Cruciferous vegetables are fantastic for supporting detoxification for hormonal health and balance.
Not only do they provide plenty of essential nutrients and fibre to assist good gut health, they also support liver detoxification to rid the body of excess hormones, specifically oestrogen.
The Significance of Oestrogen
Oestrogen is a very important reproductive hormone. In a happy, well-regulated menstrual cycle, oestrogen rises in the first (follicular) phase, peaking at ovulation before coming back down.
Oftentimes, oestrogen gets out of balance. While it can be low, it is predominantly found to be in excess for many women. This can manifest as menstrual-related symptoms including PMS, painful periods, tender breasts, weight gain, mood swings, fibroids and low mood.
The liver plays a large role in oestrogen metabolism and detoxification to remove oestrogen from the body effectively. Gut health is also an important factor, but this blog post will focus specifically on the liver for now.
What Are Cruciferous Vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae. They include: cauliflower, cabbage, kale, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, radishes and mustard greens.
How Do Cruciferous Vegetables Help?
Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called DIM (diindolylmethane), a phytochemical contained in these vegetables, helps the body to detoxify excess oestrogen which is associated with all the aforementioned symptoms.
DIM is known to support conversion of oestrogen into a less inflammatory and less oestrogenic compound which is in mist cases more favourable than the more inflammatory and oestrogenic compounds which cause hormonal imbalance symptoms like, heavy periods, period cramps, mood swings and breast tenderness.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain sulfur compounds which help to detoxify a "sluggish" liver. Sign and symptoms of this include weight gain, bloating, gas and constipation.
When it comes to preparing and eating cruciferous vegetables, it's best to have them cooked to avoid goitrogens which are substances that interfere with your thyroid hormones which will in turn influence your sex hormones.
This is especially important if you are someone with and existing thyroid condition, though also applies to everyone else. Some raw kale in a green smoothie now and again may not matter so much in the big picture, but certainly be sure that you're not doing this too often! Everything in moderation is always key!
If you suspect that you may have something deeper going on in regards to your menstrual or hormonal health, do go see a trusted practitioner to help you troubleshoot.