Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) are plant based compounds that can bind to estrogen receptors in your body. They activate some estrogen receptors and block others. They are being extensively studied in the treatment of PMS, menopause symptoms, and endometriosis. They are also being looked at as an aide in the prevention of breast and prostate cancer, as well as protection against heart disease and osteoporosis.
Phytoestrogens positively influence estrogen metabolism through a variety of mechanisms. The bottom line is that they work to ensure that your body makes the right metabolites of estrogen and that the estrogen circulating in your body works effectively and in the manner in which you need it to. This results in a reduced incidence of certain cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis as well as reduced menopausal symptoms and PMS. You can affect your hormones by dietary modification!!
Phytoestrogens have two main classes: isoflavones and lignans. Isoflavones are found in soy, legumes, alfalfa, clover, licorice root, and kudzu root. Lignans are found in fiber-rich foods such as flaxseed and other oil seeds, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables. It is unfortunate that some of the phytoestrogens, especially soy, have gotten such a bad reputation because they really can be beneficial. Isoflavones and lignans have both been shown to help women experience longer menstrual cycles and lower serum estradiol levels. Longer menstrual cycles (more time between periods) result in a decreased lifetime exposure to estrogen and thus lowers the risk for breast cancer, as well as improves the symptoms of menopause and PMS. Eating a well balanced diet of organic non GMO foods that includes phytoestrogens and lignans will help you to better balance your hormones and optimize your health.