Estrogen and Food in Menopause

May 4, 2009  
Filed under Menopause

Food is a powerful medicine, but did you know the carbohydrate content of what you eat can shift your estrogen metabolism towards the cancer stimulating pathways?

In The Menopause Diet book by Dr. Larrian Gillespie, research has pointed to the advantage of a high protein diet in helping to prevent estrogen-related cancers. By current nutritional standards, eating a diet higher in protein than carbohydrates has received a bad rep in today’s press, but let’s look at the chemical breakdown pathways of estrogen.

The synthesis and breakdown of estrogen involves enzymes, called cytochrome P-450, in liver and fat cells but also your ovaries. A specific enzyme, estrogen-2-hydroxylase (E2OHase), converts estrone into a non-estrogenic metabolite that is excreted in urine. This enzyme is affected by drugs, body fat and protein in your diet.

The metabolite, 2-OHE, binds to and prevents activation of your estrogen receptors, especially in the uterus. Not so for 16-OHE, which attaches to the same receptor and increases the amount of available circulating estradiol. This can lead to breast cancer and systemic lupus erythematosus, an estrogen- dependent disease. Eating a protein rich diet can even increase the activity of your CP-450 enzymes. When individuals were fed a diet composed of 44% protein and 3 5% carbohydrates, there was a profound affect on the activity in the 2-OHE pathway, favoring estrogen deactivation.

Even a low fat diet can protect your tissue, shifting estradiol metabolism away from the 16-hydroxylation pathway and towards the cancer-preventing 2-hydroxylation route. It doesn’t take a super-woman to understand that a diet composed of 40% protein, 25% fats and 35% low-glycemic carbohydrates can send you leaping into the air with a single bound!

A diet with 25% fat increases the ability to inactivate estrogen by further shifting the formation of benign, inactive metabolites. It makes sense that high fat diets can contribute to the development of breast and endometrial cancer because they shift the balance towards highly estrogenic, active metabolites.When researchers studied the diets of 80,000 women between 34-59 years of age without a previous diagnosis of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes or elevated cholesterol levels, they discovered that replacing carbohydrates with protein was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

If you want to read more about how you can use your diet to manipulate your hormones, pick up a copy of The Menopause Diet.

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