers, including breast and ovarian.

On the other hand, there are the “bad” estrogens also known as xenoestrogens.  This is basically just a big fancy name for man-made estrogens made from our external environments usually from dangerous chemical substances.  Other names for xenoestrogens are: “estrogen mimickers”, “hormone imitators” and “endocrine disruptors.”

Our body doesn’t know what to do with these fake estrogens but interestingly enough, they seem to mimic the body’s own production of estrogen and therefore act just like our own.  They do this by acting like a lock and key fit.  The xenoestrogen (they key) gets into the body and attaches itself to hormone receptors (the lock) and click. If it fits, it’s a match and estrogen gets pumped on out.

Where are these pesky “bad” estrogens hiding?  Xenoestrogens are well, EVERYWHERE!  They’re in our drinking water, food, cleaning products, make-up, toilet paper, perfume, birth control, plastics, metals, tin cans, deodorant, pharmaceuticals— you name it and it probably contains xenoestrogens.  This is scary s*#@!  These fake estrogens can build up over time in our body and create estrogen overload or estrogen dominance.  Some physicians and health care practitioners will tell you that the body was designed to naturally eliminate these type of toxic substances which may be absolutely true to an extent.  My theory: Even an ounce of these hormone disruptors in our body are NOT safe.

But when you add a lifetime of putting this crap into our bodies, you can pretty much guarantee it is NOT safe and contributes to diseases like cancer.  On top of that most of aren’t eating a clean diet and having regular daily elimination.  Through the bowels and your urine is one the main ways in which excess estrogen gets removed from the body.  Guess what guys?  The average North American person is having at most, 1 bowel movement a day when we should ideally be having 3 solid ones!  Add that to the equation and you can see why these fake estrogens are so toxic, especially if we aren’t eliminating them!

Estrogen dominance can negatively result in all kinds of health conditions and disease including PMS, endometriosis, fibroids, tumours, and cysts and can even increase our risk for cancers, especially breast, ovarian and uterine.  Needless to say these “bad” estrogens are deadly and at best, dangerous!

And it doesn’t just happen to women, estrogen dominance can occur in men too.  And the fatter you are, you best believe the more likely you are to attract these dirty hormone-wannabes.  Xenoestrogens just love to deposit themselves in fatty tissue, hence why women are a primary target because of our hot sexy curves, boobs, butt, tummy and thighs (by the way, nature designed us that way for baby making).  Xenoestrogens flock to our fatty areas and nestle in like a bears hibernating for winter.

The good news?  The good news is you can make the right health choices that will lead you down the path to wellness.  You can choose to minimize and reduce your “bad” estrogen load.  You can choose to educate yourself (like you are right now- Kudos to you!), you can choose to be proactive and you can choose to take control of your health.

Start with reducing your xenoestrogen load and avoiding the above mentioned items that contain them.  Eat your estrogens away!  Eat a diet rich with whole foods, fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats and oils to help eliminate this extra hormones.  Choose organic whenever possible, especially when it comes to meat and dairy if you consume these foods.

For more information on how to reduce your “bad” estrogen load and avoid estrogen dominance grab yourself a copy of my Crazy Sexy Hormones E-Guide—a most awesome gift you can give yourself and the women you love.

Keep posted for more details on our up-coming Women’s Health & Hormones workshop on November 23 all about hormones & the effects of food on our hormones.  Details to follow soon!

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