Although “Aromatization” sounds like it has something to do with the way you smell different stimuli, it actually is much more important to your body than that… especially if you’re dealing with excess estrogen.
What is Aromatization?
Aromatization is the process that converts testosterone into estrogen. (1)
This is a natural process your body goes through to maintain homeostasis.
The reason that this process is called aromatization is because aromatization is named after the chief enzyme involved in the conversion – aromatase.
While aromatization mostly occurs in the male body, it also occurs naturally in the female body as well if testosterone levels become out of balance. (1)
Why Does Aromatization Occur?
Aromatization occurs when the body is attempting to maintain homeostasis.
Homeostasis is a function that keeps the body at normal levels required to stay healthy.
Homeostasis keeps the body in the average ranges for temperature, hormones, mass, and many other factors. (1)
This of course includes the all-important testosterone to estrogen ratio you hear so much about on this website.
The male body only produces about 7mg of testosterone a day naturally. This small amount of testosterone will naturally come along with a small amount of estrogen production to maintain the optimal testosterone to estrogen ratio.
Aromatization mostly occurs when a large fluctuation of testosterone production occurs, such as when anabolic steroids are injected.
The large amount of testosterone will be seen as an excess by the human body and aromatization will occur in an attempt to balance the new testosterone with a higher amount of estrogen. (1)
When Does Aromatization Occur?
Aromatization can occur for two reasons, both caused by a bodily reaction to maintain homeostasis.
1 – For Natural Causes
If you naturally increase your testosterone production, aromatization will still occur, but at a rate that your body can handle. Natural testosterone production increases occur in a growth, not an all-at-once spike. Because of this, aromatization due to natural testosterone optimization can actually come along with some healthy side effects. When combined with testosterone, estrogen can actually increase muscle mass and regulate libido. (1)
2 – Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids, in contrast with natural production, will increase your testosterone all at one time. In many cases, testosterone injections can be 100mg at one time which, compared to the 7mg of average natural production is a sharp jump. The aromatization caused by testosterone injections will increase estrogen levels at a higher and less comfortable rate, which could result in some of the negative effects of estrogen spikes. These negative effects include gynecomastia (man boobs) and increased fat around the waist. (1)
The amount of estrogen produced during aromatization will differ between men. Some men will actually have more estrogen produced than is natural due to a testosterone injection and some men will have a more desired increase in the testosterone to estrogen gap.
It all comes down to how much aromatase is present in your body.
What is Aromatase?
Aromatase is a naturally occurring enzyme located in multiple tissues in the body like the brain, muscles, and testicles. In women it is also located in the ovaries, placenta, and lining of the uterus. (2)
Aromatase is the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen.
It has also been found to control active amounts of cortisol the body uses to regulate the immune system.
Basically the higher amount of aromatase circulating in the body, the more testosterone will be converted into estrogen during a testosterone spike. (2)
What Causes an Increase in Aromatase?
You will see that an increase in aromatase activity occurs for the same reasons that testosterone levels decrease.
For example, aromatase activity increases with age, in line with the testosterone decrease along with age. (2)
Aromatase has also been found to increase with the amount of fatty tissue present.
Poor nutrition and weight gain are a common cause of increased aromatase activity.
High stress and lack of exercise also cause increases in aromatase.
If you suffer from Metabolic Hypothyroidism, it is probable that you also have a high amount of active aromatase.
A scary finding is that aromatase has been connected to the development of chronic diseases like cancer and autoimmunity. (2)
Many scientists believe that the increase in weight gain and therefore increase in aromatase across the globe has caused the increase in cancer being experienced.
How to Inhibit Aromatase & Naturally Decrease Excess Estrogen
Other than making you a generally healthier person, inhibiting aromatase production will also clearly increase your testosterone levels because less testosterone will be converted into estrogen.
If you look up inhibiting aromatase you will be flooded with results of synthetic aromatase inhibitors, but there are actually several foods that decrease aromatase production naturally.
This study shows that natural aromatase inhibitors are so effective that they can actually prevent breast cancer.
Here are seven foods that can help inhibit aromatase production that every man (and woman) should add to their diets
This study shows that the high Luteolin content found in celery is effective in decreasing active aromatase in the body. Not only that, but simply the smell of celery has been found to increase testosterone production in the testes.
This study found that the phytochemicals found in red wine are able to inhibit aromatase production in a dose dependent manner. Watch out though, because too much alcohol can reduce testosterone production, so stick to one or two glasses.
Olive oil contains a compound called Oleuropen, which gives olive oil very powerful aromatase-inhibiting functionalities.
White Button Mushrooms
This study showed that white button mushroom extract decreases aromatase activity in a dose dependent manner.
Oysters are beneficial and healthy for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that oysters are very high in zinc. Zinc is one of the most powerful naturally-occurring aromatase enzyme inhibitors. Load up on those oysters.
By cruciferous vegetables, I am talking about broccoli, cauliflower, maca, kale and Brussel sprouts.
Cruciferous vegetables are high in the compound 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM), which has been found to lower aromatase activity.
Parsley is high in apigening. Apigening has been found to be a powerful aromatase inhibitor. Another plus, parsley also increases testosterone production in the leydig cells.
Aromatization can seem like a confusing process at first, but I will try to wrap it up into one small paragraph of conclusion.
Aromatization is the process that turns testosterone into estrogen in an attempt to maintain testosterone to estrogen balance in the body.
When testosterone is increased naturally, the estrogen created is not detrimental to the male body.
When testosterone is injected, estrogenic problems may arise.
Whether or not estrogen will increase drastically with testosterone is based on how much aromatase is in the body.
Aromatase is a nasty enzyme that anyone would benefit from lowering.
Aromatase can be inhibited synthetically or naturally (recommended) by eating several foods like celery, red wine, olive oil, white button mushrooms, oysters, cruciferous vegetables, and parsley.
Decrease aromatase to make yourself and all-around healthier person and decrease cancer risk.
Newth, Alex, and Angela B. “What Is Aromatization?” WiseGeek. Conjecture, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2015.
Piechner, Alfred. “What Is Aromatase? – Dr. Alfred Plechner.” Dr. Alfred Plechner. N.p., 2012. Web. 07 Aug. 2015.
Kuoppala, Ali. “7 Foods That Inhibit Aromatase Enzyme Activity Inside The Male Body.” AnabolicMen. N.p., 20 May 2014. Web. 7 Aug. 2015.