Your Scientific Source of Sports Nutrition and Supplementation

Understanding Estrogen for the Female Athlete

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At PaleoEdge, I am very conscious of the future health of an athlete. It is a myth that since an athlete exercises daily, it enables he or she to eat whatever they want. Excessive amounts of carbohydrates in the form of grains and sugar, chemically laden protein bars, powders and drinks, factory farmed meat and dairy from fast food restaurants, excessive exercise and sleep deprivation all lead to low immunity, toxicity and deficiency. In fact, it is now estimated that 1 in 2 will have cancer by 2020.

At our nutrition practice Swanson Health Center, one of the hardest parts of being in the office is seeing young people in their 20’s and 30’s with cancer. The most heartbreaking is seeing a client mishandled by the medical community and to an untimely death. Many of these people do not seem like obvious candidates for cancer. They are young, at a healthy weight and have been active most of their life. The diet however, often points to a different story.

Yes, there are people who eat horribly and live until they are 96 years old. That generation also got a much better start than the generations now, and were exposed to a lot less pollution, chemicals and processed foods. Ask your parents and grandparents if they remember anyone having cancer when they were young, and almost all of them will say no.

Part of what the PaleoEdge diet promotes is a very strong immune system with specific animal and plant foods that have anti-cancer qualities. These foods play a special role in regulating hormones, especially for women who have too much estrogen and too little progesterone.

Female Athletes

Female athletes, listen up. A very common case at Swanson Health Center is when a client comes in complaining of fatigue, muscle stiffness, headaches, foggy brain, a white coated tongue, trouble sleeping and constipation or diarrhea. These are all symptoms of an overgrowth of a yeast in your gut called Candida. Everybody has Candida and it has a purpose in a small, controlled amount. But when it is allowed to grow out of control, it produces toxins including ethanol which causes fatigue and decreases strength and stamina, and inhibits the absorption of iron.

Low iron leads to low oxygen levels and not only affects performance but your defense system. When these yeast colonies form in the small intestine, they poke microscopic holes in the intestinal lining and form “leaky gut.” Now, the permeated intestinal wall allows all 180 of yeast’s chemical by-products, toxins and chemicals, and undigested food to enter the bloodstream and trigger the immune system to react.

How Does Candida Grow out of Control?

A diet dominated by sugar, refined carbohydrates, use of a contraceptive pill, ingesting high amounts of chlorine in unfiltered water, prolonged use of antibiotics, medications, stress, mercury fillings and constipation leads to a Candida overgrowth. Imagine your digestive system like a pristine flowing river in Switzerland. When you get constipated, it forms into a swamp found in Middle Earth. Every fungus, toxin and bad bacteria are able to breed and spread throughout the body. And when these begin to dominate the body’s flora, cancer cells begin building cities.

The root cause of Candida however can be hormonally based, with excess sugar and carbohydrates in the diet feeding the fungus. This explains why approximately 70 percent of Candida overgrowth occurs in women. A combination of birth-control pills, antibiotics or ingesting high amounts of chlorine over an extended time can create an environment for Candida to thrive; however physical, mental and emotional stress can all also create this environment by disrupting hormones.  If your estrogen levels are out of whack, you need to make changes quickly to correct this problem. See how low and high estrogen can make you feel in this chart.

Overtraining can also lead to low testosterone and DHEA levels, causing a slow recovery process and chronic fatigue. Low estrogen levels causes high progesterone levels, and Candida actually uses progesterone as fuel. Progesterone levels are higher during women’s periods, making flare-ups coincide with this time. If you are experiencing ammenorrhea, then you are setting yourself up for a higher incidence of stress fractures due to the loss of calcium occurring in the bones.

Guidelines for Healthy Hormones

Use glass instead of plastic, and find natural organic alternatives like those in this skin care article. Consume anti-estrogenic foods including broccoli, cabbage, sauerkraut, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, apples, onions, grapefruit, celery, parsley and oranges. If you have any Candida symptoms mentioned earlier, follow the protocol on this page. Your energy will increase, your muscles will become more flexible, hormones will balance , you will have less colds and the white coating on your tongue will disappear.

You are an athlete, but you also need to treat your body with respect. Pay attention to these clues and you will be better equipped to maintain a strong and healthy body your whole life.

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