Hormones are chemical messengers that enable communication from one cell to the next. Estrogen is a hormone that is essential to the healthy functioning in women (and also has functions for men). It is responsible for bone formation, sexual maturation and cholesterol metabolism.
However, there is a synthetic version of estrogen which is becoming increasingly prevalent and threatens to damage our health.
What are xenoestrogens?
The term Xeno means foreign and xenoestrogens are a group of chemicals that are found in the environment and essentially act as “foreign” estrogens. They mimic the effects of estrogen in our body and this can throw our hormone balance off.
These xenoestrogens are difficult to detoxify in the body which can create an environment of estorgen dominance. This poses a risk for both men and women because we know that elevated estrogen levels over the long term may increase cancer rates.
How do they affect your health?
Research shows that xenoestrogens can contribute to weight gain, thyroid disorders, endometriosis, infertility, and miscarriages. In men, xenoestrogens are thought to contribute to decreased sperm counts, and prostate and testicular cancers.
Exposure to xenoestrogens may also contribute to girls and boys reaching puberty early. Exposure to these chemicals may be a factor in the growth of breast tissue in males, resulting in the “man boobs” phenomenon.
Constant exposure to xenoestrogens may prevent the natural estrogen from binding to estorgen receptor sites. This may disrupt the natural estrogen hormones from performing their important functions in the body.
How can you avoid xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens can be found in numerous food and body products that most people use daily.
To avoid exposure make sure to reduce your intake/use of:
• Canned foods
• Plastic drinking bottles
• Foods packaged in plastic – do not reheat any food in a plastic container
• Birth control pills – they contain synthetic estrogen
• Body and hair care products that contain parabens
• Commercial brands of sunscreen
• Avoid factory farmed meat – the animals have often been given synthetic hormones to fatten them.
Here are some tips to encourage estrogen detoxification:
• Aim to eat 2 cups of cruciferous vegetables per day. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, turnips, rocket.
• Consume 1 tablespoon of flax seeds per day. Flax seeds have an “anti-estrogenic” effect.
• Eat at least one portion of onions, garlic or eggs per day. These contain sulphur, which helps the liver to clear hormones and toxins.
• Alcohol can interfere with the liver’s ability to detoxify, so avoid if possible.
Xenoestrogens are everywhere is our environment so avoiding them altogether is nearly impossible. However, by knowing what they are and where to find them we can greatly decrease our exposure and hopefully preserve our health.