Testosterone and estrogen. We all have some of each, but it’s the concentration that, for simplicity’s sake, make guys guys and girls girls. Women have more estrogen, men have more testosterone. Too much testosterone for women can make them more aggressive (female litigators and hockey players, for example, have higher-than-average testosterone levels). And too much estrogen (or not enough testosterone) has been linked with all sorts of negative side effects for men, including:
- Erectile dysfunction and decreased sex drive
- Changes in muscle mass and body fat distribution, including “man boobs”
- Loss of facial hair
- Excessive moodiness
And a just-released study done at Edinburgh University in Scotland found that men with low testosterone are more likely to become obese and have an increased risk of developing diabetes. (You can read more about the study here).
One of the easiest ways of keeping hormones balanced is through diet—but not how much you eat, but what you eat. According to Wendy Myers, who founded a program called Men Only Weight Loss, “The Standard American Diet (SAD) is emasculating American men every day. Our food supply is full of feminizing hormones which substantially contribute to this condition. Depending upon the quality of your diet, you may be ingesting the equivalent of several birth control pills each week. Possibly each day!”
The whole testosterone issue is pretty controversial in the medical community. Some say that men with low testosterone should take supplements. But others believe that taking supplements could do more harm than good by undermining the body’s ability to produce testosterone on its own.
If you’re interested in learning more about the debate, you should check out the Talking About Men’s Health Blog, where you’ll find a great selection of article on that and many other issues that affect both men and women’s health.