What Is Estrogen And What Does It Do?

Estrogen levels decrease during perimenopause but there are healthy foods you can eat to combat lower estrogen production.

Chances are you first heard of estrogen when your period started. Estrogen in females is the hormone that is responsible for the physical changes that turn girls into women during puberty. After you finish puberty, estrogen is still working for you by helping control your menstrual cycle and acting as a key component for reproduction and child bearing. Estrogen also affects several other functions like keeping your cholesterol in check and protecting your bone health.

With the onset of perimenopause the amount of estrogen your body produces drops. Along with the end of menstruation, low estrogen levels affect you in other areas which are common symptoms of perimenopause: vaginal dryness, hot flashes, low libido and mood swings are some of the usual suspects.

This infographic from Hormone Health Network explains in more details the “what’s” of estrogen and we have listed some foods below it which you can add to your diet to help you contend with lowered estrogen production:

What Does Estrogen Do?


Certain Foods Can Combat Decreasing Estrogen Levels

Fortunately by adding foods that contain phytoestrogen to your diet you can help combat low estrogen productions in a safe and natural way. Phytoestrogen is a naturally occurring plant nutrient found in a variety of foods which exerts an estrogen-like action on your body.

Legumes - Soybeans are one of the richest of phytoestrogens and foods such as soy yogurt and tofu are good ways to get the health benefits of soybeans. Legumes like black beans, red beans, black-eyed peas, green peas, split peas and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are easy to add to meals. Hummus anyone?

Nuts - Nuts are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in protein and fiber. Pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts are good sources of phytoestrogens. Making personalized trail mixes to snack on is a good way to incorporate nuts into your daily routine.

Seed and Grains – Oilseeds and grains are good sources of phytoestrogen. Try adding more grains like rice, wheat, oats and barley along with more flax and sesame seeds to your diet. Boosting your trail mix with sunflower seeds will add more variety to your snack.

Fruits and Veggies – While fruit and veggies don’t contain as high amount of phytoestrogen you can find in the above foods, they do contain phytoestrogens. Strawberries, raspberries and peaches are good fresh fruit options, while dried dates and apricots will add more flavors and textures in your trail mix. For veggies, dinnertime can be enhanced with some broccoli, green beans, yams and sweet potatoes. Garlic also contains a good amount of phytoestrogens so just think of garlic breath as being good for your estrogen level.

By making a few additions to your diet you can help combat the decline of your body’s estrogen production plus gain the additional health benefits these foods provide.

What phytoestrogen foods have you added to your diet? Suggestions and recipes are welcome!

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