Xenoestrogens mimic the functions of our natural estrogens. They can interrupt our hormone balance, producing symptoms such as PMS, heavy periods, mood swings, PCOS, fibroids, etc. Read on to learn the top 10 sources of xenoestrogens to avoid.
As I’ve shared in previous posts, estrogen dominance is one of the most common causes of menstrual disharmonies such as PMS, mood swings, painful periods, breast tenderness, weight gain, bloating, headaches, insomnia, fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cysts, and irregular menstrual bleeding.
And there is a reason why we now have an epidemic of hormone imbalance in the so-called more developed, advanced and industrialized nations.
It’s because many of the factors that lead to estrogen dominance are in the foods we eat, the shampoos we use, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.
Xenoestrogens Interrupt Our Natural Hormone Balance
These factors are called xenoestrogens, foreign estrogens that mimic the functions of our natural estrogens. When they enter our body, they attach themselves to our cells’ receptors, taking over the natural estrogens’ functions to control growth and development.
As you know, estrogens promote tissue growth and development, which give you lovely breasts, supple skin, and the ability to conceive and create a new life.
Too much estrogen in the body, however, can promote unnatural growth such as fibroids, cysts, tumors and weight gain. It also interrupts the balance of the entire endocrine system.
Top 10 Sources of Xenoestrogens
So to prevent estrogen dominance and to rebalance the delicate endocrine system, it’s important to know which products we use in our daily lives contain the highest levels of xenoestrogens, in order to avoid them as much as possible.
Here’s a list of 10 major sources of xenoestrogens:
1. Commercially-raised meat and diary products
such as beef, pork, chicken, milk, butter, cheese and ice cream.
These products are contaminated with bovine growth hormones and expose us to a significant amount of xenoestrogens.
How to counter it?
Cut down your consumption of commercial meat and diary, and consume hormone-free, grass-fed, and humanely raised animal products whenever you can.
2. Anything that contains insecticide or pesticide residues
This includes everything we eat, from grains, fruits, nuts and legumes, to veggies.
So eat local organic foods whenever possible.
3. Tap water
Unfortunately much of our water source is contaminated with petroleum derivatives – the primary source of xenoestrogens.
So drink filtered water whenever possible.
Shampoos, lotions, soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics and other personal care products that contain paraben or phenoxyethanol chemical compounds widely used by cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as preservatives.
Note that xenoestrogens entering the skin go directly to tissue without passing through the liver for detoxification. So they’re 100% absorbed by the body and can be 10 times more potent than those consumed orally.
Soft plastics used as packaging materials are often treated with chemical compounds called phthalates, a xenoestrogen, to increase its flexibility.
Plastic wrapped foods, heated in the microwave, contain some of the highest xenoestrogen levels.
So do not heat food or water with plastic in the microwave. Avoid drinking coffee or other hot liquids in Styrofoam cups. And store your food in glass containers whenever possible!
6. Artificial food additives
including artificial sweeteners and MSG
According to a study published in the journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology, 31 substances added to food for the purpose of preservation, coloring, texture and flavor have potential estrogenic effects.
Propyl gallate and 4-hexylresorcinol are two additives to be especially watchful for. Also avoid canned foods, which are usually lined with a plastic coating that contains bisphenol-A (BPA), a xenoestrogen.
Since most processed foods contain some kind of undesirable material, either in the packaging itself or the ingredients, it’s a good policy to cut back on processed and packaged foods. Buy bulk and buy local whenever possible.
7. Foods that contain soy protein and soy protein isolate
These foods are packed with condensed, unnaturally high amounts of plant estrogen, which can also lead to estrogen dominance.
Eat organic soybeans, edamame, tofu or tempeh instead.
8. Dryer sheets
Dryer sheets are loaded with xenoestrogens to make your clothes feel soft and fresh. These residual xenoestrogens can permeate your skin and go directly into your cells.
So avoid dryer sheets. Use a natural liquid fabric softener or ½ cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle instead.
9. Birth control pills and conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
HRT contains synthetic hormones that can interrupt our natural hormone balance.
There are natural, effective birth control alternatives without the side effects of the pills. Check out 10 birth control options without birth control pills.
For ladies who use birth control pills as a way to regulate their periods, I can tell you that this is not a viable long-term solution, and it often does not address the underlying root causes of the imbalance.
I encourage you to look into your lifestyle, identify potential areas of imbalance, and correct them by creating healthier habits. If you need some support, start with my Free Period Guide.
10. Disposable menstrual products
In conventional tampons, the FDA has detected dioxins, a class of chemical contaminants that may increase the risk of cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, heart disease and diabetes.
Avoid tampons and sanitary napkins that contain chlorine, fragrance, wax, surfactants, rayon, etc.
Use those made of organic cotton or other natural materials instead. It’ll save you money over the long run, protect your health, and it’s good for the environment as well. Consider using Bamboo Mama Cloth Reusable Menstrual Pads or Diva Cup Reusable Menstrual Cup instead.
So far I’ve shared a lot of information about the potential sources of xenoestrogens and why you should avoid them. That said, it’s not my intention to instill fear and make you live in a state of paranoia.
It’s a sad fact that we’re now living in a contaminated world and we can’t avoid or eliminate all of the pollutants in our environment.
What we can do, though, is be aware of them, and try our best to live a simple and natural life. And when we do, our body will heal itself, and our endocrine system will regain its natural balance and harmony.
I hope you find the article helpful. Do you know of any xenoestrogens that I failed to mention?
Chasteberry (proven to help treat low progesterone and regulate menstrual cycles in more than 60 years of clinical research, including 5 randomized trials)
Vitamin B6 (one of the best vitamins to boost progesterone)
Progesterone Cream (bio-identical hormonal support)
Reduce Estrogen Dominance
Liver Cleanse Detox and Repair Formula (support liver functions)
Dim Plus (improve estrogen metabolism)
Support Adrenal and Thyroid Functions
Adrenal Health Daily Support (promote overall hormone balance)
Thyroid Support Complex (support energy and metabolism)
Once Daily Organic Whole Food Vitamin Supplement (provide essential nutrients for health and hormone balance)
Liquid Iron (support healthy blood)
The Hormone Cure, by Dr. Sara Gottfried
Cooking for Hormone Balance, by Magdalena Wszelaki