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Estrogens and Food

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*Estrogens and Food- There are estrogens in foods which should be considered in formulating the ultimate diet, especially for women and those suffering from epilepsy, pain, and other excitotoxin-related disorders. We know that estrogens are inflammatory and immunosuppressive and sensitive neurons to the action of glutamate (e'g catamenial seizures, PMS).
It is very important for everyone to read about phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are basically estrogens found in our diet from plant and animal sources, with those from the latter coming from the plants they consume. There are two main groups of phytoestrogens- isoflavones and lignans (with coumestans being a third). It is very interesting and important to make note of the differences in action and metabolism between the two main groups as well as their sources. Think naturally!!! Lignans are found in healthful fruits, veggies and grains (e.g flax) and serve to block the action of other potentially harmful estrogens. Isoflavones, on the other hand, are found in unnatural and less healthy sources, such as dairy (cow's milk, which is meant for calves) and soy (which was buried under the ground and originally found in only one remote place on earth. Hint, hint).
During breast cancer awareness month, I was giving out the term xenoestrogen to everyone who walked into my exam room, men and women alike. It is crucial for everyone to familiarize themselves with this term and the sources from which we derive these potentially harmful estrogenic compounds.
*Estrogens in Food- (List)- Here is a list that shows estrogen-rich foods versus foods that actually block estrogen. It is borrowed from this site and edited to make a few points. One will surprise you.
* Letter to a Friend Concerning Estrogen Dominance and Epilepsy- This is an Email I sent to an Internet acquaintance who was dealing with estrogen dominance and epilepsy. This is quite common and a bad combination. Thankfully, we can do much to reduce our estrogen intake and bolster our immune systems. The G.A.R.D. really helps us accomplish this important task.
* Hot Flashes- A Sign of the Times - (click on link)This is a little Email paper I wrote in response to repeated questions about the role of hot flashes in menopause. Like everything our body does, hot flashes serve an important purpose.
* A Great Website for you on the truth and dangers concerning phytoestrogens (isoflavones in particular).
I will be expanding this section as time allows. Please also see the Appetizers section for more on this and other issues in women's health.

Estrogens in food

This is the newest section of the site as of 4/06. Although I have been writing about estrogens and women's health for over 5 years, I have not dedicated a section to this vital topic until now. It has only been relatively recently that this element of our health has become so prominent in the media, with many misconceptions (and deceptions) running rampant in the news, tabloids, conversations, and even medical circles. Thank Goodness the truth is finally coming out.

This ball finally got rolling with the demise of HRT (hormonal replacement therapy). Other than the plan to remove trans fats from our diets (something so huge that words can't describe my joy over it), this has been one of the single most important events in women's health in the 20th or 21st century. Without reservation, I think the use of HRT in peri and post-menopausal women has been the single-most devastating thing man has done to their well-being. But it illustrates the huge flaw in most long-term symptomatic therapy- the contradiction of what the body is trying to do to maintain and repair itself.

I love to use the standard practice of utilizing fever-reducers like aspirin and acetaminophen to artificially reverse fevers to illustrate this I will again. Why does the body produce a fever in the face of a viral infection? Everyone I have talked with knows the answer to this question- "To help fight the infection, right?". The simple fact is that the fever is essential in the control of viruses. So why in the world do we handcuff our body by artificially reducing the fever? Well there are a few reasons, including the fact that we don't like feeling sick, we are too busy to be ill, and we just don't fully understand the repercussions of this action. The latter is what we need to focus on, not only in the crazy practice of artificially lowering fevers but also in the overindulgence in all symptomatic medications, including nasal decongestants, antacids, and HRT.

Now I do not plan to write a dissertation on HRT right now. I simply brought it up as an introduction to the biggest, unknown-by-most source of estrogens to women and men- our food. The major sources of estrogens in our diet are our "good friends" dairy products (e.g. cow's milk, cheese), the gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye), and soy (errrrrrh!!!!!). Yes, the top three human, dog, and cat food allergens, damagers of the villi of the intestine, sources of harmful lectins, and suppliers of "excitotoxins" are also the leading sources of estrogen and it's precursors. Do you see a pattern here?

Now there has been much talk about the "benefits" of phytoestrogens, the natural estrogens found in foods (plant and animal) that mimic the action of our body's natural hormones but most articles do not make clear distinctions between the types of phytoestrogens (e.g. lignans versus isoflavones- their sources and their action/metabolism). This is crucial and I will be writing much more on this in the near future. In the meantime, I encourage the reader to seek out the truth about their use so that they can see for themselves what I believe to be true: That these estrogenic compounds (especially isoflavones) are just like other symptomatic drugs that begin by helping symptoms but end up causing more problems than good.

Here is a great Website that discusses this very thing.  . On her site, the author discusses this and other health issues from a personal perspective just as I have done. She has been through much of women are experiencing every day in this country.

And what are they suffering from? Estrogen dominance, PMS, endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), hot flashes, and more- the usual suspects. And why again? Is it the estrogen that their own body is producing that is bringing on these medical threats? Not likely, especially once you adopt the tenet that our body does not make mistakes. It is what is being added to- and even replacing- what the woman's body is producing that is leading to estrogen dominance and related symptoms.

The main sources of these exogenous (outside) estrogens are food and the environment. For a good study of environmental estrogens, simple put "xenoestrogen" or "estrogen, environment" into your search engine and start reading. You will be amazed! In fact, I had a woman who had taken on the task of educating the public on this topic in the same way that I have the food issues- with research and lots of passion. She Emailed me one day to say that she enjoyed my site but that I was woefully deficient on the issue of estrogens, especially the environmental sources. So, I started my quest for more knowledge in this area.

Again, I will be adding more to this section as time allows. I would encourage you all (including men*) to spend some time researching this vital topic. (*No one wants to talk about the 6000+ cases of breast cancer in men annually. AND, no one seems to be addressing why the United States and United Kingdom are the main countries where their 19 year old men are going bald. Yes, male pattern baldness and erectile dysfunction fit right into this lecture). So you see, there is good reason to know this stuff, isn't there? :):):)

I hope this helps,

Dogtor J.


Estrogens in Food (List)
Now, here is a chart from a Website showing foods high in estrogens and those that block estrogen. Keep in mind the difference between lignans and isoflavones, with ligans being weak estrogens that block the action of other estrogens and isoflavones being estrogens that actually stimulate estrogen receptors. Most of your fruits and vegetables are going to be rich in healthy lignans while soy, dairy, gluten grains and legumes will be rich in isflavones, the phytoestrogen to be avoided.
The use of high estrogen foods- especially those rich in glutamate-should be reconsidered in formulating the ultimate diet for the epileptic or those suffering from excitotoxin-related disorders since we know that estrogens are inflammatory and sensitize neurons to the action of glutamate (e.g. catamenial seizures, PMS).
I posted this chart mainly to help people see that many of the main "trouble foods" (e.g. dairy, and soy) are all in the estrogen-rich list. As you read more about what researchers are finding concerning the difference between lignans and isoflavones, you will see the war that is going on in our bodies between the good and bad estrogens, paralleling the one raging between good and bad lectins.

Here's the site:

Here's the chart:

Foods Containing Natural Estrogens

Note: Those in bold are also RICH in glutamate.

Animal flesh
Anise seed
Baker's yeast
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Cowpeas (black- eyed peas)
Dairy Foods
Olive oil
Red beans
Red clover
Rice (relatively high)
Sesame seeds
Soybean sprouts
Split peas
Sunflower seeds

Estrogen Inhibiting Foods

If you are suffering from breast cancer, PMS, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and other situations that estrogen might exacerbate, the following estrogen inhibiting foods might be of interest to you.

Citrus Foods
Fruits (except apples, cherries, dates, pomegranates)
Green beans
White rice
White flour   Now, this is really cool! Why would wheat be on the list of foods rich in estrogens but white flour would be on the list of estrogen blocking foods? Doesn't make sense right? Actually, it DOES and illustrates a VERY important point.
Other than the fact that main estrogens in the grains are lignans- weak estrogens that take up the estrogen receptors and prevent stimulation by isoflavones and xenoestrogens- white flour would have another action. What do you get when you add water to white flour? Glue/ paste, right? What have I been saying about gluten is "glue" and it does coat and stick to the villi of the duodenum. In this case, it coats the villi and blocks the absorption of the ESTROGENS in the food. Now, how cool is that?

When I saw this site a couple of years ago, I had another "revelation". Even the bad things have a purpose. In this case, the "glues" in the bad foods (gluten grains, dairy, and soy) don't just block the absorption of essential nutrients (and drugs). They also help block the bad things in these trouble foods, like the estrogens and goitrogens....antinutrients, like those found in soy. (Errrrrh.)

Whodathunkit? Yin and yang even applies to food.

Again, I hope this helps,
 Dogtor J.

Letter to a Friend Concerning Estrogen Dominance and Epilepsy

Hi A,


It is great to hear from you. I am so glad that you discovered the Website and found it helpful. Emails like yours still make my day as the immense value of this approach is still relatively untapped by the epilepsy community, both human and veterinary. I am hearing from an increasing number of people who have had responses like yours but I long for the day it becomes more mainstream…maybe another twenty years. J


Sounds like you are doing a lot right. I really don’t know of any typical fruits or veggies that need to be avoided. Some do have some weak estrogenic activity but most are lignans, which act as “blanks” that take up estrogen receptors and prevent their stimulation by other more powerful estrogens, such as the isoflavones found in foods like soy.


So, there is a little war going on in our body between the good estrogens (lignans) and the bad ones (e.g. isoflavones from soy and xenoestrogens from the environment) in the same way that there are essential sugars like glucosamine trying to block the attachment of lectins (e.g. from gluten, dairy, soy, corn, legumes, nightshades) to cells within our body. Yin and yang kind stuff. Fruits and veggies are definitely the good guys while the man-made, man-cultivated crops and products (e.g. the “big 4” and food additives like MSG, aspartame, trans fats, and xenoestrogens) are the enemy. Surprise, surprise.


So, the main things to avoid in our attempt to reduce estrogen and glutamate intake thereby helping epilepsy, pain syndromes, and other neurological conditions are:


1) Gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye)

2) Dairy products (Remember: Eggs are not dairy) 

3) Soy

4) Corn

5) Legumes in general

6) Nuts and seeds (which can be gradually reintroduced, if desired, once recovery is achieved)

7) Foods with MSG, aspartame, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and trans fats.

8) Excessive refined sugar

9) Excessive caffeine

10) Nightshades if intolerant to this group (which is potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, tobacco and peppers)



The main things we need to do in order to bolster our defense is get plenty of vitamin D3, C, B complex (particularly B6 aqnd B12), antioxidants (e.g. grape seed extract), and omega three fatty acids. I also take a magnesium supplement (read about magnesium deficiency…wow), kelp tablets (for iodine), and selenium (very important) for the immune system and to help convert T4 thyroid hormone into the active form T3.


If you do not eat much meat, you might want to consider a taurine supplement. Taurine is an essential amino acid for the brain (the most abundant protein in the brain, actually) and it’s source is meat. Eggs are also a perfect food, supplying so many great things including lecithin, an important phospholipid for the brain. Glucosamine is now being shown to help in conditions other than arthritis, which should be no surprise once we understand how it scavenges potentially harmful proteins, like those hidden sources of the "big 4" in prepared foods. I take it as an insurance policy to help protect me when I eat out.


Also, try to get as much sunlight as possible. Caucasian Americans need a full hour of mid-day sun on 40% of their body three times a week to have adequate D3 levels. Black Americans need more. Dogs and cats need even more as they convert sunlight to D3 very inefficiently. Researchers now tell us that if we all got adequate D3, we would cut cancer rates by over one third. Wow! But D3 is crucial in neurological function so no telling what we could do to the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases by having adequate D3 levels. Our indoor pets definitely need more sun! 


Thanks again for writing. I am really glad to have been a part of your recovery! J  




John B. Symes, D.V.M.  (aka "Dogtor J")





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I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
Dogtor J
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