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.
Guest blog by Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS, Designs for Health
New study demonstrates fat intake is associated with an overall lower mortality and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease
The association between different macronutrients and their correlation with overall mortality and cardiovascular disease is controversial.
Fat often gets a bad reputation in traditional medicine, although integrative functional medicine doctors and nutritionists educate their patients and clients on the benefits of consuming healthy fats. In addition, Paleo and ketogenic diets have never been more popular.
According to a new study published Tuesday in The Lancet , researchers demonstrated that high carbohydrate intake was associated with an increased risk of mortality, and total fat, as well as individual types of fat, was associated with a lower mortality.
This is a large study that spanned ten years and included 135,335 individuals 35 to 70 years of age from 18 countries in 5 continents. Macronutrient intake was recorded using food frequency questionnaires. Researchers assessed the association between the consumption of total fat, each type of fat, and carbohydrate intake with total mortality and cardiovascular disease.
As a result, higher carbohydrate intake was associated with an increased risk of total mortality but not with the risk of cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular disease mortality. In addition, the total fat intake as well as each type of fat was associated with a lower risk of total mortality. Furthermore, higher saturated fat intake was associated with a reduced risk of stroke. This large study demonstrates that fats are not significantly associated with an increased risk of a heart attack or cardiovascular disease mortality.
The Science Of Cardiovascular Diseases
It is important to keep in mind that in large cohort studies, dietary intake is reassessed over time and the participants can eat whatever diet they choose and then researchers obtain the recent or past dietary history of the participants.
In a clinical trial, the study controls the dietary intake, which is more complicated than in observational studies where the participants control their own diet.
There was also a review just published in Circulation last month in which researchers demonstrated that lowering saturated fats and increasing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats was associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. This review showed similar outcomes with fat intake and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as carbohydrates not reducing cardiovascular disease.
Fats make up the structure of our cell membranes, and fatty acid deficiencies contribute not only to cardiovascular disease but many other problems such as eczema, poor concentration, immune dysfunction, and chronic inflammatory disorders.
Dietary fat, like any macronutrient, supplies energy. When assessing a patient, it important to look at the intake of all macronutrients. People who eat a lot of saturated fat generally eat less carbohydrates and unsaturated fat, and those who eat less saturated fat generally eat more carbohydrates or unsaturated fats. You cannot eat a lot of all the macronutrients and be healthy. The ideal amount of each macronutrient will be specific to each individual, their current state of health, existing conditions, goals, metabolic demands, and activity level.
Be it because of the toxicity which surrounds us or because of bodies cannot handle properly the estrogens we produce. Whichever is the case, it can lead to an estrogen overload called estrogen dominance. And aside from the male issues you might think it leads to, it can cause serious health complications for both men and women. Thinking of shedding some body fat? Want to increase strength? Stave off cancer? Have better cognition? Conceive a child? Conquer depression? Estrogen dominance can disrupt all of those.
This article is not about how macho we have to be by driving down estrogen as much as possible. In fact, be it in male or female, estrogen is necessary for normal body function. It regulates a lot of body functions in both females and males, however a dysfunctional management of estrogen can spell disaster for your health.
This usually translates to too much estrogen and too much of the wrong form of the hormone in the body.
Click the link below to continue reading.
How to Fix Rounded Shoulders…
If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance that you have round shoulders. And if you’ve had rounded shoulders for a long time, chances are you want to find a quick, permanent way to resolve the problem. There is such a way, one that often doesn’t involve any exercises or uncomfortable soft tissue work. Let’s take a closer look.
Poor posture is the culprit behind a variety of conditions including, ankle, knee, shoulder, hip, back pain, cervical pain, and headaches.
Poor posture is the culprit behind a variety of conditions including, ankle, knee, shoulder pain.
Ankle injuries are among the single most common type of injury that occurs to athletes, but you don’t have to be a jock to find yourself suffering from ankle sprains and strains.
First, consider that the difference between a sprain and strain is that a sprain occurs to a ligament, and a strain is an injury to a tendon or a muscle. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that about 850,000 Americans injure their ankles each year. Of these, 85 percent are sprains.
Have you ever had a side that was weaker than the other on a particular movement or exercise?
When the body is out of alignment, even if only slightly, this causes muscular compensation. This phenomenon can cause the muscles that cross that joint to contract with less force. If you are weaker on one side, this can be a sign that the joints are misaligned.
The mechanoreceptors surrounding the joints send inhibitory signals to the brain, who in return prevents the muscles from firingas many motor units in an effort the prevent injury from happening because it senses that the joint is not functioning properly and could thus be unstable or unable to handle large loads.
So a very strong individual like a strongman competitor or powerlifter can lift incredible loads and yet still be imbalanced and prone to injury.
In conclusion, a very small discrepancy in the symmetry of the body can thus affect function of all joints and their surrounding muscles. This has important impact on performance, and can have profound consequences in the long run, in just about anyone.
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.