Estrogen is not all bad for men, but it needs to be in balance. In one study investigating estrogen in heart failure, the men with the lowest and highest amount of estrogen had the greatest problems [Source: Jankowska]. Another study found that testosterone supplementation in elderly increased spatial memory and verbal memory. This testosterone supplementation also naturally increased estrogen levels due to the enzyme aromatase. If aromatase was blocked, estrogen would not increase and spatial memory improved, but not verbal memory [Source: Cherrier]. This helps establish the fact that men need some estrogen, but not too much.
How do we prevent too much estrogen? Obesity is perhaps the greatest hindrance to maintaining a healthy hormone balance. Obesity decreases the production of testosterone [Source: Tan]. Extra fat cells will also increase levels of estrogen [Source: Rao]. By getting trim and building muscle through exercise, men get extra insurance against chronic disease through better hormone balance. The growing rates of obesity may be part of the reason behind the ever declining sperm production in men seen the past several decades [Source: Swan]. We men are becoming less of a man each year! Increased use of alcohol can increase production of estrogen in men. Chemicals in plastics may also play a factor in disrupting proper hormone function. For this reason, extra exposure to plastic chemicals has to be limited. For example, do not microwave food in plastic and do not let plastic water bottles get too warm in the sun as the plastic may leach into the water.
Both estrogen and testosterone levels can be checked through simple blood tests. Medications can be used to help balance the levels of estrogen. This is worth considering for any man with high estrogen levels or with treatment of testosterone, as that may increase estrogen due to the enzyme aromatase. The supplement resveratrol is thought to have many beneficial effects, including estrogen balance, through action on aromatase. Broccoli and the cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc.) may also help to some degree with proper hormone balance.
Healthy ratios of estrogen and testosterone are critical for men to maintain good energy, stamina, muscle mass, bone density and to prevent many chronic diseases. Unfortunately, the same negative lifestyle habits that cause men to lose muscle and gain weight are compounded by the fact that the obesity will further decrease testosterone, increase estrogen and make weight gain even more likely. Elevated levels of estrogen in men need to be recognized and treated. Through the balance of testosterone and estrogen, men can find improvements in how they feel and prevent of many problems down the road.
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