Estrogen is a dirty word for men. We don’t know what it is or what it does but we don’t want any part of it. It’s for women and that’s it. It’s what gives them curves, breasts, and while that’s good on them, we want as little of this thing as possible.
What many of us don’t know is that we’re carriers of estrogen too. It holds great importance for us guys, but just like everything in the body, we want a balance… Not too little and not too much. A healthy balance will give us bone, nail, hair and heart health. Too much leads to fluid retention, type 2 diabetes, mood swings, poor circulation, and the dreaded fat accumulation around the belly, waist and chest… ala manboobs.
So, how to block estrogen dominance and manboobs? Well, it’s important to know that we’re not trying to “block” estrogen production (wrong forum for that), rather we’re trying to detoxify it naturally, so it doesn’t accumulate in those unwanted areas.
You see, the estrogen that’s running through your bloodstream is processed by your liver, and can go down a few pathways. One of these is good, and protects us from estrogen dominance, the other two are pretty ugly, one of which converts estrogen into a more toxic form called 16-Alphahydroxyestrone – this is the stuff that we struggle to get rid of as it loiters around the love-handles and chest ala manboobs.
The crazy part about this estrogen dominant fat tissue is that our brains don’t know it’s there…. sneaky! It has poor blood and nerve supply, so it’s more resistant to the broccoli you’re downing and the situps you’re smashing.
What’s worse, this estrogen dominant fat tissue contains an enzyme called aromatase that converts our precious testosterone (muscle grower and fat burner) into estrogen, and leeches out into neighbouring fat cells, making them more estrogenic – not cool! (Kind of makes those ab machine infomercials redundant when they’re talking about tackling those “stubborn fat accumulations.”)
So, how do we boost that estrogen detoxification? It can be broken up into three main areas:
Every time we eat we have an opportunity to improve detoxification pathways… Very powerful. The fibre we get from seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds can bind to free estrogens in the digestive tract for elimination.
The ligands found in vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, cabbage and leafy greens can inhibit aromatase activity and decrease the conversion of testosterone in estrogen.
Herbs shouldn’t be discounted either. These little nutrient bombs contain a lot of detoxifying properties that help move estrogen along. Turmeric and Rosemary will increase glutathione (our best performing detoxifier) levels in the liver. Then there are broccoli sprouts. These guys are probably the most valuable detoxification agent out there. They contain a heap of sulforaphane, which has powerful properties and has been studied extensively for its anti cancerous abilities.
Shocker, in order to be healthy, you need to get off the couch. But what movements are best for ridding the manboobs? Well firstly, you need to start moving regularly; walking, biking, swimming at a low intensity is a good place to start. Then look at lifting some heavy things… Squats, deadlifts, pullups… these are the best bang for your buck exercises for building muscle mass, which will oxidise fat, leading to less fat in the liver and lead to less bodily toxins.
Environmental pollutants present one of greatest health problems of our time. As we look to produce and consume more and more, the side affect of toxins in the environment are becoming more and more prevalent. This is a big topic for another day, but for the purpose of this article we’ll talk about xenoestrogens. These guys mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, leading to a dominance of the hormone, and making it harder to detoxify. Problem is that this stuff is everywhere: in plastics, food, air and cosmetics – the shampoo you’re using could be giving you manboobs!
The big players are:
BPA (Bisphenal A): A known trouble maker, BPA is found in plastics packaging, tupperware and cans, and this easily leaches into your food. Also look out for their evil twin, BPS, which many companies have reverted to ever since the heat was put on BPA.
Phthalates: These guys are in household cleaners, deodorants and shampoos. But you’re not gonna go for those hippy products, fellas? Well, just consider that phthalates can affect aromatase activity – which converts testosterone into estrogen, ala manboobs. Yeah, maybe spend that extra dollar.
Being healthy is hard these days. We have an abundance of foods ready for consumption, and while most are crap, many are good. With this you carry power to choose the greatest, most nutritious on the earth, or you have the power to choose the most toxic form of chemical ridden junk that has been ever made. Amongst all of the noise, you do have the choice and the ability to take control of your health.
Steve is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner and Personal Trainer based in Melbourne, Australia. He works with clients to restore optimum function using nutrition and lifestyle interventions.
Rochester, J. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A systematic review of the comparison of the hormonal activity of Bisphenol A substitute. Environmental Health Perspectives. 7 (643 – 50).
Rochester, J 2015, Bisphenol S and F: A systematic review and comparison of the hormonal activity of Bisphenol A substitute, Environmental Health Perspectives, vol.123, no.7, pp.643-50.
Sathyanarayana, S. et al. (2013). Unexpected results in a randomized dietary trial to reduce phthalate and bisphenol A exposures. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.
Chang, WH. (2015) Phthalates might interfere with testicular function by reducing testosterone and insulin-like factor 3 levels. Human Reproduction. Nov;30(11):2658-70