In my last post, I wrote about smart drugs. Now I would like to continue my drug-related posts with the physical performance boosting substances – more commonly known as steroids – and the natural ways to use them. Are all steroid users breaking the law and harming their own bodies?
First and foremost, I should explain and define the word “steroids.” There seems to be quite a lot of misunderstanding about this word. Very commonly, “steroids” is taken to mean only illegal anabolic steroids, which is quite far from the truth. This kind of labeling is a perfect example of a limiting belief and judgmental behavior. Often (allegedly) as the result of media mass manipulation, a person can start to see something that is very natural as being the ultimate evil, without first checking into the very basics of the subject for himself. I hope this post will at least help clear the air about this topic.
A steroid is a type of organic compound that contains a specific arrangement of four cycloalkane rings, joined to each other. To put that more simply (just in case you aren’t a chemist!) steroids are just one particular type of hormone, produced by our bodies. The most famous steroids are cholesterol, estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone, but the list doesn’t end there – no way. There are several hundred different steroids found in nature, in humans and in various animals, plants, and fungi. We humans are a walking steroid factory, and steroids are as organic as things get.
Aside from our body’s natural steroid production, we can also take steroids in the form of synthetically-produced drugs; actually, many people do. Birth control pills are an example of a commonly used legal synthetic steroid. One could argue that these help females significantly in their lives.
If steroids are normal and natural, though, then what are these illegal steroids we read about in the papers? What is the difference between natural steroids, and the substances used by athletes such as Ben Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark McGwire, Marion Jones, and Barry Bonds? Well, first we should note that the word “steroids” is often (and inaccurately) used as a blanket term, covering all performance-enhancement drugs. So you often hear things like human growth hormones, amphetamines and EPO wrongly referred to as steroids. The actual illegal steroids are usually different kinds of anabolic steroids.
Anabolic steroids are made from the male sex hormone testosterone. They help athletes grow more muscle and recover from workouts faster. And that’s why they’re so popular. Funnily enough, the most common users are gym rats who use anabolic steroids for recreation, rather than professional athletes using them in their professions. In any case, using them is illegal, and higher dosages can damage the body.
The subject of anabolic steroid use is quite controversial, and there are lots of opinions on the downsides of use, so I’m not going to touch too much this topic. I can recommend the documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster for those who are interested in learning more on this side of the subject. The film gives quite a neutral and holistic view of the topic. You can also check this list, which outlines a few known anabolic steroids.
So, then – what can you do to boost your body’s steroid production without taking these drugs? Well, actually you can do more than you might think. Here’s a quick shopping list of things that have been linked to better steroid production. Please note again that I’m not a doctor, and that some of these statements are not FDA-or-whatever approved.
- 1. Sleep better – either more, or higher quality.
- 2. Don’t stress so much.
- 3. Drink less or no alcohol.
- 4. Do so-called compound exercises, which stress the whole body instead of isolated muscles. Usually training harder for shorter periods is better for hormone production than slow and long-duration.
- 5. Eat more zinc.
- 6. Eat more garlic.
- 7. Eat more omega-3 fats.
- 8. Eat more vitamin C. Or actually any vitamin, for that matter. Vitamins D and A are especially good.
- 9. Lose body fat. This helps build more testosterone. Excess body fat will usually increase levels of estrogen, as the fat tissue contains an enzyme called aromatase, which is important in estrogen production.
- 10. Eat more raw cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. Other vegetables help, too. If it’s green, it’s usually good for you (e.g., kale).
- 11. Cleanse your body of excess toxins.
- 12. Avoid intake of new toxins. These could include things like pesticide residues on foods, GMO foods, residues from plastic containers, and conventional perfumes. Many of these contain xenoestrogens – foreign substances that act like estrogen in the body. We tend to get too much of these, throwing our estrogen and testosterone levels out of balance.
- 13. For guys: don’t burn your balls. Hot baths and tight rock’n’roll pants can kill your “swimmers.” Give the junior some air…
- 14. Eat pine pollen. It may be the best superfood ever to serve this purpose.
My personal opinion on this topic is very similar to my opinion on smart drugs.. I think it’s important for people to understand the necessity for proper research, correct dosages, and examining risk-benefit ratios. I would not use synthetic drugs myself, but I would use whole foods and other natural means of improving my body’s organic steroid production. I think boosted steroid production can make a huge difference in your quality of life.
Now to the gym!