(Natural Aromatase Inhibitors for Men, written by David Jaynes)
Aromatization has nothing to do with how much or badly you smell.
But it can potentially be even more destructive to your sex life than smelling terrible.
It can also impact your health in a wide range of other areas.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Aromatization is a chemistry term that refers to a variety of conversions from one thing to another thing.
In the human body, that conversion is from testosterone to estradiol – the main form of estrogen in males.
This process is a necessary part of the systems which keep your body’s hormones in balance. But if things are out of balance it can lead to excess estrogen, especially as you age.
As a male, you do not want excess estrogen.
Just a few of the lovely gifts this condition can give you include:
• Decreased libido
• Gaining fat, including “man boobs”
• Losing muscle
• Depression and anxiety
• Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
• Urinary tract infections
• Prostate problems
• Erectile dysfunction
It’s not great for women, either. Your endocrine system (the organs and processes that govern hormones including testosterone and estrogen) works in a narrow balance. Aromatization threatens that balance.
The key to keeping aromatization in line is to inhibit the presence of aromatase in your body. As the name suggests, this enzyme is the key ingredient in the aromatization recipe that turns testosterone into estradiol.
Less aromatase = less testosterone conversion = more testosterone for your body.
The good news is, all kinds of healthy and safe substances inhibit aromatase. Here are a few of my favorites…
Zinc has long been associated with good testosterone levels because it increases production of luteinizing hormone. This is the hormone that instructs your body to make more testosterone, which is why zinc deficiency is one of the major nutritional causes of low testosterone in healthy, young men.
Recently, studies have found it also inhibits aromatase. For example, a study at Hanyang University in Korea studied zinc-deficient rats after improving their zinc levels to healthy norms (source). They found the increased zinc directly corresponded with reduced aromatase, and a subsequent increase in bio-available testosterone.
Getting more zinc is pretty easy, since it’s abundant in a variety of readily available foods:
• Beef (opt for grass-fed to avoid other testosterone-killing chemicals)
• Pretty much any kind of dairy (again, opt for organic)
Don’t panic if you don’t love any of those, you can always pick up zinc tablets in the supplement aisle of any grocery store in the country.
If you only add one natural aromatase inhibitor for men into your routine, make it zinc. It carries a powerful one-two punch that increases testosterone production and reduces testosterone conversion.
Sometimes your mom was right. This is one of those times: you should eat your celery. Turns out, celery contains luteolin.
Luteolin is a flavonoid that directly inhibits aromatase production in males. Not coincidentally, Luteolin is found in a wide variety of traditional Chinese herbs used to treat infertility, erectile dysfunction, and other symptoms of low testosterone.
In 1994, a University of Minnesota study looked at the impact of Luteolin on aromatase production, finding that it prevented its production in fat cells (source).
A similar study on women at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found similar results in breast cancer cells (source).
Research is still ongoing as to why luteolin has this impact on aromatase production, but those studies and others leave little doubt as to if it reduces aromatase.
Though you can get luteolin from green peppers, onions, cabbage, parsley and paprika, you’ll get the most from celery juice.
In theory, you can get all the benefits you need from just eating a ton of celery. But that’s time consuming and not exactly appetizing. It’s also less effective than juicing.
My recommendation is to juice, or blend and strain several stalks and drink it down. Juicing concentrates the luteolin, making it more potent.
Okay. I know. The food snob in you wants shitakes or morels or some kind of fancy mushroom you put on your arugula with forceps.
But don’t count out the common white button mushroom, champion of pizzas and stroganoffs everywhere.
A 2001 study concluded that these simple grocery staples contain phytochemicals which directly suppressed the aromatase enzyme in breast cancer cells (source). In 2006, further research in California repeated those results.
This led to treatment trials in 2011, where postmenopausal women with breast cancer were treated with up to 13 grams of button mushroom extract for three months. Their aromatase activity decreased in proportion to the amount of extract they received.
Like with celery, it’s conceivable to get the dosage you need by just going big on white button mushrooms in your diet. You’d be surprised how easy it is to slip them into your diet. For example:
• Order them on pizzas
• Slice them up into your sandwiches
• Sautee in butter to go with your steak (getting your zinc while you’re at it)
• Dice them for salads
• Stir fry them with just about anything
Also like celery juice, it’s easier to get what you need in a more concentrated form. You can order extract online, or find it at most nutrition and supplement stores.
I mention Vitamin D on this website a lot, since it’s another substance which gets your testosterone up coming and going. You need it for testosterone production, and it helps decrease aromatization.
Besides causing a host of health problems in men, aromatization and excess estrogen have been linked with higher risk of breast cancer. Researchers implanted mice with human breast cancer cells, then saw what happened when they gave those mice Vitamin D.
The results were dramatic. Vitamin D suppressed the production and expression of aromatase in the cancer-implanted tissues. This was hopeful news for breast cancer research, and also for men with low testosterone.
Further research found that Vitamin D (also known as calcitriol) doesn’t just block both the production and the uptake of aromatase. It also enhances anti-estrogenic compounds like anastrozole, exemestane, and letrozole.
The best way to up your Vitamin D intake is to go outdoors. It gets you the vitamin, and it’s good for your mood. Besides, lots of outdoor activities stimulate testosterone production in a variety of ways.
If you can’t go outside, Vitamin D is kind of hard to get just from your diet. Pick up some supplements at your local store, but only after having your Vitamin D levels checked. Too much can be as bad as too little.
Selenium is a “best kept secret” situation for inhibiting aromatase, because it hasn’t been well researched for its impacts on testosterone.
Instead, it’s been heavily researched for what it can do about breast cancer.
Too much estrogen binding in breast tissue is one of the leading causes of breast cancer, so finding ways to decrease estrogen production has been a serious aim of front-line research for a few decades.
One such piece of research happened at Tulane University in New Orleans in 2012. They were testing to find aromatase inhibitors that reduced estrogen without dangerous side effects, and found selenium to be an effective candidate for the job (source).
Selenium is another of those minerals you can get plenty of just by rotating a few choice foods into your menu planning.
Some of my favorites include:
• Beef liver
• Brazil nuts
• Grass-fed Beef
In fact, I recommend against taking selenium in supplement form unless you have a medical deficiency. Too much can actually cause a host of medical problems, ranging from stomach trouble to brain damage.
Working these into your diet either as ingredients or supplements (or both) won’t always increase how much testosterone your body produces. However, using these natural aromatase inhibitors for men will increase how much testosterone is available for your body to use.
The net result is the same: more bio-available testosterone in your body, and increased health.
You can maximize results by getting a good resistance workout two to three times per week, minimum. Having more muscle relative to fat reduces how much aromatase is in your body, inhibiting aromatization.
As a bonus, lifting weights does make your body produce more testosterone.
While you’re at it, make it a point to avoid chemicals that mimic estrogen in your environment. Getting too much of these into your system ups your estrogen levels in a variety of ways.
It’s impossible to avoid these completely, since chemicals are part of our every day lives these days. That said, you can take a few simple steps to minimize your exposure.
Finally, if you want to keep your estrogen levels healthy relative to your testosterone, avoid testosterone therapy like the plague.
That delivery method actually increases aromatase and aromatization because it causes temporary floods of testosterone into your system. Your body sees the excess and works to restore the balance.