How to keep your breasts healthy?
Our breast health is linked to the state of our hormones in the body. An imbalance between estrogen and progesterone hormones is one of the main reasons for changes in breast health.
Friday March 18, 2022,
5 min Read
For women, bringing attention to breast health is critically important, as it is a high risk area for cancer. Sadly, we often only bring attention to it if we reach a level of crisis.
Our breast health is linked to the state of our hormones in the body. If we look deeper, we can understand that taking care of breast health can prevent swollen and tender breasts during PMS, support healthy lactation post pregnancy, and support prevention of breast cancer at any age.
How to take care of breast health?
Estrogen and progesterone are two major hormones for women. Maintaining them in a proper state of balance is the key to optimal female health at all ages. It is imbalance between the two hormones that leads to early onset puberty in young girls, trigger PMS at all ages, impact fertility, and cause peri menopausal symptoms that are debilitating.
Estrogen helps our body build the endometrium, and progesterone maintains the endometrium. Estrogen is responsible for breast cell stimulation. Progesterone protects us against fibrocystic breasts. These two hormones have several roles to play. But they need to maintain balance. However, if estrogen is out of balance in increased amounts as compared to progesterone, there can be excessive widening of milk ducts. While this happens before a period, too much of this can lead to the formation of cysts.
Breast tissue and the menstrual cycle
The size, shape, and sensitivity of breast tissue changes through a menstrual cycle. This can be very painful for many women close to a period. When estrogen and progesterone levels rise before a period, the breasts do become heavier. At times, as is the case for many women, their breasts can be so sensitive, and so much heavier, that it impacts several areas. This can include their bra size changing dramatically. It can also include the inability to exercise or run because they are so painful.
Why does this happen?
While imbalance between estrogen and progesterone is a big reason for changes in breast health through a menstrual cycle, the main challenge of heavy and painful breasts occurs due to the health of the lymphatic system. Without your lymphatic system, all your cells would constantly sit in their own waste and bacterial debris, without oxygen and circulation. Lymph is collected from your lower body into lymphatic vessels, and your muscles transport lymph through a one way system leading up to your torso. There are many pitstops throughout your body, which are called lymph nodes. These are in your arm pits, groin, breasts for women and throat.
Your lymphatic system carries the waste from your body’s circulatory system. It carries away the waste, regulates fluid balance, regulates the immune system, carries fats, and supports the circulatory system. According to Ayurveda, breast health is linked to the health of the lymphatic system. It is a drain for estrogen as well. Before a menstrual cycle, the lymphatic system drains to allow space for the cleansing that occurs through a menstrual cycle. If the lymphatic system is backed up, or clogged, then the lymph ends up in specific areas of a woman’s body, especially the breasts. This is what causes breast tenderness and heaviness before a menstrual cycle.
How do you keep breasts healthy?
There are several ways in which you can actively support the health of your breasts. This can be included into your life daily.
1. Keeping estrogen and progesterone balanced is key to breast health. The best way to do this is by lowering stress to increase the production of progesterone, supporting a healthy liver and getting good sleep.
You can also include plenty of hormone balancing foods into your life such as beets, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, eggs, lentils, sprouts, and pomegranates.
2. Getting daily movement is also key to keeping the lymphatic system healthy. Deep breathing and breath work is one of the most powerful ways to get your lymph moving. It can be a strong mediator helping you to prevent lymphatic congestion overall. Yoga can also be a wonderful way to move your lymph, especially when you have a practice which is complete with inverted poses, forward bends, backward bends, side bends and twists. Together it will help you move your lymph overall.
3. Low vitamin D also impacts breast tissue. This is one vitamin that you must take care to see that it remains in optimal levels. It also correlates with better survival rates for women with breast cancer.
4. Ayurveda knew the wise power of massage from ancient times. All forms of massage can be powerful tools for lymph movement. Therefore, you feel so much better after an Ayurveda retreat. But this doesn’t mean you have to go away every time! Just start a weekly practice of massage, perhaps like your grandmother used to advice you! Oil yourself and move your lymph around as much as you can by yourself! Self-massage to your breasts with warm sesame oil can be a great way to prevent premenstrual breast tenderness.
5. If you are prone to hormone imbalance, water retention, and breast tenderness, be very mindful of the amount of alcohol you consume. Most fat absorbed from your small intestine cannot directly flow through your blood stream. Your liver has to metabolise the fats and fat first moves through the lymphatic system. This is also why your lymph is fatty. What this means is that the amount of fat that you eat plays a role in how much lymphatic movement is required, the health of your liver and the health of your lymphatic system are connected, and how you digest fats is crucial to the functioning of your lymphatic system. Anything that impacts the liver can impact the lymphatic system.
Finally, never be conscious about your breasts. Speaking about breast health is key to every women’s health. Taking care of your breasts, even if it means just massage within the privacy of your own room, is extremely important.
Edited by Megha Reddy
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)