Addressing Estrogen Dominance with DIM (and not just for women!)…

June 4, 2018
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What is DIM?

DIM (diindolylmethane), is a food-based compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. It is one of the reasons that cruciferous vegetables are recommended on a cancer-fighting or preventing diet. 

Studies have demonstrated that DIM can:

  • decrease the risk of estrogen driven cancers – including prostrate, breast and uterine by modulating estrogen metabolism (breakdown) in the body 
  • help symptoms of PMS, perimenopause and even prostrate issues because of its ability to modulate estrogen breakdown
  • stimulate fat breakdown while encouraging an increase in muscle mass. 

For all the bad rap estrogen gets, both men and women need estrogen to help preserve arterial health and brain function, fight free radical damage and support sexual functioning and other aspects of hormone balance. 

That said, many women are estrogen-dominant, due to too much estrogen accumulating in the body which throws off estrogen-progesterone balance. This is especially true in women nearing or at menopause because during this time, progesterone levels drop more than estrogen levels. That’s why symptoms such as breast pain, water retention, heavy painful menstrual cycles, or irritable anxious moods can occur. Estrogen’s over-stimulation of breasts and uterus tissue often lead to breast cysts or adenomas and uterine growths – which are not only painful but actually are potentially dangerous and often lead to (unnecessary) mammograms and hysterectomies.

Some of the other reasons women and men can have estrogen dominance include:

  • High stress leading to high cortisol levels (cortisol is the major stress hormone)
  • Low thyroid functioning
  • Exposure to environmental estrogen mimicking chemicals
  • An overburden liver or other reasons for impaired detoxification pathways 

Whereas progesterone-estrogen balance is key for women, testosterone-estrogen balance is key for men. Just as progesterone drops as women age, testosterone levels drop as men age. Simultaneously, the testosterone’s conversion to estrogen increases. For men, this can show up as weight gain, loss of muscle mass, libido or sexual performance changes, and other signs of a more feminized body. Besides these frustrating and sometimes embarrassing symptoms, this imbalance also increases the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer.  

There is an enzyme that is responsible for converting testosterone to estrogen and unfortunately, it thrives in fat tissue. So being overweight encourages estrogen while estrogen dominance encourages weight gain. The same holds true for women and since breast tissue is mostly fat, estrogen production can ramp up there as well. 

In Part II we’ll look at DIM does to help address this estrogen-related health concern and ways to increase your intake of DIM through both foods and supplements. In the meanwhile, you might want to review some previous articles that talk about lessening your exposure to estrogen mimickers. You might also want to revisit some of the articles addressing natural estrogen blockers.

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