Sex hormone, stress hormone, and growth hormone are three end products of the naturally produced steroids in the body. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are three examples of sex hormones that are important in determining our reproductive and gender states. Stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine are important defense soldiers of the body in terms of protection against injury, infection, inflammation, heat, cold, and blood loss. And there are growth hormones that essentially work with testosterone to enhance bone growth and muscle mass.
These natural occurrences in the body became revolutionary finds in science and health during the 1930s when scientists were able to mimic these properties in different steroid drugs. But there are also other sources of natural steroids aside from what the human body makes, but not as much.
Milk and its products like butter and cheese have some small amount of progesterone. This is a sex hormone that is predominantly produced by women during the first few days of their menstrual cycle and helps a mom in taking care of her unborn child during pregnancy. Progesterone also aids in muscle relaxation specifically in bronchial passages, normalization of blood clots, reduction of gall bladder activity, and effective immune responses.
There are very small traces of estrogen and testosterone found in eggs, meat, and fish. Phytoestrogens are also found in plant foods. Anyhow, if the steroids found in food are compared to what our bodies produce, natural steroids in them are too insignificant to alter the internal workings of the human body.
However, when it comes to steroid precursors, food can boast a lot, and boost the body’s production of its natural steroids.
To allow our body to produce the needed production of hormones, the food we consume provides an abundance of steroid building blocks. Examples of these steroid precursors are hydroxyprogesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA, dihydrotestosterone or DHT, estriol, androstenedione, pregnenolone, and 17-alpha-estradiol. These chemicals found in various foods are consumed by the body and turn them into varieties of sex and growth hormones such that the food we take defines how healthy our body could become as it develops.
The monks’ practice during the Middle Ages of giving teas made of hops (which is truly abundant in beer) to make teenage boys less aggressive and more manageable have been due to the presence of 17-alpha-estradiol which develops into the female sex hormone, estrogen. The accumulation of a female hormone in males during long periods of heavy drinking can cause erectile dysfunction.
Studies and researches reveal soy as the prime food counterpart to steroids. Soy and its byproducts have been known, among numerous benefits, to increase good cholesterol while decreasing bad ones, improve bone mineral density and strength after menopause, and aid in maintaining mental acuity and verbal fluency as one ages.
Phytoecdysteroids are also found in some plants, specifically spinach, quinoa, and suma. These natural steroids are more anabolic in nature. Studies with animals have shown increased anabolic activity and strength in animals. Other beneficial properties such as improvement of insulin sensitivity, reduction of visceral fat, increased efficiency of wound healing, and improvement of memory have been found.
With the revelation, Popeye’s muscle-building and strength-fueling spinach may not have been a myth at all.