What Are Phyto-oestrogens
Phyto-oestrogens are plant-based compounds that are structurally similar to oestradiol (as opposed to estrone.)
There are two types of phyto-oestrogen compounds, isoflavones which are found predominantly in soy and red clover and plant lignans found predominantly in fruit, whole grains and seeds, most notably flaxseeds (linseeds.) (All great sources of fibre for gut health)
Soy products to consider adding to your diet (organic and non-GMO if possible) are tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame. There is some literature suggesting that soy can be an endocrine disruptor and is a known allergen. I would encourage you to explore Pub Med published literature to help you decide if soy is for you.
There are two fascinating ways that lignans offer health benefits.
Post menopause, a woman’s ovaries no longer produce much oestrogen (some amounts are then made from fat tissue.) Lignans are known to bind to oestrogen receptors on the surface of cells and by doing so can initiate oestrogen-like effects. This is turn can offset some of the symptoms of low oestrogen eg hot flushes, erratic sleep patterns, vaginal dryness, mood swings. It is believed that this binding offers protection against some hormone dependent cancers such as breast cancer. Other benefits are helping maintain strong bones, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
During peri-menopause., many women suffer from oestrogen dominance (liver health is crucial at this time!) Lignans also help to break down and remove oestrogen from the body by increasing the production of chemicals that fascilitate this in the body (aka having an oestrogen dampening effect or an anti-oestrogenic effect.)
Flaxseeds have around 100 times more lignans than any other food (lignan precursors actually which get activated by your gut bacteria.
Seed cycling is an interesting concept which is believed to support fertility and menstrual cycle pain. This concept suggests that during the first half of your cycle (days 1-14: the menstrual, follicular and ovulatory phases) you have a greater need for oestrogen. And in the second half of the cycle (days 15-28: the luteal phase) you have a greater need for projesterone.
I am a big fan of flaxseeds (and with no more cycles I can enjoy them at any time of the month!) I eat 1-2 tablespoons per day. Grinding them up in a coffee grinder before consuming makes the nutrients more bioavailable. I also sometimes soak them overnight in the slow cooker with my groats – yum.
Here in the photo I have topped my breakfast pasta with wild berries (think phytonutrients.