The antiestrogenic vegetable
As a nutritionist and health coach specializing in working with women of a certain age—the golden years of perimenopause, menopause, and beyond—I am always delighted when I discover new, effective, natural ways to improve the quality of life of these women.
Enter the carrot.
What’s so great about carrots?
My research and extensive conversations with professionals and clients alike continuously enrich the list of options women have to restore, revive, and maintain their health. Recently I discovered—or should I say gained a new perspective on—carrots.
Carrots are perhaps best known for their vitamin A content, and many articles have been written about how eating carrots may help improve eye health. For women over 40 who are facing hormone fluctuations and the world of changes that can go along with them, eating carrots can take on a whole new meaning.
According to biologist and thyroid expert Dr. Ray Peat, who also authored many books including From PMS to Menopause: Female Hormones in Context, including raw carrots in your diet, preferably daily, is an effective way to reduce estrogen levels, fight inflammation, and help eliminate endotoxins. These benefits alone can go a long way toward improving symptoms of menopause, such as poor digestion, skin problems, and fatigue. Other benefits may include assisting with weight loss and warding off bacterial growth.
Carrots and estrogen
I am especially interested in the estrogen factor, as estrogen dominance is a significant problem among women in the menopausal years. Symptoms associated with this imbalance can include weight gain, systemic inflammation, fatigue, headache, hypothyroidism, mood swings, depression, anxiety, breast tenderness, fibroids, bloating, headaches, and low libido.
Consuming raw carrots, which are an excellent source of indigestible (insoluble) fiber, can assist the bowels in removing excess estrogen from the body. Since excess estrogen can accumulate in bile, it’s important to know that people who eat raw carrots at breakfast have been shown to eliminate 50 percent more fecal bile acid and fat than people who don’t have this vegetable for breakfast.
Estrogen dominance can be worsened by our exposure to estrogen-like man-made chemicals in our environment. Known as xenoestrogens, they can be found in products familiar to us all: everything from shampoo and deodorant and other personal health items to air fresheners, scented candles, plastic food containers, tampons, household cleaners, artificial food dyes, furniture, pesticides, herbicides, flooring, drapes, and many more items. Xenoestrogens can disrupt your endocrine system and the body’s ability to eliminate estrogen, as well as impact your reproductive, nervous, and immune systems.
More health benefits of carrots
And there are more benefits for menopausal women who include raw carrots in their diet. Experts have reported that raw carrots can help fight against bacteria such as E. coli (which can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting) and Listeria, which is associated with fever, headache, confusion, balance problems, and muscle aches. Raw carrots also have antibiotic properties that may help with digestive issues such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and irritable bowel syndrome, as well skin problems such as eczema and acne.
Another problem with bacteria is that they can produce toxic byproducts called endotoxins. These substances are associated with many health issues, including estrogen dominance and other hormone imbalances, various autoimmune conditions (such as thyroiditis), atherosclerosis, and stress on liver function.
Eating raw carrots can help with all of the issues I’ve discussed and thus have a significant impact on the quality of life of women in menopause. In short, raw carrots can reduce the absorption of endotoxins and also help excrete them, reduce systemic inflammation, facilitate hormonal balance, aid digestion, promote better skin health, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and even help with weight loss.
Easy way to enjoy raw carrots
What’s the best way to enjoy raw carrots? I strongly recommend using organic carrots, and look for orange, yellow, white, and purple varieties. Although all carrots are rich sources of antioxidants, each color contains some slightly different ones. Simply grate, shred, or use a spiralizer to make carrot noodles. Place the carrots in a bowl and add apple cider or balsamic vinegar, your choice of herbs (garlic, basil, coriander, thyme are a few examples), a bit of coconut or extra virgin olive oil, a dash of salt, and toss well. Avoid soybean, canola, or other polyunsaturated vegetable oils as they can boost estrogen levels. I encourage all women in perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause to add raw carrots to their diet. They are easily accessible, inexpensive, and a delicious, healthy way to ease your journey through the menopause years.