9 Foods to Increase Estrogen Levels (Even if You’re Not TTC)
Estrogen is an important hormone that naturally occurs in both men and women. Levels are higher in women, where estrogen helps regulate the urinary and reproductive systems, and plays a role in sexual health and metabolism.
Maintaining a balanced estrogen level is key to a woman’s reproductive health, but women of all ages can develop low estrogen. While there may be many factors out of our control in the quest for hormonal balance, eating foods that increase estrogen levels is an important step to take if you suffer from low estrogen. This blog post will not only help you learn why estrogen levels are so important, but also help you discover foods that increase estrogen levels in females naturally.
Can foods really help to increase estrogen?
Yes and no. While there is no disputing the role that low estrogen plays in your body, the science is still out when it comes to determining if certain foods are the solution. What we do know is that some foods do contribute to healthy hormone levels and there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t include some in your diet.
Low estrogen levels
Hormones are the signaling system of the body, sending tiny messengers through the blood to tell tissues and organs what to do. When hormone levels are out of whack, even tiny changes can have serious knock-on effects throughout the body.
Estrogen impacts a wide range of bodily functions and systems in females, from sexual development and metabolism, to mood levels and cardiovascular health. While hormones naturally fluctuate throughout different stages of life, low estrogen can have a significant impact on your overall health.
Signs and symptoms
Because estrogen plays such an important role in female health, there are various reasons a woman’s estrogen may be low. These range from excessive exercise and thyroid conditions to conditions of the ovaries and genetic factors. Regardless of the reason, there are telltale signs that indicate you may be experiencing low estrogen levels.
Most common symptoms of low estrogen include:
- Fatigue, trouble sleeping, or insomnia
- Irregular or missed periods
- Mood swings and depression
- Hot flashes
- Breast tenderness
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Painful sex
Other symptoms may include headaches, bone density loss, and vaginal atrophy, as well as changes in hair production (excess or loss), acne, or darkening of the skin. Many of these symptoms are non-specific and having them does not necessarily indicate a hormonal imbalance.
Low estrogen during menopause
As women age, hormone levels begin to change and estrogen, along with other hormones, may begin to drop. Since your body is nearing the natural end of child-bearing years, less hormones are needed to maintain your reproductive system.
Changes in estrogen production may become irregular with varying levels in the leadup to menopause, but overall reduced production can affect a variety of bodily functions. Lower hormone levels can impact your brain and nervous system, vaginal health, and urinary system to name a few.
Many symptoms of low estrogen can be managed by lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and quitting smoking. Eating foods that can increase your estrogen levels is one strategy used to help naturally boost hormones.
Why it is important to keep your estrogen levels
Estrogen is responsible for regulating many functions in females and is a crucial hormone in the female health journey. From puberty, through fertility and menopause, estrogen also plays an important role in reducing the risk of certain diseases and has even been shown to play a protective factor in heart health.
Foods that increase estrogen
Estrogen is essential for maintaining good health and plays a significant role in a woman’s body. Although research is ongoing on the effects of dietary estrogen, preliminary studies have indicated they can mimic or enhance estrogen’s natural effect, making foods that naturally increase estrogen a viable strategy for managing your hormone levels.
Some foods contain phytoestrogens – naturally occurring nutrients derived from plants that are similar to estrogen. While the jury is still out, the majority of research has linked phytoestrogens to a variety of health benefits. Foods that increase estrogen levels in females may help offset health problems associated with low hormone levels.
The best dietary sources of estrogen (known as phytoestrogens) can be found in the following foods:
Although some debate remains, soybean products contain plant estrogens known as isoflavones. While it does have the potential for significant health benefits, it depends on the woman’s individual health circumstances to determine soy’s efficiency in increasing estrogen levels. Include soy in your diet with foods like edamame, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and soy yogurt.
Already packed with fiber and protein, nuts also contain phytoestrogens. Peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts pack the biggest punch, but other nuts, like almonds, can help boost your dietary estrogen as well.
Containing lignans, a type of dietary estrogen, flaxseeds are an excellent addition to an estrogen boosting diet. They can be easily added to salads, breads, and cereals and are a simple way to add more estrogen to your diet.
Rich in resveratrol, another type of dietary estrogen, red wine in limited consumption can be helpful in maintaining your hormonal balance and adding a boost of estrogen to your diet. In addition to its estrogen boosting properties, evidence also shows it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.
Loaded with health benefits, garlic is rich in phytoestrogens and may influence blood estrogen levels. Known for its strong taste and pungent odor, garlic has many benefits and can be easily added to your diet for a simple way to include more estrogen rich food.
Made from chickpeas, a rich source of phytoestrogens, hummus is a creamy spread that has a variety of benefits. Fibre-rich and a natural source of phytoestrogen, hummus is the ideal snack to increase estrogen levels while potentially lowering other risks such as heart disease or diabetes.
Typically containing more phytoestrogen than their fresh varieties, dried fruits can be an easy and convenient way to add estrogen rich food to your diet. Apricots, prunes, and dates particularly are phytoestrogen powerhouses and are an easy addition to other meals, or can be had on their own.
Offering a variety of health benefits, peaches pack a punch in the phytoestrogen department too. Packed with lignans, peaches are a sweet and delicious way to add more estrogen to your diet.
Loaded with vitamins and minerals, berries also have beneficial phytoestrogens to add to their list of impressive benefits. Not all berries are created equal however, and berries especially rich in phytoestrogens include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries.
How to track your estrogen levels at home
Whether you are looking to achieve your fertility goals, or tap into valuable information about your health, tracking hormone levels at home can help you and your doctor uncover valuable information about your cycles and hormone levels.
The science of tracking fertility hormones at home can be difficult to grasp. A personalized lab-quality and data-driven solution such as Mira Fertility can allow you to identify your unique patterns and offer personalized fertility insights. With it’s clinically proven accuracy, the Mira Analyzer tracks luteinizing hormone (LH) and estrogen giving you real-world data you can track and use, not to mention share with your healthcare provider. Mira takes the guesswork out of tracking and can help you make informed decisions about your reproductive cycle.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOG
Banafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Eden Fertility Centers, and has been treatingcouples and individuals with infertility since 2014.
Dr. Kashani has conducted extensive research in female reproduction, with a specific focus on the endometrium and implantation.
Additionally, Dr. Kashani has authored papers in the areas of fertility preservation, and fertility in women with PCOS and Turners syndrome. She also was part of a large SART-CORS study evaluating the trend in frozen embryo transfers and success rates.