Estrogen dominance is the new norm for many people. For men, it shows up as the dreaded beer belly, muscle loss, and a lack of drive. It causes men to become irritable and impossible to live with! If you are wondering what happened to your lean, passionate, driven man, estrogen dominance got him. For women, it is the muffin top, a bloated face, and a drop in sex drive. Even varicose veins can be caused by estrogen dominance. The following are the top estrogen disruptors you need to be aware of:
Xenoestrogens are the deadliest estrogens. Our environment is loaded with human-made xenoestrogens, which mimic real estrogens and have a devastating impact upon appearance, health, and drive. You can find them in food dyes, cosmetics, cleaning products, plastics, mattresses, carpets, herbicides, pesticides, and even the coating on paper receipts!
Parabens are common preservatives and perhaps the foremost chemical group responsible for disrupting the endocrine system; parabens wreak havoc on our sex hormones. Long-chain parabens can mimic estrogens and have been shown, even in low doses, to activate the human epidermal growth factor receptor on cancer genes. A growing body of consumers is demanding that the long-term effects of accumulated parabens in the body be evaluated, as parabens have been found in over 90 percent of human breast cancer tumors studied and are questioned in relation to declining sperm counts in men. On personal care product labels, parabens are often listed with the prefixes ethyl, methyl, propyl, isopropyl, butyl, or isobutyl and can be found in everything from deodorants to toothpastes, soaps and sunscreens, shampoos and conditioners.
Phthalates are a highly toxic family of industrial chemicals added to plastics to make them flexible. Phthalates are particularly pernicious because they vaporize easily, are colorless and odorless, and easily slough off into the environment. They can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, ingestion, or through the skin into the bloodstream. The CDC states that phthalates are detected in nearly every American, from babies to adults. Phthalates are responsible for major thyroid and reproductive system toxicity, manifesting as early onset of puberty in girls, permanent reproductive abnormalities in baby boys, reduced sperm quantity and testosterone in men, decreased thyroid hormones, and asthma problems. What’s even more shocking is that phthalates are often hidden in products, as they are, for example, one of the many ingredients that can make up the ingredient “fragrance” in a product. Watch out for cosmetics, deodorants, hair styling products, hand and body lotions, nail polishes, sanitary pads and tampons, and anything containing fragrance.
BPAs endocrine-disrupting toxicity was brought to the attention of the masses when the FDA banned BPA from sippy cups and other baby products. Unfortunately, “BPA-free” doesn’t mean safe or healthy, as manufacturers have substituted in bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF), which are just as hormonally disruptive. BPA is still found in too many personal care and plastic products to count—endless amounts of canned goods, take-out boxes, water bottles, and single-cup coffee makers, and every receipt you are handed from a cashier. Count on these endocrine disruptors to block the proper functioning of your metabolic hormones, a problem directly associated with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Scientific studies have linked BPA to infertility, breast cancer, sperm abnormalities, and sexual dysfunction in men. Both BPA and BPS have been shown to cross the placenta, affecting the growth of infants in utero.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are nasty gaseous chemicals, such as formaldehyde, styrene, benzene, and trichloroethylene, that are released into the air from almost every front in the home. They can be in the water, which when heated releases them into the air. They permeate the air around upholstery, particleboard furniture, carpets, paints, wallpaper, adhesives, and more. Toxic exposure to VOCs can cause skin lesions, skin yellowing, and defatting of the skin, which leads to skin rashes, skin redness, and scaly dry skin. They disrupt the metabolic hormones so the body does not burn its fuel efficiently and the metabolites are not flushed through and excreted properly. This creates a cascade of aging effects: we become weaker, our skin becomes thinner, we start to go gray, and we lose strength and vitality.
Sunscreen has long been promoted to protect the skin from UV damage from the sun. We’re taught to slather on sunscreen from a young age to protect our skin from cancerous melanomas, and yet there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. As you’ve read throughout this book, there are many foods you can eat and products you can use to boost your skin’s natural defenses against UV damage. I strongly recommend this chemical-free approach, especially in light of the strong evidence that chemical sunscreen ingredients (called UV filters) cause significant hormone disruptions. Not only are the active ingredients disruptive; many of the inactive ingredients in sunscreens, such as phthalates, BPA, synthetic fragrances, and parabens, have been proven to disrupt the endocrine system.
Remember that whether you are male or female, all of your hormones must be in proper balance in order to maintain health and beauty for the long haul. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of estrogen dominance mentioned earlier or anywhere else in this book, you’ll also want to avoid the following high-estrogen food sources:
Unfermented GMO Soy
In the East, soy is grown and prepared traditionally, without genetic engineering and without overprocessing. In fact, most soy eaten in the East has undergone only the natural process of fermentation, a practice that promotes the healthy growth of probiotics that help the body digest food properly.
In contrast, US soybeans have been genetically engineered since 1994. This is an issue that affects not only the health and beauty of men and women; children are also being exposed to more and more of these phytoestrogens on a daily basis. Soy and soy products are used in nearly 60 percent of processed foods found on grocery store shelves, in school cafeterias, and in restaurants all over the United States. US-grown soy is also the most common base for protein powders, protein bars, and infant formulas.
Soy products contain isoflavones, which are known to disrupt thyroid hormones, leading to hyperthyroidism and goiter. They are also known endocrine-disrupting phytoestrogens (plant-derived estrogens), which attach themselves to estrogen receptors, nudging out true estrogens. They can both mimic estrogen and act exactly opposite to it. Giving infants and young men and women soy is like giving them birth control pills. Phytoestrogens not only affect reproduction but also sexual vitality, growth, hormonal development, and eventually longevity and beauty.
The FDA allows the use of steroid hormone implants in beef cattle. This means that the hormones given to cattle include natural estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone as well as several synthetic hormones, which are growth promoters. These hormones stimulate not only growth but also an increase in naturally produced hormones. The levels of these natural hormones, like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen, can sometimes be as high as seven to twenty times the normal amount.
Most cattle subsist on a high-carb diet heavily contaminated with pesticides and GMOs, then the meat is irradiated before it’s sent to grocery stores. Once in grocery stores, beef is sometimes drenched in chlorine to kill bacteria. Furthermore, if the animals are stressed, which they usually are because of overcrowding in feedlots, then we’re also eating their elevated stress hormones. This is alarming, particularly because over the past few decades young children with elevated hormones are demonstrating numerous imbalances and negative outcomes relating to puberty, fertility, and sexual development. We strongly urge you to protect yourself and your family if you choose to eat meat by getting to know your local farmer and only procuring grass-fed beef and pasture-raised poultry (because factory-farmed chickens are also fed a diet high in GMO and pesticide-laced grains).
Conventional Dairy Products
Just like with humans, cows produce less milk when it is pumped than when a baby is nursing to stimulate lactation. Therefore cows raised conventionally are typically given medications to improve their milk production. Over twenty different phytoestrogen hormones and medications, including estradiol, have been found in conventional milk.
You’ve probably seen labels on dairy products stating they are rBGH- or hormone-free. That’s a great start, but it’s not the only concern with conventionally raised cows. Free-range cows are pregnant just a couple of times a year, and they lactate only until their calves are weaned. In contrast, a typical dairy cow is kept pregnant and/or lactating for most of the year. This really messes with their hormones, and those hormones wind up in your milk products.
In particular, conventional dairy products contain insulin-growth factor and excess estrogen. These lead to blood sugar spikes and mood swings, among other hormonal issues. This excess estrogen may be, in fact, the leading reason girls are starting puberty younger and younger. In 2010, girls were documented to be starting puberty as early as seven and eight years old! The most recent research is pointing directly to environmental exposure to hormones.
Estrogen Dominance Solutions
Nature’s answer to estrogen dominance is a compound called diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM comes from indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. DIM helps the body detoxify bad estrogens and also prevents good estrogens and other helpful hormones, like testosterone, from flipping into bad estrogens. DIM is a great indirect fat burner too, through promoting good estrogen metabolites and higher free testosterone.
EstroGuard is a unique supplement that blends Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) and Diindolylmethane (DIM) made from broccoli concentrates. UC Berkeley and numerous other independent labs have produced research indicating that these and other nutrients found in EstroGuard™ supports the balance of good-to-bad estrogens in the body and, in particular, lower harmful estrogen levels.
EstroGuard™ contains the most I3C and DIM of any similar product on the market, along with other important co-factor nutrients including lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. The active ingredients serve to support both the heart and brain while offering superior immune system support to a healthy system. By promoting a balance between bad and good estrogen levels, EstroGuard™ helps to maintain a healthy balance of both female and male hormones.
Consuming foods high in DIM, like arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and turnips—and consuming even more than your grandparents did—will help counteract this new threat to your beauty and health.
You can further protect yourself by filtering your drinking water; limiting your exposure to toxins found in clothing and cosmetics and the VOCs described earlier; supplementing with probiotics and glutathione-supporting products; and adding the following SOD- and sulfur-rich, glutathione-supporting, xenobiotic-eliminating foods to your diet (please choose organic!): apples, berries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, olives and cold-pressed olive oil, pomegranates, and tomatoes.