I will continue to overlap my articles as not only will it teach you more, it will also get you to understand the association all of this has and in many cases the simple solution to a LOT of either your own, societies or your clients problems.
Estrogen is the dominant female hormone and physiologically alongside testosterone (the dominant male hormone) determines a simple ratio that we will naturally sit at. If we start to mess with this ratio things become pretty messed up and start to influence sexual characteristics. The great news for you females out there in a way is that you can’t positively influence or raise testosterone beyond much of a natural level yet estrogen we can elevate hugely with dietary habits and various other factors I will cover. This for starters means that you won’t develop the masculine look that is commonly associated with women who lift weights, not to blow anything shocking out the water here but if you ‘add’ synthetic forms of testosterone in the mix its a WHOLE different ballpark.
I WILL REPEAT, lifting weights CANNOT make you grow facial hair, get a deep voice or make you start to converse about cars and football. Lifting weights will infact improve the ratio favourably to suit a long lean and toned physique. If you believe me or not its FACT!
Now, just to start you off. In both a male and females case the body is constantly battling for a ‘mid’ state which is genetically where you are determined to be. As a note female athletes in the old Eastern block used to be selected at a very early age to either pursue strength and power sports or endurance based sports based on dark course hairs on their arms. Dark course hairs meant a naturally higher level of androgens (The term for male sex hormones), yes females have them too just the ratio is lower. This meant their propensity towards increasing muscular mass and strength was higher. Simple yet effective selection criteria. The higher this ratio as a female the easier it is not only to develop lean tissue and muscular tone but also it inhibits fat deposition. Strangely enough lifting weights will increase the level marginally in your favour whereas traditional fitness or cardiovascular work will lower it. Less tone and more fat (but you’ll be good aerobically if thats what you want primarily). Men have on average 10x more testosterone than a woman so there is NO way naturally this can be increased to this level.
SO in a nutshell none of it is about lowering or elevating it as it’s simply a sum of a percentage and without complicating the matter and going into chromosomes and binary distribution etc etc.
Regulation is the key to estrogen management and I will go on and on about it again and again (READ my article on Insulin).
I have used this diagram again and again in many forms but in this case I am going to use it to explain estrogen.
Insulin is the master hormone and the easiest way to mess up this balance is to eat a diet that negatively manages insulin. Kids consuming large amounts of refined foods and sugars are doing just that. Young males are developing secondary female sex characteristics (Feminisation) and impacting growth development hugely.
- Development of breast tissue (gynecomastia)
- Widening of the hips
- Increased storage of body fat in general and around the hips, buttocks and thighs.
- Connective tissue doesnt thicken correctly around these areas (to allow for childbirth??) so cellulite can become apparent.
- Loss of male characteristics, rounding of the face
- Decrease in lean muscle mass
- Decrease in growth of hands and feet
- Later puberty
- Irregular emotional responses.
- Increase in depression
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Hardening of arterial walls.
In a males case as estrogen increases the testosterone decreases. Extra fat means we create more aromatase and therefore even MORE estrogen. Staying lean
HAS huge benefits for both a male and female. Lower testosterone, we naturally lose muscle and increase fat therefore ALL this number does is RISE!
Young females would have the accompanying increase in estrogen which the body would battle with a net increase in free (usable) testosterone output to keep the ratio suitable. This ‘Unlocks’ bound testosterone to combat this. Again it battles against itself to keep this ratio suitable.
The amount of estrogen is the same but the level of test is higher. Make sense? The body always wants a ratio and will push it to 50:50 if need be.
Hopefully you get what I’m talking about now. Therefore women at whatever developmental stage they are at experience a whole bunch of negatives with little or no positives that you would see should those estrogen levels be controlled and a better anabolic state achieved.
This less than optimal dietary pattern and lack of control over insulin means that the fat cells that produce estrogen will also produce excessive leptin triggering:
- Early Puberty
- Stimulation (through insulin) of the ovaries and adrenal glands to release more sex hormones
- Late Menopause (and a larger impact)
- Symptoms of low thyroid
- Increased risk of polycystic ovaries
- Increase in risk of breast cancer
- Increase in subcutaneous fat
- Loss of lean tissue
- Night Sweats
- Increase in risk of fibrocystic breasts
A 2003 study found that nearly 60 percent of girls with precocious (early) puberty were overweight. The patterns of all the above are seen in both the cases of males and females with irregular eating patterns and the quality of food we consume.
RESPONSE IN MEN
RESPONSE IN WOMEN
I WILL SAY IT AGAIN AND AGAIN DIET IS THE MAJOR KEY to pretty much all of these issues. Eat low quality and man made foods and you WILL experience some of the above, feed your kids the same and they will have problems, aggression, mood variances, ADHD, hyperactivity, learning difficulties all have associations with BAD diets…….and of course obesity and all the health issues that come with that!
The other MAJOR factor is staying lean using suitable training methods alongside a suitable dietary strategy. The fatter you become the more this ratio becomes compromised.
OTHER FACTORS OVER ESTROGEN
Alcohol causes the blood to clear estrogen very slowly leading to a rise in levels. This is done as it inhibits the P430 system in the Liver. This impact can be seen if you wander into any UK city on a weekend as this will either a) Increase aggression or b) Increase depression…….people are either fighting or crying.
2. Food Additives and Xenoestrogens
Also known as EDC (Endocrine Disrupting Compounds) these chemicals we find in our general environments do exactly that and negatively effect our hormonal environment.
The most notable food additives are E310 or Propyl Gallate, a preservative found in baked goods, sweets, cured meats as a way of preventing fat spoilage and oxidation. Also 4-hexyl resorcinol or E586 which is used topically on skin infections and is found in throat lozenges but also used to prevent discolouring in shellfish. A study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology in March 2009 found it exhibits estrogenic activity.
Bisphenol A is an interesting one and again brought about by mistake and utilised within foods. Designed for estrogen replacement it was then widely used in the development of plastics, dental fillings, PVC and many other commercial products. BPA free containers is something worth researching. There is also a large amount of these come from tinned goods. BPA has been shown to have the capability of modifying the brain, has been shown to be carcinogenic, negatively impact reproductive ability. One CERTAINLY to study further but I’m not writing this to scare people just to be BETTER informed.Other xenoestrogens can be found in weedkillers, PCBs, food preservatives, plastics, FD&C Red No. 3 food colourings, lotions and insecticides. The list goes on. The strategy here is keep foods fresh and as much as you can your general environment clear of as many chemicals as possible.
This is quite a remarkable one but it has been shown that Grapefruit juice can increase estrogen levels in your bloodstream. The biggest issue here is that it has a large impact when consumed whilst taking estrogen containing medication, birth control as note.
‘A study by the University of Southern California and University of Hawaii found a correlation between grapefruit and a 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women. Among the 50,000 women studied, 1,587 developed breast cancer, according to the report published in “British Journal of Cancer” in July 2007′
ESTROGEN LOWERING STRATEGIES
Apart from stating the obvious improvements in diet and management of Insulin. Read my article here on Insulin
1. Fix your diet!
2. Ditch the CV and start utilising high intensity weight training.
Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to increase Cortisol (stress and catabolic hormone) and also decrease androgens. Get those hormones primed for fat loss!
3. Increase the amount of fibre in your diet.
Fibre has been shown to help with removal of excessive estrogen (a high fibre diet is part of point 1).
4. Use flaxseeds in your diet
Not only will this increase fibre intake but flaxseeds increase levels of 2-hydroxyestrone which acts as a protective metabolite against estrogen. This in turn protects estradiol and various other fractions responsible for bone health. These are commonly referred to as the lignan which is a powerful phytoestrogen.
5. Protect your environment and avoid chemically adapted foods or man made foods.
The following supplements have been shown to help in reducing estrogen effectively.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism in both sexes. This is done through a reduction in the levels of the 16-hydroxy estrogen metabolites and an increase in the formation of 2-hydroxy estrogen metabolites. As well as from a supplemental perspective DIm can be found in certain cruciferous vegetables cauliflower and especially, broccoli.
Male 150-300mg per day
Female 75-150mg per day
Calcium D-glucarate acts as a mediator to the re-absorbtion of free hormones. It inhibits the activity of an enzyme in the gut, beta-glucuronidase. This results in a better clearance of excess hormones such as estrogen.
200 to 400 mg per day.
Nb. There has been very good research on Calcium D-glucarate and the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
There are many more supplemental strategies but provided diet is consistent, intelligent and in check many issues will self regulate.
I have said it before and will continue to say it:
WORK WITH THE BODY NOT AGAINST IT!