Phytoestrogens: One of the Most Important Ingredients in our Diet for Healthy Hormone Levels
The Reproductive System of a female is one of the most susceptible organ systems to daily stress, environmental toxins, and dietary influences. It is one of the most sensitive systems that can be altered in its function by the effect exerted by the above mentioned factors on the pituitary gland (the commander and chief of hormonal levels) or on the reproductive organs themselves.
One of the most important compounds commonly found in foods that can be of benefit to many hormonal imbalances is known as Phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are a compound found in foods like flax seeds and soy. They have a special ability to bind to the estrogen receptors in the body, and have a Modulatory effect. This means that in Women who have too much estrogen, phytoestrogens will bind to those receptors and inhibit estrogen from binding to the receptor and therefore block its effect on the body. On the other hand, if a Woman has low levels of estrogen, the phytoestrogens will bind to the estrogen receptors in the body and have a exert a mild estrogen-like effect. This is a very unique property of Phytoestrogens and provides significant advantage in helping Women who may have hormonal imbalances, regardless of whether they have an excess or deficiency of Estrogen.
Foods with Phytoestrogens
Flax: I recommend patients to always purchase fresh flax seeds and grind them at home with a coffee grinder and put them in a ziplock and then to put the baggie in to the freezer. This preserves the oil in the seed and ensures that they get the maximum amount of phytoestrogens by preventing the oil from going rancid.
Soy: soya products like Soy milk, tofu, and tempeh will all have phytoestrogens.
It should be noted that there is conflicting evidence in using phytoestrogens in Women who have (or have had) estrogen sensitive cancers (i.e. breast cancer).
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about PCOS should speak with their Family Physician and/or Naturopathic Doctor.