Causes, Remedies, Role of Nutrition and Physical Activity
The term man boobs (gynecomastia) indicates the anomalous increase of the size of breasts in men. The resulting swelling of the chest gives the chest a typically feminine aspect.
This look creates, in most cases, unpleasant psychological repercussions.
Generally the difficulty of living with this disease results in impaired social and sexual aspects, and the problem is so seriously taken into account that the number of males who have considered gynecomastia surgery in recent years has greatly increased.
Man Boobs: Causes and Classification
The reasons why many men (1 in 3 according to statistics) are affected by gynecomastia can be various, but the main ones are genetic, hormonal, pharmacological or depend on other conditions.
Depending on its origin gynecomastia is classified as:
- Pubertal Gynecomastia: it's a physiological process that occurs at puberty (age 12-17) when the intense hormonal production causes an excessive development of mammary glands. This phenomenon generally subsides within a couple of years. Read more about gynecomastia in puberty
- Congenital Gynecomastia: the primary cause is the altered hormonal balance which can have familiar connotation (inheritance)
- Induced Gynecomastia: in these cases, taking certain medications that could affect the natural hormone function is more likely what caused the development of man boobs
Depending on the characteristics of gynecomastia, it can be classified into:
- Real Gynecomastia: the increase in breast volume is caused by the increase of the glandular component
- False Gynecomastia: the increase in breast volume is caused by the fatty tissue in the breast area (pseudogynecomastia)
- Mixed Gynecomastia: the increase in breast volume is caused by the interaction of the two factors described above
Gynecomastia can be unilateral or bilateral, it's initially manifested with an increase of sensitivity and with the appearance of painful bumps under the nipple area.
In a second step we are witnessing a further swelling associated with the deposition of adipose tissue and an increase in glandular tissue.
The diagnosis is made by palpation, although an ultrasound of the chest can remove any doubt about the false origin of the bulge breast (false gynecomastia).
Today gynecomastia is a fairly common phenomenon, especially if we also consider the so-called "false gynecomastia". It is safe to assume that in the future, due to the significant increase in cases reported in the last decade, we will see a further spread of the problem (especially in industrialized countries).
Man Boobs and Hormones
As we have seen, the main cause of this disease is the altered hormonal balance.
In particular, this creates an imbalance in the metabolism of testosterone and estrogen, in favor of the latter.
The increased estrogen and/or sensitivity of the body towards it can occur because of:
- Testosterone Excess: it occurs naturally in puberty (pubertal gynecomastia), or "artificially" after taking anabolic steroids. The body tries to protect itself from the excess of androgen by converting a part of it into estrogen, which is typically a female hormone responsible, among other things, of mammary development
- Estrogen Excess: occurs naturally (genetic predisposition) or due to substances that promote it, such as drugs, pesticides and other contaminants
The Role of Nutrition and Physical Activity
Lately there is much talk of the so-called "estrogen food-like". This term identifies those foods contaminated by substances that have a particular affinity for estrogen receptors.
Currently there are more than a hundred known chemical components which have these harmful characteristics, the main ones are:
- Livestock growth promoters
- Medicines for human and veterinary use
Even the plastic containers may contain estrogenic chemicals which are very unhealthy. I always try to avoid eating and drinking from plastic containers, especially if microwaved.
Children before puberty are particularly sensitive to the effects that these substances have on growth and sexual development (because before puberty they produce extremely low levels of endogenous hormones).
To reassure parents and consumers, there are many laws that strictly prohibit the use of these substances, but can not prevent the natural food contamination.
The contribution of nutrition in the development of man boobs, usually marginal, may then become significant in case of long term disordered eating habits, especially if combined with reduced physical activity.
You should always keep an eye on your diet and physical activity because they're also some of the best natural remedies for gynecomastia.
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Man Boobs Prevention
To prevent man boobs it's a good idea to follow these rules:
- Do not exceed with the consumption of meat and always make sure where it came from (in some non-North American and non-EU countries, quality controls may be poor)
- Remove visible fat: because the toxic substances accumulate mainly in the animal adipose tissue.
- Maintain a high-fiber intake (consume plenty of fruits and vegetables), since the non-edible plant residues are able to reduce the excess of estrogen in the body
- Follow a regular program of physical activity, in many cases (see false gynecomastia), this disorder is caused by the simple increase of localized fat in the breast area and the concomitant relaxation of the pectoral muscle
- Keep your body weight under control: in obese subjects testosterone levels are greatly reduced, and the estrogen levels increase instead