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December 13, 2011

Food As Medicine
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3 Simple Ways To Detoxify Hormones

I’ve worked in a restaurant as a chef, dishwasher, and server. One of the worst things that can happen in any of the jobs is to be “in the weeds.” When you are in the weeds it means that you can’t keep up with the demand. Trust me when I say, it is not a good place to be.

When I explain detoxification to my clients I often use my restaurant experience as an example. For instance, if there is a steady flow of dishes coming in to the kitchen, the dishwasher can handle the load easily. But, if there is a rush in the restaurant, or the dishwasher takes a break or slows down, or there is extra mess to deal with, then the dishwasher is now “in the weeds”.

Our liver is very similar to the dishwasher in its purpose, but different in its context. Instead of having one job, the liver has over five-hundred. Instead of cleaning dishes it cleanes the blood.

If the liver is overburdened with toxins, it too can end up “in the weeds.” Therefore, we need to take measures to assist the liver in catching up with the demand.

Once the liver is “in the weeds,” various endogenous (from inside the body) and exogenous (from outside the body) chemicals, can build up to dangerous levels.

A harmful chemical polluting the bodies of millions of people is estrogen. Now you might read this and think, “Estrogens? I thought we make estrogen in our body? How can they be harmful?” We do make estrogen and it is beneficial, IF, we can detoxify and eliminate the hormone effectively. There are many people however that cannot do this properly, and therefore develop a body-state called estrogen dominance.

Signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance:

Women

  • Depression and poor concentration
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Weight gain (hips, thighs)
  • Water-retention, bloating, puffiness
  • Fibrocystic breasts, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, cervical dysplasia
  • Low sex drive
  • PMS
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heavy periods
  • Breast swelling

Men

  • Prostate enlargement
  • Abdominal fat
  • Breast enlargement
  • Low sex drive
  • Depression
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low motivation
  • Hair loss
  • Bloating and puffiness
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disruption

How can we eliminate estrogens from the body? Let’s follow the journey of an estrogen molecule to better understand how to eliminate it.

First estrogen enters the blood. Then, the liver filters it out and detoxifies it through phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification and conjugation. It is then dumped into the small intestine via bile, where soluble fibre (if there is enough in your diet) soaks up the bile. All of the matter then ends up in the bowel where it is formed into a stool for elimination. But, something can go wrong here. If there is a bacterial imbalance, bad bacteria can unconjugate the estrogen and put it back into circulation.

So how do we insure proper estrogen detoxification? Follow these steps:

  1. Improve liver detoxification by eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables. Take indole-3-carbinole (I3C) if extra support is needed. (Dosage: Take one 200-mg capsule of I3C twice a day, for those under 120 pounds. For those who weigh more than 120 pounds, three 200-mg capsules a day are suggested. Women who weigh over 180 pounds should take four 200-mg I3C capsules a day.)
  2. Consume adequate soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables. If extra soluble fibre is needed take psyllium, apple pectin, bran, or a fibre combination.
  3. Ensure you have optimal gut bacteria by consuming fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, raw yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, and homemade pickles. For extra support take a probiotic capsule or powder with at least 10 billion live organism.

Obviously, prevention is the most important. We must take measures to reduce estrogen exposure from both exogenous and endogenous sources. One of the biggest offenders is plastic, which contains chemicals that look like estrogen, and should thus be completely eliminated.

If you’re good to your liver, it will be good to you.

– Josh

References:

1. http://www.lef.org/protocols/prtcl-022f.shtml

2. Turner, Natasha N.D. The Hormone Diet. Random House Canada: 2009.