How to keep your hormones happy!

Types of Estrogen

Estrogen is your feel-good hormone.  It boosts serotonin (brain hormone that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness) and dopamine (brain hormone associated with motivation and reward) and sensitises your muscles to insulin.  Estrogen is like an interesting and charismatic friend.  She’s great to have around, but she can become a bit overwhelming after a while.

Too much estrogen will make you feel over-stimulated, irritable and can lead to headaches. 

High estrogen is addictive, and when it drops it brings serotonin and dopamine with it.  The higher your estrogen, the higher you crash.

Estrogen exists in the body in several forms –

·       Estradiol, our main estrogen which is made in our ovaries and is predominant in the reproductive years.   

·       Estrone and is made from adipose tissue, and numerous estrogen metabolites from intestinal bacteria.

·       Xenoestrogens or endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) – environmental toxins that act like estrogen.

·       Plant estrogens (phytoestrogens), which generally have an anti-estrogen effect in menstruating women.

Progesterone’s Role in happy hormones

Progesterone’s often thought of as just to hold and nourish a pregnancy however it does much more than that.  Progesterone counter balances the effects of estrogen.  Progesterone is your soothing and calming hormone.  Progesterone shelters you from the exhausting effects of estrogen and protects you from the steep rise and fall of estrogen.

Progesterone boosts energy by stimulating thyroid and heating up metabolism. That’s why your body temperature goes up half a degree when you make progesterone after ovulation.

Progesterone soothes mood and improves sleep and relieves anxiety symptoms.  It nourishes hair and clears skin because it reduces androgens (male hormones – like testosterone).

Progesterone is anti-inflammatory and helps to prevents autoimmune disease by modulating the immune function and speeding up detoxification enzymes.

Progesterone  builds bones and muscle by stimulating osteoblasts (bone-building cells) and the growth of new muscle.  It also protects against cancer by counteracting estrogen’s stimulating effect on breast and uterine tissue.

The key to Happy Hormones is Hormonal resilience

Hormones are produced in the body and travel through the blood system and tissues attaching to hormone receptor sites which then signal cells to function in a certain way in response to the stimulus or message received.  Once the message has been received the hormones will normally detach and travel through the blood system to the liver which they are metabolized and excreted into the digestive system for removal from the body. 

If the liver is not metabolizing hormones well then, these hormones pass through the liver unmetabolized and have a duplicate effect.  If the digestive system is sluggish then again, the hormones aren’t cleared from the body and have a further compounding effect.  This is the phenomenon known as estrogen dominance.

The key to healthy, happy hormones is to:-

1.     Enhance progesterone

2.     Stabilise estrogen and detoxify it properly

3.     Reduce inflammation to calm your hormones

Causes of Estrogen Excess

·       Hormonal birth control

·       Impaired detoxification

·       Perimenopause

·       Obesity

·       Receptor hypersensitivity

How to Reduce Estrogen

·       Reduce alcohol to promote liver and bowel detoxification of estrogen.

·       Eat vegetables to promote liver detoxification, feed healthy intestinal bacteria, and buffer estrogen receptors (phytoestrogens).

·       Avoid antibiotics to maintain healthy intestinal bacteria.

·       Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce estrone.

·       Avoid inflammatory foods such as dairy to reduce estrogen receptor hypersensitivity.

·       Minimise exposure to xenoestrogens such as plastics and pesticides.

Focus Foods

Cruciferous vegetables – contain glucosinolates which are converted to isothiocyanates through chopping, chewing and gut flora which regulates detoxification phases in the liver. 




Bok choy



Brussel sprouts

Mung beans

Spring Onion



Alfalfa sprouts


Pak Choy


Collard greens

Broccoli sprouts

Kohl Rabi

Phytoestrogens – have an anti-estrogen effect, reduce and ease menopausal and hormone symptoms.

Ground flaxseed



Rice bran





Sesame seeds

Mung beans

Fermented foods – help to ensure healthy gut bacteria and support the detoxification and clearance of estrogens via the digestive system.





Avoid List




Processed meats


Saturated fats


Increasing progesterone

Progesterone is physiologically expensive for the body to make.  Each month your ovary undergoes a transformation into a temporary gland called the corpus luteum and from here progesterone is formed.  The formation of the corpus lutem requires high energy and large amounts of nutrients.  It requires a healthy immune function and so therefore any kind of chronic inflammation interferes with ovulation and therefore with the formation of progesterone.

Progesterone is a steroid hormone, and is the precursor to another important steroid hormone – cortisol.  When your stressed your body steals progesterone to make cortisol.  It takes all the hard work done by your ovaries and wastes it as a stress hormone!!

What can you do to help:

·       Be well nourished, especially with magnesiumiodine, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium.

·       Address underlying inflammatory issues such as dairy/gluten intolerance, intestinal permeability, thyroid disease, and insulin resistance.

·       Reduce stress

·       Reduce sugar and alcohol.

Magnesium Rich foods – Almonds, barley, cashews, cacao, cod, lima beans, figs, mineral water, parsnips, kelp, eggs, seeds, green leafy vegetables.

Iodine Rich foods – Kelp, seafood, dulse flakes

Vitamin D Rich foods – Cod liver oils, salmon, tuna, mushrooms

Zinc Rich foods – Seafood, beef, oatmeal, chicken, liver, spinach, nuts, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), egg yolks, ginger, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, wholegrains, liver.

Selenium rich foods – Brazil nuts, egg yolk, leafy green vegetables

Hormone Smoothie

½ tablespoon chia seeds

½ tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

1 tablespoon maca powder

2 tablespoons goat, sheep or coconut yoghurt

Almond milk

1 frozen banana

Cinnamon to taste

(optional – 1 serve protein powder)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend till smooth.

Maca is a plant that is native to the Andean plateaus.  Its related to the radish family.  Traditionally maca has been used for promoting mental clarity, regulating menstrual cycles, relieving menopausal symptoms but recent research has found it has further uses in increasing bone density, reducing the effects of stress, improving glucose metabolism.  Legend has it that the Inca warriors used to eat maca to increase their energy for battle.

Raw Beetroot Salad

·       1 large bunch beetroot

·       1 bunch broccolini

·       4 stalks of kale

·       3 tablespoons roughly chopped and activated walnuts

·       1 large handful fresh herbs (mint, flat-leaf parsley, dill and chervil

·       Seeds of ½ pomegranate

·       2 tablespoons goji berries

Tahini dressing

·       3 tablespoons hulled tahini

·       2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

·       2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Serve with grilled shredded chicken or soft-boiled eggs

To make dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.

To make salad, place all ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the dressing and gently toss until everything is evenly coated.  Season with salt and pepper

Arrange the salad on a platter and top with protein of your choice.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like to finish.

Author: Kerryn Odell

Kerryn Odell is a well-known Nutritionist who is passionate about helping clients who are experiencing digestive issues, hormone problems, poor sleep, anxiety, skin issues and auto-immune problems. Kerryn works with people of all ages and especially enjoys working with families. Kerryn loves being part of the Health Space team in Mona Vale, and looks forward to meeting the community and helping reach their health goals.

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