Learn the best foods, supplements, and lifestyle tips to help lower estrogen naturally and relieve estrogen dominance symptoms like PMS, heavy periods, headaches, and mood swings!
Note from Dena: This post was written by Meredith Sorensen, Dietetic Intern, as part of a research partnership between Back To The Book Nutrition and post-graduate nutrition students from the University of Houston.
If hormone testing has confirmed that you have high estrogen, the actions below will help you lower estrogen and alleviate your PMS, heavy periods, headaches, mood swings, or other estrogen dominance symptoms.
Remember: Estrogen dominance can also be caused by low progesterone, in which case these recommendations may not be best for you.
How to Lower Estrogen
Below are some foods, supplements, and lifestyle tips to help you bring down your high estrogen naturally.
1. Eat Foods that Lower Estrogen
- Beans, peas, and lentils
- Nonstarchy vegetables (leafy greens, lettuces, etc.)
- Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, winter squashes, other roots and tubers)
- Whole fruits with their skins (apples, pears, oranges with the pith, etc.)
- Whole grains (oats, brown rice, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds, including chia and ground flax
Note: This post contains affiliate links. By making purchases through these links, you pay the same amount for products, but a portion of the sale will be sent my way to help with blog expenses. Thanks!
Cruciferous veggies provide Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which shifts the body toward healthier estrogen detoxification and has been linked to lower rates of estrogen sensitive cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, etc.).
Though one study showed that small daily servings (~⅓ cup) do not significantly improve detox (4), another showed that for every ⅛ cup in crucifers daily, there was a slight shift toward desirable detox (5). So every bit may help!
- Broccoli sprouts*: 10- to 50-fold higher concentrations of I3C precursors than broccoli (6), so just 1-5 Tbsp is the same as 3 cups of mature cruciferous vegetables!
* If you can’t find broccoli sprouts in stores, Hamama will send you fail-proof organic broccoli sprout kits every month – use the code SUPERGREENS to get 10% off your first order!
Phytoestrogens (Flax, soy, etc.)
Phytoestrogens are natural compounds in various plant foods that have weak estrogen-like effects in the body.
But, despite popular belief, phytoestrogens do not always act like estrogen in the body. If estrogen levels are low (in men, postmenopausal women, or premenopausal women with low estrogen), phytoestrogens do act more like estrogen. However, if estrogen levels are too high, phytoestrogens are anti-estrogenic, reduce the effects of estradiol, and shift the body toward healthier estrogen detoxification (7, 8, 9).
- Whole, organic soy* foods: edamame, tofu, tempeh, soymilk
* Soybeans are often genetically modified and heavily sprayed, so choose organic and non-GMO soy products as much as possible.
- Ground flax seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Wheat bran
- Dried fruits: apricots, dates, and prunes
- Berries: strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries
- Herbs and Spices: anise, fennel, sage
These help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome, since some gut bacteria directly affect estrogen levels in the body (these bacteria are sometimes called the “estrobolome”).
- Yogurt, kefir, and other cultured dairy alternatives like Culina coconut milk yogurt
- Traditionally fermented vegetables: lactofermented pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, carrots
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s lower inflammation and help the body detoxify estrogen better. There are three main types of omega-3s: ALA, DHA, and EPA.
DHA and EPA are most important when it comes to fighting inflammation. Though ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body, the process is not very efficient. Consuming EPA and DHA directly is the best way to improve levels of these fatty acids.
EPA and DHA-rich foods:
- Cold water fatty fish: tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, etc.
- Seafood: scallops, shrimp, lobster
- Nuts and seeds: flaxseed, chia seed, hempseed, walnuts
- Oils of the nuts and seeds above (Flaxseed oil, hemp oil, etc.)
Polyphenols are plant-based compounds that lower estrogen by slowing down aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen during stress and inflammation. They also reduce breast cancer risk (10).
Food sources of polyphenols include:
- Green Tea: Drink home-brewed, organic green tea. It contains more polyphenols than the popular bottled version, and non-organic teas are often heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.
- Berries: Berries are also heavily sprayed, so choose organic.
- Raw Cacao or Dark Chocolate: Organic raw cacao powder or 85% or higher dark chocolate are good sources of polyphenols. Again, organic is important due to heavy use of pesticides and herbicides in farming of cacao beans.
- Red grapes
- Various fruits and veggies
- Coffee: Coffee is one of the most sprayed crops, so prioritize organic blends.
There is conflicting evidence about the impact dairy consumption has human hormone balance.
A common concern is that dairy products raise estrogen levels. This may not be the case! One study found that each additional serving of dairy food you consume per day reduces serum estradiol by ~5% (11).
There is more worry with commercially produced dairy from cows treated with growth hormones like rBST. Effects of rBST on humans are unknown, but cows treated with rBST have significantly higher hormone content in their milk, which could have stronger effects on human hormone levels and/or our ability to detoxify estrogen (15).
If you choose to consume dairy, choose organic or raw dairy from reputable local farms that do not use rBST.
2. Cut Back on Alcohol
Chronic or heavy drinking lowers the body’s ability to detoxify estradiol to the less potent estrone, and increases aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen during stress and inflammation. If you do drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than 1-2 drinks per week.
3. Drink Filtered Water
Estrogen from birth control and estrogen-like chemicals (BPA, phthalates, PCBs, etc.) have been found in concerning amounts in our drinking water (16).
Purchase a water filtration system that uses both reverse osmosis and carbon filtration to remove estrogen from your drinking water. If you’re not ready to invest in a whole house system, this under-sink version is a more affordable first step!
4. Choose Clean Beauty, Personal Care, and Cleaning Products
Many of these products (shampoos, skincare, hair products, lotions etc.) contain parabens and phthalates, which act like estrogen in the body. Check the labels and choose products free of these substances.
5. Limit Your Exposure to Plastic, Aluminum, and Other Metalloestrogens
PCBs, BPA and other plastics are environmental compounds that imitate estrogen in the body but are harder to detoxify (AKA xenoestrogens).
Metalloestrogens are a class of metals that mimic estrogen in the body and disrupt hormonal balance.
Examples of metalloestrogens: Aluminum, Antimony, Arsenite, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium (II), Cobalt, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Selenite, Tin, Vanadate
How to limit your exposure:
- Drink from glass or stainless steel instead of plastic and aluminum cans
- Cook with stainless steel, cast iron, and glass instead of aluminum pots and pans
- Buy fresh and frozen foods instead of cans
- Choose aluminum-free deodorant
- Avoid eating out of plastic containers, especially if food has been heated
- Choose organic foods to limit exposure to herbicides and pesticides.
- Be cautious with seafood consumption. Choose fish low in mercury content.
6. Lose Weight
If you are overweight, losing excess body fat can lower estrogen levels since estrogen is produced and stored in body fat.
7. Consider estrogen lowering supplements
As usual, which supplements will be most helpful to you depend on what’s causing your high estrogen in the first place. Below are some products for both general health and hormone balance, as well as more targeted products for specific root causes. Always discuss supplements with your provider before taking!
Supplements for Overall Health & Hormone Balance (safe for most people)
- High quality multivitamin-mineral
- B Complex (the multi above includes a B Complex but if taking a different one, add a B Complex)
- Magnesium glycinate
- High potency Fish Oil
- Vitamins A,D,E, and K2
Targeted Supplements to Lower Estrogen (only use if recommended by your provider)
- To help regulate estrogen production and activity: Melatonin, Black Cohosh, Sage, Hops, Red Clover
- For liver/gallbladder support: Milk Thistle, N-Acetyl L-Carnitine (NAC), Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), Taurine, TUDCA, ox bile
- To support estrogen detoxification: Sulforaphane, Indole 3 Carbinol, DIM, Trimethylglycine (TMG), SAMe, Choline, Rosemary
- For high testosterone causing high estrogen: Saw Palmetto, Zinc, Crysin, Myomin, ECGC
- To decrease estrogen recycling from the gut: Calcium D Glucarate, herbal antimicrobials if warranted
Note: All supplements other than Back To The Book Nutrition branded supplements can be purchased from Fullscript, an online supplement store that carries hundreds of high quality brands at competitive prices with free shipping. Fullscript purchases products directly from the manufacturers so you know you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. I will also earn a commission from any purchases you make – thank you!
There’s a lot you can do to fix estrogen dominance, and this list is a great place to start. If you want more personalized guidance to identify and overcome the root causes of your estrogen dominance, or if you’re interested in hormone testing, working one-on-one with Dena is your best bet!
Check out these related posts!
About the Author:
Meredith Sorensen is originally from northern Michigan, but moved to Houston to be a D1 cross-country and track runner for the University of Houston. She completed her B.S. and is currently pursuing her M.S. and completing the dietetic internship at the University of Houston. She is passionate about learning and working with female athletes to optimize health, performance, and longevity in sport.
Disclaimer: Information on this site is intended only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult with a trusted healthcare provider before implementing significant dietary change. Read additional disclaimer info here.
2. Gann PH, Chatterton RT, Gapstur SM, et al. The effects of a low-fat/high-fiber diet on sex hormone levels and menstrual cycling in premenopausal women: a 12-month randomized trial (the diet and hormone study). Cancer. 2003;98(9):1870-1879. doi:10.1002/cncr.11735 3. Rose DP, Goldman M, Connolly JM, Strong LE. High-fiber diet reduces serum estrogen concentrations in premenopausal women. The Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;54(3): 520–525, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/54.3.520 6. López-Chillón MT, Carazo-Díaz C, Prieto-Merino D, Zafrilla P, Moreno DA, Villaño D. Effects of long-term consumption of broccoli sprouts on inflammatory markers in overweight subjects. Clin Nutr. 2019;38(2):745-752 9. Kolan, A. (2014). Estrogen Dominance. Retrieved from https://wholehealth.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/414/2019/07/Estrogen-Dominance.pdf
2. Gann PH, Chatterton RT, Gapstur SM, et al. The effects of a low-fat/high-fiber diet on sex hormone levels and menstrual cycling in premenopausal women: a 12-month randomized trial (the diet and hormone study). Cancer. 2003;98(9):1870-1879. doi:10.1002/cncr.11735
3. Rose DP, Goldman M, Connolly JM, Strong LE. High-fiber diet reduces serum estrogen concentrations in premenopausal women. The Am J Clin Nutr. 1991;54(3): 520–525, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/54.3.520
6. López-Chillón MT, Carazo-Díaz C, Prieto-Merino D, Zafrilla P, Moreno DA, Villaño D. Effects of long-term consumption of broccoli sprouts on inflammatory markers in overweight subjects. Clin Nutr. 2019;38(2):745-752
9. Kolan, A. (2014). Estrogen Dominance. Retrieved from https://wholehealth.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/414/2019/07/Estrogen-Dominance.pdf