JED WIGHTMAN PERFORMANCE/SPORTS NUTRITIONIST ADVANTAGE FITNESS LTD
This article has been written for Canadian Physique Alliance – March/April 2022 Edition
Well folks, friends, followers, readers and all of you incredible human beings out there, it’s already 2022! Time seems to move faster as we get older and while life gets more complex, interesting, beautiful and bizarre, all at the same time, life is nothing other than a blessing and a gift. On the contrary, the older we get the more apparent it is, waking up to this gift of life each day, and being so grateful to be here experiencing it with all of you. Our world has been changing rapidly as of late, and seemingly right before our eyes, I think we can all agree it’s quickly becoming a much stranger world out there than ever before in our lifetimes.
Remember that show Seinfeld? Such an incredible, hilarious and often very ironic show. I remember one episode called bizarro world or something to that effect, remember it? Jerry woke up and everything was the same but, different… well I feel like I went to bed and woke up in a bizarro world with no Kramer to lighten it up.
What I’m referring to specifically is the state of our culture in North America (and yes the world), pertaining to the current narrative of; “Fit, and, Healthy” to “overweight, fat” and “unhealthy”.
Let me explain; When we see the encouragement, promotion and support of human beings who are truly overweight to obese and with little to no muscle, as “The New Fit”? WHAT?? When the healthy, muscular, strong and physically capable humans are labeled as toxic, egotistical, hyper-masculine, or are shamed and shunned. We are all living the “bizarro world” I mentioned earlier. We are witness to how these current “norms” are largely fuelled by and coincide with a culture hopped up on Mountain Dew… kidding, but not really, you’ll see. Simply we are experiencing the effects of a culture on Estrogen Overload.
What is Estrogen?
What pops into your mind when you read the word “Estrogen”? I will step out on a limb and bet you thought of women or hormones or both. If you are a nerd like me, you may have thought of structure bonds or molecular formulas. Either way, we understand at a basic biological level, that Women = Estrogen & Men = Testosterone.
From our beginnings (as to what we know so far), we’ve been around this Earth for about 2 1/2 million years.
If we date back to 120,000-150,000 years ago, our Neanderthal cross-breeding with Cro-Magnon man, our upper Palaeolithic to lower Palaeolithic predecessors. The evidence shows in the oldest discovered human remains found in a burial site in Qaszfa, Israel, up to only the last two decades. These remains have been found to show that both men and women had much more muscle and significantly less fat on their bodies.
In the 21st century up until very recently, the average weight of a man 5’10” was 175lbs. Now its 210lbs, the average weight for a 5’3” woman was 135lbs, now it is 175lbs. Digest that for a minute, pretty interesting isn’t it? This is not a slow evolution either; it is only in the last 2-3 decades. This rapid, massive change has ripped through North America and the globe, a change which is unfolding more and more each day.
So pretty much for our whole existence, these two hormones have governed over us very simply, two of the many facets and factors of our existence, from procreation and survival of the human race, to all biological traits in our male and female human history.
Today we will focus on two fundamentals, Testosterone and Estrogen, two things which govern our world of physique, sports, training and nutrition. This life we think we know so well, these two hormones are in the very forefront, simply they represent fat and muscle. As you can imagine from the title Estrogen Crisis, our focus is on just this, as it’s the very connection to the stark change we are seeing in our current times. I know, *yawn* “science” stuff right? Ok, so I won’t bore you or get into the complicated biochemistry, I’m going to explain in real-world examples and with my very own personal journey.
Estrogen is produced in females at adolescence as a foundation of proper development through puberty, Testosterone in males at the same time. These two hormones, respectively increase throughout the teenage to young adult years then back off and are supposed to normalize into “homeostasis” stability and equilibrium at adulthood. All this to maximize proper development, and all accouterments thereof, ensuring the foundations of procreation, and human survival. Now you all out there from “our” walk of life, probably understand this better than most, Estrogen is synonymous with body fat and testosterone is synonymous with muscle.
When you read the title “Estrogen Crisis” what does that say to you? I wonder how many of us out there, are fully aware of, or even realize how our world or more specifically, our North American culture is becoming more and more fat, unhealthy all while our physicality is declining at a rapid rate. This affects both men and women equally, in a very hazardous and incredibly destructive way. This pertains to not only to our physiques or levels of physical fitness but deeply to our health and longevity.
So let’s unpack this a bit.
It’s EVERYWHERE! All you have to do is take a good look around when you go to the mall or the grocery store, what do you see? Are you the only one in the whole store that is fit? Scary thought isn’t it. Too many of us see the vast majority of people around us are overweight, just large humans. Unfortunately, most are overweight, but far too many are obese to morbidly obese, which is rapidly becoming the norm.
As I touched on earlier, we are quickly moving into a time where being overweight, obese or just being physically unfit is not only being supported but even encouraged by social media and media sources! Meanwhile the polarity is being labelled with extreme prejudice, some of the most disturbing sentiments related to a healthy or fit lifestyle are, “toxic masculinity, vanity, egoism, misogyny and my very favourite narcissism”. Ok full stop! Right?!! Just imagine the backlash if the roles were reversed. No one will bat an eye when an overweight person eats a burger and fries accompanied by a sugary drink, but when a fit person uncaps their Tupperware with a healthy performance meal…Well everyone has something to say about that, don’t they? So, we are often shamed for living a passionate, critically involved, health-conscious, fit and dedicated lifestyle.
What I believe makes this a serious crisis, is the grand scale of which this change is happening. I insist you take a second and go look at the cover of the Cosmo February issue or Health magazine’s January/February edition.
I’ll give you a minute to do that before reading on….
Well? Just marinate on your thoughts after seeing the cover of these mainstream publications, sadly it encompasses exactly what I wrote above. Prolific and bold, here it is! This is what’s being encouraged, promoted and this state of physical ‘health’ is revered! In my opinion, what’s most insane about this is; IT’S SO EASY! When this type of existence is prolific, so many people who need our help and encouragement to lose weight, exercise and be healthy simply will not. Why would they if the world around them, supports and emboldens them to continue down the path of least resistance? Please keep in mind these are only two mainstream magazine publications, now go take a look at TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram etc.
Why is this all happening? What does it all mean? More importantly, what can we do about it?
Let us zoom in further to take a look at some studies and data which detail startling findings that connect and are seemingly responsible for this rise in estrogen and decline in testosterone.
So, once again, why is this all happening? It’s rather simple, much more than we may imagine, influenced by some deep-rooted nuances that probably you would never expect. Simple you say? Yes, as simple as FOOD DUDE!
Processed Food, and food products. McDonald’s! Not solely McDonald’s of course, but in large part yes.
In a study conducted in 2019 by the Brazilian ministry of health, three age sub-groups were analyzed: 5 to 9-year-olds, 10 to 19-year-olds and over 19-year-olds. The male and females studied were all from the indigenous population, residing in communities that have been more recently westernized, where traditional dietary standards were replaced with fast food and fast food products.
The indigenous population had lived without the influence of these westernized food products, until around 10 years preceding the independent study, when corporate entities like McDonald’s were introduced to several communities with large populations. In these communities, there was a direct correlation between the number of McDonald’s restaurants and the explosion in overweight/obesity prevalence by region stratified by gender and age.
Young boys between 10-19 years old have developed wider hips than shoulders, excessive adipose tissue in abdomen/ thighs and large protrusive gynaecomastia breast tissue (the accumulation of fatty tissue in the breast due to massive influence of estrogen) yes breasts! The young women between the 10-19 year age ranges showed a startling and rapid increase in obesity rates. This is a compelling example of a small segment of society, those who are most vulnerable will experience with such a complete dietary upheaval. This just proves to what degree a diet that is hormonally mutated, exposed to high amounts of deep-fried starches, high fructose corn syrup, refined process enriched white flour, chemically altered and oxidized vegetable oil and hormone overloaded meat products can do to a population. Once a people untouched by such things, then inundated by these “food product materials” and the effects are undeniable, in North America, we can see this effect occurring in our indigenous population as well.
I found more disturbing evidence of this crisis in Reuter’s article published in 2007, referencing men’s testosterone levels, which had shown significant decline over the previous 20 years. A large group of 22-year-old men were studied, each of these men were from very different walks of life, not one athlete was in this study, but rather they were all from a “normal” group. Business professionals, students and regular working class men were the demographic of this particular study, every one of their testosterone levels were consistent with that of men 75 years of age and older, this is an extremely low testosterone level! The only similarity between all of these young men, aside from their age range, was their diet which consisted of mostly fast food, processed sugars and crispy, fat-laden snacks.
On a personal level, in the mid 2007’s, I raised a boy for the better part of two years from ages 15 to 17, (As part of a social work program in the community in which I lived). I was chosen to be his guide, mentor and coach, to help him out of a very dark and bleak place. Connor was only 15 years old, 350 lbs. with advanced breast tissue development on par with that of an elderly obese woman, his haemoglobin A1C was 7! For those of you that don’t know what this is, it’s a test of our “Glycated Haemoglobin”, that’s how much sugar is coating our red blood cells, over seven is diabetic type two.
Connor’s gynaecomastia was due to exceptionally high oestrogen levels, he legitimately didn’t produce proper amounts of pubescent testosterone. As a result Connor hadn’t technically started male puberty; he ate fast food mainly; including white bread with melted cheese/ketchup sandwiches, loads of skim milk, candy and juice. All refined, processed simple sugars and chemically altered oxidized fats. This was from the time that he came out of the womb; his mom was unknowingly feeding himself and her materials that would set this ball rolling. Yet another real-life example of what I mentioned earlier, from mother to baby, child then to teenager, a cascade of negative food choices led him to where his body and mind were when we met.
Now, this was 17 years ago, at that time his case was exceedingly rare, he was the only boy in our small community of 13,000 that suffered to this extreme. He was terrified, embarrassed and alone, he knew something was deeply wrong but neither his mother nor himself knew why or had a viable solution. As I said, 17 years ago as rare as his case was, now, unfortunately, when you look around, you see more boys like this than ever before. Yes, it seems to be the “new normal”, young boys with narrow shoulders and wide hips accompanied by huge posteriors, these young boys have a similar aesthetic to young overweight girls.
Well, I’m pleased to report that Conner in his dedication for change, coupled with my tutelage, shed 150 lbs. in two years! At 18, he went through a much-needed, medical intervention to remove the estrogen-induced, gynaecomastia breast tissue, giving him back the masculine silhouette he desired and deserved. Connor is now 30 and has grown into a strong, proud, confident man, he is like son I never had and I am beyond proud him. Although it was a struggle, with many years of hard work, it took so much to reverse what was set in motion for him from birth. He has kept the weight off while continuing to pursue a healthy, physically active life style alongside his wife, who is both setting the very best example for his young daughter.
Our world’s out-of-control estrogen crisis is impacting proper development in young females as well, why is this problem? High estrogen saturation from such a young age in girls means early puberty, in some cases as early as 8-9 years old! Young women are getting infused with estrogen from the youngest ages, all the way through development and then into adulthood. Estrogen is the main component of modern birth control, which most young and middle-aged women take throughout their lives. Estrogen is in the processed food, food products and various chemicals we feed to young girls which then carries on into adulthood. Studies on women’s fertility, which began in the 1960’s (focused on fertility rates and viable eggs), these numbers have decreased by nearly 50%! In the next 50 years, this number is predicted to decline by yet, another 50%. This is absolutely catastrophic! Where will this take us as a species? It will inevitably become increasingly harder and harder to conceive naturally, when pairing women’s low egg counts and men’s ever-decreasing testosterone levels. That next visit to your local fast food joint could cost you a lot more than just not fitting into your favourite jeans or your favourite dress.
Young women are, more often than not, the ones who pay the highest price to this out-of-control estrogen ingestion which is linked to many early onset diseases. There has been an alarming increase of cases of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancers in teenage girls, the risk only extrapolating into young adulthood. Estrogen overload and the increased rate of obesity in young women only increase the inevitable rise of co-morbidities (that is more than two diseases coexisting in one person). Diabetes, heart disease, atherogenic cholesterol overload, not to mention the psychological trauma, lack of confidence and physical damage that these young women face in all stages of their life.
Today we are influenced by, and fall victim to this estrogen overload from before birth, it all begins with the nutrition of the mother and the influence of her diet on the unborn baby. Unfortunately, in our current society, new parents who do not actively seek out their own nutritional needs, are not taught, effective pre-and postnatal nutrition. It is very much an unknown world to navigate, filled with unregulated, refined sugars, enriched white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and lactose (dairy) and oxidized vegetable oils. HEATED AND PROCESSED OMEGA 3 & 6 fats are just as bad, if not worse for us as the sugars we are consuming at an alarming rate! When you combine them it is simply a metabolic and biochemical chaos for our bodies. Example: Chips; Refined starch (simple sugar), super-heated, processed vegetable oil for the “crispiness” and all the other tasty, convenience foods and food products which consist of a whole bunch of names we cannot pronounce. From infancy, our children are fed a steady diet of sugar; from sippy cups of juice, cereal for breakfast, toast and milk, we are giving most children nearly 100g of simple sugars for their very first meal and yet little to no protein or essential (healthy) fats. We continue this trend from infancy then into childhood through teenage years which sets the stage for the exact same toxic dietary habits once adulthood hits.
We are conditioned from a young age to eat this way, not only is the convenience factor so appealing but we are programmed and ‘trained’ to crave it. Our brains have become addicted from birth; the copious amounts of refined simple sugars we consume consistently are not being properly prioritized within our bodies, to be used as expended energy which is their true purpose. Instead, they are now synonymous with the increase in body fat and high estrogen levels, all of which leads to the late development for young boys and early development in young girls.
Adding to this, very little to no physical exercise for the vast majority of our society, over the last few decades, we are hooked up to screens of all sizes 24/7 and less and less we push young people to go outside and play. Due to modern technology, we certainly don’t have to work to keep ourselves warm or fed so from once, where we were in an existence of unavoidable physical activity; we are more and more, less active and less physical. Activity, exercise and fitness all play a massively important role on the development or in some cases the lack of development, of our young people.
We have this excessive, constant and persuasive influence from media, food product advertising, culture, lack of exercise and toxins, yes toxins, commonly found in plastics all of which impact this estrogen crisis. Most specifically when speaking of toxins, one of the worst scandals was the knowledge of BPAs (Biphenyl A), a chemical compound commonly found and used in hard plastics and until recently in almost every food and liquid container on the shelf. Yes, seriously, it’s everywhere, for decades; these hard plastics were leaching chemical estrogens from their packaging into our liquids and foods.
I would also like to touch on Phytoestrogens, these are estrogens from plant materials, there is a ton of confusion and many misconceptions with these plant-based hormone influences commonly used as a protein source in plant-based diets (vegan, vegetarian). The majority of Vegan Protein “meat replacements” are made of oxidized vegetable oils and soy proteins, we now know that oxidized oils combined with refined processed sugars are responsible for the majority atherogenic cholesterol imbalances as well as obesity. Plant estrogens, even in small amounts, block the estrogen receptors, (this includes some but not all soy products) such as organic responsibly produced tofu. However, consuming soy (phytoestrogens), especially refined and processed soy as your main source of protein will block the estrogen receptors which will ultimately and inevitably turn your body into one which is highly estrogenic.
I know right?! This information can seem overwhelming; the circumstances around us are fast increasing and gaining momentum. What we have in front of us, is a world at a tipping point! Friends, I strongly believe we have our work cut out for us! In this writer’s humble opinion, now on my 18th and moving into my 19th year as a Nutritionist and Fitness Consultant, I believe it is a battle hard-fought, yet certainly one we are capable of achieving victory. First and foremost, cut out junk, processed foods, we have zero need for them and there is absolutely no nutritional or essential place for these processed food products in our lives. We are what we eat, what we eat and how we live our lives directly influences those around us, especially the young ones who are dependent upon us to guide them into a healthy, happy future.
Continue to educate yourselves, become living examples for those around you and pursue this one life with consistent, dedicated effort ruled by a passion to be the very best version of yourself, become the beacon of hope, the beam of light out there, in this dark and sometimes scary world, for the younger generation who need it the most. The unknown….The unknown for most is a scary place. There is a prolific influence to overcome, taught to us since birth. To fear the unknown, not to face it, to rather rise to the challenge and learn the skills needed to stay consistent and diligent in our courageous approach to life. We know this, we love this life and we must! I believe wholeheartedly it is our responsibility to influence change. “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. So let’s do it! Let’s do all we can to unify against this destructive slippery slope, this estrogen crisis consuming our world, people and cultures.
Here’s to all of us, to legitimate fitness health and wellbeing. I applaud you all, for living and being the examples for all those in your life! My mission is to change as many lives for the better as I am capable of! Through coaching, education, guidance and accountability, one person at a time we can truly change the world!