“My periods have become irregular and I am starting to have some hot flashes, is there anything I can do to help manage hormones as I approach menopause?”
“Now that I’m menopausal, is there anything I can do to make the most of the hormones my body is still producing?”
“I’m on hormone replacement therapy, is there anything I can do to increase the benefits and decrease the risks?”
Regardless of the source—our body’s natural production or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)—estrogen can be both a boon and a bust to our well-being. When we metabolize estrogen it is broken down into various ‘metabolites’. Some of these substances do our bodies good and some cause us trouble. The good metabolites are actually antioxidants that promote hormonal balance and the troubling ones encourage inflammation and promote imbalances like estrogen dominance. Fat burning is enhanced when the healthy metabolites reign supreme and most striking of all is the impact on hormone driven cancer risk. By providing protection and even promoting the destruction of cancer cells, the beneficial metabolites act to prevent breast and other estrogen-related cancers, while the detrimental metabolites act to increase risk.
Eating a nutrient dense diet, keeping cortisol in check, and avoiding environmental estrogens in plastics and pesticides are all effective ways to enhance our handling of estrogen. To impact metabolite production directly, supplementation with diindolylmethane (DIM), a phytonutrient derived from broccoli, both increases what is helpful and decreases what is harmful. Like a GPS, DIM guides estrogen down the road that leads to the good metabolites. Functioning as an estrogen optimizer—it is not a hormone and has no intrinsic estrogenic activity—DIM is a benefit to women throughout the menopausal transition.
Specific to the perimenopausal woman, having plenty of the good metabolites stimulates progesterone production—usually the first hormone to diminish and the cause of many early symptoms. A healthier metabolizing of any estrogen, produced after a woman reaches menopause, makes for better overall health, mood, and symptom control. For the menopausal woman on HRT, DIM provides extra protection against cancer. There is also a correlation between the good metabolites and the curtailing of oxidative processes that contribute to heart disease and another overall benefit is an increased availability of testosterone, our “vitality” hormone.
The small amount of testosterone, produced by a woman, contributes to her feeling at her best where her mood is bright and her libido is intact. Testosterone is also a promoter of fat burning and lean body mass maintenance which keeps us looking good and is protective against frailty in our later years. Unhealthy estrogen metabolism results in an increased “bondage” of testosterone leaving it less accessible. With DIM, the good metabolites bind in its place freeing testosterone and thus increasing its availability. This relationship between DIM and testosterone is especially significant for our men.
Just as woman produce some testosterone, men also produce some estrogen. These hormones are necessary for optimal health, but trouble occurs when metabolism is insufficient. Prostate problems and gynecomastia—man boobs or “moobs”—are signs of unhealthy estrogen metabolism in men. DIM not only enhances the processing of estrogen, but frees up testosterone and improves hormone balance, especially important for andropausal men. Supplementing with DIM is an easy way for both women and men to steer estrogen towards what does us good and away from what causes us trouble.
I use Nature’s Way DIM-plus as it is formulated to ensure proper absorption. Supplements are most effective when used to complement a nutrient dense diet and a healthy lifestyle.