Maintaining healthy skin while aging is a challenge that we all face. Yet, recent research has helped us understand why our skin changes as we age and therefore has provided some treatments to reverse or prevent serious age-related skin damage.
Through this research, it’s been determined that estrogen plays an important role.
For instance, per a recent research study the University of Bradford, the administration of estrogen plays a large role in the aging of our skin. In fact, the study claims that skin aging can be significantly delayed by the administration of estrogen.
What is estrogen? What role does it play in our bodies? And, how does estrogen affect the effects of skin aging? Let’s take a deeper dive into estrogen, aging, and plant-based estrogen sources!
What is Estrogen?
You’ve heard of estrogen. You may even know that it’s an important hormone. During sexual education, we learn that estrogen is found in both women and men. It plays an important role in female physical characteristics such as the growth of breasts and underarm hair and that estrogen is a crucial hormone that will (or already has) kick-started your very first menstrual cycle.
Yet, did you know estrogen plays an important role in many other non-sex related functions?
While estrogen is identified as a sex hormone, this chemical messenger also controls cholesterol, protects bone health in both men and women, plays a role in your mood, and can affect tissue throughout the body including the heart, the brain, and your skin.
Estrogen Production in the Female Body
While both men and women produce estrogen, the female body produces far more than a man’s body and is therefore affected more aggressively. In fact, in the female body “estrogens are made by converting the male hormones, known collectively as androgens, into estrogens,” which are “initially derived from cholesterol.”
There are three types of estrogen: estrone (E1) — estrogen produced post menopause — estradiol (E2) — the “most common type in women of childbearing age” — and estriol (E3) — estrogen that is produced during pregnancy.
Where does estrogen come from?
In the female body, the “ovaries, which produce a woman’s eggs, are the main source of estrogen from your body.” Yet, estrogen is also created in small amounts by the adrenal glands, “located at the top of each kidney,” as well as via fat tissue. Estrogen is transported throughout the body via blood and therefore affects many different bodily systems.
Skin and Estrogen
While estrogen plays an important role in many body systems, one of the most altering effects of estrogen is seen through skin changes.
Why is this?
Estrogen has been shown to have “significant effects on skin physiology” and may even “alleviate the changes [of skin] due to aging.” When we’re young, our bodies naturally produce estrogen, which is why many young women and men have thick and taut skin. Yet, as we age, levels of estrogen decrease, and, for women, after menopause our bodies create only one type of estrogen called estrone. Since estrogen levels “affect skin thickness, wrinkle formation and skin moisture” through the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) — a compound that maintains “fluid balance and structural integrity” — as our estrogen levels decrease with age, so does the health of our skin. Plus, estrogens are a key element in the production of collagen, which is a component for healthy, plump, thick, hydrated, and wrinkle-free skin.
This is why the beauty world has become obsessed with anti-aging collagen and/or peptide-based topical products such as this collagen-stimulating, plant-based peptide Evan Naturals Peptide Complex Serum, specifically for anti-aging healing and repair. While cruelty-free, plant-based lotions and creams are a great resource for collagen and peptide skin repair, the best way to keep your skin youthful is through the ingestion of estrogen-boosting plant-based foods.
Plant-Based Foods to Boost Estrogen Production
Before embarking upon your estrogen-boosting diet, it’s important to go over the pros and cons with your doctor. While estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone, it can have dramatic effects on your body. With that said, once you’ve got the basics covered and the thumbs up from your doctor, here are some estrogen-boosting plant-based foods to try out. The below foods also have a double-dose effect of estrogen-boosting phytoestrogens and a broad array of essential nutrients!
If you haven’t tried flaxseed, today’s the day! These tiny, golden-colored seeds — also referred to as linseed — are one of the best plant-based sources of dietary fiber and protein, “minerals like manganese, thiamine and magnesium,” and is a rich source of “plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA).” Flaxseed is also the number one “source of lignans in the human diet; flaxseeds contain about seven times as many lignans as the closest runner up, sesame seeds.” Lignans are a type of phytonutrient linked to the prevention of cancer, healthier blood pressure, and even possible bone benefits.
When it comes to plant-based dieting, flaxseeds can change your world! These seeds have a very mild, nutty flavor making them perfect to sprinkle raw on salads, such as this Nourishing Cauliflower Salad With Nuts and Seeds. You can also mix it in with your favorite eggless recipes, such as this Crustless Quinoa Quiche, or even create your own omega-3 rich Homemade Golden Flax Seed Milk. Plus, flaxseeds are a great binder for oven-bake recipes — such as this Strawberry Upside Down Cakes With Vanilla Bean or this Lentil Loaf With Tomato Glaze — and, when mixed with water, make a great vegan egg alternative!
Spicy Garlic Edamame/One Green Planet
Soy is a staple for many practicing a plant-based diet. From tofu to tempeh to miso and even the fermented superfood natto, soy is a wonderful and nourishing ingredient. Soy products also are a great way to increase your intake of estrogen. In particular, “soy foods contain isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen,” part of a dietary estrogen grouping due to the fact that “they’re not created by the human endocrine system.” Basically, you can only get phytoestrogens from diet or supplements.
Get a helping of phytoestrogen every day by incorporating healthy soy-based products into your diet such as this simple Tofu Scramble, miso-rich Wakame Soup, Spicy Garlic Edamame, or this super easy Smoky Tempeh Jerky.
Almond Butter/One Green Planet
Nuts are a life saver when it comes to plant-based eating. They are a unique plant-based food that can be consumed raw, roasted, chopped or even pulverized, and yet they are always filled with rich, satisfying flavor. Plus, nuts are a great source of many essential vitamins and minerals including protein, fiber, healthy fat, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, manganese, and selenium. Nuts also happen to be a great source of phytoestrogen! With that said, not all nuts are estrogen-equal. If you’re looking to boost estrogen production, integrate almonds (131.1 ug per 100-gram serving), pistachios (382.5 ug per 100-gram serving), and peanuts (34.5 ug per 100-gram serving).
Almonds, pistachios, and peanuts are also super easy to integrate into your plant-based dietary regimen! Like flaxseed, they are a great raw addition to salads and can even be eaten raw by the handful. With that said, nuts are an integral ingredient in dairy-free cheese — such as this 5-Ingredient Almond Feta Cheese — dairy and grain free baking — such as this Pistachio Cake or this High-Protein Peanut Butter Pistachio Fudge — and are great whipped into decadent, healthy fat filled butter substitutes — such as this simple Almond Butter, this Homemade Peanut Butter, or this Toasted Almond-Pecan Butter.
Apricot, Goji, Brazil Nut Bars/One Green Planet
Dried fruit is yet another easy snack that is not only nutritious and filling but also helps increase estrogen production through high levels of phytoestrogens! As is similar with nuts, some dried fruits are better than others, specifically apricots (444.5 ug of phytoestrogen per 100 grams), prunes (183.5 ug of phytoestrogen per 100 grams), and dates (329.5 ug of phytoestrogen per 100 grams). Plus, dried fruits are easy to integrate into your diet on a daily basis such as these simple Apricot Energy Balls, these Apricot, Goji, Brazil Nut Bars, this Chocolate Date Steel Cut Oats, or this flavor-filled Kritharaki Salad with Dried Prunes.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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