The Top 5 High Estrogen Foods to Avoid – Dr. Josh Axe

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The Top 5 High Estrogen Foods to Avoid
The Top 5 High Estrogen Foods to Avoid – Dr. Josh Axe Graphic © Background photo: Pixabay (PD)

Hormonal health is integral to our well-being. Unfortunately, some of the products we use and consume can disrupt our hormones and throw them out of whack, leading to adverse health effects. [1]

Case in point, xenoestrogens—natural and synthetic substances that mimic estrogen—may disrupt the body’s balance of the “female” sex hormone. This may cause health issues like fatigue, male infertility, cancer, and immune dysfunction. [2][3]

While estrogen is widely referenced as the “female” sex hormone, it’s actually involved in both male and female reproduction. [4] It also plays a role in other biological systems, including the immune, skeletal, vascular, and neuroendocrine systems.

When estrogen levels are abnormally high and out of balance, the condition is known as estrogen dominance. While several factors can affect estrogen levels, research shows that your diet can influence how your body excretes and metabolizes the sex hormone. [1]

So, what are some of the dietary patterns that may lead to high levels of estrogen? And why should you be concerned?

Common High Estrogen Foods to Avoid

According to Dr. Josh Axe—a doctor of chiropractic, certified doctor of natural medicine, and clinical nutritionist—these are the top 5 high-estrogen foods you should eliminate from your diet. He argues that they may be destroying your hormone balance and health.

1: Soy

The first food on Dr. Axe’s list is soy. He explains that “soy is an estrogen mimicker, which means that it has the effect that excess estrogen would on the body.”

Soy contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens (i.e., plant-based estrogens) that act like estrogen within the body. However, the impact of soy isoflavones is complicated. Studies show that the estrogen-mimicking compounds may increase or increase estrogen levels. [5]

But of particular concern is the fact that most of the soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified to withstand the pesticide glyphosate. [6] As such, soy products may contain glyphosate residues. And according to research published in the journal Chemosphere, glyphosate may negatively affect the human endocrine system as an endocrine-disrupting chemical. [7]

2: Sugar and Refined Grains

Several studies associate Western dietary patterns with elevated levels of estrogen. [8][9] This describes a diet with a high intake of sweets, desserts, and refined grains. Eating such foods frequently can have a negative effect on blood sugar and inflammation, which can throw your hormones out of balance.

There’s also the risk of increased body fat from eating the Western diet, which is associated with high estrogen levels. [10]

3: Conventional Dairy

Conventional dairy and meat are particularly significant sources of estrogen. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average American consumes around 647 pounds of dairy. [11] And according to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, up to 80% of estrogens in the Western diet come from dairy products. [12]
Additionally, a review in the Iranian Journal of Public Health suggests that dairy foods contain traces of estrogens to some extent. [13] The researchers pointed out that this may be due to naturally occurring hormones crossing the blood-milk barrier and phytoestrogen-rich produce like soy used in dairy production.

4: Conventional Meat

Similar to dairy, the review in the Iranian Journal of Public Health claimed that conventional meats (including beef, chicken, and pork) contain 17β-estradiol and its metabolites. [13] This finding is supported by a number of studies that link processed and red meats to increased levels of estrogen in the body. [8][9]

For this reason, limiting your consumption of conventional meats and dairy is advisable to help support estrogen regulation.

5: BPA Plastic

While this is not technically a high-estrogen food, it’s worth taking note—considering bisphenol A (BPA) may be found in common places like plastic water bottles and canned foods. Research shows that the chemical has toxic estrogen-like effects that may adversely affect the balance of estrogen in your body. [14] Note also that the “replacement” seen in “BPA-free” goods (BPS) may also be harmful!

How To Reduce Estrogen Levels

On top of avoiding high-estrogen foods, Dr. Axe recommends eating more cruciferous vegetables – such as brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli—to help detox your body of estrogen.

These vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound that has been shown to offer anti-estrogen effects by breaking down the hormone and aiding in its detoxification. [15]

Other ways to promote healthy estrogen levels include exercising regularly, losing excess body fat, and eating a fiber-rich diet. [10][16]


Healthy estrogen levels are crucial for your overall. Disrupting the balance may adversely affect your body. To promote healthy regulation of the hormone, consider limiting the intake of foods that are high in estrogen, such as soy, conventional dairy, refined carbs, and conventional meats.

But as always, consult your healthcare provider for appropriate testing and advice on any hormonal concerns.



[1] Domínguez-López, I., Yago-Aragón, M., Salas-Huetos, A., Tresserra-Rimbau, A., & Hurtado-Barroso, S. (2020). Effects of dietary phytoestrogens on hormones throughout a human lifespan: A review. Nutrients, 12(8), 2456:

[2] Chighizola, C., & Meroni, P. L. (2012). The role of environmental estrogens and autoimmunity. Autoimmunity reviews, 11(6-7), A493-A501:

[3] Santin, A. P., & Furlanetto, T. W. (2011). Role of estrogen in thyroid function and growth regulation. Journal of thyroid research, 2011:

[4] Hamilton, K. J., Hewitt, S. C., Arao, Y., & Korach, K. S. (2017). Estrogen hormone biology. Current topics in developmental biology, 125, 109-146:

[5] Pabich, M., & Materska, M. (2019). Biological effect of soy isoflavones in the prevention of civilization diseases. Nutrients, 11(7), 1660:

[6] Bøhn, T., Cuhra, M., Traavik, T., Sanden, M., Fagan, J., & Primicerio, R. (2014). Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food chemistry, 153, 207-215:

[7] Muñoz, J. P., Bleak, T. C., & Calaf, G. M. (2021). Glyphosate and the key characteristics of an endocrine disruptor: A review. Chemosphere, 270, 128619:

[8] Fung, T. T., Hu, F. B., Barbieri, R. L., Willett, W. C., & Hankinson, S. E. (2007). Dietary patterns, the Alternate Healthy Eating Index and plasma sex hormone concentrations in postmenopausal women. International journal of cancer, 121(4), 803-809:

[9] Sánchez-Zamorano, L. M., Flores-Luna, L., Angeles-Llerenas, A., Ortega-Olvera, C., Lazcano-Ponce, E., Romieu, I., … & Torres-Mejía, G. (2016). The Western dietary pattern is associated with increased serum concentrations of free estradiol in postmenopausal women: implications for breast cancer prevention. Nutrition Research, 36(8), 845-854:

[10] de Roon, M., May, A. M., McTiernan, A., Scholten, R. J., Peeters, P. H., Friedenreich, C. M., & Monninkhof, E. M. (2018). Effect of exercise and/or reduced calorie dietary interventions on breast cancer-related endogenous sex hormones in healthy postmenopausal women. Breast Cancer Research, 20(1), 1-16:

[11] U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dairy Products Data

[12] Remesar, X., Tang, V., Ferrer, E., Torregrosa, C., Virgili, J., Masanes, R. M., … & Alemany, M. (1999). Estrone in food: a factor influencing the development of obesity? European journal of nutrition, 38(5), 247-253:

[13] Malekinejad, H., & Rezabakhsh, A. (2015). Hormones in dairy foods and their impact on public health-a narrative review article. Iranian journal of public health, 44(6), 742:

[14] Fernandez, S. V., & Russo, J. (2010). Estrogen and xenoestrogens in breast cancer. Toxicologic pathology, 38(1), 110-122:

[15] U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs:

[16] Farvid, M. S., Eliassen, A. H., Cho, E., Liao, X., Chen, W. Y., & Willett, W. C. (2016). Dietary fiber intake in young adults and breast cancer risk. Pediatrics, 137(3):

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