The body produces oestrogen, a hormone that is involved in various bodily functions in both males and females. However, women in their reproductive years generally have higher levels of oestrogen compared to other age groups and genders. Oestrogen plays a particularly important role in women’s reproductive health and development.
Here is an example to illustrate the importance of oestrogen, especially for women.
Sonali was married for 5 years and was desperate to have a baby. After suffering 3 miscarriages, she finally came to know that she was facing difficulty in giving birth and maintaining her pregnancy due to hormonal imbalance. When Sonali consulted a renowned gynecologists’ about what to do about her hormonal imbalance, she was told to feed herself with foods high in estrogen. It is because estrogen is one of the main hormones responsible for reproduction in a female’s body. Apart from this main role played in reproduction, estrogen is important to maintain hormonal balance in the human body.
Let us talk about why do we need to have proper oestrogen levels in our body, how to improve oestrogen levels in the body, and are there any foods that increase oestrogen naturally?
But first, let’s see what oestrogen and phytoestrogen are.
What are Oestrogen & Phytoestrogen?
Oestrogen is a natural hormone produced in the human body. Phytoestrogens, on the other hand, are compounds found in plants. They are not produced by the body itself. Instead, they are compounds found in plants that have oestrogen-like effects when consumed.
When one consumes foods that are rich in phytoestrogens, these compounds can interact with oestrogen receptors in the body and exert estrogenic effects. This means that phytoestrogens can imitate or modulate the actions of oestrogen in the body.
Therefore, when people have lower levels of oestrogen in their bodies, it is recommended that they consume foods that boost oestrogen, i.e., phytoestrogens. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are the best sources of phytoestrogens.
Why does our Body Need Estrogen?
Estrogen is one key hormone that plays a vital role in a woman’s reproductive system. It is often regarded as the female hormone because it regulates the menstrual cycle in a woman’s body and is responsible for a woman’s hormonal health. However, it is equally important in a male’s body.
Following are the roles followed by adequate estrogen levels in a human body:
- Supports heart and blood vessels
- Regulates the functioning of the nervous system
- Helps in maintaining body temperature
- Improves the quality of the skin and prevents aging
- Prevents hair loss/thinning
- Strengthens bones
- Protects brain
- Regulates mood swings
- Relieves vaginal dryness in women
- Reduces the risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer
People with low levels of oestrogen in their bodies can experience various symptoms and increases their risk of developing hormone-related health conditions. Listed below are some of the common symptoms associated with low oestrogen levels in the body:
- Mood swings
- Emotional outburst
- Social withdrawal
Oftentimes, symptoms of low-oestrogen levels in the body resemble those experienced during the menstrual cycle, such as breast tenderness, acne, bloating, and weight gain. Other symptoms that may be associated with low oestrogen levels in the body include insomnia, decreased libido, absence of periods (amenorrhea), hair loss, and painful sex.
If someone gets these symptoms without being pregnant or reaching menopause, it is recommended to consult a gynaecologist. The doctor will likely recommend a hormone panel to check if there is a hormonal imbalance and create a care plan accordingly. In cases of low oestrogen levels, hormone replacement therapy may be recommended as a treatment option to restore hormonal balance.
If an individual is considering incorporating oestrogen-rich foods into their diet, it is likely because they have been diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance or are experiencing symptoms of low oestrogen. Phytoestrogens are compounds found in plants that can mimic oestrogen in the body and help regulate oestrogen levels.
While phytoestrogens can have potential benefits, it is important to note that the research conducted on them is not sufficient to completely disregard the possibility of phytoestrogens interfering with natural oestrogen production in the body. Each person’s hormonal balance and health needs are unique, so it is recommended to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional before starting an oestrogen-rich diet.
Besides, the phytoestrogens, other certain factors may affect the production of oestrogen in our bodies.
Factors that Affect Estrogen Levels
Numerous factors affect the levels of oestrogen in a person’s body; some of them are listed below:
- Old Age
- Extreme Workout
- Anorexia Nervosa
- High Blood Pressure
- Turner’s Syndrome
Types of Estrogen
There are three types of estrogen present in our body:
Estriol is on a high in a female body during pregnancy. It is responsible for the proper growth of the uterus and helps to prepare the female body to deliver a baby. This type of estrogen tends to be at its peak just before the birth of a baby.
A female’s body possesses estrone after menopause. This is a comparatively weaker estrogen. It can easily be converted into other types of estrogen due to its weak strength.
This type of estrogen is produced both in a female and male body. Estradiol plays an important role in a female’s reproductive years. Excess of estradiol can lead to depression, osteoporosis, acne, and loss of sexual drive.
How To Increase Oestrogen Levels in The Body Naturally?
The following can help maintain optimum levels of oestrogen in the body:
- Maintaining a healthy weight according to the body mass index
- Eating a balanced diet that provides enough protein
- Working out regularly
- Ensuring a healthy gut
- Managing stress levels
- Getting ample sleep
- Limiting sugar intake
While these lifestyle factors can contribute to overall hormonal health, it is important to note that increasing oestrogen levels naturally may not be solely achieved by diet alone. Hormonal balance is a complex process influenced by various factors, and individual cases may require personalised treatment or medical intervention.
Certain foods can potentially help increase oestrogen levels naturally due to their phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body.
Top Oestrogen-rich Foods
By mimicking the behaviour of oestrogen, phytoestrogen can actually raise the total oestrogen levels in the body. Here is a list of top 10 oestrogen-rich foods list:
Soy is believed to be a rich source of isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen that can mimic the role of oestrogen in your body. Besides, soy is also rich in vitamins and minerals that help to prevent the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Try to include soy in the form of tofu, soymilk, and soybeans to increase oestrogen levels in your body.
Berries and Peaches
Rich in lignan antioxidants, peaches are a blessing for a woman’s health, as it possesses the ability to prevent the chances of breast cancer. Besides, peaches, berries like strawberries, and blueberries can impart the same effects in increasing the oestrogen levels in your body.
Counted as a superfood, flaxseeds are rich in lignans, an antioxidant that helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Just sprinkle a bit of flaxseed on your salad or smoothie and you will feed a good source of oestrogen to your body in an easy way.
Just like flaxseeds, sesame seeds are very effective in increasing oestrogen levels in your body. Moreover, adding these tiny seeds is convenient to any dish and they will impart other health benefits too as they are a rich source of nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin B6, copper, iron, and zinc.
A study compared the effects of 50 g of sesame seed powder with a placebo on postmenopausal women, and the results revealed that sesame seed powder is beneficial in improving blood lipids (reducing bad cholesterol) and may correct hormonal imbalance.
Garlic is one of the most easily available foods high in oestrogen. Besides acting on the oestrogen levels in our body, garlic is known to be a healthy food item that can avoid heart diseases by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure too.
All kinds of cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage are rich sources of phytoestrogens. They also possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. One should include these vegetables in the diet to increase the levels of oestrogen in the body significantly.
Stop looking here and there to know how to increase oestrogen levels in your body, when this can be done with a glass of red wine! Recent studies have found that red wine is a rich source of a phytoestrogen called resveratrol. This compound will help not just maintain good levels of oestrogen in the body but will also help to reduce the chances of cardiac diseases by maintaining cholesterol levels.
Chickpeas are a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, protein, and phytoestrogens.
Research indicates that chickpeas have about eight different types of phytoestrogens. This makes chickpeas an excellent addition to the diet of a person with low oestrogen levels. Chickpeas are also rich in isoflavones that may mitigate cancer growth and manage menopausal symptoms.
They can be enjoyed as a snack by boiling, stir-frying, or making a chaat. It is recommended that one add chickpeas to their regular diet to increase their oestrogen levels and maintain optimum health.
Alfalfa is a versatile herb that can have numerous health benefits; increasing total oestrogen levels is one of them. A member of the legume family, alfalfa is often considered an herb whose dried leaves or seeds are used to supplement the diet.
Usually, people sprout the seeds and then consume them to get the benefit of the rich amounts of phytoestrogens present in alfalfa.
Alfalfa sprouts are known to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms by mimicking the action of natural oestrogen in the body.
Another food item that can boost oestrogen in the body, wheat bran, which is a concentrated source of phytoestrogens like lignans. An animal study revealed that consuming wheat bran that has been ground into very tiny particles can raise blood oestrogen levels. However, additional research is required to confirm the benefits of eating micronized wheat bran for humans.
Is There a Potential Downside to Consuming Phytoestrogens?
Although the benefits of consuming phytoestrogens outweigh the potential risks, one should consume them in moderation. There is very limited research that questions the impact of phytoestrogens on the body. All-in-all, the findings of such research are inconclusive and mixed, which calls for additional research including humans and a larger sample size. Thus, one is advised to be cautious while consuming phytoestrogens to increase their oestrogen levels naturally.
Listed below are some of the concerns raised about consuming phytoestrogens:
A few studies indicate that consuming phytoestrogens could be linked with an increased risk of breast cancer, while other studies concluded the opposite and linked high intake of phytoestrogens with a reduced risk of getting cancer and increased chances of survival after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Many people worry about the effects of consuming phytoestrogens on a person’s fertility. Some studies conducted on animals indicate that phytoestrogens may impact reproductive health; there aren’t enough human studies that show the same results. A study conducted on a large sample of women found that there was no obvious link between phytoestrogen consumption and pregnancy rates.
Impact on testosterone levels in men
Although oestrogen is a female hormone, it is present in small quantities in men, as mentioned earlier. Some men worry that consuming foods rich in phytoestrogen can impact their testosterone levels, but according to research, there is no association between decreased testosterone levels and phytoestrogen intake.
Decreased thyroid function
A few studies link the intake of soy isoflavones with reduced production of the thyroid hormone. But there is not enough merit in these results, as many studies did not find any significant effects on thyroid hormone production after phytoestrogen consumption in healthy adults.
Oestrogen-rich Food for Breast Enlargement
- Sesame Seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Wheat Bran
Strogen levels need to stay in balance in a woman’s body else it may lead to hormonal imbalance issues. Eating the above-mentioned oestrogen-rich foods is an easy way to maintain oestrogen levels in the body. Besides, if your body is lacking this particular hormone, you can consider having supplements only after a doctor’s consultation.
Remember, too much or too little oestrogen will eventually lead to hormonal imbalance, so striking a balance is a must, and the best way to do that is by consulting an endocrinologist, gynaecologist, or general physician.
Although there are a few animal studies that link phytoestrogen consumption with certain complications, most human studies have not found any evidence to support these claims, as mentioned earlier. Besides, the many notable health benefits of phytoestrogen outweigh the potential risks associated with its consumption.