Are you Struggling with Weight Gain?

October 13, 2019

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Dear readers:

 So many of you write and tell me about your struggles with weight gain and an inability to lose stubborn fat. I can relate! Last year I found myself suddenly (or so it seemed) gaining weight for no apparent reason. I was eating healthy (or so I thought). I was running Divine Renewal, taking care of two active children, keeping up the household, nursing my husband who, at the time, was very ill, and also caring for my mom.

It seemed like I woke up one morning and the extra weight was suddenly there.

 Of course, that wasn’t how it happened, but that’s how it felt to me. I also was fatigued, irritable, bloated, and experiencing hair loss. 

 Then I went to a wonderful doctor who identified a problem: estrogen dominance. I’m not saying this is the reason for every woman’s battle with excess weight and body fat, but it’s a diagnosis you may want to discuss with a healthcare provider you trust.

Estrogen dominance is a condition in which your levels of estrogen and progesterone are out of balance.

 For most women with this issue, their levels of estrogen are very high. Why? Here are some reasons. 
  • Use of birth control pills or conventional hormone replacement therapy. These pills flood the body with high doses of artificial hormones, which causes the body’s natural manufacturing to shut down. 
  • The body is exposed to chemicals in food, makeup, or other items that are linked to estrogen excess. These substances are known as xenoestrogens, and they can mimic estrogen in the body. Some of these chemicals include parabens, red food dye, plastics (bisphenol A, phthalates, PCBs, flame retardants), BHA (a food preservative), and pesticides. It’s important to avoid these chemicals as much as possible.  
  • Obesity is a factor because fat cells produce an excess of estrogen. Those same cells also can transform testosterone into estrogen. Losing excess body fat can help reduce excess estrogen.
  • ​Poor detoxification of estrogen by the liver is another cause. Women who have a thyroid problem called Hashimoto’s (a common cause of hypothyroidism or low functioning thyroid) can have problems with detoxification of estrogen.  
In some women, estrogen levels may be high or even normal, but progesterone is low, which causes an imbalance between the two hormones. Some reasons for this type of estrogen dominance are:
  • ​Getting your period but no egg has been released. This is known as anovulatory cycles. When no egg has been released, no progesterone is produced during the cycle. You can have anovulatory cycles if you have been taking hormonal birth control, have just given birth, are underweight, are not getting enough nutrients, or you are in your premenopausal years.  
  • ​Stress, which can cause the body to reduce its production of progesterone and starts making much more of the stress hormone cortisol. If stress is chronic and persistent, then it can lead to adrenal fatigue (which I talk about here). 
I’ve already named a few of the symptoms of estrogen dominance, but here are a few more. How many of these are you living with every day? 
  • ​Brain fog
  • ​Low sex drive
  • ​Headaches or migraines
  • ​Fibroids
  • ​Endometriosis
  • ​Ovarian cysts
  • ​Breast lumps
  • ​PMS
  • ​Infertility
  • ​Cellulite
  • ​Tender breasts
  • ​Brown spots on the side of the face or upper lip
  • ​Insulin resistance
  • ​Osteoporosis
  • ​Autoimmune conditions
 It’s really quite fascinating how so many of the symptoms we experience as women are interconnected! 

Once we understand that relationship, then we can take steps to work with them and become the whole, vibrant, sacred being that we are!

 Many women—myself included—have thyroid issues that can contribute to us packing on extra pounds. In fact, estrogen dominance can trigger your thyroid to work at a low level (hypothyroidism), which will contribute to weight gain and fatigue. 

 How do you know if you have estrogen dominance? The best way is to talk to your doctor, explain your symptoms, and have a blood test. The test will tell you your estrogen and progesterone levels. Normal estrogen levels for women who still get their period can range from 15 to 350 picograms per milliliter (pg/mL) and less than 10 pg/mL if you are postmenopausal. 

 If you choose to have your hormone levels checked, tell your doctor if you are taking synthetic hormones, because you will not get reliable results from the test. That’s because synthetic hormones have a negative effect on your natural hormone production. Also have the test during the second half of your menstrual cycle to get relevant results.
How to treat estrogen dominance naturally

Here’s where you can take charge of your health and drop those extra pounds. I incorporated these recommendations into my life and noticed a difference. So can you! 
  •  Eat lots of broccoli and related vegetables. The cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, broccoli sprouts, bok choy, collard greens, and radishes, among others. Compounds in these vegetables help estrogen metabolism and detoxification
  • ​Eat high-fiber foods. Fiber is essential for estrogen metabolism and detoxification. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are good choices.
  • ​Avoid nonorganic meats and fowl. Conventionally raised meats and fowl have pesticides, growth hormones, and steroids that are harmful.
  • ​Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Drinking alcohol can cause estrogen levels to rise and also interfere with detoxification of estrogen in your liver
  • ​Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Use of caffeine is associated with higher levels of estrogen.
  • ​If you use synthetic hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy, talk to your doctor about using bio-identical hormones.
  • ​Get enough sleep. Detoxification of estrogen occurs mainly while we sleep. Too little sleep (less than 7 hours) may contribute to keeping your estrogen too high.
  • ​Use natural personal care and cleaning products. Traditional personal care items (such as shampoo, conditioner, makeup, body lotions, soap, deodorants, and more) contain dozens of chemicals that can interfere with your hormone levels. The same is true of household cleaning items. Choose all-natural, organic products whenever possible. 
  • ​Drink filtered water. I recommend getting a high-quality water filter for your home that will take out hormones and xenoestrogens, as well as chlorine and fluoride from your water. 
  • ​Exercise regularly. When you sweat, you help your body eliminate estrogens. 
  • ​Reduce stress. Chronic stress can damage your adrenal glands, which control many hormones in your body. If you keep your adrenals healthy, they will support healthy estrogen and progesterone production.
Every one of us has the power to manage estrogen dominance, lose weight, and enhance our well-being.

Will you join me in this effort? Will you talk to your doctor about estrogen dominance? Let me know your thoughts on estrogen dominance and what your experiences are in living with and managing this condition.

Blessings to all of my sisters!

Myriam Llano


Twenty sumptuous pages of wisdom, exercises, and guidance to help you reconnect with your divine feminine rhythms, organic impulses, and warrior resilience


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