We all know about the growing obesity problem. The United States is leading the way with an estimated 31% of the population considered obese. Yes, easy-access to a plethora of junk food is still the leading cause for this epidemic but you might be shocked to learn about which factor is growing the fastest.
I attended Charles Poliquin’s BioPrint seminar a few weeks ago and he listed the following 5 reasons (in order) as the leading causes of obesity:
Malnutrition -- Eating too much nutritionally devoid food.
Sleep disorders -- Sleep debt impairs metabolism and disrupts hormone levels, and limits energy expenditure.
Estrogenisation -- Too much estrogen encourages fat storage and hinders muscle development.
Stress -- Biochemical reactions to stress cause a build up of the stress hormone cortisol which plays a large part in fat storage, energy use, increase in appetite and cravings and is usually in the form of sugary carbs.
Wrong form of Exercise -- Poliquin was clear that overuse of electronic cardio machines (treadmills and ellipticals we're talking about you) is wasting too many people's time.[caption id="attachment_1207" align="aligncenter" width="461"] Forget the models in the stock photo, next time you're in the gym check out how many enviable physiques are on the cardio machines. Probably none.[/caption]
While currently in 3rd place, Estrogenisation is the fastest growing cause for obesity and Polquin predicts that it will be the number one in 20 years. But what exactly is estrogenation? I believe this sneaky culprit is little-known to most.
As you know, estrogen is the “female” hormone, though men also produce some in limited quantity. But too much in either sex is dangerous. Aside from unwanted weight gain, there are several very serious illnesses to which harbouring too much estrogen is linked. In both sexes, estrogen dominance is thought to be responsible for many types of cancers. This particular hormone imbalance could be one of the leading causes of breast, uterine, and prostate cancer.
In terms of weight gain, estrogen dominance manifest itself in women by fat storage heavily on the thighs, butt, hips and lower abdomen. In men, it results in increased fat storage in the abdomen (think protruding beer belly) and gynecomastia (enlarged breasts). And it's a vicious cycle: Estrogen stimulates the production of fat cells and fat cells make estrogen.[caption id="attachment_1206" align="aligncenter" width="374"] Excess estrogen in men have this affect.[/caption]
If you are struggling to lose weight, despite doing everything right, you could be suffering from estrogen dominance. It's one factor that is often overlooked and misdiagnosed by doctors.
To be clear, there is naturallly-occurring estrogen that the body produces and there are what we call xenoestrogens — synthetic estrogens that bind to the estrogen receptors in the body. These chemical estrogens are the leading cause for estrogen dominance in men and women and they are EVERYWHERE -- from pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, agricultural chemicals and other pollutants. Perhaps the most ever-present xenoestrogens include BPA, phthalates, and parabens. Phthalates are found in chemical fragrances such as perfume, air sprays, and candles, whereas parabens are in personal care products like lotion, soaps and shampoos. BPA is found in everything from aluminum cans to plastic bottles to new furniture.[caption id="attachment_451" align="aligncenter" width="286"] As convenient as they are, try to avoid drinking from plastic bottles -- especially the disposable type intended for one time use.[/caption]
How do you know if you are estrogen dominant? Aside from suffering from the symptoms of estrogen dominance the best way to know is to get tested. There are a few home saliva tests you can do on your own, however, the most accurate way would be to have a blood test done and analyzed by your physician.
Prevention is always better than cure and there are a few measures you can take to limit your exposure to chemical estrogens and assist you body in expelling them.
- Use only natural personal care products (lotions, shampoos, perfumes etc) that do not contain phthalates, and parabens.
- Choose glass or stainless steel containers for food and water or BPA-free plastics.
- Eat Organic produce, meat and dairy to avoid ingesting pesticides and hormones.
- Be aware that most new products (you know that "new car" smell) give off estrogen mimickers.
- Cruciferous veggies like spinach, cabbage, kale, bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower help your body rid itself of bad estrogens.
- Or supplement with DIM, the compound found in cruciferous veggies. Take it on it's own, or it's often found in combined estrogen detox products.
- Maintain a high-fiber diet.
- Do not over-consume alcohol. The hops in beer is particularly estrogenic (hence, beer bellies).
- Avoid soy.