It is well known that vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other antioxidants and phytochemicals that promote good health and strengthen the immune system.
But did you know that cruciferous vegetables—like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower—have been associated with healthy testosterone levels?
Cruciferous vegetables contain a unique natural compound known as diindolylmethane or DIM.¹ When you consume DIM, it helps support the ‘good’ estrogen metabolites in the body, and there is simultaneous support for the reduction of levels of undesirable or ‘bad’ estrogen metabolites.*²
This is particularly important in men because by having adequate levels of testosterone in their body, men can regain muscle mass, decrease body fat, obtain more energy, improve their stamina, and reignite their sex drive.*
Cruciferous vegetables have two major bioactive compounds: indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and 3, 3’-diindolylmethane (DIM). When these vegetables are cooked, I3C is converted to its dimeric derivative, DIM.³ I3C is not active in your body until it has been converted into DIM. These indoles have many positive effects, but DIM will be emphasized in this article.
Diindolylmethane (or DIM) is a significant plant indole because of its potential health-promoting properties.* DIM is found in cruciferous plants such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage, among others. When these vegetables are chewed either raw or slightly cooked, they activate several plant enzymes, and this enzymatic process allows DIM to enter the body.
However, the health benefits DIM offers are not easily obtained from consuming raw or slightly cooked vegetables. Large quantities of these vegetables would need to be consumed on a daily basis for them to be truly effective.4 To overcome this challenge, unique, and absorbable forms of pure DIM—with special bioabsorbable-enhancing formulas—have been developed as dietary supplements.*
Testosterone initiates the development of the internal and external male reproductive organs during fetal development and is essential to producing sperm in adult men.5 Testosterone plays a key role in modulating both mating efforts and paternal behavior. Physiologically, it promotes spermatogenesis and supports the development of sexually dimorphic traits, such as upper body muscle mass.6,7 Men can benefit from DIM due to its ability to free up bound testosterone and optimize its performance within the body.*
The sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein present in the blood that is responsible for binding up free testosterone, which is testosterone that is more biologically active. When men take DIM, it may helps release the free testosterone into the blood and causes the SHBG to hold on to the bad estrogen metabolites.*
This can help improve hormonal balance, which contributes to several physical, sexual, and mental health benefits.* By promoting healthy estrogen metabolism, DIM can optimize testosterone’s effect in the body.*8 Estrogen refers to the female hormones known as estradiol, estrone and estriol. Estrogen dominance can be determined by imbalanced testosterone/estrogen ratios in men and it can greatly affect how they perform. Hormones have particularly important roles in every area of the body. The most important message they deliver is to grow, divide, and multiply. For this reason, supporting proper estrogen synthesis, metabolism and detoxification is essential for proper testosterone levels. By keeping hormones in balance and ensuring the body can process hormones properly, DIM helps to maintain proper cellular health.*
Testosterone was thought to be predominantly involved in androgenesis and physiology in boys and men, but through its conversion to estrogen, testosterone can also affect bone health and bone density. There has recently been a renewed interest in the systemic role of testosterone in pain, overall well-being, weight control, muscle mass, and cardiovascular function in men.
When testosterone is properly balanced, it can increase energy levels, support mood, and help sustain sex drive. When DIM is taken along with regular exercise and a healthy diet, it can work together with estrogen and testosterone to promote proper physical conditioning and cardiovascular health.*
The risk of early heart challenges has been associated with higher estrone levels. This has been documented in several studies, with some also showing that high testosterone levels are associated with a low 10-year risk of cardiovascular challenges. More recently, a study of elderly men showed that higher estradiol levels were associated with a greater risk of more serious cardiovascular issues.
The good news is that DIM may provide the benefits needed to promote healthy cholesterol levels and support overall heart health.
The good estrogen metabolites promoted by DIM prevent the oxidation of special proteins called lipoproteins, which are needed to carry fat and other lipids in the blood plasma.9 These proteins are separated into “good” and “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). They must be protected from oxidation to maintain arterial health and cardiovascular wellness.
Excess estrogen in men can lead to significant health problems like prostate enlargement. Additionally, male estrogen levels that are too high or are out of balance with testosterone levels can cause gynecomastia (enlargement or swelling of breast tissue) and can also affect a man’s workout routine by reducing the action of testosterone.
Alternatively, high testosterone-to-estrogen ratios have been linked to lean body mass, a higher fat-burning metabolism, and less abdominal fat.10 The 2-hydroxy metabolites of estrogen promoted by DIM are the only hormone metabolites known to assist with healthy levels of the free form of testosterone.* Higher 2-hydroxy levels provide the best balance for response to testosterone, in both men and women.
DIM is essential for the conversion of estrogen to good estrogen metabolites, protects stressed muscle cells, and allows for more efficient repair and growth.* DIM particularly helps estrogen metabolites in bodybuilding men protect muscles from damage caused by exercise, supporting normal inflammatory response after exercise and better results.*
DIM is also needed to activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs).* Activating the PPAR gamma by DIM helps support a normal inflammatory response and maintain proper insulin sensitivity.* In addition to inducing body weight loss, the activation of these receptors can reduce the pool of fatty acids through mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation and by increasing reverse cholesterol transport.*11
The health benefits that can be obtained from consuming DIM are both great and extensive.* Besides their effectiveness at balancing hormones, DIM provides free-radical fighting activity to prevent damage caused by free radicals, supports weight loss, increases energy levels, boosts mood, and improves memory.* It can also help support strong bones, healthy joints, cardiovascular health, and sex drive.* High testosterone will raise the “bad” cholesterol levels, and can seriously harm the heart. Having the proper supply and balance of testosterone is important for your general health and wellbeing.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1 Bradlow, H.L. and Zeligs, M.A. (2010). Diindolylmethane (DIM) spontaneously forms from indole-3-carbinol (I3C) during cell culture experiments. In Vivo, 24, 387-391.
2 Zeligs, M.A. and Connelly, S.A. (2000). All About DIM.
3 Bonnesen, C., Eggleston, I.M., and Hayes, J.D. (2001). Dietary indoles and isothiocyanates that are generated from cruciferous vegetables can both stimulate apoptosis and confer protection against DNA damage in human colon cell lines. Cancer Res, 61, 6120-6130.
4 Arneson, D.W., Hurwitz, A., Crowell, J. A., and Mayo, M. S. (2001). Pharmacokinetics of 3,3′-diindolylmethane following oral administration of indole-3-carbinol to human subjects. Proc. Am. Assoc. Cancer Res, 42, 4658.
5 Liverman, C.T., Blazer, D.G. (2004). Testosterone and Aging: Clinical Research Directions. The National Academies Press.
6 Archer, J. (2006). Testosterone and human aggression: an evaluation of the challenge hypothesis. Neurosci. Biobehav. 30, 319-345.
7 Avison, W.R., Ali, J., Walters, D. (2007). Family structure, stress, and psychological distress: a demonstration of the impact of differential exposure. J. Health Soc. Behav. 48, 301-317.
8 Zeligs, M.A. and Connelly, A.S. (2000). All About DIM.
9 Bain, J., Brock, G., Kuzmarov, I. (2007). International Consulting Group Canadian Society for the Study of the Aging Male: response to Health Canada’s position paper on testosterone treatment. J Sex Med. 4:558–566.
10 Andersen, M.L., Alvarenga, T.F., Mazaro-Costa, R., Hachul, H.C. and Tufik, S. (2011). The association of testosterone, sleep, and sexual function in men and women. Brain Res. 1416, 80-104.
11Anderton, M. J. and Manson, M. M. ( Verschoyle, R. D., Gescher, A., Steward, W. P., and Williams, M. L. (in press). (2004). Pharmacokinetics and tissue disposition of indole-3-carbinol and 3,3-diindolylmethane after oral administration to mice. Clin Cancer Res. 10(15):5233-41.
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