Estrogen is an essential hormone in the human body, for both men and women, as it plays a critical role in many of the body’s functions. However, men don’t need it nearly as much as women do and an imbalance in favour of estrogen (vs testosterone) can cause havoc on a man’s body. Common side effects of high estrogen include excess body fat (specially around the belly) and gynecomastia (gyno/man-boobs).
It is important to note that as you age, your testosterone levels drop and the empty gap is filled up by more estrogen, therefore it is very important that we improve our hormonal balance ASAP through the following ways:
Lose fat! – Fat is highly estrogenic so you can bet that the more body fat you have, the more estrogen flowing through your body. Fat increases the levels of the aromatase enzymes within the body and this enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone in to estrogen.
Eat cruciferous vegetables – Vegetables such as bock choy, broccoli (I know, ew), brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale and turnips have been shown to have a positive impact on the testosterone-estrogen balance. They contain the mineral, Zinc, which helps to raise testosterone levels and also contain a compound known as Indole 3 Carbinol. This converts to the better known 3,3-Diindolylmethane (DIM), you have probably seen this ingredient on a lot of estrogen blocking supplements and that is because it is known to help the body get rid of excess estrogen from within the body.
Avoid Soy – According to some studies, soy has been shown to increase estrogenic activity within the human body. There seems to be a different study showing different results almost daily on this topic but until further conclusive research, I would suggest that men avoid or at least limit their consumption of soy and products made from soy such as soy protein, soy milk, tofu, etc.
Eat organic foods – Try to opt for certified organic foods, specially meat, as more often than not, fruits and vegetables have been showered with pesticides that are known to raise estrogen levels within the human body. You should go for organic and grass-fed meats because otherwise, the animals have been pumped full of estrogenic hormones to fatten them up. All of these chemicals are absorbed within the food and transferred to you. Scary!
Avoid plastic containers – Many fitness websites will praise you for preparing your food ahead of time and carrying around plastic meal boxes of anabolicness. Screw that! While meal planning is great, plastic products (even water bottles) are NOT! They are full of compounds called Phthalates that mess up your hormones. Phthalates have been found to mimic estrogen in the body and that is a big no from me! Your best best is to use glass water bottles and containers and if you must use plastic, go for ones that have been certified BPA-Free. Bisphenol-A or BPA is a chemical that is highly estrogenic when consumed and should be avoided at all costs.
Improve gut health – I’ve already written an article on this topic here so I won’t get in to much detail but all you should know is that the stronger your digestive system is, the better it would be at eliminating all the excess estrogen from your body rather than have them be re-absorbed through your intestines.
Limit alcohol consumption – A beer or two over dinner is not likely to do much harm but if you binge drink, well you already know that’s bad for you because you most likely already have a beer belly. Alcohol disrupts your hormonal balance in two ways. For one, it increases the activity of the aromatase enzyme which we now know converts testosterone in to estrogen and second, your liver is responsible for ‘detoxing’ and if its busy dealing with alcohol, it won’t be doing any detoxing, leaving the estrogen free to roam around in your body.
Train HEAVY! – Don’t let the uppercase letters hype you up too much. Strength training, sounds manly and it IS manly! It has been proven to increase all those good hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone and decrease estrogen. Just make sure not to go too heavy beyond your limits. Perfect form should be maintained, be smart and don’t injure yourself!