We live in a toxic world, and this toxicity affects androgen levels at an epidemic level
This is reflected in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. But it is also present in the products we consume and we have at least some level of control over this. What many people don’t know if that many common use items and substances found in every home can contribute to this toxic load and thus reduce the androgen levels.
There are many ways to skin a cat, and this is also true with the mechanisms of action of those products, as you’ll see below. Some of them simply act as hormonal mimickers, meaning that the body “recognize” them as estrogens. There is however other ways they can contribute to the chemical castration of the modern society.
The Big Drop
Most strength coaches with some level of experience know that it is harder nowadays to put on muscle mass than it was in the 70’s or 80’s. This is in part due to the lowering of testosterone levels since that period of time. There are other factors, but this is a big one. In a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Thomas G. Travison, Ph.D, of the New England Research Institutes (NERI) in Watertown, Mass., and lead author of the study said: “Male serum testosterone levels appear to vary by generation, even after age is taken into account.”
“In 1988, men who were 50 years old had higher serum testosterone concentrations than did comparable 50-year-old men in 1996. This suggests that some factor other than age may be contributing to the observed declines in testosterone over time.” Keep in mine, this is only a span of eight years.
So in other words, men today are less male than their fathers and grand-fathers. And it’s not going to stop there, as medical authorities keep lowering the standards for what is considered low testosterone
How Low Is Low
Two decades ago, the range for normal testosterone was between 500 to 1500 ng/dL. Meaning that below 500 ng/dL, you were considered eligible to hormonal support therapy. Nowadays, the bottom range to be considered low testosterone is merely 300. Not accounting for the fact that there is a five-fold difference in the range from bottom to top, this is about the same amount as an geriatric vegetarian stamp collector. No Bueno!
We need as much of our testosterone as we can. Yes, I’m talking to both males and females here. Excess estrogens has drastic impacts on your health, and I’m not just talking about sex drive. But more on this in another article.
Right now, let’s focus on the products you can eliminate of change in your direct environment to help counter the low testosterone epidemic, and support healthy androgen levels.
The Top 10 Testosterone Killers
Whether you have estrogens mimickers or compounds that help prevent testosterone from forming or that dimish testes activity, they all have one point in common: they have a negative impact on testosterone/estrogen ratio. Let’s reviews those mechanisms and their main agents.
There is a class of compounds that are called “xenoestrogens”. This means that they are foreign substances (“xeno”) that mimic the action of estrogens in the body. Figure a lock and key system if your will. Hormones are the key and receptor sites on the cell membrane are the lock. To produce an effect, a key has to activate a lock. Well, those xenoestrogens mimic the action of the real estrogens, as they have an affinity with the cell receptors. They thus bind to them and activate them, producing the same effect real estrogens would. This is simplified of course, but it’s still a pretty accurate picture of what those substances do in the body.
So what are the xenoestrogens in your home?
Otherwise known as BPA, it is probably the most well-known of a family of chemicals used in the production of polycarbonate plastics for its effect of the hardness of plastic. It can also be found in epoxy resins. Not only has it been linked to low testosterone levels, but also to erectile dysfunction and cancers, both prostate and breast. You can find it in:
• Reusable plastic bottles
• Kid’s sippy cups
• Clear, hard plastic items
• The lining of food cans
Another large family of chemical, but the most common forms you will find are methyl-, buthyl-, propyl- or heptyl-. All have a weak affinity for estrogen receptors. They are most present in sun lotions though and this is where they have the potential to cause more damage as the large surface area of the body requires a lot of the lotion. So if you’re out in the sun, please have a gradual exposure or use a parabens-free lotion.
You will find those in a wide variety of products in your medicine cabinet:
• shaving gels
The scent of Death! Many air fresheners, scented candles but also other items with the mysterious ingredient “perfume” are actually phthalates, a compound also used to make plastics more flexible. You can find them in many cosmetics and personal care items as well.
Make sure you stay away from:
• Non-organic/non-Essential Oil-based scented candles
• Body spray
• Most commercial perfumes
• Air Fresheners
• Scented bathroom sprays
• Aromatic personal care products
• They have also been found in a lot of fast-food items
Some xenoestrogens come from the plant kingdom, hence they are known as phytoestrogens. The 2 main ones you are likely to find are:
The main food source for massive amounts of phytoestrogens. Many vegans and vegetarians want to compensate the lack of protein from animal sources by eating more soy, which leads to a host of health issues (articles on this here , here and here ). But suffice it to say that a regular consumption of soy, even a large dose of the fermented sources, can have a detrimental effects your testosterone levels. Soy is most commonly found in:
• Meat substitutes
• Soy cheese
• Soy mayonnaise
• Soy sauce
• Soy yogurt
• Textured soy protein (TSP) or textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Hops is actually a rich source of phytoestrogens, and even beer on the weekends does increase estrogen lowering, so regular drinking or large amount have effects on your androgen levels that are compounded by the other health hazards alcohol has.
Another category of items can cause mismanagement of the androgen levels by starving the body of its source – cholesterol. You see, all steroid hormones, of which androgen subclass is only a small part, come the sterol part of this waxy substance known as cholesterol. The fake health concerns that caused the great cholesterol scare of the 70-80’s has now been debunked, but it nonetheless gave rise to a host of measure to lower cholesterol, which in part lead to the androgen issues we are now facing.
Of those, 2 in particular stand out:
While their beneficial effects are rather dubious to say the least, their detrimental effects on health are well-known and deserve a second thought. A lesser known fact is that one of the common issue with statin use is erectile dysfunction.
Low cholesterol foods and diets
If you eat less of the foods that contain cholesterol, you are going to have a similar drop in androgens. The irony is that food only accounts for 20-25% of total cholesterol, with the rest being produced endogenously.
The final category of testosterone killers are substances that will affect the production of testosterone directly in the testes or by altering the HPA axis. They are a very diverse group of substances that can be found in surprising places.
The main anti-bacterial agent found in anti-bacterial soap. It, and its cousin triclocarban, have a testosterone-lowering effect that comes from alterations of the activity of the testicules. It should also be mentioned that they suck at killing bacteria and are partly to blame for the development of new strains of bacteria that are more resistant. You can find it in:
• Anti-bacterial soaps
• Anti-bacterial detergents
• Kids toys
• Surgical cleaning treatments
Another large family of compounds that affects testosterone production. Most likely to be encountered are BP1, BP2 & BP3. They act as stabilizers in many personal care items, mostly sunscreens. You will also find it in:
• Inks (cashier’s receipt in particular)
• Clear glass or plastic containers that filters UV light
Many commonly prescribed drugs will have an effect on testosterone levels, either directly or over time. Those includes, but are not limited to:
• Anti-depressants of the SSRI family
For extra credit
This was a short list of the most common testosterone killers (or estrogen boosters) found in your home. But be wary, they can be in your environment as well. A great example is most herbicides, pesticides and insecticides are part of the xenoestrogens family and will accumulate in your body. In addition, not only are some of them estrogen mimickers, but others will suppress your enzymatic activity necessary to produce androgen hormones, while other will block the receptor sites on the cell.
As the old adage says – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So go through your kitchen, you medicine cabinet and your cleaning and household products, your cosmetics and your personal care hygiene and put them through the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep search engine . It will tell you the level of toxicity your products have. You will benefit from this, not just for your testosterone, but your whole health as well.
Coach Charles R. Poliquin
P.S. One of my favorite weapons to battle xenoestrogens is the natural synergistic blend of phytonutrients made by ATP labs, called Estro Control . I have a bottle permanently packed in my suitcase, so that when I travel to places like the UK or Australia, I can keep my hormones in top shape
Strength Sensei's Blog can be found by clicking here.
Tyrosine, an important amino acid you may not know about
Like almost any nutrient, be it a vitamin, mineral, or botanical extract, amino acids are best introduced to the body via whole foods. In this way, they typically come packaged along with complementary and accessory nutrients that facilitate their absorption and fulfillment of their biochemical destinies. (It’s so nice of nature to do that for us, isn’t it?) But in just the same way that certain disease states, both acute and chronic, can increase the body’s need for particular vitamins and minerals above the levels someone would reasonably get from food alone, certain conditions may warrant supplemental amounts of amino acids.
There’s branched chain amino acids for potential skeletal muscle growth, tryptophan (and its metabolite, 5-HTP) for lifting a low mood or helping to promote sleep, and glutamine for gut health and tissue healing and repair after trauma.
What about tyrosine?
Like its aromatic amino acid brethren (phenylalanine and tryptophan), tyrosine is a building block for neurotransmitter synthesis. Unlike phenylalanine and tryptophan, however, it is not technically an essential amino acid, since it can be synthesized from phenylalanine. (For individuals with phenylketonuria [PKU], tyrosine is essential, as they lack the enzyme that facilitates this conversion.)
Tyrosine readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and is the starting point for producing L-DOPA, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It is also the building block for thyroxine (a.k.a. T4, or thyroid hormone), but inadequate tyrosine is usually not the limiting factor in thyroxine synthesis. Individuals with suboptimal thyroid function might benefit from supplemental tyrosine, but likely only if hypothyroid symptoms are due primarily to insufficient tyrosine availability. Owing to its role in neurotransmitter and catecholamine synthesis, it has shown benefit for alleviating depression, acute stress, narcolepsy, and cocaine addiction. (With regard to cocaine addiction, tyrosine and tryptophan may be an effective combination, with these amino acids blunting the cocaine “high,” and reducing the depression that may result from drug withdrawal.)
Tyrosine competes with other large, neutral amino acids (phenylalanine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine, valine, and methionine) for transport across the blood-brain barrier, so for optimal efficacy supplemental tyrosine is best taken on an empty stomach, or perhaps with a carbohydrate-containing meal or snack that is low in protein. Taking vitamin B6 along with it may facilitate the conversion of tyrosine to dopamine, as the vitamin is a cofactor for the aromatic amino acid decarboxylase enzyme that catalyzes the reaction.
The Brain and Mood Link
Considering tyrosine’s role as a precursor to dopamine and thyroid hormone, it would seem that tyrosine supplementation would be a slam dunk for improving depression. Yet, results are mixed . Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have failed to show efficacy for tyrosine with regard to depression ; nevertheless, anecdotal evidence indicates there may be a role, so it’s possible it depends on an individual patient’s presentation. Depression is multifactorial, so there may be cases where supplemental tyrosine will help alleviate symptoms, and others where the issue is unrelated to inadequate levels.
On the other hand, tyrosine may be helpful for supporting cognitive function in acutely stressful situations. A review looking at the effects of tyrosine on behavior and cognition found that “tyrosine loading acutely counteracts decrements in working memory and information processing that are induced by demanding situational conditions such as extreme weather or cognitive load.” Most likely this is due to the influence of tyrosine on restoring healthy brain catecholamine levels. Other researchers had similar findings—that it does enhance cognitive performance, particularly in short-term stressful and cognitively demanding situations. One study’s authors caveated this by saying that it “is an effective enhancer of cognition, but only when neurotransmitter function is intact and DA [dopamine] and/or NE [norepinephrine] is temporarily depleted.”
Fortunately, it is an inexpensive compound to supplement with, so patients may be inclined to give it a try if their health care professionals suspect some of the symptoms they present with may be related to suboptimal tyrosine and/or reduced levels of hormones and neurotransmitters that come from tyrosine.
Note that tyrosine should not be supplemented in pregnant or lactating women, nor in individuals taking MAOIs for depression. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may benefit from supplemental tyrosine, for the production of dopamine, but it should not be taken at the same time as levodopa, due to possible reduction in the drug’s efficacy.
Weight lifting is important to begin to building muscle mass and size, however it isn’t the only key element of shoulder training.
Posture is essential if you want to be injury free and want to start adding serious size to your shoulders.
Visual feedback and equal weight distribution are important to ensure that your muscles contract accurately.
New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids increase blood flow to regions of the brain associated with cognition
According to a new study published last Thursday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, by using neuroimaging, researchers were able to demonstrate increased blood flow in regions of the brain associated with memory and learning in individuals with higher omega-3 levels.
Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start , just like many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.
This new study included 166 individuals from a psychiatric clinic in which Omega-3 Index results were available. These patients were categorized into two groups: higher EPA and DHA concentrations (>50th percentile) and lower concentrations (<50th percentile). Quantitative brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was performed on 128 regions of their brains and each individual completed computerized testing of their neurocognitive status.
SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. In addition, performing various mentally stimulating cognitive tasks will show increased blood flow to specific brain regions. (Previous research has demonstrated that mentally stimulating activities reduce the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment even when performed later in life.) As a result, researchers identified significant relationships between the Omega-3 Index and regional perfusion on brain SPECT in areas that are involved with memory and neurocognitive testing.
This study demonstrated the positive relationships between omega-3 EPA and DHA status, brain perfusion, and cognition. This is significant because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
See Strength Sensei for more information.
Fix Your Knee Pain in 2 Easy Steps
Tip Number 1 – Fix Your Feet Fix Your Knee
The movement of the knee joint is influenced by the movement of the ankle joint. To make sure you have proper biomechanics of your knee, you should first ensure that your foot has optimal movement. Start by testing your shoes. Position your foot on top of your shoe. You’ll want to make sure that the width and length of the shoe is big enough to accommodate the size of your foot and toes. If your toes are sticking out, then the shoe is too small. Change shoes.
Fix Your Low Back Pain (Two Tips)
When talking about lower back pain, we’re not inclined to think that the clenching of our teeth could have a negative repercussion. Our jaws (maxillary and mandible) is linked to our anterior and posterior muscular chains. As such, it would be impossible to display an outburst of strength without having our jawbones in contact.
Tip Number 1 – Red Dots
Use six red dots that you will alternate every six weeks. Position them in different areas of your house and working area at the level of your eyes. The red dots are meant to be used as a visual cue, so that when you see the dot, you become aware that your teeth are in contact. Immediately stop and move on to tip number two.
Is magnesium deficiency halting your gains?
To be valid, every hormone or mineral evaluation must be tested in the right compartment. Even if it is commonly prescribed, the serum magnesium test is a poor indicator of magnesium levels as serum magnesium represents only 1% of the body’s stores . Low serum magnesium indicates severe deficiency.
Red blood cell magnesium is the way to go. The optimal range is 6.8-7.2 mg/dL .
Most people hover around 2 mg/dL. Magnesium deficiency is a concern for 50-80% of the population depending on the source.
Continue reading on here...
Here’s what you need to know…
1. Bad posture increases muscle strain and tension, as muscles that are not aligned are forced to work harder to fight gravity.
2. Bad posture increases risk of back pain, nerve impingement and slipped disks, because the spine does not have the right curves and balance. While training, this imbalance of curves could lead to injury.
3. Bad posture increases the wear and tear of all joints because they are not moving in the way they are designed to and because the muscles stabilizing the joints do not receive the correct activation from the brain. This breaks down the cartilage and weakens ligaments leading to increased risk of injury such as ligament tears and muscle pulls.
4. Bad posture (and the above mentioned factors) can increase the production of stress hormones and inflammation in your body. This can lead to lowered immune system function, decreased sleep quality, digestion and energy levels.
The Brain Muscle Connection
Continue reading on here...