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STDWatch
Hannah Kingston

Sep 19, 20227 min read

Anti Estrogen Foods

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Estrogen is an important hormone for both men and women, and low estrogen levels can create a variety of symptoms. However, having high estrogen levels can create issues as well, and is also associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.

Many people are wondering how they can lower their levels of estrogen, in order to decrease their risk of cancer. This is what leads many people to look into the possibility of estrogen decreasing foods. Is there an anti estrogen diet? Are there any natural estrogen blocker foods that can help you to reduce your estrogen?

Is there an estrogen reduction diet?

Scientific evidence actually does back up the idea that dietary patterns can influence estrogen levels in the body. There are certain patterns of eating that are associated with higher estrogen levels, and others that tend to lower estrogen.

Eating a low estrogen diet isn’t necessarily about finding food with no estrogen. Rather, it’s about eating in a way that supports your body’s ability to maintain a healthy hormone balance. 

What are the foods that increase estrogen?

According to research, eating these foods is associated with increased estrogen levels:

  • Red meat
  • Processed meat (such as bacon, ham, cold cuts, or hot dogs)
  • Eggs
  • Cheese

While the association between these foods and higher estrogen levels has been established, researchers are still not certain of the mechanism behind the link. It’s believed that these foods raise estrogen levels because they contain significant amounts of cholesterol. Cholesterol actually acts as a precursor to sex hormones such as estrogen. Eating more cholesterol may therefore lead to higher estrogen levels in the body.

The foods that tend to raise estrogen in the body are mainly animal foods. Following a diet that’s mostly plant-based will tend to lower estrogen levels. 

What are the foods that reduce estrogen?

According to studies, eating more of the following types of foods is associated with lower levels of estrogen:

  • Vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) 
  • Fruits, especially berries
  • Nuts and seeds, particularly flaxseeds
  • Olives
  • Dark chocolate

Eating foods that contain a lot of fiber helps to lower estrogen levels. This is believed to be because fiber naturally binds to cholesterol in the digestive system, preventing it from being absorbed. Because cholesterol is a precursor for estrogen, absorbing less cholesterol may help to lower estrogen levels. This is why eating a plant-based diet, which focuses more on plant foods and less on animal foods, tends to lower estrogen levels.

In addition to a low estrogen diet, another important factor for many people is to reduce calories overall. This is because fat tissue actually makes estrogen, and being overweight is associated with higher estrogen levels. Losing weight, through eating less and exercising more, can help to reduce your body’s production of estrogen in fat tissue.

What about soy foods and estrogen?

Foods made from soybeans tend to contain a high level of phytoestrogens. These are plant compounds that are similar to estrogen. Whether these increase or decrease the levels of estrogen is a hotly debated topic, and there has been research that leans in both directions. We still need more research to understand whether soy may increase or decrease estrogen levels and cancer risk. However, the research that we have now seems to indicate that it’s either neutral or mildly beneficial.

Alcohol and estrogen

Besides the foods that you eat, there are other lifestyle factors that may influence your estrogen levels. One of these is alcohol consumption. Studies have shown an association between increased alcohol consumption and high estrogen levels, particularly for women. Keep your alcohol consumption at one drink per day maximum.

How do you know if estrogen lowering foods are working?

In order to know if your food plan is working, you’ll need to find out what your estrogen levels are. The only way to do this is to get your levels tested, which is generally done through a blood test.

One option is to go to your doctor and ask for hormone testing. Your doctor will then order the necessary tests, and you’ll go to a laboratory at the right time to get your blood drawn. Because this process can be a hassle, it presents a barrier for some people, preventing them from accessing the testing that they need. For more convenience, you can order a home testing kit. You take your own blood sample at home through a small fingerprick, and you then mail in the sample to an accredited medical laboratory. You then get your results online in a few days, and will have the opportunity for a telemedicine consultation with a medical professional if you have any abnormal results.

The time of day that the test is taken can have a significant influence on the results, because levels of sex hormones (including estrogen) vary throughout the day. In addition, for premenopausal women, the hormone levels change significantly during the menstrual cycle. The timing of testing is important to allow for interpretation of the results. If you order a home test kit, then you’ll get instructions as to when you should take your blood sample. If you decide to get your test through your doctor, they’ll let you know when you should go in to have your sample taken. It usually needs to be done early in the morning for best results.

Sources

De Roon M, May AM, et al. Effect of exercise and/or reduced calorie dietary interventions on breast cancer-related endogenous sex hormones in healthy postmenopausal women. Breast Cancer Res. 2018; 20: 81. doi: 10.1186/s13058-018-1009-8

Estrogen-Dependent Cancers. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10312-estrogen-dependent-cancers. Accessed 14 July 2022.

Harmon B, Morimoto Y, et al. Estrogen levels in serum and urine of vegetarian and omnivore premenopausal women. Public Health Nutr. 2014 Sep; 17(9): 2087–2093. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013002553

Rachdaoui N, Sarkar DK. Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2013 Sep; 42(3): 593–615. doi: 10.1016/j.ecl.2013.05.008

Sanchez-Zamorano LM, Flores-Luna L, et al. The Western dietary pattern is associated with increased serum concentrations of free estradiol in postmenopausal women: implications for breast cancer prevention. Nutr Res. 2016 Aug;36(8):845-54. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.04.008.

Sowers MR, Crawford S, et al. Selected diet and lifestyle factors are associated with estrogen metabolites in a multiracial/ethnic population of women. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6):1588-95. doi: 10.1093/jn/136.6.1588.

Straight talk about soy. Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/. Accessed 14 July 2022.


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