Man Boobs. Moobs. Both are terms that didn’t even exist until modern times.
If you start taking a look around, you’ll see men all around you who are clearly struggling with the problem. (They’re everywhere!) FYI, it’s “officially” called gynecomastia. Before you run out and purchase a bro (thanks Kramer!) keep in mind that – unless you were born with some sort of rare genetic disorder – man boobs can be easily handled. Umm… fixed.
There are a variety of reasons men develop this embarrassing problem. One is diet. Even if you eat a relatively healthy diet, there are certain foods that contain phytoestrogens that should be avoided. A few other contributors include; drinking or eating from plastic containers, being exposed to certain chemicals, using products containing parabens, and being overweight (the more fat the man carries, the lower his testosterone level). We will discuss each of these in more detail in future articles.
To be more specific, the hops in beer increases estrogen. Breast tissue—which both women and men possess—feeds off of estrogen hormones. While women naturally have more estrogen, and men naturally have more androgen hormones, men can easily get their estrogens-to-androgens ratio out of whack. The result? An ever-growing cup size.
It hasn’t always been this way.
For most of European history, beer was known as gruit. If you visited a pub in the middle ages in most of Europe, you would have been served gruit. Hopped beers came much later, gaining dominance about 1750 A.D. – though gruit ale continued to be brewed in small, out-of-the-way places until World War 2.
Many people think hops became an additive to beer for its bittering and preservative qualities but the truth is quite different. (This is where it gets really interesting!) According to herbalist and author Stephen Harrod Buhner (in an article posted on gruitale.com), the primary gruit herbs were yarrow, sweet gale and marsh rosemary, though other flavorings, including cinnamon, nutmeg and caraway seed, were also popular.
To understand why hops replaced gruit it is important keep in mind the properties of gruit ale: it is highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal when consumed in sufficient quantity. Gruit ale stimulates the mind, creates euphoria and enhances sexual drive.
Hopped ale is quite different. Contemporary scientific research has conclusively demonstrated that hops contains large quantities of estrogenic and soporific compounds. In fact hops has been used for many thousands of years in traditional medical practice as a natural estrogen replacement therapy and to help insomniacs sleep.
The high level of plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) in hops makes hopped beer an extremely good drink for women in menopause but also makes it a very bad drink for men. Consumption by men of large levels of estrogenic compounds can lead to erection problems later in life. In fact, there is a well-known condition in England called Brewer’s Droop, which is regularly contracted by bartenders and brewers after years of exposure to hopped beers and ales.
Hopped beers were not allowed to be manufactured or imported in many parts of Europe – under the threat of severe penalty. Apparently, the manufacture of gruit was a privilege, exploited or granted by the archbishop and bishops, hence a source of large revenue for them, a veritable ecclesiastical monopoly.
Feeling very threatened by the introduction of hopped beers, a decree was issued, April 17, 1381, by Archbishop Frederick of Cologne, in order to keep the gruit monopoly. Not only the brewers, but also the clergy, the military and the civilians, in fact, anybody who wanted to brew beer were commanded to buy their gruit in the episcopal gruit-houses. Importation of ‘hopped beer’ from Westphalia was prohibited, and so was the brewing of such beers in Cologne itself, under pain of the severest penalties which the Church could inflict.
One of the arguments of the Protestants against the Catholic clergy (and indeed of Catholicism) was Catholic self-indulgence: in food, drink, and lavish life style. And it was this Protestant outrage that was the beginning of the assault on gruit ales. The Protestant reformists were joined by merchants and competing royals desiring to break the brewing monopoly of the church. The result was, ultimately, the end of a many-thousand-year tradition of herbal beer making in Europe and the narrowing of beer and ale into one limited expression of beer production, that of hopped ales or what we today call beer.
What Does Hops Do To Your Body?
For Men: Your body will exhibit the secondary sexual characteristics of a woman. Specifically, hops contributes to the build up of extra fatty tissue in the chest, giving many men the appearance of breasts. It also leads to testicular atrophy. That is, your testes will shrink and harden as the estrogen in your body overwhelms the testosterone. Further, you will experience body hair loss, loss of libido, and a dramatic reduction in erections.
For Women: Your body is now a breeding ground for a whole host of problems. Estrogen dominance in a woman includes, but is not limited to, weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods, fatigue, memory loss and much more. Further, all of the excess estrogen leads to a substantially higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The Bottom Line?
Unless you are a menopausal woman, you should probably stop drinking beer. If you go out with the guys and really feel the need to partake in the festivities, you might consider ordering an ancient ale! Dogfish Head has several beers that are copies of old (like really old) recipes, probably a whole lot closer to gruit, that only contain the government required minimum of hops. (That should tell you something right there!)
Even better? Order a manly whiskey or bourbon. No hops means less man boob.
Ironic isn’t it? Every commercial for beer uses manly men doing manly things, while swarmed by the ladies. The very thing they claim to be so manly is the very thing working to make you less of a man. It gives the phrase “crying in your beer’ a whole new meaning!