#1 Wheat and grain-based products
These foods are high in a type of xenoestrogen known as zearalenone, or ZEA. This compound is molecularly similar to estrogen.
One study examined the effect that ZEA had on a drug called Letrozole. This drug is specifically designed to lower estrogen levels in the body.
Bodybuilders will often take it to get really low levels of body fat.
The researchers found that even small amounts of ZEA negated the effects of Letrozole. That’s an indicator of the potential estrogen-boosting effect of ZEAs that are found in wheat and grain products.
As well as the ZEA problem, wheat also contains phytoestrogens. They’re found in the wheat germ which is the reproductive part of the wheat seed.
These phytoestrogens will bind to estrogen receptor sites in your body’s cells.
A study investigated the combined effect of wheat germ and a breast cancer treatment drug.
They found that one of the side effects of wheat germ was that it increased estrogen receptor activity of MCF-7 cells. (1)
However, refined grain products remove the germ, making them slightly less of a problem when it comes to estrogen.
Overall though, you should limit your consumption of wheat and grain-based products.
#2 Processed carbs and refined sugars
Hopefully, you’ve already cut back on these types of foods, if you’re trying to bring your body fat levels down.
But there’s an extra reason to ditch these types of carbs. It has to do with that powerful blood sugar-regulating hormone, insulin.
Other than causing extra body fat storage, insulin lowers your levels of the so-called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).
The job of this globulin is to bind with the two sex hormones – testosterone, and estrogen. When it’s doing its job properly, you will have limited amounts of free estrogen in your body.
But, when it’s prevented from doing its job, the opposite will be true, and free estrogen levels will be much higher.
It’s the insulin response that occurs when eating refined sugar foods that causes interference in the activity of SHBG.
An interesting study on women showed that drinking sugar-laden sodas increased estrogen levels. (2) The interesting thing was that increased estrogen levels did not occur with either diet sodas or fruit juices.
Researchers believe this is because diet sodas don’t contain refined sugar and fruit juice contains natural fruit sugars.
Another estrogen-related problem with sugar consumption is that eating too much sugar leads to an increase in stored body fat.
Fat cells excrete estrogen. Therefore, the more fat cells that you have in your body, the more estrogen you’ll have floating around as well.
This is additional to the baseline estrogen naturally produced by the endocrine system.
So, rather than reaching for a sweet, sugar-saturated treat, do your estrogen levels a favor and opt for foods that are high in proteins, fiber, and healthy fats.
I know, this is a tough one.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t drink it at all. But if you want to get really lean and maximize your muscle mass and strength, then you gotta cut back on the booze. And here’s why.
As you know, beer contains hops. They are the female part of the hop plant. They’re a preservative that has been added to beer for hundreds of years.
It’s one of just three ingredients that you can find in most beers, the other two being water and barley.
Hops are extremely powerful phytoestrogens. But it gets even worse. The majority of this estrogen is in the form of estradiol. (3)
This compound reduces the levels of free testosterone in the body.
Here’s an interesting anecdote from history related to hops. In former centuries, it was widely reported that girls who worked in the hop fields in Germany, consistently entered puberty, developed breasts, and started menstruating 2-3 years earlier than the rest of the population.
And the reason is because of the massive levels of estrogen in the hops! What this all means is that drinking too much beer is going to feminize your body.
Not only will it give you a beer gut, but your testes will actually shrink, along with your sex drive.
Now for some good news. Since we’ve identified that hops are the problem with beer, you can avoid it by going for hop-free beer. Yep, such a thing actually exists.
And a recent such product, apparently, tastes “hoppy”. It was achieved by combining the DNA from mint and basil into strains of brewer’s yeast. (4)
A lot of guys go for beans because they’re an inexpensive form of protein. Even though that may be true, they’re also jam-packed with phytoestrogens.
In fact, one study showed that beans have the highest amounts of phytoestrogens of any food on the planet. (5)
Another study revealed that there are not one, but four different types of estrogens in beans.
According to a 2003 study, these abundant phytoestrogens in legumes mimic the activity of estrogen in the human body. (6)
Beans also turned out to have very high levels of phytic acid. This substance will bind to minerals, potentially preventing their absorption.
However, it is unclear if these binding effects have any significant impact on our mineral intake. (7)
The most common mineral deficiencies thought to result from phytic acid consumption may be iron, zinc, copper, cobalt, manganese, calcium, and magnesium.
Having low levels of iron and zinc will negatively affect recovery from your workouts and muscle building.
Therefore, to err on the side of caution, it is possible to say that beans are okay to eat in moderation.
But I urge you to incorporate other sources of protein into your diet!
The big problem with bottled water is the plastic bottle that it comes in.
Within that plastic, there is something called Bisphenol A or BPA. It is a carbon-based synthetic compound that is used in all sorts of plastic products to harden the plastic and prevent it from cracking.
But, when it enters the human body, BPA acts as an estrogen imitator. Scientists refer to it as a hormone disruptor.
There have been many studies to show that BPA leeches out plastic bottles and into the water. Ultimately, we end up taking it into our bodies.
BPA has also been shown to increase the likelihood of male infertility. It can also make a guy more likely to suffer from all kinds of sexual dysfunctions.
Moreover, BPA has also been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast and prostate.
On top of all of that, exposure to BPA’s, even in low dosages, can result in cardiovascular health problems.
A 2013 study even found that individuals who had higher BPA levels in their bodies were twice as likely to be obese. (8)
You can avoid this BPA problem by simply ditching that plastic water bottle that’s in your gym bag. Go for a stainless steel or glass bottle, instead.
You may also want to consider buying a quality carbon water filter so that you can filter your tap water. Filtered tap water is the safest water you can drink.
You should also avoid storing or heating up foods in plastic containers.
Soy, or no soy? Debunking an old myth!
Finally, I would like to add a few words about soy, as it’s certainly an interesting one to look at in this context.
That’s because there has been a lot of misinformation about soy in the recent past. So let’s have a look.
Soy gained popularity when it was discovered that people in Okinawa, Japan, consumed a lot of it. And they are considered by many to be the healthiest people on the planet.
This made soy somewhat popular in the recent past.
We know that soy contains phytoestrogens, which are considered to be a plant-based source of estrogen. There are two isoflavones in soy that may act like estrogen in the body. These are genistein and daidzein.
Because of its phytoestrogen content, there was a general concern about its consumption for potential feminizing and testosterone-lowering effects. And I used to believe that myself!
For that reason, recent research focused on finding out about the potentially detrimental effects of soy on male health.
For example, a 2021 meta-analysis looked at 38 clinical studies on soy consumption and its effects on male reproductive hormones. (9)
Interestingly, researchers concluded that soy and its estrogen-like components don’t have an effect on estrogen, nor testosterone levels in males.
In other words, incorporating 1-2 servings of soy in your diet is now acknowledged to be perfectly safe. For reference, a serving can be one cup of soymilk, or half a cup of tofu, or 1 ounce of soynuts.
Even before finding this out, there was a type of soy protein that back then was already acknowledged not cause estrogen levels to rise. It’s called soy protein isolate.
Soy protein isolate is a dry powder form of soy that has removed nearly all of the fats and carbs, leaving around 95 percent pure protein.
Unlike animal proteins, it contains no cholesterol and hardly any saturated fat. During this process, many of the phytoestrogens are removed from the soy.
Hence why it was considered safe, even when the evidence around soy and estrogen-like activity was unclear.
Moreover, some interesting research shows that taking soy protein isolate produces similar training effects to using an animal-based protein.
In one study, researchers provided 50 grams of soy isolate or whey to participants that were weight training for 12 weeks. (10)
There were no significant differences between testosterone, body fat, and body weight between the two groups.
That’s it guys I hope this article has helped you out. Just a final few notes now.
As we’ve seen, certain foods cause your estrogen levels to rise. However, too much body fat can also negatively affect estrogen and other hormones’ levels on its own.
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- A study to investigate the combined effect of wheat germ and a breast cancer treatment found that one of the side effects of wheat germ was that it increased estrogen receptor activity of MCF-7 cells.
- Energy-containing beverages: reproductive hormones and ovarian function in the BioCycle Study
- Alcoholic Beverages as a Source of Estrogens
- Hop-free “hoppy” beer by combining the DNA from mint and basil into strains of brewer’s yeast
- Estrogens in developing bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) plants
- Evaluation of the Estrogenic Effects of Legume Extracts Containing Phytoestrogens
- Minerals and phytic acid interactions: is it a real problem for human nutrition?
- A 2013 study even found that individuals who had higher BPA levels in their bodies were twice as likely to be obese.
- Soy products have no effect on estrogen and testosterone in men
- Soy protein is safe