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Ask our Wellness Educators
April 2018

Dear NEEDS Wellness Educators,
Q: I was recently diagnosed with a gynecologic problem and went to a doctor for help. This doctor said that I had excess estrogen levels that needed to be lowered. When we reviewed some of the potential causes of excess estrogen, I realized that one source may be from my daily beverages. Every morning, I get a to-go coffee in a Styrofoam cup and I carry around a plastic water bottle all the time. I did some research and learned that chemicals from the plastic and Styrofoam can act like fake estrogen. How does this happen?

A: Environmental toxins, coming from a variety of sources, are believed to cause a wide range of health problems in the body. Plastics in particular, leach chemicals that interact with estrogen receptors in the body. These chemicals are also known as "Estrogenic Endocrine Disruptors" (EEDs). EEDs include chemicals from plastics, such as bisphenol-A (BPA), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and phthalates, but also pesticides, fungicides, pharmaceutical medications, and other substances.

EEDs are substances that mimic natural hormones by binding to their receptors, altering how the endocrine system performs. EEDs interfere with hormonal balance and can wreak havoc on the nervous and endocrine systems. EEDs are implicated as being the cause of various chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer—although not enough research has been conducted to definitively prove this correlation.

When balanced, hormones (in men and women) provide protection to the nervous system and help prevent neurodegenerative diseases as we age. Balanced hormones also help maintain healthy mood and cognition. The research clearly demonstrates that EEDS bind to estrogen receptors and disrupts normal nervous system function.

EEDs are particularly damaging because they can cross the blood-brain barrier—a protective layer that limits absorption of substances that can damage the brain. Even worse, once they bypass that barrier, EEDs can be stored in fatty brain and nerve tissue, permitting these toxins to have long-lasting affects. These stored toxins can alter the sequence of hormone communication that is meant to control hormone balance and occurs in the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which can lead to cell damage.

EEDs are also thought to increase oxidative stress, which is a crucial factor in neurological diseases. The mechanism by which they increase oxidation is through increasing inflammatory cytokines, promoting free radical activity, increasing reactive oxygen species (ROS), and counteracting the critical antioxidant actions of glutathione and superoxide dismutase. All of these factors are implicated in the development of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.

To help prevent these detrimental health effects, the first goal is to cut out plastics as much as possible. Never heat food in plastic containers or drink hot beverages from plastic or Styrofoam cups. Glass or metal are both healthier options.

You can also take supplements to help reduce the effects of EEDs and lower your overall estrogen levels. There are three key nutrients to optimize this process: DIM (diindolylmethane), NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), and calcium D-glucarate. DIM is naturally found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. When chewed, cruciferous vegetables release plant enzymes and once exposed to stomach acid, these enzymes eventually turn into DIM. DIM enhances the action of specific enzymes that improve estrogen breakdown, also known as metabolism. Research has shown that DIM increases the level of "favorable" estrogen (2-hydroxyestrogen), while reducing the level of "less favorable" estrogen (16-hydroxyestrogen). NAC supports the liver in making more glutathione, which is considered the master nutrient for detoxification and metabolizing excess hormones. And calcium D-glucarate supports the liver in glucuronidation, which helps reduce excess estrogen through metabolism.

Be sure to take these three nutrients daily, support your liver, and eliminate environmental toxins as much as possible and you should be well on your way to a healthier life!

Yours in Good Health,
Dr. Jen Naturopathic Doctor (ND) & NEEDS Education Director

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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