Plus, Essential Diet Guidelines for Women of All Ages
When it comes to protecting breast health and supporting natural hormone balance, there are a few important objectives to consider — strengthening your body’s metabolism of hormones, enhancing your body’s detoxification of harmful estrogens, and
The following researched supplements and natural ingredients address all these goals — and offer additional health benefits to boot.
1. DIM: Diindolylmethane, or DIM for short, is formed naturally in the body from indole-3-carbinol, a potent phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
DIM has a profound influence on breast wellness and overall cellular health. Multiple studies show that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables can significantly protect and support breast health.
DIM is often used in breast health supplements and has been shown to support immune function and hormone balance, among other benefits. DIM excels at helping rid the body of excess estrogen and “xenoestrogens,” unhealthy estrogen-like compounds such as PCBs, BPA, and phthalates. Estrogen is broken down into a variety of metabolites, some of which can cause problems in your breasts. DIM has been shown to help the body produce beneficial estrogen metabolites with antioxidant effects and reduce unhealthy estrogens.1
Other applications for DIM include acne, weight loss, PMS, hot flashes, cancer prevention, estrogen imbalances in men, and prostate health.
2. Quercetin is a powerful bioflavonoid that supports cellular regulation, healthy inflammation responses, antioxidant activity, immune balance, and more. In addition to supplements, quercetin is found in apples, onions, capers (the riches source), and other foods. Black and green teas also contain quercetin.
3. Curcumin: BCM 95® is a patented, highly bio-available form of curcumin (turmeric rhizome extract) that supports immunity, healthy gene expression, cellular regulation, healthy inflammation responses, antioxidant activity, and other benefits.
4. Astragalus root extract supports healthy immune function, cellular regulation, and more.
5. Chinese skullcap: Concentrated 10:1 Chinese skullcap extract provides powerful cellular regulation support, antioxidant activity, healthy inflammation response, and more for healthy breasts.
6. Medicinal mushrooms: Coriolus, reishi, and phellinus are medicinal mushrooms that have been extensively researched for their benefits in breast health and immunity.
Essential Diet “Dos” for Healthy Breasts
When you take proactive steps to prioritize your breast health with a nourishing whole-foods (and ideally organic) diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, you have a foundation for long-term breast-health. Here a few recommendations based on my clinical experience treating breast cancer patients:
Keep your weight in check: The ovaries make estrogen during the years before menopause, but it is also made in fat cells where enzymes convert other hormones to estrogens. After menopause, fat is the primary source of estrogen production in the body. This means that weight is a critical factor in determining estrogen levels, for both pre- and post-menopausal women. Dietary choices and activities that promote a healthy weight are essential to any estrogen-reducing program.
Watch your cholesterol: Research has shown that cholesterol byproducts are able to bind to estrogen receptors and stimulate tumor growth. Elevated cholesterol levels are associated with breast cancer.
Minimize exposure to heavy metals: Copper, cobalt, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals have been found to stimulate estrogen receptors. Sources of arsenic include some brands of rice, seafood, and well water. Cadmium is high in cigarettes and can be found in some soils. Mercury is prevalent in larger fish and old dental amalgams. And lead contamination is a component of air pollution, paint and dyes, and ceramic glazes, among other sources.
Heavy metal and toxin exposure is difficult to completely avoid, even with careful choices. Because of this, I advise my patients to use natural compounds that provide safe, gentle detoxification of heavy metals and other contaminants.
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been shown in human studies to remove harmful heavy metals and reduce toxic body burden over time. MCP is able to cross the intestinal barrier and circulate in the bloodstream, where it binds to toxins and heavy metals and helps safely excrete them-without removing essential minerals. I also recommend alpha lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, garlic, cilantro, and other herbs and nutrients that provide support for the body’s complex detoxification systems.
Avoid additives: Many chemicals used in agriculture, body care products, food packaging, and plastic water bottles are estrogenic, called “xenoestrogens” or “estrogen mimics.” In addition to binding with estrogen receptors, these toxins are fat soluble, so they tend to accumulate in fat cells. We know that breast tissue has a high concentration of fat, particularly after menopause. Studies have shown that breast milk often contains dangerous levels of these chemicals. Reduce exposure by avoiding plastic food and beverage containers, canned foods, and body products that contain these toxins. For a list of chemicals to watch out for, visit the Environmental Working Group.
Green tea is a true star in terms of its anticancer properties, with many studies on its multiple anticancer mechanisms.
Keep your vitamin D levels in the high normal range with some sun exposure and appropriate supplementation. Vitamin D beneficially influences many genes involved in the regulation of cell growth and metabolism.
Use olive oil and foods high in omega-3 fats, including wild-caught Alaskan salmon and sardines, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Diversify your diet to reduce your intake of animal protein sources. Any animal protein you do eat should be lean, organic, grass-fed, and/or pasture-raised to avoid potential chemical and hormonal additives. And completely avoid sugar and processed foods.
By understanding the ways that estrogen levels increase, and other ways in which these receptors can be stimulated, we can make wise choices and engage in activities that will minimize activation of estrogen receptors in breast cells. We can also boost overall vitality in the process — a win/win situation.
For maximum breast and hormone support, you need more than just DIM. When combined with antioxidants, botanicals, and other natural ingredients, DIM’s breast health benefits are significantly enhanced.
Physician-formulated BreastDefend pairs DIM with other powerful natural extracts and functional mushrooms to actively promote breast health, hormone balance, and overall wellness for women. BreastDefend has been shown in published studies to actively support breast cellular health, healthy gene expression, and longevity in hormone positive as well as hormone negative breast cells.2-5* BreastDefend is also helpful for promoting optimal immune function and hormonal balance — critical components of a healthy body.*
In addition to concentrated DIM, BreastDefend contains four researched breast health botanical extracts: quercetin, curcumin, astragalus, Chinese skullcap, and medicinal mushrooms. The latter are U.S.-grown in carefully controlled indoor environments, on a proprietary blend of immune-enhancing herbs and brown rice which gives an extra boost to their powerful health-promoting properties.
1. Thomson CA, Ho E, Strom MB. Nutr Rev. 2016 Jul;74(7):432-43.
2. Cheng S, Castillo V, Welty M, et al.BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):115.
3. Jiang J, Thyagarajan-Sahu A, Loganathan J, et al.Oncol Rep. 2012 Oct;28(4):1139-45.
4. Jiang J., Eliaz I., Sliva D. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013 Mar;12(2):145-52.
5. Jiang J., Wojnowski, R., Jedinak, A., Sliva, D.Integr Cancer Ther. 2011 Jun;10(2):192-200.