One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to gynecomastia is whether it can be get rid of naturally without using any supplements or surgery and just through diet or exercise. The answer is YES. Before beginning treatment, the patient must be informed that these cases are usually benign and self-limiting and that over time fibrotic tissue replaces the symptomatic proliferation of glandular tissue, meaning that the pain and tenderness will resolve. In addition, new-onset gynecomastia (<6 months) often spontaneously regresses in both adolescent and adults and so in most patients only follow-up is necessary. In pubertal males; 85-90% of cases regress between 6m and 2 years and continuation after the age of 17 is rare.[2,5] In adults, asymptomatic males with long-standing breast enlargement do not require treatment and instead reassurance is sufficient. However, if gynecomastia persists for more than 1 year, instances of complete regression are low, due to the predominance of dense fibrous tissue.
Naturally addressing gynecomastia comes down to controlling or limiting the intake of estrogen rich foods and increasing food items that contain testosterone or promotes testosterone production. Below is a very limited list of some common food items that is rich in estrogen. You can also do your own research and find out what other food items contain estrogen to avoid them.
The best way to achieve estrogen-testosterone balance is to focus on eating foods that both regulate estrogen and promote healthy testosterone production in combination with a healthy lifestyle. The way the estrogen-testosterone ratio is regulated in the body is a bit complex and we will briefly go through what the process is and how we can use it to our advantage.
So how exactly do men produce unwanted estrogen and what constitutes a healthy level of estrogen for men? It may seem counterintuitive, but the majority of circulating estrogen in men is actually derived from the male sex hormone we call testosterone. The mechanism from which this occurs centers around an enzyme known as aromatase. The primary form of circulating estrogen is known as estradiol. Men lack the female reproductive organs necessary to produce this hormone so its main source is from the conversion of free testosterone to estradiol through this enzyme known as aromatase. This enzyme is expressed in various tissues throughout the body naturally but this can result in fluctuations in hormone levels throughout the body. Increased activity of this aromatase enzyme in fat cells surrounding the breast tissue is an underlying contributor to gynecomastia in males.
There are two aspects two naturally raising your testosterone levels. The first is to decrease your estrogen levels by avoiding estrogen rich foods and the second is to increase food items that are rich in testosterone and polyphenols which act to lower estrogen. Polyphenols compounds are surprisingly common and may already be a part of your diet. Common beverages that are high in polyphenols include:
A full list of the top 100 foods high in polyphenols is available in a database published by Nature. Incorporating a variety of these foods into a healthy diet is a great way to begin to shift the ratio between testosterone and estrogen in the right direction. In addition to polyphenol-rich foods, another set of related compounds that are known to be effective aromatase inhibitors are chrysin and propolis. Interestingly, these compounds are synthesized by honey bees, making honey another good addition (in moderation) to a diet focused on hormone balance for men.
Other factors including body fat percentage and inflammation are known to have an effect on aromatase activity and consequently balanced hormone levels in men. White fat cells (the majority of the fat cells in humans) are known to be a major source for the production of aromatase, so maintaining a healthy diet is highly important. Inflammation from dietary sources such as excess alcohol consumption and certain fats (those with a low omega-3 to omega-6 ratio) are also known to be contributing factors to increasing aromatase activity in the body.
Vitamin D also likely plays an important role in testosterone production. Results from contemporary studies are mixed, but there is likely a beneficial link between higher vitamin D levels and hormonal balance between testosterone and estrogen levels in men. It is important to have vitamin D levels checked by a medical professional in combination with testosterone in order to determine if supplementation may be needed. It is also important to consume foods high in Vitamin D if you have lower than normal levels. Vitamin D rich foods also happen to overlap with foods known to help improve testosterone levels, including fatty fish, dairy products, egg yolks, and beef liver.
Lastly, the easiest way to maintain a hormonal balance for men is to combine the listed dietary recommendations with adequate sleep, a low stress lifestyle, and a healthy body weight. Above all, studies have shown that maintaining a healthy body mass composition and getting plenty of sleep may be the be most important factors for boosting levels of testosterone and reducing unwanted estrogen production.