By: Alex Eriksson from Anabolic Health
Man boobs are a serious problem. That they look rather unmanly is the least of your problems if you have them; they might be a symptom of an underlying condition called estrogen dominance.
Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. It is chiefly responsible for gender development and is responsible for the development of the female reproductive system.
Although it is mostly associated with females, estrogen is also present in males in small quantities. However, due to certain circumstances, excess estrogen can occur in men.
And this hormone that usually does great things for the body could end up ruining your life.
What is estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance is the condition wherein estrogen levels are very high. It usually occurs when the hormones needed to balance out estrogen are at very low levels.
Make no mistake: estrogen in itself is crucial. In fact, estrogen is needed for healthy bone density.
When your estrogen levels are too low, you run the risk of acquiring diseases such as osteoporosis. However, estrogen levels that are too high can cause a lot of problems.
In a study conducted by researchers from the Department of Neuroendocrinology, Institute of Research in Reproduction of Mumbai, India, several male rats were injected with estradiol, a type of estrogen steroid. The rats that were given estradiol had reduced sperm production and testes weight as compared to those that were not.
In humans, estrogen dominance could manifest symptoms that range from merely unpleasant to downright life-altering.
What are the signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance?
The following are the signs and symptoms associated with estrogen dominance in men:
1. Erectile Dysfunction
2. Reduced Libido
3. Gynecomastia or enlarged breasts
4. Increased belly fat
5. Urinary tract issues
6. Weakened muscles or muscle loss
10. Hair loss
11. Mood Swings
14. Thyroid dysfunction
15. Water retention or bloating
Also, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as the levels of estrogen increase. The risk of developing cancer also increases - especially prostate cancer.
What are the causes of estrogen dominance?
Xenoestrogens, BPA, Nonylphenol etc.
Estrogen dominance can be caused by a lot of factors. One is exposure to nonylphenol.
Nonylphenol is a substance that is easily found in the average person’s surroundings. It is used to prevent plastic from oxidation.
It can be present in everyday detergents, paints, toiletries, spermicide and lubricating oils.
The danger of this substance is that it stays in the body for long periods of time. Nonylphenol mimics naturally occurring hormones and binds with estrogen receptors.
This is why it is important to choose organic grooming articles and try to eat as little as possible from foods served in plastic wrapping or containers.
Excess body fat
Excess body fat can cause a vicious cycle and also promote estrogen dominance.
Higher levels of body fat lead to enhanced estrogen synthesis because much of the estrogen in the body is derived from testosterone through the aromatization process, where an enzyme called aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen.
This process occurs in fat cells, which means that the more fat cells you have, the more your body converts testosterone into estrogen. Body fat is likely the prime driver of excess estrogen production for most people with these issues.
Excessive damage to the liver is also one potential reason.
When the liver is too damaged due to the excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs and other toxins, it is no longer able to process estrogen out of the body and levels build up... which would lead to an imbalance of hormones.
Stress is also a contributor to this condition.
Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone.’ But unknown to many, cortisol is connected to progesterone and estrogen.
Progesterone balances the effects of estrogen on the body and when progesterone is used up to produce cortisol, which occurs as the body reacts to excessive or chronic stress, it can cause hormonal imbalances.
How is estrogen dominance prevented?
The key in preventing estrogen dominance is in regulating hormone levels. Estrogen and testosterone levels in particular must be kept in balance. You can do so through the following ways:
1. Take estrogen modulators
Estrogen modulators, also known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM), are antagonist drugs of estrogen receptors. They act on estrogen. Clinically, they have been used to treat breast cancer, osteoporosis, vaginal atrophy, anovulation and dyspareunia.
There are foods that could be considered natural estrogen modulators. They may not be as potent as synthetic drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies, but they can also do the job.
For example, Tongkat Ali is a type of ginseng commonly used in Malaysia as a male enhancement supplement. It is a well-known testosterone booster. But recent studies show that it is also an effective estrogen modulator. Its effects are compared to the SERM drug Tamoxifen (NOLVADEX).
Another notable estrogen blocker for Anabolic Health is Chrysin. This substance naturally occurs in mushrooms, chamomile and passion flower. It is commonly used as an aromatase inhibitor but studies show that it can also serve as an estrogen blocker.
A certain kind of red seaweed was found to also be as potent as NOLVADEX. In a study conducted in Malaysia, it is now researched as a potential cure to breast cancer.
Food containing calcium D-glucarate also has excellent estrogen blocking properties. The best source of this is berries along with greens such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts..
2. Decrease intake of alcohol, drugs and other toxins
As mentioned, excessive intake of alcohol, drugs and other toxins may bring about estrogen dominance. It was found in a study that women who had two drinks a day had a noticeable increase in urine estrogen levels.
Regular exercise is one of the cardinal rules of a healthy lifestyle.
Strength training with full-body movements, like kettlebell exercises and deadlifts, is important because these exercises allow you to reduce body fat percentage and increase muscle mass, thereby minimizing aromatization.
4. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is also a cardinal rule in living a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbages, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower contain Diindolylmethane, also known as DIM. This substance ‘metabolizes’ estrogen. However, it may not be as potent as other estrogen blockers. The fiber in fruit and vegetables also helps process estrogen out of the body.
A word of caution though: low levels of estrogen can also be harmful. It can cause erectile potency, diminished libido, joint pains and predisposition to fractures.
It is also note-worthy that estrogen can actually help build muscle mass. The presence of estrogen increases the level of growth hormones like insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
So the lesson here would be to shoot for optimal estrogen ranges... not getting your numbers as low as possible, even as a man.
None of the above tips can actually bring your estrogen levels too low so this is not something to worry about. Implement the suggestions to avoid excess estrogen. But if you are taking a pharmaceutical estrogen blocker though such as Arimidex, too low estrogen is a very real possibility, so be careful!
Estrogen dominance might seem like a far-fetched concept to some men. However, it is a real condition that can have a significant impact on a man’s life.
Consumption of foods and supplements with naturally-occurring selective estrogen receptor modulators and aromatase inhibitors will prevent the occurrence of this condition.
All guys know about the dreaded man boobs and beer bellies. But now you also know what they stem for and how to prevent them!