Overeating and under-exercising are the norm in developed countries. Populations from such countries, especially in the Western hemisphere, derive a large part of their dietary calorie from fat. They also show a much higher incidence of menopausal symptoms. Studies have shown that the estrogen level fell in women who switched from a typical high-fat, refined-carbohydrate diet to a low-fat, high-fiber, plant-based diet even though they did not adjust their total calorie intake. Plants contain over 5,000 known sterols that have progestogenic effects. Cultures whose eating habits are more wholesome and who exercise more have a far lower incidence of menopausal symptoms because their pre- and postmenopausal levels of estrogen do not drop as significantly.
In non-industrialized societies not subjected to environmental estrogen insults, progesterone deficiency is rare. During menopause, sufficient progestogenic substances are circulating in the body to keep the sex drive unabated, bones strong, and passage through menopause symptom-free.
Some years back, scientists discovered that unfermented various cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts contain a high level of phyto-estrogen. These compounds’ chemical structure resembles estrogen but are many times weaker in potency. Women consuming these vegetables reported some relief of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. The prevalent wisdom is that women in menopause lacks estrogen , and phyto-estrogen replenish the body with estrogen.
It is now known that these vegetables work by competitively occupying the estrogen receptor sites on the cell membrane to prevent internal estrogen from exerting its effects on the cell. Those who have estrogen dominance may therefore experience relief of symptoms as phyto-estrogen is many times weaker than the estrogen in our body.
While phyto-estrogen may work and relief symptoms, the long term effect is probably undesirable because the estrogen receptor sites are still occupied, although by the less potent phyto-estrogen. Over consumption of phyto-estrogenic food such as cruciferous vegetables on a long term basis may actually not reduce the risk of estrogen dominance significantly. Its akin to replacing one potent devil with a lesser potent one. It is far more beneficial to rid of the estrogen from the receptor sites and replace them with progesterone. Estrogen load will therefore reduce significantly, and the risk of estrogenic diseases such as breast cancer will be less. Furthermore, phyto-estrogen have been shown to inhibit the conversion of T4 to the active T3 thyroid hormone, and can trigger hypothyroidism.
A plant-based unprocessed whole-food diet is recommended. At least 15 grams of fiber should be consumed a day. Avoid high-glycemic foods such as refined sugar. Avoid alcohol or drugs that can damage the liver which will lead to an increase in estrogen due to the lack of estrogen breakdown. Caffeine intake from all sources is linked with higher estrogen levels regardless of age, body mass index (BMI), caloric intake, smoking, and alcohol and cholesterol intake.