Natural Ways to Decrease Estrogen

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Estrogen dominance has become common amongst many woman today. We are constantly exposed to toxins and pesticides that can disrupt on hormone balance, namely by increasing estrogens (or “xenoestrogens”) in our bodies. Read below to find out ways to naturally decrease estrogen/

 

 

  1. Increase Fiber Intake

A low-fiber diet causes estrogen levels to be higher, while a diet high in fiber results in decreased estrogen levels in the bloodstream. This is because excess estrogen is excreted in the bowel. When stool remains in the bowel for a longer time, as in constipation, the estrogen is reabsorbed. Studies have shown that women on a high-fiber diet have lower levels of circulating estrogen. High fiber foods: fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, chia seeds and flax seeds.

 

  1. Avoid Toxins (Xenoestrogens)

Xenoestrogens, such as PCBs, phthalates, pesticides and DDT, cause estrogenic effects. Although banned in 1972, DDT, like its breakdown product DDE, is a xenoestrogen, which is still present in the environment. Chlorine and hormone residues in meats and dairy products also can have estrogenic effects. In women, it may lead to an epidemic of female diseases, all traceable to excess estrogen/deficient progesterone. It is critical to incorporate a pure, clean diet consisting of organic foods whenever possible in an effort to decrease exposure to harmful xenoestrogens. Additionally, it is important to avoid these harmful chemicals in beauty care products, detergents, perfumes and deordorants. Do not use plastic containers to store food in.

 

  1. Increase Indole 3 Carbinol

Many studies have demonstrated that specific compounds isolated from these cruciferous vegetables—including diindolylmethane (DIM) and its precursor, indole-3-carbinol (I3C)—have unique cancer-fighting benefits and help to lower xenogenous estrogens. I3C appears to be effective in shifting the metabolism of estradiol from the dangerous 16-alpha-hydroxylase pathway to the 2-hydroxylase pathway.43-46 As a result, consumption of I3C boosts the ratio of 2-OHE1:16a-OHE1, which correlates with reduced risk of breast and other cancers, including cervical, prostate, and even head and neck cancers. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale. Supplementing with 13C may also be beneficial.

 

  1. Decrease Alcohol Consumption

Drinking too much alcohol can impair liver function. Since estrogen is metabolized by the liver, failure of the liver due to excess alcohol consumption may lead to increased estrogen levels. It is best to limit one’s alcohol consumption to one glass per day or even less.

 

  1. Perform Aerobic Exercise.

Research shows that physical activity curtails overproduction of estrogen. Walking and swimming are great forms of aerobic exercise.

 

 

 

 

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Could the Birth Control Pill be Interfering with our Attraction to Others?

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We all know the birth control pill alters the levels of hormones in your body, but did you know that the pill may actually alter how attracted you are to your partner?

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that women who use oral contraceptives may change who they find good looking, or who they find most attractive.

The study looked at 70 heterosexual couples for one year and an additional 48 heterosexual couples during four years of marriage. The researchers asked the couples about their birth control use and their marital and sexual satisfaction. They also asked impartial judges to rate the attractiveness of the husbands’ faces based on photographs.

The researchers found that the women who started their relationships while on the pill became less satisfied with their relationship after they stopped taking it, but only if their husbands had scored low in attractiveness. In contrast, the women who married the men who were ranked higher in attractiveness were more satisfied in their relationships after they stopped oral contraceptives.

Although this information is interesting, and the researchers were able to control for many factors that might affect women’s marital satisfaction ( ie if she was pregnant or her husband’s satisfaction in the marriage) Study leader Michelle Russell still warns that the study’s design makes it hard to prove that the hormones were the direct cause of the change in satisfaction.

This research however, is similar to previously published results on hormonal pills and attraction.

We know that the type of man a woman is drawn to is known to change during her monthly cycle, when a woman is fertile, for instance, she might look for a man with more masculine features. Taking the pill or another type of hormonal contraceptive seems to change this natural dynamic, making less-masculine men seem more attractive, according to a small but growing body of evidence. The findings have led researchers to wonder about the implications for partner choice, relationship quality and even the health of the children produced by these partnerships.

Researchers have long been interested in factors that lead to people’s choice of mates. One influential study in the 1990s, dubbed the “T-shirt study”, asked women about their attraction to members of the opposite sex by smelling the men’s T-shirts. The findings showed that humans, like many other animals, transmit and recognize information pertinent to sexual attraction through chemical odors known as pheromones.

Studies have also shown that women seemed to prefer the scents of men whose immune systems were most different from the women’s own immune-system genes known as MHC. Scientists believe that children should be healthier if their parents’ MHC genes vary, because the offspring will be protected from more viruses and bacteria.

These natural preferences appear to be wiped out when the woman is on hormonal birth control, research has shown. Females on the pill no longer experience an increased desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation. Their preference for partners who carry different immunities than they do also disappears. And men no longer exhibit changes in interest for women based on their menstrual cycle, possibly because those cues signaling ovulation are no longer present, scientists say.

All forms of birth control come with advantages and disadvantages, however if you are concerned about possible side effects of using hormonal contraceptives talk to your Medical or Naturopathic Doctor about other options for birth control.

In Health,

Dr. Emily Lipinski

Thyroid Health: Keed to know info! and the 6 thyroid tests you need to ask for from your Doctor

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(adapted from Dr.Aviva Romm, MD, 2014)

I see a lot of patients that complain of weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, PMS, and complaining of always being cold. All these symptoms point to the possibility of hypothyroidism, or under active thyroid function. Sometimes, their TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), the most common test for thyroid function, has been tested and may still fall into the “normal range”. However, TSH is only one of the markers for abnormal thyroid function, and many patients are unaware that there are other tests that can give a much better picture of thyroid health and function.

Statistically, hypothyroid is an under diagnosed condition. In fact, in the US only ½ of Americans that have hypothyroidism know it.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at front of your neck and controls your metabolism. It therefore controls your weight, energy levels and also plays a role in cholesterol and hormone production.

When the thyroid is out of balance and not functioning optimally you can gain weight, have sluggish bowels, experience dry skin, have fertility problems, brain fog and feel tired…even if you have a great diet and activity level!

The Key Thyroid Tests

Thyroid tests should be easy to obtain from your primary doctor, naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doc. However thyroid tests do take some skill to interpret and some docs may be reluctant to order more than a TSH test. If this is the case, consider getting a second option by a doctor that is familiar with thyroid health and testing.

Thyroid Test #1: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

TSH is the commonly order thyroid test. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland (a small gland in your brain). TSH communicates with the thyroid to tell it to produce more thyroid hormones T3 and T4. When all is going well in the body, TSH is in a normal healthy range and so is T3 and T4. When T3 and T4 (those important thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland) are LOW, TSH starts to INCREASE, telling the thyroid gland to produce more T4 and T4.

The “healthy TSH range” has become a somewhat controversial topic in medicine. Most Canadian labs consider the upper range of TSH to be 4-5mU/L. However, many experts, including many conventional endocrinologists, consider the upper limit of TSH should be no higher than 2.5-3mU/L. This is based on the data collected on Americans without any hypothyroid symptoms. When they have a TSH test done, this is the common upper range.

Thyroid Tests #2 and #3: T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine)

As mentioned above, T3 and T3 are hormones produced by your thyroid gland. T4 is produced in much higher amounts by your thyroid gland, and then is converted into T3 in the periphery. This is important because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormones and is necessary for proper metabolic function.

Thyroid Tests #4 and #5: TPO and TGAb (Thyroid Antibodies)

As mentioned previously, autoimmune hypothyroidism is the most common cause of hypothyroid. As with any other health condidition, to achieve optimal health we must look at the underlying cause of the problem. If a patient has hypothyroidism, but does not address the autoimmunity (if present), the problem will not be addressed at the root cause. Thyroid antibodies can also be measured every 6-12 months to gauge how thyroid treatment is progressing.

Thyroid Test #6: Reverse T3 (RT3)

Although there is some controversy over the usefulness of this test, I have personally found it of benefit in my practice, especially if hypothyroid symptoms are persisting despite treatment. Sometimes, when the T4 is being converted to T3, it can be converted into RT3, a less active form of T3 that the body cannot use as well as T3. This can happen is one is under a large amount of stress or is sick. If the patient it producing a large amount of RT3, certain medication or supplements can help replenish the body with T3 and encourage the body to produce T3 over RT3.

If you have an inkling that your thyroid health is sub-optimal and your doc is not open or familiar with thyroid testing, consider switching docs or having a second opinion.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily

5 Dietary Recommendations for Enhancing Fertility

a921b1a5953616fa7b1e415200b149c7.jpg_srz_p_697_723_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzPreparing for pregnancy can involve preparing financially, spiritually, physically and nutritionally.  Whether you are having difficulty conceiving or are consciously preparing for pregnancy, diet is very important.  What we eat can influence fertility, affect hormones and later, affect the fetus.  More and more woman are wishing to be pregnant at later stages of life. As our fertility peaks in our early 20s and begins declining in our late 20’s, many woman who are 30 plus often are interested in foods that can boost their chances of conceiving. (May I add that woman who choose to wait for babies can still have very healthy and happy pregnancies !! ) So without further ado please find my top 5 dietary recommendations for fertility:

  • Eat Organic as much as possible a year before conceiving.  Pesticides are poisons designed to kill living organisms and therefore harmful to humans. Children are actually four times more sensitive to exposure to cancer-causing pesticides in foods than adults. Many toxins used in pesticides are also known hormone disruptors. Some of the chemicals that are used in pesticides are fat soluble, meaning that they can be stored in our fat cells for long periods of time.  Therefore it is best to avoid these chemicals as long as possible before becoming pregnant to minimize the exposure of the growing fetus to these toxins found on conventional produce.

  • Increase consumption of nutritious seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Nutritional deficiencies of zinc and B6 can affect fertility. Sunflower seeds are a good source of B6 and other trace minerals and pumpkin seeds contain a high amount of zinc amongst other minerals.  You can add these seeds to cereals, salads or even buy (pumpkin or sunflower) seed butter and spread it on toast.

  • Make you sure your iron intake is adequate.  The best way to find out if your iron levels are high enough is to have your ferritin levels measured through blood.  Ferritin levels lower than 70 can decrease fertility and can also lead to anemia throughout pregnancy.  Red meat is the best source of iron (opt for grass fed, organic). Dark leafy green veggies, beans, legumes and molasses also are higher in iron and cooking in a cast iron pan can also increase the iron levels of the foods that are cooked in them. Some individuals, despite their best nutritional efforts still have low iron and need to take an iron supplement.

  • Eat a diet rich in omega 3 Fatty Acids: These healthy fats are great for the brain, help to balance hormones and also lead to better birth outcomes for the baby.  Aim for 2-3 servings of low mercury fish (sardines, anchovies and mackerel are best), chia seeds, flax and walnuts and/or supplement with a high quality fish oil daily.  Make sure the fish oil has been third party tested for mercury and other heavy metals and the source of the fish is from mackerel, anchovies and/or sardines.  

  • Aim to eat low- medium glycemic index carbohydrates. When we consume carbohydrates they are broken down into sugars that provides energy to our cells. Some carbohydrates break down into more sugars than others and these certain carbohydrates can affect our insulin levels, thus affecting our hormones.  Choose low glycemic index carbohydrates such as rice bran and other whole grains and bright coloured vegetables. Avoid high glycemic index foods such as refined sugars, white breads, white rice and white pastas.

 In Health,

Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND

 

Linoleic acids and Gamma Linolenic Acids (GLAs)

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Studies have found that consumption of linoleic acids (an essential fatty acid) and vitamin C decrease drying and wrinkling of the skin.  Linoleic acid plays a key role here because once ingested, linoleic acid turns into gamma linolenic acid also known as GLA. Through a series of steps, GLA is eventually converted to prostaglandin 1, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and is also effective in regulating water loss and protecting the skin from damage. You can also supplement with evening primrose oil or borage oil, both contain high amounts of GLA.  Watch my video with the wonderful Kristen Ma to learn more about evening primrose oil here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-ClA89C-K0.

Walnuts contain both linoleic acid and omega 3 fatty acids.  This is excellent because in our western diets we tend to have a higher amount of omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3 and this can cause an imbalance.  Additionally, some of the major sources of omega 6 fatty acids in the western diet come from corn, wheat and soy bean oil.  These have been heavily modified and now cause digestive and health problems for many individuals.

A handful of walnuts make a great snack, or can be added on top of a salad or are great additions when baking healthy treats.

Hormone Balance and PMS

Hormones naturally change and decrease in a womans life around menopause.  However many younger woman can also have imbalanced hormones.  Stress, oral contraceptives and exposure to xenoestrogens can all effect our hormones.

Some woman that experience PMS may have a hormonal imbalance.  Your Naturopathic Doctor can order a hormone panel in order to measure your hormone levels in your blood or saliva.   Once levels are known natural remedies can be used to help re-establish hormonal homeostasis.

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Some common hormone imbalances that can influence PMS:

Progesterone Deficiency

Progesterone is typically seen in high amounts during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.  In some woman prolonged periods of stress may decrease progesterone levels (Truestar Health, 2013). Deficient progesterone can cause water retention, breast tenderness, anxiety, sleep disruption, heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged cycles and headaches (Dharam Kaur, S 2005).

Estrogen Dominance

Too much estrogen can arise from taking the birth control pill or other forms of medications containing estrogen.  Additionally, we are now exposed to many xenoestrogens such as BPAs found in plastics, pesticides and hormones in foods that can act like estrogens in our bodies.  Excess estrogen can cause irritability, aggression, weight gain and is also linked to uterine fibroid and ovarian cysts.  Other symptoms of excess estrogens can include blood clots and impaired blood sugar regulation.

Excess Prolactin

This hormone, typically produced when a woman breast feeds is also produced when she is under a great deal of stress.  Too much prolactin can cause infertility, breast tenderness and swelling and irritability.  Excess levels of this hormone can also cause increased cell division in breast cells causing increased breast density.

Cortisol Imbalance

Too much or too little cortisol can cause PMS.  Symptoms of too much cortisol can include: muscle weakness, thinning skin, elevated glucose, insulin resistance, tendency towards easy weight gain and lowered immune function.  Too little cortisol can decrease the ability to handle stress, increase cravings for stimulants such as coffee, caffeine and chocolate, joint pain, increased inflammation, hypoglycemia, rapid heartbeat and an increase in White blood cells.

Decreased Thyroid Hormones

Hypothyroidism, the under activity of the thyroid gland can cause symptoms of PMS, heavy periods or amenorrhea. Other Symptoms can include low energy, poor memory, dry skin, decreased perspiration, easy weight gain, intolerance to cold and constipation.

Works Cited

Turestar Health “Four Keys to Kick PMS” by Natasha Turner accessed May 27 2013 via http://www.truestarhealth.com/members/archives.asp?content=14ml3p1a97y

Dharam Kayr, Sat. The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Woman’s Health 2005 Robert Rose Publishing Toronto.

SPRING DETOX

Happy First week of Spring!!

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Despite the snowfall in Toronto at the moment, it is in fact SPRING!  And, spring time means cleansing time 🙂  I am excited to be giving a talk on the ins and outs of detoxing on APRIL 10th at 7:30 at ECOEXISTENCE, located at 766 ST. CLAIR WEST TORONTO.  It is free to attend so just show up if you would like to learn more about why we need to detox, how our bodies detox and the best medicines, supplements and lifestyle tips for detoxing !

I recently wrote a guest blog for the wonderful Kristen Ma of Pure + Simple on detox.  If you would like to read what I will be talking about April 10th find it here:

http://www.holisticvanity.ca/detoxification-debunked/