Updated: Jan 22, 2022
Estrogen is an amazing hormone! It gives us feminine curves, glowing skin, and makes us feel confident…. But even the sweetest guest can overstay their welcome! That means that after we're done using estrogen, it has to be metabolized and eliminated.
When estrogen doesn’t get metabolized correctly, symptoms can appear later, like cramps, breast tenderness, mood swings, anxiety, hormonal headaches, and bloating.
Here’s how the Estrogen Detox process works:
Estrogen detox first begins in the liver. Here, enzymes turn estrogen into estrogen metabolites. How you treat your liver is so important!
These enzymes need sufficient levels of iron and magnesium. Your liver also has to prioritize detoxing certain things over others, for example: alcohol is such a toxin to the liver that it will stop all other functions until alcohol is completely out of your system…. That means if you’re drinking when estrogen is high, estrogen gets kicked to the back of the line and that can lead to really undesirable symptoms later in your cycle.
Once the enzymes transform your estrogen into metabolites, they get sent down different pathways so they can continue to be processed-- unfortunately, these pathways are pretty risky! Some are associated with carcinogens and certain types of hormone-related cancer (like breast cancer) or DNA damage.
Cruciferous vegetables, which are rich in Diindolylmethane (aka DIM), help these metabolites choose the least harmful pathway. They also contain fiber to feed your gut microbiota and help complete the detox process.
Next, enzymes make these metabolites water soluble. They become less harmful and get ready to be flushed out… literally. You’ll complete the estrogen detox through urine and feces. (There’s no such thing as TMI when it comes to women’s health!)
Gut health directly impacts your hormones through estrogen detox. Constipation or weak stool consistency/size means that you’re not metabolising your estrogen.
Our body has its own pathways of elimination that detox for us by removing waste, but there are things we can do to support them so they work more efficiently. The great news is, that can be done without extreme diets, fancy supplements, or juice cleanses.
Here are 5 ways you can support Estrogen Detox:
1) Love your liver! Limit or avoid alcohol when estrogen is high, like in the late follicular and ovulation phase. Drink lots of water and consume liver-supporting foods, like grapefruit, beetroot, berries, rosemary, dandelion, garlic, and ginger.
2) Take magnesium. Women need 350mg of magnesium per day, which helps with many functions in the body, but in this process supports your enzymes.
3) Eat your veggies! Cruciferous vegetables contain DIM which supports healthy estrogen detox and increases your fiber intake. Load up your salads, smoothies, and more with arugula, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts.
4) Get plenty of Omega-3s! Salmon, mackerel, shrimp, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts are great foods for reducing inflammation. Omega-3 also contains lignans which help regulate your estrogen receptors.
5) Queue up quercetin. Quercetin is a type of flavonoid and is really good at feeding your microbiome and supporting your immune system. You can find this in green tea, asparagus, berries, shallots, and onions.