In this episode, I am speaking with Magdalena Wszelaki, the author of the bestselling – and truly phenomenal – cookbook, Cooking for Hormone Balance, and founder of Hormones Balance, a nutrition practice dedicated to helping women to rebalance their hormones naturally.
We will talk about the most common causes of estrogen dominance, how it can sabotage your health and energy levels, and how you can optimize your hormones with foods and herbs. .
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Magdalena and I will discuss:
- Shocking statistics around estrogen dominance that affect 85% of women
- 3 types of estrogen dominance and how they can negatively affect you
- How your digestion and microbiome impacts your hormone regulation
- Understanding how energy levels can change throughout your cycle
- Why estrogen itself shouldn’t be demonized
- The best tests to check your estrogen levels
- Magdalena’s top list of easy-to-find foods and supplements to balance estrogen, boost mitochondria, and prevent cancer
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Ari: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Superhuman Energy Summit. I’m your host, Ari Whitten. And today I have with me, my friend, Magdalena Wszelaki, who is the author of the bestselling cookbook Cooking for Hormone Balance, which is amazing, and I highly recommend it, if you are a woman, just a woman and period, whether you’re young or old or have health problems or not. I just, it’s a phenomenal book on nutrition for optimizing female hormones. Really can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s also beautifully done. So just a cool book to have around your house.
She’s the founder of Hormones Balance, a nutrition practice dedicated to helping women to rebalance their hormones naturally. She is a certified nutrition coach, herbalist, certified life coach, speaker, and educator with a long history of hormonal challenges herself. Her own health crisis was the direct result from a highly stressful life, her former life in advertising work, starting from Graves’ and Hashimoto’s disease to complete burnout and estrogen dominance.
Today, she’s in full remission, she lives a symptoms free life and teaches women how to accomplish the same in her book and her online resources. So welcome my friend, such a pleasure to hang out with you as always.
Magdalena: Wow. I wish we had just lived in the same city.
Ari: I know. Well, fortunately you come here, maybe at least once a year, so far as long as I’ve known you.
The most common conditions caused by estrogen dominance
Ari: So in this presentation, she is going to be talking all about obviously women’s hormones balance and nutrition and how that relates to energy levels, but specifically estrogen dominance in particular and how that sabotages your energy levels. I’m really looking forward to this. She’s got some great content around this, that’s also very unique content that not a lot of people are saying so let’s get into it.
Magdalena: Okay. So maybe why don’t we just start off with just some facts about estrogen dominance and to set the stage a little bit here? Obviously this is, Ari, you know, this is a very personal topic to me because I am hugely; I have a predisposition to be very estrogenic. That’s my genetics, and always had a history of a lot of problems with lumpy breasts and terrible PMS and thyroid nodules. And, as you’ll find out all of that is a result, direct result of estrogen dominance.
So the interesting thing is that 70% of women experience estrogen dominance at some point in their lives. And 90% of us do not realize that they have it. And I’m going to be talking about the specific symptoms in just a second.
You know, one in seven women in United States will develop breast cancer, and 80% of breast cancers in developed countries are estrogenic. What we call the estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, and therefore, preventable. Then you’re talking about 250,000 gallbladders are being removed every year in the United States, most of them are the result of estrogen dominance in women. Or women develop estrogen dominance a few months after the surgery. 75% of women experienced PMS. You show me a woman who doesn’t experience PMS, right?
Again, this is something that is completely preventable, and, from today onwards, I really hope that our listeners will realize that having PMS is not part of being a woman. It is completely unacceptable, and it’s totally reversible. You know, you’re talking about 40% of women experience hormonal insomnia. Most of the time, it is mostly women who have a problem sleeping, right? I’m not saying men don’t, but it is more of a female problem. And guess what? Most of it is hormonally connected, and we’re going to talk a lot more about progesterone later, and that’s typically low progesterone causes that.
We have 600,000 hysterectomies, so removal of the uterus, performed annually in the United States. And this is, again, a lot of them are very preventable. And most of the hysterectomies happen because of fibroids, endometriosis, and both of these conditions are estrogen dominance driven. Most American women develop fibroids at some point in their lives. One study found that at age 50, by age 50, 70% of white women and 80% of African American women have fibroids. Similarly, they are completely preventable and manageable because fibroids growth happens because of estrogen.
85% of women suffer from some degree of hormonal imbalances, at least once in their lifetime. So as you can see, this is like pretty much everyone you know, whether it’s your neighbor or your friend, your colleague, your sister, your mom. It’s like, who doesn’t have that, some of those issues that I’ve mentioned.
And so, I know we are talking about estrogen dominance today, but I just want to make sure that we don’t demonize estrogen because the truth is that we need it to be a woman. We need it in order to be in the right balance. And the question is about how we breaking down those estrogens and the balance of estrogen versus progesterone that we have that really can make a big difference in how we feel.
So Ari, why don’t we start off with some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance so that our listeners can connect with the message?
Why estrogen dominance is isn’t a normal condition
Ari: Yeah. It sounds like it’s a majority of the female population. So I’m sure you’ll address this later on, but I’m curious. If it’s a majority of the female population, how do we know if it’s truly an abnormal thing of something that’s gone wrong versus, “Hey, maybe this is just the normal balance of hormones for women”?
Magdalena: Yup. That’s a really good and a really important question. And I can tell you, and I can speak of it firsthand that having lived, for example, in Asia. I grew up in Asia, spent 22 years of my life there. Conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid nodules, lumpy breasts, breast cancers, for example, in Japan and China were pretty much unknown until a Western way style with living and diet has come in.
And so it’s not like it was completely unknown. It was obviously, there’s always somebody who has that, there’s always some abnormality. But as the majority of women, we didn’t experience that at all. There was a belief for a long time that in Japanese, there’s no word for menopause, actually there is, but that word only started existing 20 years ago. So, that’s kind of interesting and we know today that with the change in diet, with the amount of chemicals that we are using, a lot of them as you know, estrogens that come from whether our skincare stuff, whether it’s from the food we’re eating, all of that contribute towards estrogen dominance. So it’s definitely something that is amplified by our modern life for sure.
So, if we’re talking about symptoms, it’s everything from PMS, heavy bleeding or postmenopausal bleeding, spider or varicose veins, cellulite like the woman just cannot get rid of no matter what she does. Heavy periods, breast cysts and ovarian fibroids, irritability, mood swings, and anxiety, especially around your ovulation or just before your period or on the first day of your period. Headaches or migraines, particularly before your period. Fat around your hips.
So again, it’s like that woman who goes to the gym three times a week and works on her butt and her legs. And yet she carries all that fat there, can’t get rid of it. Thyroid nodules, history of thyroid cancer, history of lung cancers in non-smokers, history of estrogen receptor positive, but also interestingly, progesterone receptor positive breast cancer.
I just came back from a conference when they were showing studies that prove that women who are progesterone receptor positive breast cancer, which many of them are, the progesterone receptors get amplified because of the presence of estrogen dominance. Bloating, puffiness, water retention, lumpy and fibrocystic breasts. And so how many women here do not have lumpy breasts or didn’t have a lumpy breast at one point in their lives then.
This is one of the most painful and scary situations when a woman finds a lump on her breast. Endometriosis, fibroids, like I mentioned before, gallbladder issues or your gallbladder was removed, and often times that then leads to estrogen dominance. When you have brown facial discoloration called melasma, whether it’s on top of your lips, on the side of your cheeks. Having a lot of allergies can also be a sign of estrogen dominance.
That’s in the women, in men it’s not as common, but it’s becoming more common. Things like prostate issues and men boobs, or both of them can be due to estrogen dominance. On the other hand what’s also interesting is that a lot of times women will say to me, “You know, I’m in menopause, right? Oh, I’m going through perimenopause. And I know my estrogen is tanking, is lower than before. I know it. I had it tested. My gynae told me, my doctor told me, and why am I experiencing a lot of the things you talked about here, Magdalena? You were talking about estrogen dominance. I’m low on estrogen. Why am I experiencing this?”
And so I want to assure you that are completely possible. And so in order to explain that, I want to just explain that the three different types, if you will, of estrogen dominance. And I kind of compiled it to three different scenarios just to make it easy to explain to our audience. The first one is what I call too much of the bad guy.
The second one is what I call a dirty breakup. That’s when you have too many of the dirty estrogens. Scenario three is when you’re talking about having unbalanced partners. Think of it as like that imbalanced partners, like you meet this couple and this guy is talking all the time, talking over the woman and a woman that’s like very timid. And you can see it’s not a healthy relationship. With hormones it’s actually no different than that.
So if you’re looking at scenario one. What happens is we have three different types of estrogens. Estrone. We have estradiol, also known as E2. It goes by E2, just for simplicity. And estriol also known as E3.
So when there is an overall dominance of E2, estradiol, that’s when we call it the aggressive estrogen, its highest in the premenopausal women, that’s the one that’s linked to breast cancer. There’s also estrodiol what’s found in, I mentioned skincare products, like if you’re using the commercial skincare products, the one that smells really nice has got the fragrances and the phthalates and the BPA’s in it.
The drinking water from plastic bottles that’s been out in the heat for a long time. You microwave your food in plastic foods and eat that stuff. That’s estradiol that’s entering your body. And so having too much of that is what can cause estrogen dominance in the first scenario.
Ari: So just to clarify the BPA, the phthalates are not estrodiol themselves, but they’re raising your levels of estrodiol or they’re influencing the balance of these three types of estrogens in a way that shifts things more towards estrodiol.
Magdalena: Absolutely. That’s correct. In the second scenario what happens is that in our slides, the one that I sent over to you is where I show a snippet of an example of a test from Dutch. And one of the reasons why I like the test very much is because it shows you how one of the hormones, estrone, that’s your E1, gets broken down to metabolites.
So think of it this way. Think of it like a river that’s going and you have this bank in the middle of the river bed, and this bank clears out the water and some of the water then flows through the bank and it’s dirty and the other side is clean. And so that’s what the dirty estrogens, if you will, are the ones that you can see is right on top there, 16-OH-E1.
So this hydroxy estrone and then the four is problematic. And then the two right at the bottom, there, that’s the one that it’s a protective one. So this is an example of someone who, these are actually my results. As you can see, like right at the bottom there, the two, the protective one, I’m very high on that. And I’m very low on both the four and the 16, which is a good thing; because those are the metabolites that are causing a lot of the symptoms that we talked about.
Ari: I see, so you’re just showing off, huh?
Magdalena: I am saying that I’m living proof that is possible for someone who is genetically very inclined towards being super estrogenic. And I have family members on both sides. I know you’re joking, but…
Ari: I mean, it’s super important. It’s important also to know that if somebody is teaching something that they’re walking the walk and that their methods actually work.
Magdalena: You know, I have family members of both sides of family and my mom’s side, my dad’s side, my aunts who passed away from ovarian cancers, uterine cancer, breast cancers. So I’ve inherited both snips on both sides of my parents. And I’m super high risk on having breast cancer. So I’ll do anything obviously, within reasonable causes, to prevent that.
And so that’s the second scenario and that’s what I was calling originally the dirty breakup. You think about it, you break up in a bad way. And so that feels very negative and that’s what it is.
The third scenario is what we call the unbalanced partners. And so, in the slides that I sent over to you, there was a really cool slide that shows how, when you’re, for example, 35 years old, take a look at the axis when you’ve got the age. And you look at someone who is 35 years old this shows you how much of a balance there is between estrogen and progesterone. And in a healthy woman there’s a healthy balance between those two.
And then scroll more to the right and take a look. And then now the woman who is 55 years old. And first thing, you will see that both her estrogen and progesterone have dropped and that’s perfectly normal. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, it’s part of nature. But take a look at how much more estrogen she has versus progesterone. And so even though both of her hormones dropped, there is an excess of that estrogen as compared to progesterone. And so this explains what I was saying earlier, where women say to me, “I’m in menopause, it’s impossible that I should be having estrogen dominance symptoms”, yet it’s possible because you have that imbalance of progesterone versus estrogen, even though you’re low on both hormones.
So and, just to add to this, a lot of women would relate to this about symptoms of low progesterone. So let’s not forget about that. They’re very similar to everything that I talked about, all the symptoms on their estrogen dominance. But you also have to look at a few other ones which are pretty specific to low progesterone such as insomnia. Women who never had a problem sleeping before and then suddenly she’s like, “I just can’t sleep anymore” or “I wake up at three o’clock in the morning and I cannot go back to sleep”. So midnight waking and then inability to go back to sleep.
Then you have, of course, infertility, miscarriages, and especially in the first trimester, mid cycle spotting. When you’re spotting when you’re still menstruating and spotting, that’s most likely low progesterone. Feeling really anxious. And the sense of restlessness that goes with that, a lot of mood swings and hot flashes. All of them can be due to low progesterone. So do you want me to talk about what causes estrogen dominance?
Ari: Please. Yeah, that’s important and kind of goes back to the question that I asked you earlier. Since its majority of women, how do we really know that this isn’t just a normal hormone balance for women? That the introduction of the Western lifestyle and the fact that how it correlates to that is obviously a huge way we can know, but even more specifically, there’s probably research around the specific causes and the likelihood specific factors and the likelihood to have estrogen dominance. So yes, I would absolutely love to hear about that.
Magdalena: So I have divided them into internal factors and external factors. So internal factors is what is related to your body and how your body produces and metabolizes estrogens that can contribute to that. So the first one is body fat cells. So your body fat actually is an endocrine organ, believe it or not. A lot of people think like, “Oh, your ovaries and the thyroid are part of the endocrine system”. Actually, a lot of the fat, especially around your abdomen becomes an organ as well. And that can produce excessive estrogen.
As now as a woman, you’re producing estrogen in your ovaries. For some women it’s the adrenals, especially after hysterectomy, but then you have your body fat also over producing estrogen. So adding fuel to the fire. Women who have lost their gallbladders, or have insufficient bile to bind and evacuate metabolized estrogens can experience that as well.
Ari, let me give you an example. This actually happened to me probably seven years ago when I met this woman and she says, “You know? I lost my gallbladder. And then six months later, I started having really lumpy breasts”. And two years later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And so that was the first thing and she was like, “You know, I was always wondering what is the connection?” And at that time I didn’t really connect the dots.
And then I started doing more research on it. And it was really fascinating that the gallbladder stores bile and a lot of people think that bile, if you ask anybody in our space or most people, many people don’t even know what bile is for. But even in our space as practitioners, everybody will tell you that bile is there to emulsify fats, to help you digest fats.
Not many people talk about the fact that the bile also, one of its roles, is to bind up those estrogens, those metabolites, the 4 and the 16 that I was talking about, and evacuate it through poop. Because you’re pooping out your hormones, especially the metabolized ones. So when a woman loses her gallbladder, she still produces bile, but in very small amounts and it’s like on demand, it’s not in storage when it’s like available when you eat something fatty. And then it’s kind of like dripping a little at a time from the liver. And so then the body prioritizes and says, “I’m going to deploy that bile for fat production”, because you need that fat in order to produce cholesterol.
From cholesterol you have all these other hormones that are produced, all your steroid hormones, your testosterone, estrogen, your cortisol, progesterone, DHEA. All of that comes from that. So you need that, but I’m going to then compromise and not metabolize your estrogen so well, because I just don’t have enough bandwidth. And so this is consistently, I posted once on our group saying “Who here lost gallbladder?” and “Have you had any estrogen problems after that?” And I cannot tell you how many women have come on and say, “I never thought about that. Why hasn’t my doctor told me this?” It was overwhelming.
Ari: And with gallbladder surgeries, I think every time…
Magdalena: 250,000 in the country, every year?
Ari: Wow. I had no idea it was that common, but I know that they will prescribe digestive enzymes in most cases or tell people to take digestive enzymes with meals.
Magdalena: But it doesn’t replace the bile. So I mean, taking ox bile is a good replacement for that. Yes.
Ari: Yeah. That’s what I was going to say is like, yes, you’ll digest the food and emulsify fats, but maybe the digestive enzymes don’t take care of this other role relating to estrogens.
Magdalena: Exactly. So ox bile does, but guess what? Most people are not even made aware that that is an option. And so that’s, I think, part of the reason why we so liberally remove women’s gallbladders. A man’s as well, but I think as women, we suffer more from that hormonally, that could be one of the contributing factors. The fact that so many of us have a sluggish liver, like one of the biggest shockers that I remember I had was that when I started researching this is that your liver has different pathways, like the sulfation pathway, methylation pathway.
And every one of these pathways is responsible for metabolizing different hormones, bacteria, viruses; different drugs go through different pathways. And estrogen gets metabolized by three of them. And so you need those compounds and you need basically the liver to function properly to break down, remember the chart I was showing you? The ugly breakup, that 2, 4 and 16?
We need a healthy liver. That’s when the metabolized gets broken down. There is a genetic component to that. But the majority of that is going to depend on your liver. So when you said, “Is this like a given or is it acquired?” Well, guess what? Most of us have compromised livers. Because of all that, whether it’s caffeine, whether it’s alcohol, whether it’s stress, whether it’s the diets that we eat.
Ari: There’s an epidemic now of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. I mean, it’s skyrocketed in the last couple of decades.
Magdalena: Absolutely. So then, you have a diet full of sugar and little fiber, that’s another big factor here. And that causes constipation. Well, guess what, I kind of alluded to this when I was talking about a gallbladder, is that you need to poop your hormones out. When you’re not pooping often enough, meaning at least once or twice a day, feeling completely empty, having a really nice, healthy bowel movement. All of those hormones re-enter and get reabsorbed into the body. And then your endocrine system shuts down because it thinks it has got enough hormones, but actually it doesn’t. So that’s another contributor here and I don’t need to convince you that back in the day, we have no constipation problems. Now you go into CVS, you walk into the aisle, what do you see? On constipation, you probably have like 40 different products for helping people move their bowels.
Ari: I take all 40, just to be clear.
Magdalena: Right I’m sure you do. That, in fact it could be poor gut microflora. There is something called estrobolome. Estrobolome is a subset of bacteria that codes for enzymes that break down those estrogens. Again, remember that ugly breakout? The 2, 4, and 16? Estrobolome are these little bugs, those little subset of bacteria that will help you to break down those hormones or not.
Stress can be a huge contributor and something we call pregnenolone steal. The stress basically steals your progesterone in order to produce more cortisol for you to survive through stress. And when that happens, then you’re depleted of progesterone. And that’s a scenario number three, when I talked about the unbalanced partners, when you have too much of estrogen and too little progesterone, and that’s because of stress.
Again, to your point, we did not have as much stress in our lives as we do now. And there’s a small element of genetic predispositions, like the COMT and the MAO genes that people, who have like double mutations of those, and definitely that predisposes us a lot more to having those metabolites to be taken care of properly.
So those are the internal factors. Then you have the external ones, like phytoestrogens when you have excessive amounts of extragenic foods that are unhealthy, such as soy, processed soy here, and meat. And I’m not talking here about meat that comes from farm animals out there that are grass fed. I’m talking here about animals that are fed antibiotics that are put on hormones. And most of the time you eat meat that comes from females. And so that contributes to the problem. Dairy because of all the hormones that cow has been given. Xenoestrogens.
So things like phthalates, parabens, BPA, plastics, all mess up our endocrine system in a huge way. Birth control pills, no brainer there, hormone replacement therapy. So taking synthetic hormones can be a contributing factor here. But I think it’s like the smallest of them all. I think a lot of the other ones, things that we don’t even realize that we do. Like I said, that bottle, you just go to the supermarket; you buy a bottle of water. What’s the big deal? And you don’t realize that the bottle was probably sitting there for six months in the storage facility somewhere and out in the sun. It’s not covered because why cover it? And all of that plastic gets into the water and that’s what gets to us.
Is soy healthy or unhealthy?
Ari: Yeah. I have a quick question for you on soy. I grew up, since the time I was a teenager, when I started studying nutrition over 20 years ago, especially in the fitness community and the bodybuilding community. Soy was very feared among men as well. Women, because it’s like, it’s phytoestrogens, it’s going to cause breast cancer and ovarian cancer and those kinds of things. But for men, it was like, “Oh, you know, it increases estrogen levels. You’re going to get man boobs. You’re going to build less muscle. You’re going to put on fat”, all these types of things. So it was very feared.
And for, I would say much of the last 20 years, that’s the case. But then in the last, I think last five years especially, there’s been a whole bunch of research that’s come out. That’s pretty much vindicated soy, that’s basically said, “Women in particular, women have lower rates of breast cancer and lower rates of breast cancer recurrence, the more soy that they consume”. And I think that doesn’t even take into account whether you’re consuming organic tempeh, fermented soy, or GMO, typical soy, milk, tofu, and stuff like that.
Magdalena: Yeah. So I would love to talk to you about that. So there are studies actually that shows both. One of the problems with the studies is that they don’t tell you exactly what form of soy that was. And that is one of the detrimental things about that kind of research, because you don’t know whether they were given soy milk or given a nice fermented tempeh that in Indonesia.
As I said, I grew up in Asia and half of the population in Indonesia can only afford fermented soy as the source of protein. So is it that, or is it that horribly processed stuff and the fake meats and stuff like that? What have they been feeding them?
Ari, there was research that shows both sides and because of the flavonoids in soy, yes, there is. I have met a number of women who have said that their hot flashes have stopped after taking soy.
The thing is that I feel like there are so many other foods and that’s the second part of the presentation today I prepared for you, is to talk about foods that you can really safely incorporate into your life without fearing what it is. So let me just clarify this. When I talk about soy here, I’m talking about the highly processed form. So that would include things like tofu. That’s going to be all the fake meats. So you want to stay away from that stuff as far as possible. Soy milk. And then the good form of soy will be things in a natural form, what they are doing in a Japanese restaurant, I’m forgetting…
Magdalena: Miso is wonderful. Yes, absolutely. And then you’re doing tempeh, all of that stuff is really great. That one I have no issues with. It’s just that most people don’t. And so the first thing they do is run off and get soy milk.
Ari: I eat a lot of tempeh myself.
Magdalena: Right. That’s a really great food. So since we’re here to talk about specifically estrogen dominance and energy, I will say that there is a direct and indirect link between estrogen dominance and energy. So let’s just explore this a little bit.
The first thing I’ll say is that if you look at the menstrual cycle of a woman. We all know as women that in the first part of the cycle, meaning from after your period, from when your period starts and when it’s kind of over. That’s when you enter like a good time. That’s when you are full of energy and optimism and you’re feeling like the world is yours.
And if you look at the chart, how our hormones fluctuate in our cycle, this is only of course for cycling women who still have a period. This is the time when estrogen is at its highest. And that’s when we have really good energy. The second part of the cycle, which is called the luteal phase. This is where the estrogen starts dropping and it comes up a little bit again, and then it drops really low before the period.
So the luteal phase typically, that’s what we always say a lot of times after ovulation, this kind of becomes more of a quiet time, more like introvert time, like a time of reflection. But your energy is also not the same. And then of course, before your period, this is when it’s like a lot of women just want to stay in bed the whole day.
Why? If you track it back to estrogen, this is when it’s completely at its lowest before it comes back up again. So what’s one thing as a woman and is also really important for us to recognize is that you don’t expect, especially if you’re menstruating, to be like “Go, go, go, full of energy the whole time”. Honor your cycle and know what are the times that you want to be energetic and engaged and honor the time when you feel introverted, it could be something to do with your hormones. And that’s perfectly okay.
The most common misconceptions about estrogen
Ari: Yeah. That’s great. I’ve even seen some fitness training programs that have come out in the last few years that are specifically for women and how to train, how to periodize their training. Organize their difficult days, their intense days and their lighter days according to their monthly cycle. And there’s actually some research that has shown greater improvements in women training on those kinds of programs compared to conventional non periodized training programs. So I think this is really important. Great advice.
Magdalena: Yeah. Whether its exercise or whether it’s anything you do in your life. Whether you have to make certain decisions or you’re doing presentations, you need to talk to your investors or whatever. Just try to pick a time when it’s not before your period. That’s just fine. I mean it really impacts us in every way.
And I’m not just talking about energy here, but it’s just a whole demeanor too. So the other thing that I think is important to talk about is that estrogen and inflammation, on one hand, remember how I said at the beginning of the presentation that estrogen, let’s not demonize estrogen? When I talk about estrogen dominance, it’s gained this reputation of estrogen’s bad.
One of the most common emails that we get is “You’re suggesting flaxseed, you’re crazy. Flaxseed, it’s full of estrogen. You’re going to kill women”. That’s going to be one of the foods that I do want to talk about so let’s not demonize it. And this is like one study that I cited here. The name of the study is, “Estrogen is a modulator of vascular inflammation”. And it was a really fascinating long study and it shows that a right amount of estrogen can actually be anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative; it can help us with anti-aging. It can help with pain.
It controls our blood sugar levels; it increases reception for sensitivity to leptin so you’re not hungry all the time after eating. It has really important functions. But on the other hand, this is where the nuance is, that it’s the excess of estrogen or the dirty metabolites that are there and they are highly inflammatory. And so you are the mitochondrial expert and you can tell, can you just share, maybe? Have you seen anybody who has got a lot of inflammation, who’s got a healthy mitochondria?
Ari: Well actually there’s research showing specifically elevated inflammatory cytokines directly shut down mitochondrial respiration. So yeah, those two things are pretty mutually exclusive to have very high end chronic inflammation and lots of energy.
Magdalena: So I thought that I’m not going to be going into research, showing you how inflammation is going to shut down mitochondria, because that’s not my expertise area. Ari can tell you more about that. But if you could just take it for a fact. Remember one of the symptoms I talked about is allergies? And you’d be like, “Estrogen dominance, allergies. What is she talking about?”
Well, it has the inflammatory response. It’s the estrogen dominance that causes the inflammation. You were so inflamed. Your immune system is reacting to everything. Whether it’s dust, whether it’s an animal, whether it’s food, whether there’s pollen that you never had an allergy to before, suddenly all of those things develop. And so that’s something really important to remember is, again, is the inflammation.
And when you have an inflammation, it shuts down your mitochondria, your energy is down. The other thing how we can look at estrogen dominance and energy is a direct link on estrogen onto the thyroid. And think of the thyroid like a speed pedal in your car, gas pedal, sorry. You have gas pedal in a car. So it gives you great energy. It gives you super sharp mind. It gives you healthy hair. It gives you the ability to express yourself. And all of that is related to the thyroid and a lot more.
So let’s explore the connection between estrogen dominance and thyroid. Interestingly, estrogen dominance causes the liver to produce high levels of this protein called thyroid binding globulin. And you can actually get this tested on the blood work.
And the interesting thing is that elevated numbers of thyroid binding globulin binds up T4 hormone. T4 is what the thyroid produces. But T4 is also for those women who are on Synthroid, for example. Synthroid is also a T4 hormone.
And so these are the women who go, “You know? I feel so tired. I’ve put on so much weight.” They go and see the doctor. And a doc goes, “Well, let’s just increase the doses.” So then she goes up from 125 ML to 150 ML. Okay. Milligrams. Okay, great. And then she comes back. She’s like, “Doc, I just feel so off. It’s not helping at all.” And they go, “Well, it’s in your mind. I put you on antidepressants.” The one looks into estrogen dominance, nobody looks at her thyroid binding globulin to see, is there something that’s binding up all that T4 hormone, that’s why she’s not enjoying the benefit of that additional energy which she should be getting.
So this is really important. And then again, it goes back to what I was saying just now, is that estrogen in excess and too many of those metabolites can be inflammatory, that can weaken your intestinal lining, that can create an immune response and guess what? And that can then worsen your autoimmune condition. And most people who have thyroid condition have that because of Hashimoto’s disease. 90% of low thyroid cases are because of Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease. So there you have it, the inflammation then directly feeds it into Hashimoto’s.
And so it’s kind of killing me when I hear people write to us and say, “You know, I read and love your blog and everything you’re doing. But some things you were saying makes no sense to me at all. You asking everybody to start eating kale and collard greens and all the cruciferous vegetables, all the goiters are going to kill my thyroid”. And I always say to people, “You know, I have never, ever met a person who has gotten off all the cruciferous vegetables that are supposedly killing your thyroid and then feeling fantastic”.
Ari: I think of that as reported improvement.
The role of progesterone in estrogen dominance
Ari: It’s my understanding of that, I’m curious if you agree, but my understanding is it’s only something that interferes with thyroid production and, you know, iodine transport in the thyroid in the context of an iodine deficiency or an iodine deficient diet. And then you have to worry about goitrogenic effects from cruciferous vegetables, but almost nobody’s on an iodine deficient diet. So removing these cruciferous vegetables with so many amazing benefits just doesn’t make any sense.
Magdalena: Yes, that is correct. I mean many are people low on iodine. That is the fact in the country. However, you’ve got to have huge amounts of like, amounts that you never eat in terms, of course, of eating them in a raw form in order to, and I have met people before who would juice and eat bunches of kale a day, like two, three of them in a smoothie because they go on a healthy trip and then they develop a thyroid problem after three months. But you know, I’m not asking anybody to eat three bunches of kale every day. That’s not what it’s about. And especially not in raw form. So anyway, this is one thing.
And then the other thing I think is also important, the way we talk about estrogen dominance and this role on energy is that let’s not forget that the third form of estrogen dominance, the unbalanced partner said that we have low progesterone and progesterone can impact us indirectly in terms of energy.
Why? Because when you are low on progesterone, which so many women are, especially after 45, it’s pretty much a pandemic. You don’t sleep and you’re having a lot of insomnia problems. And so you tell me how many people here feel fantastic after not sleeping at night.
And then mood swings, anxiety and nervousness, which is hugely energetically zapping. I know you’re not a woman, but any woman will tell you when you have a lot of fits and the kind of mood swings, you don’t feel good, and it’s hugely energetically zapping as well, and you feel bad about it. So I know many people ask, or always ask about, “So how do I test? How do I know if I’m estrogen dominant?” And definitely go by the symptoms, that’s very telling, but if you want something on paper, there’s a couple of options.
Blood is the least reliable way of doing it, but you can do a couple of things. One is, well, actually the one thing I recommend is the 2:16 hydroxyestrone is something you can do by blood. Those are the two metabolites that I was talking about. Unfortunately, when it comes to seeing estrogen and progesterone in your blood is highly inaccurate and I do not recommend it. I cannot tell you how many women I have seen having screaming symptoms of estrogen dominance, and then showing me the blood work. And the doctor says everything is perfectly fine, but then when we test it through saliva or urine, it’s a different story altogether and then the truth comes out.
So saliva is a pretty decent way of doing it. The only thing I think that’s missing in saliva is that they cannot test those metabolites, the dirty breakup ones that I was telling you about. It doesn’t show up. The best right now, the state of the art is urine testing. And the lab that I personally love a lot, and I know a lot of practitioners use is called Dutch. D-U-T-C-H. And that will show you a whole bunch of different things about what’s going on with your hormones, not just estrogen, progesterone, but a lot more.
So, to sum up this section here, I just want to say really estrogen is super needed for us to be healthy in terms of healthy weight, good energy, brain function, reproductive health, cardiovascular, bone health, you name it. But estrogen metabolites can either be protective or they can be highly antagonistic. And they are the ones that are causing all the gain weight and energy loss and cancers. The cool thing is that we can control how we break down those estrogens. And I think that’s one of the most redeeming and inspiring thing about doing this work is that we can really shift that around and guess what? Food and supplements are the most natural way to do that. So if you want, I can talk about food, Ari.
The best foods to eliminate estrogen dominance
Ari: Let’s get into it.
Magdalena: Okay. So, just on a very simple level, I like to call it KISS, which is Keep It Simple, Silly. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Like you don’t have to follow very specific protocols and just a couple of things just to keep in mind. First thing is keep it really rich in fiber. We talking here about like doing 30 to 40 grams of fiber every day focusing on unrefined foods with no gimmicks, like don’t fall for all these powders and shakes that promise you skies and heavens, they actually are highly inflammatory. To me, that’s not real food.
Keeping your diet highly anti-inflammatory that includes also cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. They play a huge role into how your estrogen is metabolized. Supporting your gut health because that’s where your estrogen metabolism also happens.
Detoxing your liver on a regular basis. And keeping things low in sugar is really going to be a great starting point. And you can start seeing some really big shifts.
Get a cookbook, there are so many healthy cookbooks that subscribe to this way of eating and you’re going to start feeling better right away. So there’s a few things that I would love to walk our audience through which you can start incorporating like tomorrow. The first thing, we talked about it briefly, is the cruciferous vegetables.
So cruciferous vegetables is basically the Brassicaceae family, that’s the cabbage family, right. And it includes things like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, or the radishes, bok choy, watercress. So pretty big, nice family. They’re also so nutritionally dense too. What’s beautiful about them is that they support liver detoxification. They’re very high in sulfur. They’re very high in fiber.
They also deals that contain certain substances like Di-indolyl- methane, sulforaphane. I’m going to talk about that in a second that are hugely important for liver detoxification. And because of that, they help you clear all those dirty estrogens. They’re high in fiber, they’re anti-inflammatory, and they are super high packed with nutrients. And they like, we talked about it earlier, are safe for the thyroid.
So doing two, three cups a day, and if you have a thyroid condition that makes you nervous to be doing them raw, just slightly cook them, steam them for just a couple of minutes, two, three minutes is good enough. And that’s going to help your thyroid more than anything else you’re going to do. I can promise you that. So one of them, one of the foods in the cruciferous vegetable family, broccoli sprouts specifically, and I’m not talking here about any other sprouts, but everything I’m going to be telling you about this right now, this only applies to broccoli sprouts.
So the beautiful thing about them is that broccoli sprouts contain something, the substance called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is if you just like go to pub med and enter in the word, sulforaphane you will see hundreds of studies and that will amaze you. One of them is that it is anticarcinogenic, it literally kills the cancer stem cells. And there are a number of studies on that. It helps with Phase I and Phase II liver detoxification, a little bit more towards the phase two. It helps with the dirty estrogen detoxification. And again, it’s safe for thyroid patients.
Ari: I would add, there’s also a ton of literature on specifically how it affects the Nrf2 pathway and affects mitochondrial function and promotes mitochondrial biogenesis. I mean, it’s just one of the most beneficial compounds for so many things as you’re mentioning, but including mitochondria as well.
Magdalena: Nrf2, I mean, this is like, as we are recording this, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but we are going through a Corona crisis right now. And the Nrf2 pathway is one of the ways of bringing inflammation down is through the Nrf2 pathway and again, sulforaphane is hugely active, is going to activate that pathway. It’s just so beautiful. Ari, did you know you can triple your sulforaphane content of your broccoli sprouts by giving them a hot bath?
Ari: Yeah. I did know that. But there’s a specific way to do that, right? So can you describe that?
Magdalena: Sure. It’s really simple. You take your broccoli sprouts; you put them in hot water. You’re talking about 158 Fahrenheit or 60 Centigrade. So it’s basically hot enough if you don’t have a thermal meter, just put your finger in and it’s like, you can hold it for three seconds, but then you’re going to go, “Hot.” Put it in, cover it for 10 minutes. That’s the way to triple, and there’s actually studies done on that. So this is not like I’m just pulling this out of the air. And a naturopath did that and it triples your sulforaphane content just by doing that really simple.
Ari: Amazing. It’s amazing. It’s such a great tip.
Magdalena: Yeah, you can add it to salad, smoothies and soups. Please don’t cook your broccoli sprouts beyond what I mentioned, beyond the hot bath. And so for a treatment dose, so this is like for example, somebody recovering from like an estrogenic cancer, the one cup per day is really wonderful to do. And as a preventative for someone like me who is, for example, highly predisposition to estrogen dominance, I will do between a quarter of a cup to half a cup a day. Typically I’ll just dump it in my smoothie or put it on top of my salad.
The second super food or the third super food I should say, that is huge is flaxseeds. And it’s also highly controversial because flexing is estrogenic. So this is one of the regular emails we get is like, “Why are you suggesting flaxseeds since I’m already estrogen dominant?” Fair question. So the answer is that what flaxseed does is that even though it contains phytoestrogen, so naturally occurring estrogens, the important thing is that it binds up those dirty estrogens and evacuates them. It also blocks the receptors, like we were talking about, e2 estradiol, it blocks estradiol receptors or receptors from estradiol coming in and doing further damage.
It also reduces the b-glucuronidase which helps to, again, lower the dirty estrogens. It’s an incredible source of fiber. You’re talking about both soluble and insoluble. It’s one of the few foods that have both of them, both types of fiber. And again, safe for thyroid patients. The way you can incorporate flaxseed into your diet is always remember to buy it in whole form. Not ground, not pre-ground, don’t buy the flax meal.
That stuff is oxidized, that’s why it’s sitting in a fridge. You don’t know when it was ground. You don’t know how old it is. It is a highly perishable good. And it gets oxidized really quickly. So you’re going to get the most medicinal benefit out of it if you buy it at whole seed, either brown or gold, it doesn’t matter. And then you freshly ground it for maybe like five days’ worth, put it in the fridge, take two tablespoons per day, do not cook it. And you can add that to your salad, smoothie, soups, and just having that in water.
A lot of women have told us that by doing that also has helped them with constipation. And so doing that at night can also help you to kind of like flush things out and flaxseed with water, it becomes a little slimy. So it kind of like becomes like this evacuation mechanism, if you will, like a slippery substance that helps to actually move your bowels. So, Ari, I know you don’t drink alcohol very much. Every time I hang out with you, you extremely boring.
Ari: Thank you.
Magdalena: No, you’re not, you’re just a great conversation, but not like after an alcohol conversation, but anyway, what else?
Ari: Not like a slurring, drunken conversation.
Magdalena: Boozy conversation. That’s not you, like I get that. What I was getting at is that, you know, like if you go to Italy or you go to France and before the meal, there’s always the culture of aperitifs. And if you really look at the quality of aperitifs all of them are bitter. In modern times they’ve been changing a lot too, adding sugar to it. So it would make it a little bit more palatable to modern preferences. But it’s predominantly, the whole idea is bitter. And you do that before a meal.
Why? Because bitterness, the taste of bitter stimulates a whole cascade of digestive processes. Everything from enzyme production [inaudible]. So think about like a lemon. Like something that is sour and bitter. You immediately start salivating in your mouth, right? And your enzymes start getting produced.
Your whole body is getting, your whole digestive is getting ready to receive food. And so then the dinner, not only will you enjoy your food much better, but also feel much lighter after dinner. And some people do digestives after dinner too, which is the same concept, is to facilitate the digestion. So now I’m not encouraging anyone to be doing shots of alcohol before a meal, but you can do something called digestive bitters. And one of them, it’s one of the classical herbs in digestive bitters, is dandelion. Especially the roots work more on the liver. The leaf works more on the kidneys, but both of them have the bitter quality.
And so one of the things I love about something that is so simple to purchase in our health food stores, not all supermarkets will carry it, but if you go to like whole foods or sprouts, they oftentimes have dandelion leaf. And what’s beautiful about it is that it contains the bitterness. So what we love about it also, it supports liver detoxification. So remember anything that is bitter, there is this saying in herbalism, “Liver loves bitters.” And that’s one of them is easy to fix.
So it’s such a common weed, if this is something that grows in your garden, in your lawn, on your lawn, as long as you are not spraying any pesticides on it. And for itself, artificial fertilizers you don’t have animals peeing on it, then you can actually harvest it. And it’s something so common, we undermine it and we kind of go like, “Oh, it’s this weed.” But actually it’s super medicinal. In herbalism we have a lot of respect for dandelion. So one thing anyone can do is just go harvest or just go and get it in a supermarket. The harvested ones are going to be small and super bitter. The ones in a supermarket are big, and they’re not as bitter.
How do you use them in your diet? Few ways, you can add it to your salads. Just the same when you’re making a regular raw salad. Chop up the dandelion leaf, put it in. In my cookbook, I have this really cool recipe I’ve learned from Tuscany, which plays around with the balance between bitter and sweet. And so it uses an orange and orange juice that goes into making a dressing with some beautiful olive oil and salt and pepper. Simple, but it’s the bitter and the sweet that compensate each other so beautifully.
And in terms of dandelion roots, that’s the one that is really bitter. You can make a tea out of that. And it’s a wonderful addition just too steep that. Like while you’re making dinner, start seeping that and sip on that after dinner. There’s so many. I cannot tell you, Ari, how many women in our community have said that ever since they started doing digestive bitters or adding dandelion as a bitter quality to their meals, like everything just starts moving. They stop having constipation, everything just moves much quicker. And they don’t see food in their poop, which is really interesting because when you see food particles in your poop that means that you’re not digesting things properly.
So this is, we want to give digestion for estrogen metabolism as well. So that’s definitely one of my favorites. The other ones that is super easy for you to add to your diet on the more, I would say, conscious level is anything that is rich in sulfur. It might sound pretty complicated, but it’s not because it’s stuff that you use every day already. Things like onions and especially the red ones, because they are a lot richer in flavonoids. Garlic, leeks, chives, and scallions are very high in sulfur.
Why is that important? Because one of the pathways in the liver is called the sulfation pathway. It needs sulfur compounds in order to bind up to the different compounds to be evacuated. One of which is estrogen. So who would have thought here, Ari, that, “Hey, actually eating onion, whether it’s cooked or raw, doesn’t really matter, can actually help you with estrogen dominance.” Like, it’s not often you make a connection, right, but that’s really the actual science behind it. Also it’s highly inflammatory because of the quercetin and obviously very antimicrobial especially when it comes to garlic.
The next one I want to mention, it’s kind of seasonal, but you can get it frozen as well, are pomegranates. One of the reasons why I love pomegranates is because it’s like on one hand, you look at a tradition of how it was used. Whether you look at Iran, or Israel, or in Egypt, and Morocco, pomegranates have always had a long history of being either considered a fertility fruit or a fruit that’s given to women who are struggling with menopause. And that’s one of the beautiful qualities of this fruit, is that it contains now something that we now know the science is suddenly coming around and going like, “Oh yeah, that’s the reason why both menopausal women can use it to relieve symptoms.
But also women who want to get pregnant can use it to get pregnant,” is because it contains something called SERM. And that stands for selective estrogen receptor modulator. And what it means basically is that part of the pomegranate kind of basically attaches itself to the estrogen receptor and it blocks the dirty estrogens, but allows the good estrogen to come through and do its work. I mean, isn’t that beautiful how Mother Nature can select what it wants to allow in and what it wants to block, because it doesn’t serve us well?
Ari: Beautiful. I want to also mention, I have a unique interest in the subject because pomegranates are like my favorite fruit. But there is a compound in pomegranates and a few other foods, but pomegranates are one of the richest in it. Its called ellagic acid, also they’re called ellagitannins.
And it was recently discovered that ellagic acid gets converted by specific microbes in the gut to a compound called the Urolithin A, and this compound called Urolithin A turns out to be one of the most powerful promoters of mitophagy, which is repair of damaged mitochondria in our cells, that’s ever been discovered. So, in addition to these hormonal benefits, not to mention all the positive research on cardiovascular health and helping to prevent cardiovascular disease, there’s also this mechanism of directly promoting mitochondrial health in a very profound way.
Magdalena: That’s so impressive. And just add two more benefits. It also helps with blood sugar balance. So a lot of people in Iran, the Iranians love their sugar. And so that’s like a regulator for them too. And lastly, pomegranate seeds, the oil has got incredible benefits of restoring your cellular health of your skin too. So it’s just an all-around just magnificent fruit. I think one of the reasons why it’s very underused in our Western culture is because to get the seeds out is not particularly easy. But if you go to my blog, if you just go to my website, hormonesbalance.com and just search for pomegranate, there is a video that I recorded and I timed myself. You can get the seeds out from both the sides within less than two minutes. And it’s not the water method. It’s just, you basically cut it across and there is a way to bang it out. And literally two minutes later, you have a bowl of just beautiful red, rich seeds.
Ari: I think you’ve beaten my speed record by at least five minutes.
Magdalena: You’re just sitting there picking?
Ari: But I usually eat them as I go. It’s hard for me to discern how long it would take me if I was eating them along the way.
Magdalena: So yeah. You can add it to salads, to smoothies and fresh juices are also okay. Although you’re then cutting out all the fiber, but please do not buy the bottle [inaudible] because it’s pasteurized, it’s oxidized. It just doesn’t have the same value. There are three other foods I want to just mention. Something it’s just so simple to help us with estrogen dominance. And so one of them is Maca and I want to just give a couple of pointers that the Maca has to be gelatinized meaning that it’s cooked first. And then it’s like this gooey substance, and then it’s dehydrated.
You want to buy organic, you do not want to be eating it raw. Raw can give people a lot of digestive issues and you can add it to drinks and smoothies. Typically you’ll start off with one teaspoon. That’s the dose that’s recommended, or you can build it up to two teaspoons and you got to do it for about two to three weeks to see the results. That’s the consensus. Make sure you’re getting Maca that comes from Peru and not from China. China has bastardized the phenotype of Maca and it’s not the same. It doesn’t contain the same phytoestrogens.
And it can also be taken as a supplement if you can find from a good reputable source. The beautiful thing about it is yes, it is rich in phytoestrogens. And so it can help those women who want to, same as pomegranate, women want to get pregnant, but also symptoms of menopause, fertility, but also hot flashes. I will say with Maca, in full honesty, it’s one of those foods that are like, whenever we post something on Facebook about Maca recipe, we get half of the comments saying, “Maca saved my life,” and the other half, or maybe 40% is, “I did it. And it gave me hot flashes. Things got worse.” So that’s just one of the beauties of food, and herbs, and nutrition, is that one food can be one person’s savior and another food can be an enemy. So you’ve got to just try it for yourself and figure out how it serves you.
Ari: Great advice.
Magdalena: The other thing I want to mention, which is a simple thing. As you can see I’m focusing on things that are widely available and in your supermarket and your health food store. So you don’t have to like go and order things online and pay a hundred dollars for a bottle of something weird from any Amazon jungle. It’s just the stuff that you can get in the supermarket.
And I’m sure all of our listeners are using lemons on a regular basis. Most of the time, we squeeze it out, we throw it away, right? Don’t forget about the lemon zest. The lemon zest contains something called d-limonene, which is a very potent liver detoxifier and it works exactly on the same pathways that will be detoxifying you from those estrogens. We talked about, it’s also lemon and lemon zest is highly alkalizing, and it stimulates stomach acid production, which is great for digestion.
So the zest can be from lime or it can be from a lemon or from an orange, all of them contain d-limonene and you can basically zest it from the surface, not the white part, just the color part. And it makes dressings just pop. Your salad dressings they’re going to pop. One of my favorites, Ari, is to make orange zest dressing. And every time I do that people ask me, it’s like, “What did you add in here? Like, it’s got something special in it.” And it’s just orange zest, very underestimated.
Ari: My wife makes that stuff with lemon and orange zest a lot. And I always love it. Even things that you wouldn’t expect, like even graded into like muffins, like homemade muffins of various kinds, like little bits of the zest of orange are phenomenal there.
Magdalena: Yeah, totally. And the last one I do want to talk about is maybe not super widely available, but you can buy it in different herbal stores. And that is Dong Quai. So as an herbalist, I could not resist, not to put an herb here today. So the Latin name is Angelica Sinensis. And the beautiful thing about it is that it is a nervous and uterine relaxant, it is great for pain like PMS, ovulation pain, great for headaches, abdominal pain. Is highly versatile and offering opposite actions such as it can on one hand promote menstruation and labor, yet on the other hand, it can mitigate lack of periods and regulates cycle.
So it’s almost like I call it an estrogenic adaptogen, depending on what your body needs, it channels the work that it needs to do.
And that’s one of the beautiful things about herbs that happens with many of them. One of them is Dong quai. So how can you use this in your daily basis? Very simple. You can add like half a teaspoon of the Dong quai powder into coconut milk and make that into a latte. And you can also do it as a form of a tincture, as a decoction, or just as a straight up supplement.
And many people always ask me, where do I get my herbs from? And so I often get it on Amazon from co-ops that are organic only like Starwest, or Frontier, or from a local herbal store that you can support locally would be awesome too.
Ari: Do you use, oh geez, I’m spacing on the name right now. There’s another…
Magdalena: Red Clover?
Ari: What is it?
Magdalena: Red Clover?
Ari: No, I haven’t heard of that one. Oh man, I’m spacing on the name. There’s another sort of well-known online supplier of herbs. They don’t sell on Amazon.
Magdalena: Oh, Mountain Rose Herbs!
Ari: There you go. That’s the one.
Magdalena: Yeah. You can use them too.
Ari: I was just curious if there was a reason you weren’t recommending them.
Magdalena: No, because just a lot of people buy on Amazon, so that’s why. But Mountain Herbs are perfectly fine too. They do run out of stock quite a lot because they became so popular. So something to be mindful of. But yeah, so let me just do one more slide on the anti-foods on estrogen. And so the things that are basically going to be sabotaging you because on one hand, yes, you want to incorporate all these amazing foods in, but also just to be mindful, we want to remove anything that’s potentially toxic and undermines all your efforts.
So the inflammatory foods that you want to definitely be avoiding if you want to address estrogen dominance is things like gluten that’s found in breads and pastas, cookies, muffins; dairy, and for some people will be things like corn, eggs, grains. If you can get your hands on a good elimination diet, like my cook book follows that, there’s many other ones on the market, do a full elimination diet, cut out those highly inflammatory foods.
You will be surprised how much easier your period might become, how much easier your hot flashes might become. It’s pretty incredible. Avoid any processed foods. So packages with additives, preservatives, including protein powders, all the thing about whey, pea and rice protein, all of that, I find that to be actually really very problematic for a lot of women.
Ari: Are you worried about the additives or the protein powder itself?
Magdalena: You know, I think it’s the protein powder itself. A lot of people are having digestive issues from it, either sensitivity to whey, a lot of people develop a sensitivity to pea protein. Like they start off with not having a problem with peas and then they test like six months later and they go like, “Oops, peas are coming up on my food sensitivity tests. And every time I eat it, like I’m bloated.”
In principle, it’s just on a philosophical level, I feel like if a food can stand on the shelf for five years at a shelf life, that’s not food. It’s just not food. And so I’m a purist in that way. When I was in private practice, Ari, I also found that whenever I got women off protein powders and just got them to do smoothies and shakes in the morning, but just using real food and maybe a bit of collagen. That works really well. But the moment they went back to the protein powders, there was always either digestive issues coming out or hot flashes coming back.
And then a couple of things just to be mindful of is, we talked about conventionally grown meats and meat and dairy. So you want to avoid that. Avoiding that commercial soy we talked about. But also one thing I will say is that reduce as much as you possibly can, coffee and caffeine. Either reduce it or completely stop it. And I know, Ari, you talk a lot about that in your program about what coffee does to us and like energy levels wise.
I also see that, just from a purely hormonal perspective, how it interferes with thyroid, thyroid conversion of T4 to T3, but also, so many women have told us, I posted one saying, “What have you done to reduce your hot flashes?” And reducing coffee or elimination of caffeine was one of the major answers. And I know this is not a very popular topic. Like probably this is not going to be a favorite talk when I say this, you know? But I’m just speaking my truth. I mean, there’s a lot of issues with coffee.
Ari: It’s such an interesting landscape. I mean you have everything from research showing health benefits of long-term consumption of coffee for prevention of various diseases. To some of the research, which I talk a lot about and specifically relating to energy, showing that coffee actually downregulates your energy levels when you consume it on a daily basis. To the hormonal aspects that you talk about.
But then on a subjective level, you also have people who say, “I love my coffee. I can’t live without my coffee. Coffee makes me feel great,” which it does in the short term when you are used to consuming it. But simultaneously you have people saying, “I finally got off the coffee and now I feel better than ever.”
Magdalena: Yes. And, “I’ve got more energy too.” Right?
Ari: Right. “My brain function’s better. I feel better. Hormones are better.”
The best supplements for balanced hormones
Magdalena: “I have no PMS. My PMS is gone, all my hot flashes are gone. I felt like I got pregnant again,” and that kind of, yeah, it’s a lot more complex. I wrote a whole article about coffee. It’s another topic we can talk for another half an hour just on coffee, but it really can make a big difference. So, somebody who is really, if you’re truly, truly addicted and you cannot imagine your life without it, then I’ll say, number one is have it after a meal, not first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Have it after a meal, especially after a lot of protein and fiber and fat and then reduce it down to one cup.
Have it first thing in the morning after breakfast and then not throughout the rest of the day. And the last point on the food, do not heat your food in plastics, please. I know like your frozen things and you put it in a microwave, but like, please do not do that. It’s the phthalates and as you know, estrogen, this is what we don’t want. So, that’s on food and I don’t know if you want me to cover a few supplements? Maybe I’m just going to run through it really, really quickly?
Ari: Yes, please.
Magdalena: So, I have this pyramid, Ari, in the slides that I think kind of really present my philosophy on things. I call it the Pyramid to Healing and Hormone Balance. And at the bottom you see there, food. And then it’s herbs, which is often. So food is first and always, herbs is often, supplements is sometimes and medications only when needed.
And I say this because a lot of the time, we get folks emailing me, asking me,
“What’s the one supplement I take? I got hot flashes. What’s the one supplement?” So I might say, “Well, that could be Dong quai. You could do progesterone and blah, blah.” And then people do that for three months. And then they come back and say, “I tried it and then my hot flashes are back now. This sucks, this herb sucks.” And it’s not that the herb sucks, it doesn’t work anymore.
But you’re undermining your body’s ability to regulate. Because for example, you’re still doing an inflammatory diet. You’re having two glasses of wine before going to bed, you’re drinking, living off caffeine. So really set the foundation right if you want to have a beautiful house, make sure you have a good foundation right before you build anything on top. It’s really, this I cannot stress how important it is, but supplements, I feel like when you get your food dialed in, supplements can speed up the healing so fast. And those are the few that I want to talk about. There are a lot of talking points here, so I’m just going to leave that for our viewers to maybe pause the video and watch that later.
Ari: Yeah. And I think that maybe just a super quick rundown of like the top, that there’s sort of a key benefit of each one of these compounds.
Magdalena: So DIM is basically, remember how I talked about the two, so it’s the four, 16 hydroxy estrogen. So those metabolize the dirty estrogens. So DIM helps with skewing that more towards the two hydroxy estrogen, the protective one, and then regulates the 16 hydroxy estrogen, so basically helps us to have more protective metabolites. And DIM also helps us with Phase I liver detoxification. So that’s really important. And I have this chart that’s really, really awesome. I’ll come to this in a second.
Basically, using a toilet analogy of the difference between DIM and sulforaphane. Because a lot of people think they are the same and they’re absolutely not. They actually have a very different function. So sulforaphane, remember that’s found in broccoli sprouts, and some people are committed to be doing broccoli sprouts every day, half a cup, a cup, whatever, and others, “I don’t have access,” or you’re traveling or you just can’t be bothered. Right. So you forget. So then, so yes, it is a supplement, it is an option. And the beauty of it is that sulforaphane helps with Phase II liver detoxification. So, and that’s really important to remember because it does make a very big difference and I’ll show you that in a second.
Just one thing on sulforaphane, because there’s a lot of products out in the market and it can be confusing. The recommended dose is 500 milligrams, but you have to remember that. Please try to get something that’s called a standardized sulforaphane. So like for example, 8% standarized and that way it’s a lot more stable. A lot of the products out in the market are just pretty crap. So if you see that toilet bowl analogy that I have here for you, I think this is a really great way. And this is it. This is not my concept. I wish I was that smart. I borrowed that from a doctor I attended a presentation of, except that that’s our graphic. But she explained it really well. She’s like, “Think of it like a drainage system in your sewage system, in your house, right? Like you’ve got the toilet bowl and then DIM is basically unclogged your toilet bowl.
So that’s like on the first part, but guess what, if your drain that drains everything out, is clogged up, then opening up the toilet bowl alone is going to be very counterproductive and everything is still going to back up when your drain is clogged. So think of it that DIM unclogs the toilet bowl, but sulforaphane unclogs your drain. And so that explains why a lot of times women take DIM and they say, “I took it initially and now it doesn’t work or it makes me feel worse.”
Why, is because you’ve just up-regulated your Phase I liver detoxification. And your Phase II is probably not performing very well. Well, it’s pretty simple to fix. Work on your Phase II liver detoxification, incorporate something like sulforaphane and that’s going to help and regulate things. Okay. A few other things that work really magnificently is magnesium. We can do just a talk for an hour just talking about magnesium. But I cannot tell you how many women have come back and said, “I just added magnesium and my breast lumps are gone and my PMS is gone. My hot flashes are way better. I’m sleeping so much better.” Incredible benefits, obviously also one that helps with liver detoxification.
One of the things I want to leave our audience with is to make sure you’re getting the right kind of magnesium. My favorite form is magnesium glycinate, possibly malate, but it’s very energizing. So if you want do it out, I suggest do it in the morning, not at night. I made that mistake. I started taking magnesium for better sleep. And then I was up to like four o’clock in the morning going, “I could do crossword puzzles.” Like I was so sharp and so energized. And I was talking to one of the women in our customer support service. And she’s also a supplement and herbal specialist. And she’s like, “Are you taking malate?” I’m like, “Mmhmm.” “Don’t do that. It’s so energizing. You can’t do that.” Do you have a favorite form of magnesium?
Ari: I actually like malate. And I do take it before bed and I find for me, interestingly enough, it’s actually the most effective in helping like creating a noticeable, sleepy effect.
Magdalena: So research done and apparently 60% of people respond to it very energizing, it’s energizing for them and the other 40% as calming.
Magdalena: So you’re in the 40%.
Magdalena: And then also bowel movement. I mean, if you’re constantly either chronically backed up, you’re chronically constipated, then magnesium citrate might be a really great option to start going again. B vitamins, another really huge one. It’s like they’re key co-factors in liver detoxification. They are essential in estrogen metabolism, especially those dirty estrogens we talked about. I mean, every B vitamin has got some other benefit, everything from brain function to your energy levels, your immune system. So, the benefits are endless. I feel like that’s a non-negotiable when it comes to your overall health and also hormones.
The last one I will mention on the supplements, is progesterone. But remember the pyramid that I was showing you? Right at the top, there is medication. I would kind of put progesterone close to that space. Why? Because you’re basically incorporating a hormone into your life. And I am a big believer that we, as much as possible, we should be able to give our body what it needs in order to produce its own progesterone. There are some women who will stop producing progesterone to a point of being completely zero, nothing. They can’t sleep, they can’t function. They try [inaudible]. They try different herbs. It doesn’t work, then it’s completely understandable.
If you’re super stressed out, you’re traveling a lot, taking progesterone is perfectly fine. It makes you feel a lot better.
So, just making sure that when you do and I do recommend topical progesterone, not oral. Oral will basically only help you with sleep where topical progesterone is going to help you everything from bone health, mood, and sleep, regulate your hot flashes, periods. I mean, the benefits are many.
When you’re buying progesterone, make sure that it can be either a cream or an oil form; it doesn’t really matter, making sure that it is made from yam or from soy. So it’s a bioidentical hormone and not you doing progestins and even if you’re buying a bioidentical progesterone, make sure that it’s free of parabens, it doesn’t have the word fragrance in it, it is not made from mineral oils and it does not contain any petroleum. So, boom.
Ari: Boom indeed. Magdalena, this has been phenomenal. Thank you so much. For everybody listening, I also want to mention on a personal note, I am really impressed with Magdalena’s work on the subject of women’s hormones balance and specifically nutrition, and herbs, and supplements, and how to use those things to optimize hormonal balance. I think it’s just the best stuff out there on this subject. And I’ve literally bought her cookbook. I’ve bought like, geez, probably 15 copies of this cookbook to give to pretty much all of the women in my life.
Obviously my wife, but my wife’s sister, my wife’s mom, my mom, I mean, like all of the women in my life that I care about deeply I’ve gotten this, her work for them. And I really think there are not many things that I can say that about, to be honest. Like, I maybe would be hard pressed to think of one other thing that I’ve ever done something like that for.
So I’m really a big believer in her work. If you’re a woman, go get her book, get her program. It’s just really amazing stuff. And Magdalena, thank you so much for coming on and sharing so generously with your time and your content, all of this amazing information, this has been phenomenal. I really appreciate it.
And for everybody listening, who is interested in learning more from you, who wants to hear from you on a regular basis, how do they sign up for your newsletter, follow you, follow your social media, et cetera?
Magdalena: So, the website is hormonesbalance.com and if you wonder where you are in terms of your hormones, like, is it estrogen, low progesterone? Is it thyroid that’s not working? Take a quiz that we have on our website, it’s the easiest way to figure things out. And just go to the website, it’s all there, like how to sign up for social media and all that stuff.
Ari: Beautiful. And then, so its hormonesbalance.com and then you have the quiz at forward slash quiz.
Magdalena: That’s right.
Ari: Okay. Wonderful. Seriously, thank you so much. This has been awesome. I think this is going to be the longest presentation of the entire summit. But it’s such great content and thank you so much again for sharing so generously, this has been awesome.
Magdalena: I mean, anything for you, this is you creating such a great platform. And I knew that I could not come to you with some slides.
Ari: Thank you, my friend, I appreciate it
The most common conditions caused by estrogen dominance (00:50)
Why estrogen dominance is isn’t a normal condition (04:50)
Is soy healthy or unhealthy? (20:42)
The most common misconceptions about estrogen (29:45)
The role of progesterone in estrogen dominance (36:12)
The best foods to eliminate estrogen dominance (40:15)
The best supplements for balanced hormones (1:07:30)