If you are over 50, you know that your nutrition can have a tremendous impact on your hormone levels. So, how beneficial is the keto diet for women over 50?
Hormone Level Changes
There are two primary sex hormones in the body: testosterone and estrogen. Men and women have both; however, men tend to have more testosterone while women have more estrogen.
Estrogen production ramps up during puberty, promoting the development of the female sex organs, breasts, and hips. But the benefits of estrogen in a woman’s body go beyond what happens during puberty. Healthy estrogen levels become extremely important for women over the age of 50 as they enter menopause.
Let’s take a look at the importance of healthy estrogen levels and what you can do to keep them within a normal range.
What Does Estrogen Do?
Aside from kickstarting female development, estrogen has a number of other important benefits:
- Decreased Risk of Disease: Studies show that maintaining healthy levels of estrogen can improve insulin sensitivity, decreasing your risk for type-II diabetes. Some studies also found that healthy levels of estrogen reduced the risk of certain cancers. 
- Cardiovascular Health: Studies show that normal estrogen production can protect your heart health. Women going through menopause tend to have lower levels of estrogen and a higher risk of heart disease. 
- Bone Health: While not the best way to prevent bone loss, having healthy levels of estrogen can help to keep your bones strong and maintain bone density. 
Symptoms of Low Estrogen Levels
Here are the most common symptoms of low estrogen levels:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Breast tenderness
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings, especially depression
- Constant fatigue
- Increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs)
It’s essential that you chat with your doctor if you believe that you might be suffering from low estrogen levels.
How to Increase Estrogen on Keto
If your doctor has suggested that you have low estrogen levels, there are a few ways to naturally increase it:
Found in plants, phytoestrogens imitate the actions of estrogen in the body. You can increase your intake of phytoestrogens by eating more soy products, cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, kale, and spinach), and flax seeds. 
If you’re following a ketogenic diet, these foods will already be a part of your daily meal plan. The one thing to watch out for is the carbohydrate count in soy products. For example, soy milk is packed with carbs from sugar. Speaking of which…
Studies suggest that too much sugar, especially processed sugar, can negatively impact your levels of estrogen. This includes sugars from fruit. 
Strive to eliminate most, if not all, processed sugars from your diet. Limit your intake of natural sugars. If you’re on the keto diet, you’ll already be doing this with the bulk of your natural sugars coming from low-carb fruits and vegetables.
If you want to support healthy estrogen levels, there are two bad habits that you should drop: smoking and lack of sleep.
Smoking, including secondhand smoke, has been shown to lower estrogen levels. 
Focusing on a Netflix binge instead of sleeping can cost you since sex steroid hormones are at their peak during the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. 
Don’t Leave Your Keto Diet to Chance
If you want to start the keto diet, but you’re not sure where to begin, we have your back. Check out our super beginner-friendly system, OK32, that includes over a month of step-by-step meal plans, workouts, and commonly asked questions.
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- Rietjens IMCM, Louisse J, Beekmann K. The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens. Br J Pharmacol. 2017;174(11):1263–1280. doi:10.1111/bph.13622.
- Child & Family Research Institute. “Too Much Sugar Turns Off Gene That Controls Effects Of Sex Steroids.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2007.
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- Lord C, Sekerovic Z, Carrier J. Sleep regulation and sex hormones exposure in men and women across adulthood. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2014 Oct;62(5):302-10. doi: 10.1016/j.patbio.2014.07.005. Epub 2014 Sep 11.
David James Sautter is a fitness writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education, he earned certifications as a NASM-certified personal trainer, NASM-certified fitness nutrition specialist, and ACE-certified sports conditioning specialist. Merging his two passions, he has been the driving creative force behind articles, e-books, and training guides that cover a range of health and fitness topics with an emphasis on the ketogenic diet.