There are estrogen rich foods, called phytoestrogens, such as soy, tofu, and tempeh. Other foods have estrogenic affects, which means the body mistakes substances in these for estrogen. Two examples are fennel seeds and cinnamon. Throughout the perimenopausal stage declining estrogen levels can worsen menopause symptoms.
Should Isoflavones and Soy be added to Your Pre menopause Diet?
Food containing estrogen does not contain the exact same types of estrogen that the human body naturally produces. They contain isoflavones, the dominant type of phytoestrogens. Isoflavones, a class of phytochemicals, are found in plants and resemble human estrogen but are weaker. While they are found in chick peas and other legumes, the highest concentration is found in soybeans. Soy contains many types of isoflavones, but the most beneficial types are genistein and daidzein.
So, all soy foods that are made from soy beans contain phytoestrogens. A list of some includes: soy milk, tofu curd, soy powder protein, commercial soy desserts, and soy substitutes for meat such as soy burgers and soy dogs.
Many are turned off by soy foods since at one time most were bland and not palatable. The wide selection in today’s supermarkets and health food stores has changed this. You can find chocolate soy milk and spicy soy sausage among other flavorful options. If a woman is on a restricted calorie diet it’s helpful to know that 3 oz. of soy is similar to one egg, but has 210 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 23 mg of isoflavones.
A word of caution is needed, though, in regards to the consumption of soy food. A 1999 study found that eating two servings of soy based proteins with 45 mg of soy isoflavones per day could increase a woman’s chance of increased cell growth in breast tissues. Many experts feel that overconsumption of isoflavones in soy products could increase the risk of cancer in some people.
Other Estrogen Foods to Include in a Diet for Perimenopausal Women
Some examples of estrogenic foods are: alfalfa, beets, carrots, cherries, chickpeas, citrus fruits, black-eyed peas, eggs, cinnamon, celery, dairy foods, eggs, fennel seed, flax seeds, garlic, potatoes, wheat, yams, pomegranates, red beans, sunflower seeds, and sage.
Many fruits also contain boron, a beneficial mineral, which seems to encourage the body to hold on to estrogen. Boron can also decrease the risk of brittle bones and osteoporosis since it decreases the amount of calcium the body excretes. Some examples of fruits with phytoestrogen and boron are: plums, prunes, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, pears, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, and red raspberries.
Adding flax seed to your diet is another good source of natural plant estrogens. You can add this to your perimenopause diet in the form of flax seed capsules or by including a quarter cup of ground flax seeds to your daily diet. Studies also point to flax lowering the risks of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and regulating cholesterol levels. It’s also excellent brain food as it can ease anxiety and depression, and boost memory as well.
Usually, during perimenopause women undergo some type of testing to determine if they need more of the three types of estrogen or other hormones. You doctor will help you determine the best course of treatment if you experience something like this, and may encourage you to give attention to a perimenopause diet of food high in estrogen. Some doctors advise women to eat foods that are rich in phytoestrogen to boost estrogen levels.
Be careful not to self-diagnose. It’s highly recommended to have your hormone levels tested before you begin a treatment or perimenopause diet. Some women may not need estrogen rich foods but may be producing too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. There are saliva home tests that will help you monitor your hormone levels and decide whether you need to add estrogenic foods to your diet or not. Your doctor can also perform an in-office blood test and recommend a certain diet if needed.