What are you up to this weekend?
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We've been catching up on things around the house, trying to find creative ways to use all of the great veggies from this week's CSA, going to the pool, and having a dinner date on the back deck with burgers, potato salad, and a glass of wine
For those who follow The Veggies, a continuation today of a short series about
Part I – defined what estrogen is and a few of the things it does for our bodies. Also, it included a funny story from Edward Doisy's quest to extract all three of the hormones from vats of pregnant women's urine
To pick things back up
What happens when our estrogen levels change?
My goodness, the more I read, I've been amazed by just how much is happening with our hormones, throughout our lives
It's well-known that estrogen levels fall as we age, especially when we as women enter menopause, though there are many other conditions that can lead to lower levels as well. For example, Hypogonadism, hypopituitarism, pregnancy failure, perimenopause, menopause, anorexia, extreme exercise, and certain drugs.
Levels of estrogen will also change post-birth, and while breastfeeding
A couple of interesting footnotes specifically about perimenopause and menopause
These are the seasons when a woman's body will stop producing Estradiol and Estriol, although Estrone will still be with us, even after menopause
It's also during these years that some women will consider hormone replacement therapy. This is a procedure which gives large jolts of estrogen, with the hope of relief from hot flashes, and other unpleasantries. (The procedure has come under tremendous scrutiny and isn't as common today as it once was. Mostly because it's been linked to such conditions as the increased risk of heart disease, as well as breast cancer)
Working out and its effect on hormones
Come to find out, working out and losing weight, can really throw one's hormones into a tail-spin (whether you're a woman or a man!)
Women with low body fat often aren't producing adequate levels of sex hormones. A topic that often accompanies elite athletes.
In many ways, it makes sense because some estrogens are stored in our body fat. If a person doesn't have much, it could certainly tinker with things.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a person is obese because fat cells secrete estrogen, they can find themselves with an excess of estrogen, which can also throw things out of whack. (Study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, May 2012)
What a balancing act!
Though there's much the medical community knows about estrogen and the effects it has on the body, there is still so much to learn. A few of the areas of ongoing research I've found particularly interesting
The risk of breast cancer has been tied to estrogen because it can stimulate an overabundance of cell division in the breast, therefore increasing the chances of cancer mutations like tumors. (Journal of Clinical Oncology)
Osteoporosis risks are known to increase in pre and post-menopausal women. This is because estrogen has a protective effect on bone health, when that drops off during menopause, the higher the risk of bone loss (Journal of Clinical Investigation)
There is a lot of fascinating research when it comes to the role of estrogen and the brain, specifically in relation to our working memory. Many in the medical community are hoping to understand why Alzheimer's tends to affect women more often than men. They're wondering if it may have something to do with estrogen
The theory is, estrogen is good for our working memory (ex: women tend to be better multi-taskers). Researchers wonder if the drop-off in estrogen could have something to do with the gender difference in Alzheimer's. (Washington Post)
Scientists, (as well as husbands I'm sure!) have been wondering about this topic for well over a century. The idea is estrogen is to blame for making women moody.
The theory doesn't fit though because estrogen (and testosterone for that matter) are released into the body in periodic bursts that vary from hour to hour, or day-to-day. There isn't a sudden onslaught (like a waterfall)
So far, the only thing everyone seems to agree on is (Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology) ..
For the longest time, I've wanted to try Heidi Swanson's recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies made with Mesquite flour. This weekend, our neighbor's monthly Gentlemen's Night, was the perfect occasion.
So as thirty-five guys smoked pipes, drank beer, and listened to features speaker (an Artisan Furniture Maker), they also snacked on Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mesquite.
These were very much worth the wait, they're soft and moist, with chunks of chocolate that mingle with the smoky-scent of nutty mesquite.
ps: You can read more about estrogen in Part I of the series
Resources used: Dr. John Lee's Hormone Balance Made Simple, What You Must Know About Women's Hormones and Natural Hormone Balance for Women
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~ Adapted from Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Mesquite
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup mesquite flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp fine sea salt
- 8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 3 eggs, at room temperature (large or XL)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and prepare two baking sheets
- In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- With an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter until soft.
- Add the sugar and beat until creamy. If using a mixer, stop it once or twice and scrape down the sides.
- Add the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated, then the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture in three batches, incorporating it as you go.
- Mix in the oats and chocolate chips.
- The dough is quite stiff at this point, and if you’re not using a powerful standing electric mixer, you may wish to roll up your sleeves and use your hands, as I did.
- Drop mounds, about two tablespoons of dough each, evenly-spaced onto the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to set.
- (Don’t overbake these. If anything, underbake them)