Hormones are the body’s way of signaling changes in puberty and maintaining bodily processes for balance and health throughout life. The endocrine system controls the production and use of hormones across the body. The endocrine system includes the pineal gland, pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, thymus, pancreas, and adrenal glands. It also includes sexual and reproductive organs. Both males and females need to maintain hormone balance in their bodies which are slightly different, but yet similar in many ways. Hormone balance can be supported by various foods and herbs and disrupted by certain products and foods. These increase the risk of various diseases.
Male hormonal balance is detrimental in many ways and provoked by many factors. It manifests in various symptoms that indicate that there is a lack of homeostasis of hormones in the body. Symptoms include fatigue, mood fluctuations, weight gain or loss, low sperm count, hair loss, loss of muscle mass, memory loss, inconsistent erections, reduced sex drive, enlarged breast tissue, infertility, depression, anxiety, insomnia, appetite changes, digestive issues, irritability, and lack of concentration (1), (2). Thus, there is a wide range of symptoms that indicate imbalance and perhaps an excess (or sometimes a lack of hormones in the body). Low testosterone or excess estrogen can damage reproductive health, happiness, energy levels, brain function, and general bodily health, as well as increasing disease risk.
There are various ways to sustain hormone balance with high enough levels of testosterone in the body including various herbs, foods, and lifestyle habits. There are basic habits to maintain homeostasis in the body. These include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising, time outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D, reducing stress, and addressing nutritional deficiencies (3). This will ensure that the thyroid glands will function well for hormone balance. There are also various foods that ensure that testosterone levels and production are relatively high. This includes pumpkin seeds, coconut, maca, avocado, chia seeds, spinach, ginger, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables (4). The body will synthesize these foods for the benefit of testosterone production which will help those suffering from low testosterone. There are also various herbs that help to naturally increase testosterone levels. These include horny goat weed, bulbine natalensis, tribulus terrestris, ashwaghanda, kapikachuu, and shilajit (5), (6). These will help the endocrine system produce more testosterone and regulate it in the blood.
In terms of nutrition, foods from animals like meat and dairy are likely to increase the risk of hormone imbalance (and all of the accompanied side effects). There are numerous facts about the hormones that are consumed in animal products including:
- Synthetic hormonal implants in cows increase disease risk (USDA, 1999) (7)
- Naturally occurring and added hormones in meat and milk increase the risk of gynecomastia in males. (7)
- Food with labels like ‘organic’ and ‘hormone-free’ are often still high in naturally occurring and added hormones. (7)
- Dioxins are chemicals that accumulate in animal-based products and can contribute to a wide range of illnesses (including cancer, weakened immune system, nervous system disorders, miscarriages, and birth deformities). (7)
- Synthetic hormones increase the chances of early puberty in girls. (1980s, CDC) (8)
- Synthetic hormones in these foods increase the chances of weight gain due to toxin storage. (8)
- Hormones in beef may contribute to a low sperm count in males. (9)
- Dairy products account for about 60-80% of estrogen consumed daily. (Davaasambuu, 2006) (10)
- IGF-1 and other hormones in cows milk are linked with colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer. (11)
In perfumes, body products, cleaning products, and various other products, there are often various chemicals that occur called endocrine disruptors. Here are various facts about them:
- Parabens are found in shampoo, conditioners, lotions, and face cleaners. They cause endocrine issues and affect the reproductive system.
- Phthalates occur in cosmetics, processed foods, and plastics. They have an impact on the reproductive system.
- Synthetic colours occur in many beauty products and are linked to cancer risk.
- Synthetic fragrances are found in cosmetics and bodily fragrances. This contributes to struggles with hormone balance and weight issues.
- SLS is found in shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and cleaning products. It increases the risk of endocrine problems, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and cancer.
In conclusion, the male and female endocrine systems can both become imbalanced leading to various ailments. Many products and animal-based foods worsen the imbalance by contributing synthetic and excess hormones to your body, whilst many plant-based foods and herbs help to restore balance.
(1) Axe, J., 2021. 6 Steps to Balance Hormones Naturally. [online] Dr. Axe. Available at: <https://draxe.com/health/10-ways-balance-hormones-naturally/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(2) Axe, J., 2021. 6 Steps to Balance Hormones Naturally. [online] Dr. Axe. Available at: <https://draxe.com/health/10-ways-balance-hormones-naturally/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(3) FountainTRT Blog. 2021. 7 Tips To Boost Testosterone Naturally. [online] Available at: <https://blog.fountaintrt.com/boost-testosterone-naturally/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(4) Jenkins, J., 2021. 9 Testosterone Boosting Vegan Foods – Boost T-Levels on a Vegan Diet. [online] Skinny2Fit. Available at: <https://www.skinny2fit.com/testosterone-boosting-vegan-foods/#:~:text=What%20Vegan%20Foods%20Boost%20Testosterone%3F%201%20Pumpkin%20Seeds.,an%20increase%20in%20testosterone%20production.%20More%20items…%20> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(5) Planet Ayurveda. 2021. Herbs & Herbal Remedies for Low Testosterone Levels in Males. [online] Available at: <https://www.planetayurveda.com/herbs-herbal-remedies-for-low-testosterone-levels-in-males/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(6) Jenkins, J., 2021. 9 Testosterone Boosting Vegan Foods – Boost T-Levels on a Vegan Diet. [online] Skinny2Fit. Available at: <https://www.skinny2fit.com/testosterone-boosting-vegan-foods/#:~:text=What%20Vegan%20Foods%20Boost%20Testosterone%3F%201%20Pumpkin%20Seeds.,an%20increase%20in%20testosterone%20production.%20More%20items…%20> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(7) PETA. 2021. Contamination Facts: Food Poisoning and Meat. [online] Available at: <https://www.peta.org/living/food/meat-contamination/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(8) Eblogfa.com. 2021. 3 Health Effects of Hormones in Meat on Humans. [online] Available at: <http://eblogfa.com/747/3-health-effects-of-hormones-in-meat-on-humans> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(9) Hitti, M., 2007. Study Links Beef to Lower Sperm Count. [online] WebMD. Available at: <https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20070327/study-links-beef-to-lower-sperm-count#1> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(10) Davaasambuu, G., 2006. Hormones in milk can be dangerous. [online] Harvard Gazette. Available at: <https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2006/12/hormones-in-milk-can-be-dangerous/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(11) Carter, B., 2021. Hormones in Milk – How Worried Should We Be?. [online] Eco & Beyond. Available at: <https://www.ecoandbeyond.co/articles/hormones-milk/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].
(12) Dr Becky Campbell: Reset your body. 2020. The Hidden Endocrine Disruptors in Everyday Cosmetics. [online] Available at: <https://drbeckycampbell.com/hidden-endocrine-disruptors-everyday-cosmetics/> [Accessed 23 October 2021].