Hormonal balance is particularly important in women. Estrogen is the primary female hormone produced in a woman’s body, and it is responsible for many different functions.
Here are just a few things that estrogen does in the female body:
- Regulates nervous system functions, maintains body temperature, and enhances the effects of endorphins (feel-good chemicals)
- Improves skin quality and prevents aging (collagen levels)
- Preserves the strength of bones and prevents bone loss
- Regulates the production of cholesterol in the liver
- Increases vaginal acidity and reduces the risk of bacterial infections
- Controls hair growth and prevents hair loss/thinning
If your hormones are out of balance, it can affect your mood, sleep, and ability to conceive, and also make you more susceptible to hormone-related medical conditions. Some of these conditions include polycystic ovary syndrome, early-onset menopause, infertility, hirsutism (male-pattern hair growth), and cancer.
Estrogen is closely linked to how you feel, your mood, and your general wellbeing. So, you can imagine that if your estrogen levels were low, you would experience some noticeable symptoms. These can include:
- Mood swings
- Emotional outbursts
- Social withdrawal
These symptoms can also include things that you might consider part of your normal menstrual cycle, such as bloating, breast tenderness, weight gain, and acne. Others consider symptoms such as hair loss, insomnia, painful sex, decreased libido, and amenorrhea (absence of periods) as just part of the normal aging process.
If you suddenly experience these symptoms and aren’t pregnant or old enough to be experiencing symptoms related to menopause, make sure to see a health professional. They will be able to assess your symptoms and check your hormone levels to rule out any other medical conditions that may cause similar effects. If you do have low estrogen, there are plenty of foods rich in phytoestrogen to add to your daily diet to help balance your hormone levels.
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Low estrogen during menopause: symptoms
The best way to confirm that the symptoms you are experiencing are due to low estrogen levels caused by menopause is to see a professional health provider. They will evaluate your current symptoms and measure your current hormone levels.
If you are in your late 40s or early 50s and experiencing any or all of the symptoms listed below, there are chances that you are beginning the menopausal transition. These symptoms can include the following:
- Changes in skin texture
- Hair loss/thinning
- Amenorrhea (absence of periods)
- Decreased libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Painful sex
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent headaches
- Dry eyes
- Frequent urinary tract infections
These symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause can troubling and inconvenient at times, but there is help. If you don’t have severe symptoms, are opposed to or medically unable to use hormone replacement therapy, or are looking for a more natural way to control these symptoms, you might try foods that increase estrogen.
Here are six different options for foods that may help increase your current estrogen levels and reduce the associated symptoms.
1. Red wine
Consuming phytoestrogen-rich foods and drinks like red wine (in moderation) has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Until recently, the cause of this was unknown. Research has now revealed that it is not the alcohol itself, but a phytochemical in the skins of the grapes used to make red wine.
This phytochemical is known as resveratrol. The results of a study on the effects of resveratrol were published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The authors conducting the study stated that resveratrol provides the benefits of estrogen that is produced in a woman’s body.
If you are not a fan of red wine, this same phytochemical can be found in other phytoestrogen-rich foods such as red grapes, cranberries, blueberries, and peanuts.
2. Fruits (fresh and dry)
Dry fruits such as apricots are a good source of fiber and antioxidants. They are also one of our recommended estrogenic foods. They are a great source of vitamins (including vitamin C). These foods contain a type of antioxidant that has been shown to improve blood circulation and protect against a host of diseases. They can be eaten alone or in cereal, yogurt, or salad.
Also, fresh apricots, peaches, red grapes, oranges, blueberries, and strawberries are all great sources of phytoestrogen. They are also a great snack full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Fresh fruit can be added to any meal or serve as a great substitute for high-calorie desserts.
Nuts are not only an easy snack full of protein, but also a food high in phytoestrogen. They can be eaten raw or roasted. If you add nuts like pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts to your daily diet, they are excellent sources of phytoestrogen. Try adding them to a snack mix or on top of a salad for an extra crunch.
4. Flax seeds
Flaxseed is one of the richest estrogenic foods you can find. It tops the list for the highest amount of phytoestrogen content of any of the recommended phytoestrogen-rich foods. Flax seeds are also a great source of dietary fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol and regulate the digestive tract. This is because of the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in this food. They can easily be incorporated into other foods that you may already eat. You can add the seeds to cereal (hot or cold), use them as a salad topping, or add them to yogurt or smoothies.
Soy is probably the most studied phytoestrogen-rich food for menopause. Many of these studies were untaken as a result of the low percentages of heart disease and menopausal symptoms observed among Asian women. The theory is that since women in Asian cultures eat soy on a regular basis as a part of their daily diet, it might be rich in phytoestrogen.
Nearly every study researching foods that increase estrogen has included a finding associated with soy and soy products. Soy can increasingly be found in groceries and markets today, and it is because of these many studies that it is so readily available.
Soy is an excellent source of protein and healthy oils. But it is the isoflavone content that makes it stand out nutritionally. The research shows that isoflavones may be able to counteract decreasing estrogen levels during menopause and reduce flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other symptoms.
As you can see, these six phytoestrogen-rich foods not only are beneficial for women with low estrogen levels, but also have many other health benefits as well. They provide the nutrients necessary to help combat low estrogen and the symptoms associated with this hormonal imbalance.
You may find that by adding these key estrogenic foods to your daily diet, you are eating healthier, feeling better, and naturally reducing any symptoms you might be experiencing.