I remember back when Seinfeld was being aired, there was an episode where Morty Seinfeld and Kramer were looking into starting a business selling “manziers” to men. They believed that men should reap some of the benefits from this relatively modern clothing invention. Obviously, they poked fun at the fact that some men need a little ‘extra support’. But I assure you, this physical feminization of the modern male is something that is increasing, and calls for some serious attention. Sometimes the feminization of men can be seen as gynecomastia (“man boobs” in pop culture), an obvious sign. Most of the time however, it is not an explicit cosmetic change, but is somewhat ‘under the radar’ reflected as hormonal changes. These hormonal changes have downstream consequences such as prostate enlargement, loss of muscle, hair loss, depression, loss of libido, breast cancer, and many more.
Over the past one-hundred years, there have been approximately 85,000 chemicals introduced into our environment. Many of which were not properly safety tested. It turns out that many of these chemicals are hormone disruptors. That is, they look like hormones to the body and thus induce a hormonal effect on our cells much greater (up to 1000s of times) than our endogenous hormones. A name that we give to them are xenostrogens, “xeno” meaning “foreign” and “estrogen” referring to the hormone. Two such xenoestrogens, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have been shown to lower serum testosterone in adult men.1 Another study showed that not only are adult men at risk, but PCBs begin working their ‘toxic magic’ on newborns.2 The research is now confirming an epigenetic effect on baby boys even before they are born. Many of the sources of these xenoestrogens are unknown to most people. For example, phthalates, another xenostrogen, can be found in personal care items, detergents, cleaning materials, modelling clay, paints, children’s toys, and food packaging. It’s almost unavoidable.
Your Water Bottle is Filled with Estrogen
One of the reasons why these xenoestrogens can have such a significant impact on health is that it takes an extremely small amount of these chemicals to induce an effect; an amount that we once thought was completely insignificant. This amount can easily be consumed in your drinking water alone. Researchers in Colorado have made a startling discovery about these hormones. Male fish are developing female sexual organs. Scientists believe it’s a result of too much estrogen in the water. One of the researchers, John Woodling said, “I’ve done a lot of studies throughout my career which extends back to 1973, this is the very first time that what I’ve found scared me”.3 Government research recently found natural estrogens and xenoestrogens in 80% of the streams they tested in 30 states. One of the sources of these are women’s increased use of the birth control pill. When they pee out the hormones, they go right into the sewage system. Add this to the pesticides, plastics (i.e. water bottles), and PCBs in the water. You might be thinking, “but don’t sewage plants clean out these harmful chemicals?”. Barbara Biggs, of Denver Colorado’s largest sewage plant says that most of the nation’s sewage plants simply can’t remove all of the estrogens in the water. She goes on to say, “we’re concerned about the effect on aquatic life, but we’re also concerned about our ability to actually treat for these estrogens and estrogen mimickers”.4
Another way that men can end up with too much estrogen is by a process in the body known as aromatization. There is an enzyme called aromatase which converts testosterone to estrogen. There a number of factors that increase the activity of aromatase, and men should try and control these promoters as much as possible.
What Can Men Do to Increase Testosterone?
Once again, simple daily lifestyle and dietary habits can ensure men will have optimal levels of testosterone and prevent excessive levels of estrogen.
- Eat a whole-foods plant-based diet
- Eat a low glycemic index/load diet to control blood sugar and insulin
- Manage stress
- Control inflammation
- Avoid the overconsumption of alcohol
- Ensure proper hormone detoxification
- Take hormone-supportive nutrients such as zinc, flaxseed, green tea, and vitamin C
For a complete evaluation and assessment of hormone status and risk for hormones-related illnesses, consult with a qualified health care practitioner.