Estrogen is one of the two main sex hormones found in women, the other being progesterone. While estrogen is also found in men, it is in smaller amounts.
Estrogen is particularly important for the development of female physical characteristics along with reproduction.
Research highlights that estrogen supports bone health, lessens the risk of cancer, and improves the regulation of mood in both genders.
Why You Need Estrogen
Estrogen is key for the growth of female organs at the time of puberty.
During this phase, females experience the following changes:
- Growth of breasts
- Growth of underarm and pubic hair
- Start and regulation of menstrual cycles which is important for childbearing.
Apart from this, estrogen is critical for maintaining healthy bone density, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis in both men and women.
Another function of estrogen is to manage cholesterol levels in both genders.
This is necessary for healthy functioning of the heart, as it keeps the arteries free from fatty build-up. Hence, the risk of heart problems and stroke remains low.
Estrogen is key in regulating metabolism within the body and controls various elements such as body weight, food intake, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, body fat distribution, energy expenditure, and cognition.
Estrogen is also related to the production of serotonin, a key hormone responsible for regulating mood, well-being, and happiness.
Furthermore, estrogen reduces the risk of breast cancer. Research also suggests that estrogen is critical in killing prostate cancer cells.
There is no doubt that estrogen is an important hormone for both male and females, and must be produced at adequate levels to ensure the healthy functioning of the human body.
However, for various reasons, estrogen levels can fluctuate in the body. In females, estrogen levels vary throughout the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen levels are the highest during the middle of the menstrual cycle and lowest during the period.
Furthermore, estrogen levels drop during menopause, a phase that occurs in women between the ages of 45 to 55.
However, in some cases, estrogen levels may decline due to several other reasons as well like eating disorders, certain genetic conditions, chronic kidney disease, chemotherapy, issues with the pituitary gland, and many more.
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The Role of Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogen, a plant-based nutrient, mimics the activity of estrogen in the human body.
Phytoestrogen is commonly known as dietary estrogen and plays an important role in balancing hormones, particularly in women as they approach menopause.
Consuming foods high in phytoestrogens can lead to various benefits, particularly for women undergoing menopause.
It can help combat various menopausal symptoms like:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Low energy levels
- Reduces the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis
Research also suggests that phytoestrogens play a useful role in breast cancer prevention and support heart health.
Furthermore, the intake of phytoestrogens decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes, brain function disorders, metabolic syndrome, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, and other types of cancers.
However, phytoestrogens have also been shown to exhibit anti-estrogen properties.
This means that along with estrogen-like effects, phytoestrogens may also decrease estrogen levels and block its effects.
Nevertheless, significant evidence has linked phytoestrogen intake with positive health effects.
Foods Rich in Estrogen
These are small, golden-brown colored seeds, which are rich in lignans.
The power-packed seeds are fiber-associated compounds that belong to the family of phytoestrogens.
Studies have shown that flax seeds contain the highest concentrations of lignans.
Consuming flax seeds has been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer, according to various researches.
Soybeans and Edamame
Soybeans are a high-protein plant food, which can be processed into many different edibles, such as tofu and tempeh.
Edamame is a green-colored bean, they are immature soybeans that are found in their inedible pods. Both of them are rich in isoflavones, another form of phytoestrogen.
Hence, they mimic the function of natural estrogen in the body.
Fruits and Dry Fruits
Fruits such as peaches, apricots, blueberries, oranges, red grapes, and strawberries are not only packed with vitamins and minerals, but are also excellent sources of lignans.
Similarly, dry fruits like dates, prunes, and dried apricots, are packed with essential nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Both fruits and dried fruits can be easily added to cereals and desserts or eaten on their own as a snack.
Typically added as an ingredient in dishes to enhance the aroma and flavor, garlic is widely known for its beneficial health properties.
It consists of phytoestrogens and is an easy way to include estrogen-rich foods in the daily diet.
These are small seeds rich in fiber, which are commonly added to salads and Asian dishes to enhance flavor.
Sesame seeds are also rich in phytoestrogens, among other key nutrients.
Studies have shown that the consumption of sesame seed powder has led to an increase in estrogen levels in post-menopausal women.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and other green vegetables.
These are also rich in phytoestrogens, along with other beneficial nutrients.
They are easily incorporated into the daily diet in the form of salads, or as a part of the main course.
Estrogen is an extremely important hormone produced naturally in the human body.
In women, estrogen is responsible for various reproductive functions, and also supports healthy bone health, and lowers the risk of different types of cancers in both genders.
Phytoestrogen, a plant-based nutrient, helps in enhancing estrogen levels in the body.
While there may be certain controversies around the consumption of this nutrient, its benefits definitely outweigh any potential health risks.