Hormones are one of those incredibly relatable topics because we ALL have them and we ALL deal with them in one way or another during multiple points of our lives. A lot of us are probably thinking back to those puberty days when acne and unstable emotional reactions were at an all time high, but the truth is hormones are with you at every stage of life. Our bodies just happen to cope with them differently depending on the stage. So, yes, our bodies do outgrow the acne and emotional breakdowns, but unfortunately, we never fully leave those pesky hormones in the past.
Here’s the main problem I happen to have with hormones: keeping them stable. I do not believe hormones were this difficult to control in the good old days when people cooked more at home using recipes and real ingredients.
What I mean by this is that when someone wanted to make fajitas for dinner (maybe for game night?), they would make fajitas and everything required from scratch using only fresh ingredients. No, I’m not kidding. People used to cook everything using the “from scratch” method and you know what? They were a lot healthier because of it!
Are you wondering why I chose such a random food to use as an example? There is a rhyme to my reason. I actually just finished making crock-pot fajitas for dinner tonight; they’re slowly cooking as I type this sentence.
In addition to a multitude of other ingredients, the recipe I used (link above) calls for 1 pack of fajita seasoning, 1 jar of salsa, and 1 bag of frozen fajita mix veggies.
I am extremely sensitive to the majority of ingredients used in processed foods so obviously this wasn’t an option for me, personally. But, for many other people, they’re just fine with these “short-cuts” and take advantage of the time saving options offered by the local grocery store. Yes, these do provide you with a bit more time to put toward other priorities in your life, but the minutes given back are only momentary. The long-term effects of these poor quality, processed food products can last a lifetime. They chip away at your health as if it was old paint on the side of a building until you are left with nothing but a weak immune system or worse, a serious illness.
You don’t want to chip away at the paint; you want to add a topcoat in order to protect the existing paint. Fresh ingredients will serve as your topcoat because they contain the vitamins and nutrients the human body needs in order to function properly. So, instead of using a jar of salsa, I found a fantastic recipe for blender salsa and made it completely from scratch. No need to worry about hidden ingredients because I chopped, peeled, minced, and measured every single one!
Instead of settling for a packet of fajita seasoning (notoriously known for containing large amounts of monosodium glutamate (MSG)), I made my own using common ingredients found in your typical spice rack (in other words, real not synthetic!).
Lastly, we have the bag of frozen fajita mix veggies…honestly, it’s as if these food companies are selling laziness. It really isn’t that much work to slice up a few bell peppers. I would know since I just finished doing it not even 30 minutes ago! There is something about frozen foods; they have this funky aftertaste that I really can’t stand! I know freezing food is supposed to prolong its shelf life, but sometimes it tastes stale once you cook it! Bypass this issue or even the possibility of this issue by skipping the frozen foods altogether. You’ll find fresh bell peppers to be much more flavorful when they’re baking in the crock-pot. At this point, it is more about the quality of meal you want to prepare than it is the extra five minutes you are trying to save.
So what do hormones and fajitas have in common?? Here’s the powerful thing about food…depending on what you eat, the effect on your health can be beneficial or it can be detrimental. It’s up to you and the choices you make in your everyday diet that will determine which category you fall into. Ideally, people want to be in the “beneficial” group. Realistically, the majority of people (especially in America where fast food has become second nature) are eating themselves into the “detrimental” group.
Fast food is not the primary culprit, either. Products such as fajita seasoning packets, salsa from a jar, and frozen foods are contributing factors, as well. The ingredient label on any processed food product never fails to be polluted by synthetic ingredients.
Though this is an unfortunate fact about the food industry today, there are actually two synthetic ingredients in particular that I would like to discuss. They are called Phyto-Estrogens and Xeno-Estrogens, perhaps you have heard of them already. If not, continue for a full description and how to avoid these dangerous ingredients. They have grown quite popular in recent years and are, therefore, included in a vast amount of processed food products.
You probably noticed the female hormone, Estrogen, in the name of these two ingredients. If you were wondering, No, these are not naturally produced forms of Estrogen. They are synthetic and they are detrimental to your hormone stability whether you are male or female.
Here’s the thing about Phyto-Estrogens and Xeno-Estrogens, they are imposter ingredients that have been created in a lab. If you look up the word “phyto” in Webster’s Dictionary, you will find its Greek origin to be ‘phuton,’ meaning ‘plant’ or ‘phuein,’ meaning ‘come into being.’ Do the same thing with “xeno” and you will find the Greek origin to be xenos, meaning ‘stranger, foreigner,’ or ‘strange.’ And that pretty much says it all…
“Come into being,” not naturally derived from the human body. Phytoestrogens are typically extracted from plants, but make their way through the lab before they’re put into food products. It is difficult to find details on phytoestrogens and their process of “coming into being,” therefore; you have no guarantee about the quality of the source. In addition to this shady process of creation, phytoestrogens also pose a problem in the way that they interact with the human body.
Their reaction once inside the body is actually quite worrisome and just plain annoying. Phytoestrogens have one goal when they’re floating through your digestive tract, waiting to be dispersed to the next place deemed appropriate by your body…And that goal is to replace the existing estrogen hormones produced by your endocrine system.
If given the opportunity, these synthetic hormones will latch onto your estrogen receptors and try to take the place of existing forms of estrogen that have been produced by your own body. If you consume phytoestrogens on a daily basis, you just might be destroying the balance of estrogen or testosterone in your body without even realizing it.
As for xenoestrogen, its name destroys any chance of this ingredient blending in or attempting to be derived from real ingredients. Anything put into creating this imposter ingredient is chemical and ‘strange.’ Scientists actually named this ingredient perfectly! For them to actually get a clue and name an ingredient appropriately while risking the exposure of its true nature makes me wonder what exactly the ingredient label is for xenoestrogen. On second thought, it’s probably better not knowing. Either way, this alone should be motivation to avoid xeno-estrogens completely.
Whether you are male or female, your body is already naturally producing a number of hormones to fill the necessary need. If you are deficient in one hormone, you can be sure that your body is going to work extra hard to compensate for this imbalance and eventually heal the deficiency altogether.
Your body knows what it is doing when it is working with the proper, natural forms of hormones. It can digest, metabolize, absorb, and disperse these types of hormones, thereby keeping your body healthy and balanced.
Synthetics are another story entirely. First, your body cannot metabolize synthetic hormones the same way it metabolizes your naturally produced hormones because their chemical makeup is different. Your body will not recognize phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens as your naturally produced form of estrogen. No matter how hard scientists try they will never be able to perfectly replicate a hormone so that its behavior is identical to the original. Chemically derived hormones mimic naturally produced hormones.
“Part of what makes phytoestrogens a bit tricky is their ability to both mimic estrogen and act as an estrogen antagonist (meaning they behave in the opposite way of biological estrogen). They affect the body by attaching to estrogen receptors. Because they aren’t specifically necessary for a human diet, phytoestrogens can’t be considered actual nutrients” (Dr. Axe).
Dr. Axe provides some very enlightening information on phytoestrogens, the most important being the fact that they “can’t be considered actual nutrients” (Dr. Axe). I’ll say! They’re more like the exact opposite, which is why they are so incredibly bad for you and your long-term health.
Like I said before, synthetic forms of a hormone will affect both males and females if either is exposed. If your diet includes processed foods, chances are you have already been exposed. What this means for you is that your body now has to keep your naturally produced hormones stable, as well as, the synthetic hormones you are feeding to it. When your body is processing large amounts of synthetic hormones, this will easily lead to a hormone imbalance and possibly even improper function of the way your body detects and handles hormones.
When the human body is consistently fed a mix of natural and synthetic hormones, it can get confused as to which is the proper form it is supposed to absorb. You want to maintain that ‘stranger’ label on the synthetic forms, such as phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens. Familiarizing your body with these hormones will only lead to hormone imbalances, which can lead to a variety of other issues.
While some people like to argue that extra estrogen in the body can be beneficial for women in the midst of menopause, I still do not recommend considering synthetic sources as a healthy solution for hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms associated with this particular stage of life.
It is also wise to avoid foods that might be full of estrogen-based ingredients, some of these may be phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens, some may not. Being aware of the primary estrogen-based food sources is the best way to protect your body from exposure to synthetic hormones when your endocrine system’s level of sensitivity is at an all time high.
“For example in men, how high or low their natural testosterone level is to begin with would presumably affect whether or not the dietary and environmental exposure to estrogen is high enough to cause side effects. Research also suggests there may be more safety concerns for babies, boys, and teens versus grown men. Avoiding unnecessary increased exposure in young males may be a good idea” (Superfoodly).
Your timing when it comes to consuming these types of foods really is key to maintaining good endocrine health and preventing the onset of serious conditions such as Catamenial Epilepsy.
I can’t help but wonder from time to time what my life would be like today if I knew this information about synthetic hormones and hormones, in general, when I was younger. I certainly would have made some serious changes to my diet if given the opportunity!
A hormone imbalance for your body is basically one big state of confusion. Picture an intersection without the traffic director…cars are going when they aren’t supposed to. People have no idea if it’s their turn or someone else’s turn. I hate that dilemma when you and another car arrive at a stop sign at the same time. I don’t want to be rude and just go first, but at the same time it is usually when I’m in huge hurry. It is stressing me out just thinking about it! Overall, I think that any driver would agree this situation is just one big mess! The intersection needs the traffic director if any balance is to be restored.
Your endocrine system is this intersection…when a hormone imbalance develops, the nice organized flow throughout your organs turns into chaos and only becomes worse. Trust me when I tell you that hormone imbalances are not easy to reverse once developed! So, instead of waiting until it becomes absolutely necessary to pay attention to, do what you can now to keep your levels balanced.
While there are many things you can do to maintain this balance, one of the most influential factors lies with your lifestyle habits. Have you ever heard that saying, “You are what you eat”? You probably have. And while you may not be a cow after eating that delicious hamburger, you just might be on your way toward estrogen dominance if that meat is not antibiotic-free. Pay attention to those small details when the quality is concerned. Organic, range-free, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, and soy-free are characteristics you want in the types of foods you consume.
Read those ingredient labels carefully and keep your eye out for these ingredient names: Pinoresinol, Lariciresinol, Secoisolariciresinol, Sesamin, Hydroxymatairesinol, Matairesinol, Syringaresinol, Daidsein, Formononetin, Genistein, Glycitein, Biochanin A, and Isoflavones. (Superfoodly)
Each and every one of these ingredients is a synthetic form of estrogen. Avoid them like the plague! These are the characteristics you do NOT want your food to possess! Reading the ingredient label takes a few extra minutes, but it sure does help you determine whether a product is beneficial or detrimental to your long-term health.
Superfoodly has compiled a list of the Top 50 High Natural Phytoestrogen Sources, while I’m not going to include that entire list in my article, you can visit the link above and read the complete list for yourself. Who knew doughnuts contained enough phytoestrogens to claim the #16 spot? For the sake of this article, I’ve included the top ten foods from this list.
- Flaxseeds (379,380.4 phytoestrogens)
- Soybeans (103,920.0 phytoestrogens)
- Soy Nuts (68,730.8 phytoestrogens)
- Tofu (27,150.1 phytoestrogens)
- Tempeh (18,307.9 phytoestrogens)
- Textured Veggie Protein (16,223.9 phytoestrogens)
- Miso Paste (11,197.3 phytoestrogens)
- Soy Yogurt (10,275.0 phytoestrogens)
- Soy Protein Powder (8840.7 phytoestrogens)
- Sesame Seeds (8,008.1 phytoestrogens)
The fact is, we are living in an age where synthetic estrogens (both phyto and xeno alike) have become go-to ingredients for the majority of processed food companies. Even Organic companies are incorporating increased amounts of Soy derived ingredients, which also means an increased amount of phytoestrogens. The sooner you choose to avoid foods containing large amounts of hormone levels, the better chance you have of keeping your endocrine system in tip top shape.
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Dr. Axe – https://draxe.com/phytoestrogens/
Webster’s Dictionary – https://www.merriam-webster.com
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com
The Country Cook – https://www.thecountrycook.net/crock-pot-chicken-fajitas/
Kim’s Cravings (Blender Salsa Recipe) – https://www.kimscravings.com/best-damn-salsa-ever/