Updated: Aug 4
Estrogen Dominance in Men? Is it fact or fiction?
Although most people may associate testosterone with men and estrogen with women, both hormones are produced in men (and women). They both play critical roles in various body functions involving libido, erectile function, sperm development, bone health, brain functions, and even cholesterol metabolism.
Under normal conditions, a portion of a man’s testosterone is chemically converted to estradiol, a form of estrogen, by the enzyme aromatase. The interplay between the two hormones is crucial at every stage throughout a man’s life. Here are the main contributors to high estrogen in men:
Genetics: Certain genetic variants can adversely impact estrogen metabolism and clearance.
Obesity: Body fat contains aromatase, and excess fat in the fatty tissues leads to increased aromatase activity, causing an over-conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
Health conditions include chronic stress, adrenal tumors, hypogonadism, and liver insufficiency.
The natural aging process, as estrogen levels rise naturally over time.
Certain prescription drugs include antibiotics, psychoactive medications, and testosterone replacement therapy.
Excess body burden of toxins, such as chemicals, heavy metals, mycotoxins, etc.
Symptoms and Health Implications
High estrogen levels in men can be manifested in a broad spectrum of symptoms, including erectile dysfunction, development of male breasts (gynecomastia), low libido, infertility, enlarged prostate, persistent fatigue, mood swings, hair loss, excess body fat, loss of muscle mass, stunted growth during puberty, insomnia, so on and so forth.
Other health implications of excess estrogen in men include increased risks of developing stroke, blood clots, diabetes, male breast cancer, and prostate cancer. It’s even been linked to dementia and depression.
Using Foods to Reduce Estrogen
The focus here should be on promoting phase I and phase II liver detoxification processes, reducing aromatase activity, and protecting cells from oxidative damage. I recommend an organic wholefood-based diet primarily of plant foods, relatively low fat, low glycemic, and high fiber. Here are more specific strategies:
Go low on the following foods:
Dairy and animal meat.
Alcohol: Chronic alcohol intake may lead to low testosterone and high estrogen.
Grains: Some grains contain a mycotoxin called zearalenone that may disrupt estrogen balance due to its similarity to estrogens that occur naturally in the body.
Go high on the following foods:
Crucifers vegetables: These foods contain phytochemicals, such as indole-3 carbinol (I3C), with potent estrogen and overall hormone-balancing effects.
Foods rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, B12, choline, and betaine: This is to promote methylation and support liver detox.
Consume a variety of mushrooms, such as shiitake, portobello, and baby button mushrooms. Mushrooms can prevent the production of aromatase.
Other aromatase inhibitors: Foods rich in quercetin flavonoid, EGCG, curcumin, lignans, isoflavone (genistein), such as organic soybeans, freshly ground flaxseeds, and green tea.
Different plant-derived natural substances can help balance sex hormones and lower estrogen levels in men. Here are a couple that are commonly used:
Diindolylmethane (DIM): DIM is a metabolite of I3C, a nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables. Studies have shown that DIM promotes healthy estrogen metabolism in both men and women by positively shifting estrogen metabolism toward protective 2-hydroxyestrogen metabolite instead of 16α-hydroxyestrone. There are many DIM products on the market. It’s highly recommended to choose a trusted professional brand. I prefer a product called BioDIM made by Klair Labs. It's a patented, bioavailability-enhanced form of DIM that provides substantially greater absorption than ordinary DIM. Dosing can be one capsule up to twice a day.
Maca root: Maca root is a Peruvian herb and adaptogen known for its benefits in balancing hormones. Maca has thirteen phenotypes with different colors and DNAs, and they have different physiological effects on the body. I suggest a product called Revolution Macalibrium made by Symphony Natural Health. This product contains a proprietary combination of phenotypes of maca for men with maximized bioavailability and a full spectrum of active constituents. It’s concentrated up to ten times higher than raw maca. The dosing is one capsule twice a day away from meals.
Balancing sex hormones is a complicated process that involves many pieces. While diet is always a good place to start, don’t forget about other lifestyle changes that also play a role, including maintaining a regular exercise regimen and reducing exposures to toxins such as chemicals, heavy metals, radiation, etc.
One change may not seem like a lot, but an accumulation of many small changes can move mountains.
Jenny Noland, MS, CNS, CNGS, CKNS, LDN, MBA
Functional Nutritionist in Eugene, Oregon
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