Alcohol and Estrogen: Does what we drink affect hormone balance?

Alcohol is a deeply ingrained in many western cultures – and in the USA, over 84% of adults drink alcohol, including 81% of women. For many of us, it’s part of socializing or part of relaxation – the idea of a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day can be tempting. Unfortunately, even occasional alcohol can have an impact on our hormone health and can influence imbalance in our hormones too.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to hormone imbalance, or a hormone condition such as endometriosis, it’s important to understand the intricate relationship between alcohol and hormones, in particular estrogen.

So how does alcohol affect our hormones and impact on hormone conditions? Let’s take a look:

What is the relationship between alcohol and our hormones?

There are various studies and research on the relationship between alcohol and estrogen; and its important to say that while there is commonality in the research, some studies have highlighted the benefit of moderate alcohol (especially red wine) consumption and benefit to the cardiovascular system.

However, for many women experiencing symptoms related to hormone imbalance, it’s a link that cannot be dismissed. In particular, moderate to heavy drinking, can adversely affect estrogen levels in women. This imbalance in estrogen levels may elevate the risk of various health complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis due to decreased bone density, weight gain, and other associated consequences.

Understanding how estrogen is metabolized

Normally, the liver efficiently and promptly eliminates excess estrogen from the body as we drink. As alcohol affects the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen, leading to elevated estrogen levels in the bloodstream. Additionally, alcohol can disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, the hormonal system responsible for regulating reproductive functions. This disruption can further exacerbate estrogen-related conditions like endometriosis and PCOS.

It may also stimulate the liver to convert androgens into estrogen, further elevating estrogen levels. This association between alcohol consumption and increased estrogen levels has led to the classification of alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, primarily due to its link to breast cancer. Some studies have also shown that is related to elevated levels of testosterone in women, too.

Other considerations

The impact of alcohol on estrogen levels may vary depending on several factors, including age, genetics, menstrual status, body weight and any hormone condition. For instance, some studies suggest that premenopausal women may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol compared to postmenopausal women due to differences in their hormonal profiles.

It’s crucial to recognize that alcohol consumption can exert various other effects on women’s health, including an increased risk of liver disease, depression, and accidents. Additionally, alcohol may interact unfavorably with medications or other substances, leading to adverse outcomes or fatalities.

What alcoholic drinks affect estrogen?

Understanding how different alcoholic drinks affect our estrogen levels can help with making choices for our hormone health. Of course, we recognize that if you enjoy alcoholic drinks then there will always be occasions where you want to indulge – so making educated choices at the bar can help (as can mindful drinking!). To do so, it’s important to recognize that while all types of alcoholic drinks can potentially raise estrogen levels in women, you might notice a more notable impact due to their unique composition.

Perhaps surprisingly, hard liquor and spirits are metabolized more swiftly than beer or wine and could exert a more immediate influence on estrogen levels. That’s because both red wine and beer contain phytoestrogens – so even with moderate consumption, could potentially affect your estrogen levels. On the flip side, non-alcoholic options like soda or sugary drinks may also play a role in estrogen modulation. Research suggests that indulging in sugary beverages may heighten estrogen levels in women, potentially amplifying their susceptibility to certain health challenges.

Mindful drinking – where you balance out alcoholic consumption with water, or hydrating drinks – can help with moderation and balancing hormones too.

5 tips for drinking responsibly for your hormone health:

Know Your Limits

Understanding your body’s tolerance for alcohol is essential. Stay within recommended guidelines for moderate consumption to minimize the impact on hormone balance.

Stay Hydrated

Alcohol is dehydrating, which can exacerbate hormonal imbalances. Remember to drink plenty of water alongside alcoholic beverages to maintain hydration levels.

Mindful Choices

Opt for beverages with lower alcohol content and fewer additives to reduce the risk of hormonal disruption. Consider lighter options like wine spritzers or low-alcohol cocktails.

Balance with Nutrition

Pairing alcoholic drinks with nutrient-rich foods can help mitigate the negative effects on hormone levels. Opt for snacks high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats to support overall health.

Prioritize Recovery

Allow your body ample time to recover from alcohol consumption. Incorporate restorative practices such as adequate sleep, regular exercise, and stress management techniques to support hormonal equilibrium.

Rebalancing your hormones through sleep

Alcohol reduces magnesium absorbency and this can lead to increased sleep disturbance – it’s likely that when you drink, you notice that your sleep is more broken than normal. Our sleep is an important factor in hormone regulation, and during our sleeping hours that our body heals, and hormones rebalance. If you are experiencing sleep disturbance, consider lifestyle factors such as reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine, gently exercising during the day and consider your diet and nutrition too. Supplementing your diet with magnesium can help, and a topical supplement such as Glow by Hormone University’s Super Rich Magnesium Lotion offers superior absorption via the skin, meaning that you gain more benefit and more improved sleep for your hormones, too.

Want to know more about estrogen dominance? Go to our blog for more information.

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