A long and in-depth post which may need to be read through more than once 😉
REMOVING USED UP HORMONES
As you know, detoxification is happening all day every day to help break down and excrete compounds. There are lifestyle and genetic factors that can interfere and slow down this process.
When the body makes a hormone such as oestrogen it must be processed by the body in the liver through the process of phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification before it can be excreted out the other end. This is known as hormone metabolism. As a hormone is undergoing that process, it gets changed into other forms known as metabolites.
This conversion of the 3 different oestrogens is also explained in the E-book under “How do we balance our oestrogen levels?”
Step 1 happens in the liver and requires B vitamins, selenium, and the amino acid glycine. This step of oestrogen metabolism can be impaired by xenoestrogens and alcohol, which is why alcohol causes higher blood levels of oestrogen and can increase the risk of breast cancer.
In the liver, oestrone and oestradiol are converted to metabolites known as 2-OH-E1, 4-OH-E1 or 16-OH-E1. These oestrogen metabolites can be recirculated before going through phase 2 detoxification where they are then excreted out of the body. It´s of utmost importance that clearance of hormones is balanced as the phase 1 metabolites can be more damaging to the body by causing oestrogen excess symptoms or increasing the risk for cancer in both men and women. Generally speaking, the 2-OH-E1 is considered the safer metabolite of the 3.
We have protein catalysts in the body called enzymes that help with the conversions.
Skip to the Phase 2, if this is enough for now!
For oestrogen metabolism the activity of the following enzymes are important.
- CYP1A1 and 1A2 create the “least carcinogenic” form of oestrogen called 2-OH oestrogen. Hopefully your body prefers this pathway.
- CYP1B1 creates the “more carcinogenic” 4-OH oestrogen. You don´t want too much oestrogen going down this pathway.
- CYP3A4 creates the more “proliferative” (growing) 16-OH oestrogen. Helpful for bones, but not helpful for boobs.
You can see if your body is pushing the activity of these enzymes faster or slower with the Lifecode Gx genetic HORMONES test.
Phase 2 metabolism (methylation):
After oestrogens go through phase 1 detoxification, they move on to methylation which is part of phase 2 detoxification. Methylation, in essence, “neutralises” the phase 1 metabolites and prepares them to be excreted out of the body instead of shuttling them back into circulation. Only 2-OH and 4-OH oestrogens are methylated. 16-OH-E1 is not. Foods like broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and MICROGREENS (broccoli sprouts etc) support the 2-OH pathway and may help lower 4-OH Oestrogens.
The oestrogens are neutralised by a process using yet another enzyme called “COMT”. COMT is sometimes slow as many have a genetic defect with a gene called MTHFR.
Support comes from Magnesium, Zinc (seafood and pumpkin seeds), choline (eggs), Methylated B12, folate and other B (plenty of green leafy and cruciferous veggies) vitamins and more.
Having high levels of oestrogen relative to progesterone may slow down the COMT enzyme which is needed for detoxification.
Once oestrogens are broken down they are ready for Phase 3. The body needs to pee or poop out the oestrogen. Although this is explained as Phase 1, 2 and 3, it needs to be addressed backwards from 3, 2 to 1. This means daily pooping is essential to get rid of unused oestrogens and constipation can lead to oestrogen excess as it gets reabsorbed.
In the presence of unhealthy bacteria, conjugated oestrogens are de-conjugated and reactivated by the enzyme beta-glucuronidase. Reactivated oestrogens can then be reabsorbed via “gut-liver recirculation.” The result is oestrogen excess. A stool test can determine levels of beta-glucoronidase.
How your gut is involved.
When the gut microbiome is healthy, the oestrobolome produces optimal levels of the enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, helping to effectively break down and remove any used up oestrogen from the body to balance hormone levels. If we produce too much beta-glucuronidase, it can impact our ability to detoxify and eliminate oestrogen from the body, allowing for oestrogen to be recirculated back into our blood supply, and increasing the overall levels in the body. This means oestrogen levels are higher than they should be which may cause ”oestrogen excess symptoms” or even disease.
Whilst progesterone and testosterone both decline during menopause oestrogen remain high if they are not effectively broken down.
The composition of your oestrobolome is influenced by genetics, diet, alcohol consumption, environmental exposures and medications, especially antibiotics. Therefore, you can support a healthy oestrobolome and balance of oestrogen in your body through a combination of detoxification, diet, and supplementation to encourage the body to restore this delicate balance.
Several dietary factors may have a positive impact on the oestrobolome.
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kvass help to rebalance gut bacteria and increase diversity.
- Probiotics strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and plantarum can help decrease bacteria that produce beta-glucuronidase.
- Prebiotic foods that are rich in fructo-oligosaccharides or inulin help to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. These include chicory, asparagus, garlic, and banana.
- Plant-based foods high in dietary fibre (think nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, and a variety of vegetables) support healthy gut bacteria and lead to more balanced levels of oestrogen. In this study, avocado and grapefruit were particular standouts.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale are helpful in regulating beneficial gut bacteria, supplying fibre to keep the gut healthy and supporting healthy detoxification of hormones including oestrogen.
If you have been tested and know you have high levels of beta glucoronidase, a supplement can be taken to bring levels down, but always ensure bowel movements and diet are in place first.