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You’ve probably been hearing about estrogen since seventh-grade health class, but do you really know what it does to your body? There are two main types of estrogen — and regarding weight loss, one is good and the other not so good. Estradiol, the good kind, helps women’s bodies stay lean. Estrone, the not-so-good kind, shifts fat from the hips and butt to the belly. When we’re young, estradiol is the dominant estrogen in the body, but as we age and hit menopause, the balance shifts, and estrone takes over.

People used to think that all the problems related to women’s hormone balance stemmed from declining levels of estrogen, especially during perimenopause and menopause. But increasingly, women (and men) in Western cultures tend to have too much estrogen rather than too little. Our bodies are getting slammed with hormone-disrupting synthetic estrogens from all sides, including the ingredients in our shampoos, the cleaners under our sinks, and the preservatives in our foods and the plastics wrapping them. Eating the right foods can help you restore a healthy estrogen balance. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Dietary fiber improves the body’s natural “estrogen disposal system.”
    Good sources: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, especially those high in soluble fiber, such as apples, barley, beans, psyllium, lentils, and oat bran.
  • Flavones may prevent adrenal hormones, such as testosterone, from being converted into estrogen.
    Good sources: onions and apples.
  • Green tea may lower levels of estrone, the less healthy type of estrogen.
  • Indole-3-carbinol, an antioxidant, blocks estrogen receptors on cell membranes.
    Good sources: cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts.
  • Pomegranate juice, extract, and oil have been found, in lab research, to block estrogenic activity and prevent some types of breast cancer cells from multiplying.
    Good sources: Pomegranate juice and seeds.****