Many people work really hard to try to stay fit, or to get their body back in shape after a little while of leading a more sedentary lifestyle. As well as slimming down, lowering your resting heart rate and improving your cardio fitness, the more you work out, the more tone and muscle definition you’ll build. This can be key to getting the hard, smooth, well-defined pecs you’re aiming for, instead of the squishy, flabby ‘man boobs’ that you want to avoid, or are desperate to leave behind.
Aside from committing to a really fun exercise regime that’s tailored to your body, there are a few simple steps you can take to speed up your journey toward being in great shape. One of these steps is to add turmeric to your diet.
Turmeric is the fleshy, edible root of the curcuma longa plant. This powerful root has a number of surprising – and verified – health benefits for your body, including for preventing and reducing the appearance of male breasts. If you’re wondering how a simple root can improve a complicated condition like gynecomastia, keep reading. In the article below, we take a look at some great natural remedies and how they working, breaking everything down into bite-size chunks of digestible detail.
Hormones, Hormones – Turmeric?
In case you haven’t come across the term gynecomastia before, it’s just the clinical name for ‘man boobs.’ Gynecomastia affects a significant minority of men – around %36 of Australian males. The most common explanation is a hormonal imbalance in which you have either excess oestrogen or decreased testosterone.
But what if you get tested at your local clinic and you’re given a clean bill of health, including normal levels of oestrogen and testosterone? The ‘normal’ range of these hormones in men varies considerably. Unless your testosterone levels are dramatically different, your healthcare practitioner may tell you that you’re within the healthy range and there’s nothing you need to do about it. The trouble is, while it’s easy to test for levels of oestrogen in the blood, it’s hard to test your body’s sensitivity to it. That is, your own personal response.
An increase in male breast tissue can be perfectly normal and benign. But what if you want to do something about it anyway? What if you know what your best body looks like, and you’re willing to work hard to get it? The answer lies in natural remedies you can try at home to bring down your oestrogen levels by yourself.
Turmeric root, if you can believe it, is one of the few naturally occurring substances that works by blocking your oestrogen on a cellular and molecular level. What does that mean? That your sensitivity to oestrogen is reduced, and therefore your body doesn’t respond to the signals that oestrogen is sending.
Blocking hormones with turmeric
But does turmeric actually work for gynecomastia? Yes! Turmeric is so potent that it has been shown to rival tamoxifen in effectiveness, no mean feat when you consider that tamoxifen was engineered to serve its purpose. Empirical studies and centuries of anecdotal evidence confirm the ability of turmeric to selectively block hormones. And compared to pharmaceutical drugs with their long lists of side effects, turmeric is much more appealing, with its own lengthy list of side benefits.
You don’t need to make an appointment or ask for a prescription. You don’t even need to visit the chemist. All you need to do is browse your local supermarket or fruit & veg shop. You can buy it dried and powdered in the herb and spices section, or fresh. Fresh turmeric looks like an orange version of fresh ginger. If you can’t find fresh turmeric at your local fruit & veg store, you can order a delivery from www.ripenraworganics.com.au or http://www.organicangels.com.
How it works
Turmeric, in either its raw or powdered form, works to fight gynecomastia on many fronts at once. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It blocks a percentage of the oestrogen in your body, thus effectively lowering to sensitivity to oestrogen. But beyond that, it also improves a range of other bodily functions that indirectly help to get your pectorals in shape. One of the main ways in which turmeric helps – and the mostly thoroughly proven medicinal property of the plant – is as an anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is linked to reduced testosterone production, and whether applied externally to a localised inflammation on the skin, or taken internally for a general inflammation, turmeric has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This is particularly important if you suffer from puffy nipples. By alleviating inflammation, it is often possible to reduce any puffiness of the nipples and swelling in the whole breast area, and facilitate improved testosterone production.
Turmeric appears to restore healthy insulin sensitivity, and thereby eventually increase testosterone production (decreased insulin sensitivity has been linked to decreased testosterone production). The other symptoms of insulin resistance aren’t any better: weight gain (particularly around the middle); lethargy; hunger; ‘brain fog’; and high blood pressure.
Turmeric is often recommended to assist liver function. Your liver is incredibly important for day to day peak performance as well as regulating and removing the natural and unnatural chemicals in your body which, if they build up, can cause enormous problems. Your liver isn’t just your best friend because it helps you survive single malts – it also deactivates as much as half of the oestrogen that your body naturally produces on a regular basis.
Liver disease is one of the more serious disorders that can cause gynecomastia, and the presence of liver disease means that men trying to treat the symptoms of gynecomastia can’t do it with a medication of any sort, or even many herbal supplements which can still take their toll on the liver. Turmeric, however, supports healthy liver function and is gentle enough to be taken even if your liver function is already impaired.
Bonus: turmeric facilitates weight loss
If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, turmeric will help with that, too. Improved insulin sensitivity generally leads to more energy, less appetite, lower blood pressure, and eventually weight loss. Incorporating turmeric in your diet should help boost your metabolism and help you burn more kilojoules when you’re resting as well as when you’re active.
It is possible that turmeric may be able to help you reduce the amount of body fat and chest fat you’re carrying. A 2009 study that appeared in the Journal of Nutrition found that turmeric prevents a certain type of fat cell differentiation, and it even promotes the destruction of existing fat cells in your body. Turmeric can also help by preventing the formation of molecular components necessary for the formation of new fat cells.
Gynecomastia occurs when environmental factors encourage your underlying genetics to be expressed in a certain way. Each of your cells contains a miniature encoding of your whole genetic make-up, and those genes are expressed in response to environmental factors like lowered testosterone, lowered progesterone, higher oestrogen, more fat in the bloodstream and so on. Turmeric addresses the environmental factors by neutralising insulin insensitivity, blocking some oestrogen, and assisting your liver to excrete excess oestrogen. But the benefits of turmeric don’t stop there.
Even in small doses, the active components in turmeric are able to pass through cell membranes and alter the structure of cell walls. Turmeric is actually capable of manipulating the structure of your cells and changing the way your genes are expressed. More than a dozen serious empirical trials have now been conducted to produce more evidence about the effects of turmeric and exactly how it works to prevent and alleviate disease.
More health benefits
In India, turmeric’s anti-estrogen power is employed to treat breast cancer and colon cancer, and regular ingestion of turmeric appears to reduce your risk of prostate cancer as well. All the cancers just listed are linked to an overabundance of oestrogen, and we’ve already seen how turmeric can work as an oestrogen blocker.
Turmeric has also been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Unlike most other treatments for gynecomastia, the benefits of turmeric aren’t restricted to how well it works to improve your man boobs. Even if you don’t see definite shrinking and toning up after a few weeks of adding turmeric to your diet, you can be assured that it is bringing your body a host of other benefits.
How to incorporate turmeric into your diet
If you’re wondering how you can ingest turmeric, there are many ways: you can add dried, powdered turmeric to rice dishes, curry sauces and even baking (it has a relatively mild, sweet flavour compared to other curry herbs); you can take turmeric supplements (sometimes marketed explicitly as curcumin tablets); you can boil either dried turmeric or raw turmeric in water and drink the concoction as a tea; but the most efficient way to capture all the active ingredients is to eat turmeric fresh.
Fresh raw turmeric is quite a lot like fresh ginger, only skinnier, dull orange on the outside and bright orange on the inside (when broken or cut). Have you ever noticed that organic ginger and organic garlic are far more volatile than their non-organic counterparts? Organic ginger and garlic are both almost too intense to put on your tongue raw. This is because they have a higher concentration of their essential ingredients, and the same is true for organic turmeric, so get your hands on that as a matter of preference.
This organic/conventional distinction definitely isn’t true across all foods – it’s hard to tell the difference in taste between a regular banana and an organic one, for example. But try an organic carrot side by side with a conventional carrot, and make up your own mind.
Adding it to a meal
The benefits of turmeric are apparently amplified by combining it with black pepper. Luckily, they taste pretty good together! Turmeric isn’t just good for curries and other traditional Indian dishes. It has a relatively mild flavour that works just fine in Moroccan food, Thai food, or grated over roast or steamed vegetables with just a little salt, pepper and flaxseed oil. Turmeric also makes a great rub –or ingredient in a rubbing mix – for meats and home-made wedges.
If you’re not cooking anything on a given day, you can stir your daily dose of turmeric into salad dressing, or steep it in boiling water and drink it as a tea. As long as you bring the water to the boil gently and don’t overheat, the essential properties of turmeric are retained. According to the 2009 study we mentioned earlier, gently heating the turmeric actually increased the active properties as much as twelve-fold.
You can also find turmeric in supplements. The trouble with this is knowing its potency: it’s possible that these forms are just as potent, but everything we know about the mechanism suggests that being dried out and stored over time reduces its effectiveness, and it’s also fair to assume that the turmeric used for tablets isn’t as fresh and potent as the vibrant organic stuff you can find fresh in store.
There are times when fresh turmeric is quite simply unavailable. In that situation, fermented turmeric powder is likely to be a better choice of supplements than ordinary turmeric powder.
There are several reasons you might want to choose fermented turmeric powder over its non-fermented counterpart. The first reason: clinical research assures us that fermented turmeric powder is safe and effective for liver disease patients who suffer from elevated alanine transaminase levels. In fact, in one study, the researchers discovered that supplementation with fermented turmeric powder was actually effective for lowering patients’ levels of alanine transaminase.
Another reason you might want to choose fermented turmeric powder: It tends to be much more readily absorbed by the body than the non-fermented version. The fermentation process enhances turmeric’s water solubility – which is notorious for being low to start with.
It is also possible to supplement with just curcumin, which is a substance found within turmeric. Clinical research is consistent across multiple studies that long-term use of curcumin supplements can reduce oxidative stress in the body. However, it is possible that the effects of curcumin may not be as potent as those you’d receive from using the entire turmeric root. The entire turmeric root probably offers more health benefits that extracted curcumin alone lacks. However, more clinical research would be needed to draw a reliable conclusion regarding the exact nature of the benefits of turmeric versus curcumin alone.
Turmeric is probably the single most powerful natural remedy that you can use to get in shape and prevent or reverse gynecomastia. It reduces inflammation, improves liver function, blocks oestrogen reception, and increases insulin sensitivity. Indirectly, it reduces your appetite, lowers your blood sugar, increases your feeling of energy and your metabolism, assisting with weight loss. Regular ingestion of turmeric has been linked to a lower risk for oestrogen-related cancers of the breast, colon and prostate.
Turmeric is easy to find, cheap to buy, and you can incorporate it into your diet in a variety of ways. There are no risks or side effects associated with eating turmeric every day in an attempt to cure your gynecomastia – if anything, it causes a range of side benefits. While you’re waiting and wondering whether or not it is going to reduce the size of your excess breast tissue, you can at least be sure that it is doing wonders for the rest of your body in the meantime.