Estrogens are steroid hormones which derive from cholesterol. Together with progesterone, they are the main female hormones. They promote women’s secondary sex characteristics. Actually, they are also present in man, even if in a much reduced amount, since the biochemical process leading to the synthesis of estrogens goes through transitional stages represented by masculine hormones such as androstenedione and testosterone. In women, estrogens are produced in the ovaries. Generally, when we talk of estrogens, we refer to beta-estradiol. In fact, there are three main estrogens produced by women:
– Estradiol. 17 Beta-estradiol represents the most important hormone in women, since it supports the development of the ovarian follicles in the fertile period and the development of the secondary characteristics as well as of the reproductive organs in puberty. Its precursor in biosynthesis is testosterone. Beta-estradiol is provided with proliferative activity and can favour the origin of tumours in estrogen-dependent organs.
-Estriol. Present in larger amounts than Beta-estradiol, it is provided with scarce estrogenic activity. For this reason, it has always been given little importance. Actually, it is fundamental, together with progesterone, to support pregnancy. It is also supposed to have antitumoral effect.
– Estrone. It is produced by the ovaries from androstenedione. After menopause it is the estrogen present in the highest amount. It has pro-carcinogenic effect.
In men, the production of estrogens is carried out in a percentage of 10% by the testicles. The rest is mainly produced by the conversion of testosterone into estrogens. This occurs above all in the liver and in the adipose tissue through the so-called aromatization. In women, high estrogen levels can be found in puberty and pregnancy. Around the age of 40, the so-called “estrogen predominance” can occur: this does not mean that the estrogen levels are high per se, but rather that the ratio estrogens/progesterone has increased, mainly due to a decrease in progesterone caused by a lack of suprarenal functionality often connected to stress. Moreover, stress “steals” progesterone, which is used as a precursor of cortisol. Nowadays we must consider the estrogens contained in food, too, above all dairy products and beef. They are rich is saturated fats which, in turn, favour the production of estrogens. Hepatic functionality is another important factor, since estrogens are metabolised in the liver. For this reason, every factor which may alter its functionality (alcohol, drugs, lack of vitamins and amino acids) can cause an increase in estrogens. In women, the prevalence of estrogens can cause water retention and an increase in the adipose tissue, painful and heavy menstrual period. In men hyperestrogenism is mainly connected to obesity, since the adipose tissue is the main area in which testosterone is aromatized. It is also linked to age, since aromatase increases with age. As a result, there is a decrease in testosterone, with a decrease in sexual desire and in the erectile capacity, as well as in the production of sperm cells. An higher amount of estrogens in man can also lead to an increase in mammary fat or even to gynecomastia and to more general feminization which results in a different distribution of body fat. Besides pharmacological treatment which, in case of estrogen predominance in women, requires the use of progesterone and in case of men requires the use of inhibitors, great results can also be achieved through integrators – mainly herbal . That is, natural substances which can be found in vegetable products and which can modulate hormonal metabolisms.
Pomegranate contains the highest variety of phytoestrogens compared to any other food. About 80% of the oil of its seeds contains pucinic acid, which has lipolytic and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, the conjugated fatty acids contained in pomegranate have anti-estrogenic properties. In fact, behaving as mild estrogens, they occupy estrogen receptors, thus preventing more powerful estrogens from exerting their effect. The high amount of polyphenols, among which ellagic acid present in pomegranate peel, is also a powerful anti-oxidant provided with antiaromatase activity, thus inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Indole-3-carbinol is a flavone contained in broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and in other cruciferous vegetables. It is involved in estrogen metabolism in the liver, increasing their deactivation. Specifically, it lowers the metabolic process that leads to 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone, favouring the synthesis of metabolites provided with less estrogenic activity.
Zinc is one of the most important trace elements for our body. It is involved in the formation of over 300 enzymes. It is fundamental for insulin metabolism, for the health of sex organs and for the immune system. It is also provided with an effective antiaromatase (antiaromatic) activity and can be useful above all in men who are prone to aromatization.
Silybum Marianum contains an amount of phytoestrogens called flavonolignans, belonging to the family of bioflavonoids, among which the main ones are silybin, isosilybin and dehydrosilybin. These phytoestrogens regulate the female hormonal production. The purified extracts of flavonolignans from the fruits of Silybum Marianum mainly contain silymarin, an isomeric compound of silybin provided with significant hepatoprotective action which favours detoxification of estrogens in the liver.
The proper use of these integrators at the right dose and proportions will have a synergic effect which will surely fight estrogen predominance. Yet, it is important to consider further tips to introduce in one’s life-style in order to enhance the result. The tips are as follows:
- Eat food containing weak phytoestrogens such as pomegranate, linseed, apples, raspberries, fermented soy, wheat germ.
- Eat yoghurt and food rich in fibres in order to favour catabolism and the elimination of estrogens.
- Eat organic meat and dairy products.
- Increase the consumption of detoxifying food such as broccoli, cauliflower, black cabbage, apples, ginger, onions, artichokes, celery.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid exposition to xenoestrogens present in plastic (drink water in glass bottles) and in cosmetics and avoid contraceptive pills.
- Avoid non-fermented soy products.
- Use infrared sauna.
- Exercise regularly so as to provoke abundant sweating.
- Reach and keep a proper amount of body fat.
L’Accademia del Fitness – Wellness – Antiaging / January 2015