Phytoestrogens are naturally-occurring plant compounds that seem to be very similar to the estrogen occurring in our bodies. These plant compounds have a similar structure to estrogen and have the ability to act like it, too. Isoflavones are perhaps the most well known phytoestrogen, but there are others, too. (Have you have ever bought soymilk and have read the isoflavone content?) Some of the most common sources of phytoestrogens are soybeans, soy products (like tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, soy milk), legumes, flaxseeds, pistachios, dried dates, sesame seeds, hummus, sunflower seeds, and dried apricots.
Every time you eat these foods, you are putting phytoestrogens into your body. Over time, these foods can contribute to overall hormone health. Over the years there has been much debate about phytoestrogens and how they may help or harm health.
On one hand, phytoestrogens are good: they have been associated with lowered risk of cardiovascular issues, a decrease in bone loss, and they have been helpful for some women suffering from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats. If a woman is suffering from low estrogen, eating phytoestrogen-rich foods might be incredibly helpful.
Unfortunately, there are many who believe that phytoestrogens are damaging to the human body. Because soy products and soy derivatives are found in nearly 2/3 of all packaged foods, it would be easy for the average American to ingest enough phytoestrogens to disrupt their system, not help it. The debate continues, with some people saying “soy is bad– avoid it” and just as many others saying, “soy is good.” If you are concerned about your estrogen levels, we can help.