Health

Is That Fat Belly Robbing Your Manhood?

Men, regardless of gender equality, societal structure, and culture, the sexes are different for a reason. Women and men may contrast biologically but that’s because they both are designed to complement each other. Without this compatibility the continuation of human life on this planet would ceased to exist. No sex is superior to the other, but both have to play their respective biological roles. Having testicles ensures or at least suggests the production of male hormones, especially testosterone. Not only are these hormones necessary to create and maintain masculine characteristics but may also protect against illnesses such as heart disease when we are old and grey. No disrespect to the ladies but the boys need my help right now.

 

 

Testosterone Is Masculinity

All men have natural forms of steroids called testosterone. In fact it is an endogenous anabolic steroid that is produced by the testicles of men. Women produce estrogen in the ovaries. However, both men and women do not exclusively produce their respective sexual hormones. Men produce very little estrogen and women produce very little testosterone. Testosterone is a specific type of steroid classified under the androgen group. Androgens are all the different kind of steroid hormones that are designed to create and maintain primary and secondary masculine features. Testosterone, as you guessed it, is the hormone responsible for anabolic muscle, bone and hair growth and is responsible for virility. Our physical characteristics are one of the visual factors that separate and distinguish the two genders.

 

Classical Male Behavior

Socially, testosterone has been the hormone classically related to aggressive behavior. It is important to understand that aggression does not mean reckless. Heightened aggression is usually triggered by an event or situation and not for no apparent reason. Although higher levels of testosterone has been associated to combative behavior in humans, it can be manifested in many different forms and not just within life or death confrontation. The ability to “fight” for a better position in a job, have high ambition and drive toward a goal, take control of situations, and protect family and friends can all be influenced by aggressive behavior in the form of maintaining status and dominance over others. Another theory exists that testosterone levels are influenced as a result of a behavior such as winning or losing in competition. Let’s be clear that testosterone is not the only determinant or hormone directly correlated with aggression because many systems are at work here such as other neurotransmitters (serotonin, oxytocin, GABA) and brain structures (prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex), but be assured that testosterone is lurking somewhere within the equation.

 

Health Benefits For Men?

For a good while research showed promise that an increase in natural androgen levels throughout life was an indication of a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. I thought to myself great. All I have to do is keep working out, get those hormone levels buzzing and I would not have to worry about the number one killer among Americans. Unfortunately more modern publications have found that higher levels of androgens, particularly testosterone, is not a direct predictor for the degree of heart health. If anything, lower levels of testosterone can be gauged as a marker for poor general health and an increase in CVD risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol in aging men. At the opposite end of the spectrum high levels of supplemented synthetic (exogenous) testosterone was associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer, overt aggression, and CVD. It should be well understood that the need for endogenous steroid hormones increase or decrease depending on the demands placed on the body. Diet, exercise and sleep are three of many factors that contribute to the level of steroid hormones in the system. As from what we are seeing, too much and too little of this male hormone, either natural or not, can cause health problems.

 

What Does My Big Belly Have To Do With Low T?

Naturally, testosterone converts to an abundant female estrogen known as estradiol. It is converted by an enzyme known as aromatase which is found in fat cells. However, the conversion rate of testosterone (an androgen) to estradiol is low at a rate of roughly 0.02% – 0.04%. In normal healthy males these numbers are insignificant and does not affect the overall levels of testosterone or the normal production of it. Not surprising, the more fat cells the body produces, such as a bigger belly, the more of the enzyme aromatase is available. Is this a major problem in lowering your testosterone? Part of it. One study suggests when more of the aromatase is present in obese males it converts testosterone to estradiol by two to three times more than normal. The percentage of estradiol would still be very low, but don’t let this estrogen fool you. They are potent and small amounts still pack a punch. Understand that men still need  to maintain a normal amount of estradiol in the body to achieve optimal health. As you been reading, the common theme throughout this article is too much and too little of hormone can have negative consequences. Despite the differences in the range of converted androgens to estrogens one thing is certain; increase weight gain and obesity is not good for the vital male hormone testosterone and increases the risk factors for other health conditions. It does show that androgen (testosterone) metabolism is mediated by obesity and vice versa. In other words, it is a complex balancing act. As androgen levels increase; fat tissue decreases and when fat tissues increase; androgen levels decrease. It is complex because there are many other hormonal, genetic and environmental factors that affect the increase or decrease in fat and testosterone levels! Are you going to grow a vagina anytime soon? probably not, but to increase naturally occurring testosterone levels and decrease estrogen production to normal levels all interventions of proper diet, adequate exercise, sound sleep, sex, and a stress free life can add up big time.

 

 

Cites:

1. Breedlove, S.M., Watson, N.V., Rosenzweig, M.R. Biological Psychology. 6th Edition. Sinauer

Associates, Inc, 2010.

2. Finkelstein, J.S., Lee, H., Burnett-Bowie, S.M., Pallais, J.C., Yu, E.W., Borges, L.F., Jones, B.F.,

. . . Lede, B.Z. (2013). Gonadal Steroids and Body Composition, Strength, and Sexual

Function in Men. The New England Journal of Medicine, 369. 1011 – 1022.

3. Kirschner, M. A., Schneider, G., Ertel, N.H., Worton, E. (1982). Obesity, Androgens, Estrogens,

and Cancer Risk. Cancer Research, 42. 3281 – 3285.

4. Lee, H., Lee, J.K., Cho, B. (2013). The Role of Androgen in the Adipose Tissue of Males. The

world Journal of Men’s Health, 31(2). 136 – 140.

5. Schneider, G., Kirschner, M.A., Berkowitz, R., Ertel, N.H. (1979). Increased Estrogen

Production in Obese Men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 48 (633).

6. Srinath, R., Hill Golden, S., Carson, K.A., Dobs, A. (2015). Endogenous Testosterone and its

relationship to preclinical and clinical measures of cardiovascular disease in the

Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. The Journal of Clinical

Endocrinology and Metabolism. 8 Pgs.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

  

Image courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net
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John Machado

John Machado

John Machado is a co-founder/editor in chief of Bodyforward. He has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Stony Brook, ACSM certified with 15 years of experience with fitness and nutrition, and he aims to achieve his Master's degree in Nutrition.

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