Estrogen Dominance: Goldilocks and the 3 Estrogens

Reading is important in my life. However, some days it can be challenging to find time for it. I am teaching my daughter that books should be a significant part of her life too. Even though she can’t read yet, she loves her books. One of her favourite places to go to is the library. Not only does it have many great books to choose from, the environment is very friendly with lots of space to play and socialize with other kids. I love sitting down with her enjoying a new story with pictures and interacting together.

Everyone knows about the story of Goldilocks and the three Bears. The protagonist is shown to invade the home of a bear family helping herself to their belongings with extreme pickiness, only to fall asleep in Baby bear’s bed waking up face to face with them. Estrogen dominance would explain Goldilocks’ behavior. When the body has an imbalance of too much of the hormone estrogen, it is known as estrogen dominance having indicative signs as seen in her actions, please let me explain.

When you picture Goldilocks in your head, many envision a young girl with beautiful long blond hair and maybe even healthy glowing facial skin. Estrogen is responsible for those characteristics. Too much of these hormones can disrupt those beneficial qualities. I picture Goldilocks with dry thinning hair and a blemished face where adolescence may have arrived earlier than expected. This description can occur in the presence of too much estrogen in the body as well as mood swings, PMS, weight gain and fatigue.

What happens in the body when estrogen is present? Hormones remain inactive until it binds onto a cell receptor acting as messengers to cells. Once activated, the cell receives the message to change its activity. Proteins begin to be synthesized creating a cascade of events. In the female body, there is a delicate balance between estrogen and the other sex hormone progesterone that allows important life events to occur. These experiences are going through puberty, the regulation of each menstrual cycle, pregnancy including after baby is born and menopause. In the case of too much estrogen activity, you observe a girl like Goldilocks.

Phytoestrogens

This porridge is too hot… too cold… just right!

Giving into strong food cravings is something many PMS sufferers may experience from imbalanced levels of estrogens. Goldilocks was hungry but picky and moody (sounds like PMS to me) about finding the perfect bowl of porridge. What would be even more interesting is if the porridge consisted of oatmeal. Oats are phytoestrogens, plants that are able to mimic estrogen by binding to their receptor sites.  This is not necessarily a bad thing. By doing this, it can alleviate signs of menopause or increase milk production after giving birth. Phytoestrogens may even help balance the body’s hormones by competitively occupying receptors giving a weaker effect on turning on a cell’s activity while helping the liver remove excess unbound estrogens circulating in the blood. Other foods known to be phytoestrogens are soy, flaxseeds, barley, legumes, yams, beer and alfalfa.

Xenoestrogens

Somebody has been sitting in my chair and has broken it!

When Goldilocks chooses the smallest chair as not too hard, not too soft but just right, she ends up breaking it. Could it be possible that she was heavier than average? Estrogen dominance may lead to weight gain. Having a high number of fat cells, xenoestrogens are most likely to stay hiding around them. What are xenoestrogens? They are outside chemicals mimicking estrogen that enter our bodies through ingestion by the mouth, inhalation through the lungs and absorption on the skin. These imposters have a stronger affinity to latch onto estrogen receptors than phytoestrogens or the real hormone itself making them difficult to remove from the body while changing the cell’s activity for a longer length of time. Phthalates in plastic food storage containers, parabens in body care products, growth hormones injected in conventionally produced meats and pesticides sprayed onto produce are all chemicals known as xenoestrogens.

Endogenous Estrogens

Somebody is sleeping in my bed!

Fatigue during the day leading to Goldilocks’ need for a nap could be a sign of estrogen dominance. Did she have a headache or difficulty falling asleep at night? These are also signs of too much estrogens in the body. The last type of estrogen that may cause a hormonal imbalance are endogenous estrogens which are naturally made in the body. In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenals, liver and breast tissue. A rise in estrogens in the body usually occurs when the liver is unable to keep up with the removal of old hormones. It is important to maintain a healthy functioning liver eating a well-balanced diet to have regular bowel movements for estrogen removal along with managing stress. Excess stress can also be a contributing factor to high estrogen levels. The stress hormone cortisol is produced from the same precursor as progesterone. When cortisol levels rise, progesterone lowers affecting the progesterone and estrogen balance. When estrogen receptor activation becomes chronic, menstrual issues, infertility or abnormal tissue growths may result.

If this information sounds relatable to anyone you love, please share this short read. If you see signs of estrogen dominance in yourself, feel free to contact me to see if my consulting services are right for you in getting your hormones back into balance. All females have an innate wisdom to nurture even if they have no intention of being a mother at all. Practice caring for yourself and others by avoiding exposures to xenoestrogens, consuming phytoestrogens mindfully while eating a healthy diet and managing stress levels effectively. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommas and future Mommas out there!

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant