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This book answers critical questions concerning both men and women regarding the balance of testosterone and estrogen. Its importance for women lies in proper metabolism of estradiol. Its importance for men is maintaining adequate free testosterone while assuring proper metabolism of excess estrogen.
Would you like to be stronger and leaner? How about regaining your youthful balance of hormones? Whether you are an athlete interested in maintaining your competitive edge or someone who is just interested in successful aging, one thing is certain: You can't do it without your metabolism working at its best.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is the dietary connection to a better metabolism. DIM, a natural phytonutrient (plant nutrient) found in cruciferous vegetables, improves metabolism—the breakdown and synthesis of substances in the body—by adjusting the balance of testosterone and estrogen, hormones that are active in both sexes. This improved hormonal balance, scientists have discovered, is a key to helping men and women reach their health and fitness goals.
These are excerpts from All About DIM, written by Michael A. Zeligs, MD, and A. Scott Connelly, MD and published by Avery, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. The book can be ordered from this site if you'd like even more information on the benefits of DIM.
The healthy effects of eating vegetables have been known for many years. It is only recently, however, that scientists have started to figure out exactly which substances in these foods provide the benefits. DIM is one of these substances.
Q. What exactly is DIM?
A. Diindolylmethane, or DIM for short, is a plant indole—a plant compound with health-promoting properties. DIM and other plant indoles are found in all cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. These plants have cultivated for centuries and were initially used for medicines.
About twenty years ago, scientists discovered that when broccoli was added to the diets of study animals, it could prevent certain forms of cancer. In more recent scientific studies, this same cancer protection was shown to result from simply adding supplemental DIM or related plant indoles to the animals' diets in place of the broccoli. Recently, regular use of supplementary DIM and its indole relatives has shown that many of these health-promoting effects arise from a beneficial shift in the balance of the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone.
When you chew raw or lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables, plant enzymes—substances that start a reaction—are activated, which allow DIM to enter your body. But to get the most benefit from this indole, you would need to consume very large quantities of raw vegetables each day. To overcome this problem, absorbable forms of pure DIM have been developed as dietary supplements that use special absorption-enhancing formulas. (See Chapter 6 for specific information about supplementing with DIM.)
Q. How Does DIM Work?
A. DIM stimulates more efficient estrogen metabolism. Supplementing the diet with DIM and eating cruciferous vegetables increases the specific aerobic metabolism for estrogen, multiplying the chance for estrogen to be broken down into its beneficial, or "good" estrogen metabolites. These "good"estrogen metabolites are known as the 2-hydroxy estrogens. Many of the benefits that are attributed to estrogen, which include its ability to protect the heart and brain with its antioxidant activity, are now known to come from these "good" metabolites.
When DIM increases the "good" estrogen metabolites, there is a simultaneous reduction in the levels of undesirable or "bad" estrogen metabolites. These include the 16-hydroxy estrogens, which are not antioxidants and can actually cause cancer. Greater production of these "bad" estrogen metabolites is promoted by obesity and exposure to a number of manmade environmental chemicals. These "bad" estrogen metabolites are responsible for many of estrogen's undesirable actions in women and men, including further unwanted weight gain, breast cancer, and uterine cancer.
In addition, a slow metabolism of estrogen, which leaves too much unmetabolized active estrogen known as estradiol in the body, can be a problem for both women and men. Elevated estradiol causes moodiness and breast pain in women, and loss of sex drive in men. By promoting a healthy estrogen metabolism, DIM adjusts the balance of estradiol to its "good" metabolites. This can also result in a more desirable action for testosterone. Testosterone supports energy and mood and helps sustain interest in sex in both men and women. When supplemental DIM is taken along with a program of regular exercise, it can help estrogen and testosterone contribute to good physical conditioning.
Hormonal balance refers to the healthiest, most beneficial mix of all your hormonal messages. It is the key to achieving your peak physical conditioning and making your exercise count for a better body. The best hormonal balance can help you stay healthy, resist aging, and get top results from bodybuilding. Hormonal imbalance can result in inefficient metabolism, inappropriate cell growth, and the survival of abnormal cells that can lead to cancer. DIM contributes to a better metabolism in the most natural way possible by working with your own hormones and adjusting their action to avoid hormonal imbalance. This chapter discusses how hormonal balance and DIM can help you develop a stronger, leaner, and healthier body.
Maintaining hormonal balance is now recognized as an important goal in women's health. Using the diet to beneficially influence estrogen metabolism is a safe approach to resisting age-related hormonal changes. DIM supplements actively promote a desirable estrogen metabolism that produces more of the "good" estrogen metabolites, known as 2-hydroxy estrogens. Hormonal balance also involves benefits from the small amount of testosterone present in women. DIM's specific benefits for women are covered in this chapter.
DIM helps to eliminate active estrogen from the male body by promoting its conversion into the "good" metabolites. These metabolites then free up testosterone by bumping it off the testosterone-binding proteins. The end result is a healthier balance of testosterone to estrogen and more free testosterone circulating in the body. In scientific studies, high levels of testosterone and low levels of estrogen have been linked to lean body mass, an efficient fat-burning metabolism, and low abdominal obesity. Other benefits from testosterone are improved mood, more interest in sex, and better physical conditioning. In this chapter, we'll explore these issues in more detail.
Improving estrogen metabolism with DIM results in direct and indirect support for more efficient weight training. Use of DIM supplements provides the first estrogen-management system for men and women. "Good" estrogen metabolites directly support muscle well-being through their antioxidant action. This chapter will explore the use of DIM in creating a hormonal balance for the most successful weight-training and physical-conditioning programs.
After reading Chapters 1 through 6, you probably have many questions, like "How much DIM should I take?" "How often should I take it?" and "Why is it necessary to take DIM in an absorption-enhancing formulation?" Since maintaining hormonal balance requires a personalized approach depending on age and sex, no one combination of DIM with other supplements will suit everyone. This chapter will introduce you to a basic approach to using DIM with other supplements, helping you to get the most from DIM for your personal needs.
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