Nick’s Estrogen-Insomnia Connection


Nick came to see me a year or so ago with a complaint common among middle-aged male patients — he had to get up at least once each night to urinate and then couldn’t get back to sleep. Having his sleep interrupted on a regular basis was making him tired and cranky in the daytime. “I’ve tried every prostate formula known to man — saw palmetto, pygeum, everything! The best I can get from them is maybe five straight hours of sleep. And that’s not all. I’m supposedly on a diet, but all I’ve been doing is gaining weight. Look at my chest — I’ve got ‘man boobs’! I don’t know what’s going on, but it can’t be good.”

Nick’s diet was focused on plant-based foods, but a great deal of that was soy. While soy can be a healthy addition to meals, the best forms of soy are fermented, such as tempeh, miso, or natto. Unfermented soy is laden with estrogen-like compounds that can disrupt hormonal balance.

As I suspected, Nick’s urinalysis showed high levels of environmental pollutants, including plastic. So after my “throw out your plastic containers and canned food” lecture, I suggested Nick replace the soymilk with a healthier, fermented choice. In addition, I recommended he try a plant-based supplement, like diindolylmethane (DIM). Found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), this phytonutrient supports healthy metabolism of both estrogen and testosterone.

Just six weeks later, Nick called to say he was sleeping seven and sometimes eight hours each night. “I’m also happy to say I can wear my old jeans again, and the man boobs are almost gone. I miss the soymilk, and I hated putting all those plastic containers in the recycle bin.

But wow! — I feel so much better.”


Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: May 11, 2012