I just finished listening to various speakers at the 9-Day Food Revolution online summit. A lot of takeaways! I wanted to share with you two speakers who stood out and had a similar thread: the impact of food on our hormones.
Dr. Neil Barnard is a well known figure in the field of nutrition. He’s founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an adjunct professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science, and founder of The Barnard Medical Center. He’s also the author of the New York Times bestseller Power Foods for the Brain and his latest, The Vegan Starter Kit: Everything You Need to Know About Plant-Based Eating.
His talk focused on the impact of animal proteins on your hormones. He described how “… if dairy cows are pregnant every year, then this means that there is more estrogen in their milk.” Not good because the last thing that we want is to have excess estrogen hanging out in our bodies with no where to go. That means that the estrogen gets reabsorbed in our bodies.
Fiber plans a key role in eliminating excess hormones. But let’s take a step back and start with our liver – the gatekeeper. Our liver cells pull out excess estrogen and testosterone and flushes them out through our bile duct. Then fiber pulls them out in our intestines and escorts them out through our daily elimination process. Bonus: celery juice is great to keep your liver in top shape!
The message here is to always be mindful of eating enough fiber. Whole grains, legumes, fruits and leafy green vegetables are so important. Other dietary and lifestyle changes he promotes are: exercise (he describes fat cells as ‘estrogen factories’), lowering animal fat consumption, and also the benefits of eating soy (that is non-gmo, organic) as women who consume soy have a 30% lower risk of breast cancer, one of the leading hormone-related cancers in addition to ovarian and uterine.
Continuing this thread of soy was another speaker, renowned surgeon and breast specialist, Dr. Kristi Funk. She is author of the best selling, Breasts: The Owner’s Manual and founder of the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Los Angeles, which offers health services to women regardless of their income and health insurance status. She is also known as the doctor who performed Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy.
Based on her extensive work with women and breast cancer, she doesn’t mince words. Her advice is no meat, dairy, or alcohol, and to get moving and transition to a plant-based diet. I know. That was a lot to take in. But she also believes that you can customize what will work for you. She’s a big believer in how our daily choices can impact our health on such a profound level. The foods we choose impact the daily circuitry of our cells and how they communicate with each other.
Lifestyle changes can really impact the expression of our cells and our genes.
She admitted that she had to do a full 180 degrees on her advice towards soy. She also clarifies that when she says soy she means whole food soy like tempeh, miso, tamari, edamame, and soy milk. Organic and non-GMO. She discussed how the health benefits of the phytoestrogens in soy have been examined over the course of eight human studies since 2009 and the data reveals that your estrogen numbers go down the more soy you consume. The isoflavanes in soy are also anti-inflammatory.
She shared that every diet should include white button mushrooms as they have the highest amount of aromatase inhibitors. (Aromatase is an enzyme that converts other hormones into estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors prevent the cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.) She also recommends cooking them for at least 2-3 minutes to make sure there are no toxins.
Broccoli (surprise!) is also fantastic, but she said it’s crucial to have at least 2 florets raw for maximum benefit. For me that will be tough as I don’t love raw foods but I’m now committed. Broccoli contains properties like sulforaphane, a molecule that helps to seek out and destroy cancer cells. Also good are other members of the cruciferous family like kale, Brussels sprouts, and arugula. Six 1/2 cup servings per week of this group is recommended.
Berries are also important as they help quiet cancer cells with their high antioxidant quantities and contribute to apoptosis — natural cell death. A good thing. Berries also help stop angiogenesis, which is the creation of new blood vessels that help feed cancer cells.
Dr. Funks “Actionable Items” include: Drink three cups of green tea per day. It will slash breast cancer risk by 50%. If you add lemon, you will boost your antioxidant power by five. Cut out animal fat and animal protein. Here’s why: Dr. Funk points out that the estrogen growth hormone Xeranol is given to calfs in the US and Canada. (It was banned in Europe in 1989.) As only 6 percent of beef in the US is organic, it’s something to think about. And, finally, limit of cut out alcohol.
There were other great speakers at the summit, but I thought the shared thread about the link between hormones and food would be really valuable information to share here.