Indole-3-Carbinol and Weight Loss
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Hormone imbalance is a leading cause of weight gain that affects both men and women and increases the risk of various health problems and diseases. Indole-3-carbinol and weight loss are closely linked to each other as this phytochemical compound can greatly help with managing hormonal imbalances as well as those “love handles” that appear at mid-age. But what does it do in the body? Keep reading to learn more.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the link between indole-3-carbinol and weight loss in a bit detail according to research. But before we get into how indole-3-carbinol helps with weight loss, it’s worth knowing the basics of this plant chemical a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is indole-3-carbinol?
- What does indole-3-carbinol do in the body?
- How hormones affect body weight
- Benefits of indole-3-carbinol for weight loss
- How to use indole-3-carbinol
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is indole-3-carbinol?
Indole-3-carbinol or otherwise known as I3C is a naturally occurring phytochemical (the term “Phyto” means “plant”) that is widely found in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, watercress, and turnips.
I3C has potent antioxidant properties that can help protect structures of cells (including DNA) from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, Free radicals are unstable molecules that contain unpaired oxygen and cause large chain reactions that lead to cell, tissue, and even organ death. But its main claim to fame is as a natural estrogen-balancing agent.
What does indole-3-carbinol do in the body?
The process of estrogen metabolism in the body is quite long and complex. The hormone itself has three primary naturally occurring forms - estriol, estrone, and estradiol. These estrogens metabolize into various compounds called estrogen metabolites with critical, formidable names such as 4-hydroxy estrone and 16-alpha hydroxy estrone, all of which have varying degrees of activity in the body.
Some of these metabolites are troublesome as they are likely to develop various health issues including hormone-induced weight gain and even certain types of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer.
Indole-3-carbinol acts as a powerful estrogen metabolism regulator, converting metabolism pathways that might be disease-promoting into those beneficent pathways that can help inhibit diseases. This helps balance estrogen levels and reduce the risk of estrogen-induced adverse effects such as cancers and weight gain.
How hormones affect body weight
Estrogen dominance has been linked to increased body fat and unwanted weight gain. Excessive estrogen circulating in the body promotes the production of fatty tissues. These tissues contain an enzyme that helps convert adrenal hormones into estrone, a form of estrogen, resulting in more estrogen loads and fat stores. This process runs as a continuous loop: too much estrogen causes the body to enhance its production and storage of fat, while excess body fat continues to make more estrogen.
In estrogen dominance, the human body is less efficient to use the fat storage in the body for producing energy, which means that the body’s capacity to burn or metabolize fat molecules for calories is compromised. As a result, the body gets extra weight that usually won’t go away even with less eating and more physical exercise.
When estrogen levels are high and unopposed by others, (such as progesterone, for instance), the fat distribution in the body is also affected. In general, estrogen dominance causes fats to be stored around the belly, waist, thighs, and hips.
Benefits of indole-3-carbinol for weight loss
Indole-3-carbinol has an incredible ability to reduce estrogen load and restore hormonal balance in the body. It helps metabolize estrogen either by removing or channelizing the process into better beneficent ways, helping to keep it benevolent rather than harmful.
Studies suggest I3C helps convert stronger and harmful estrogens such as estradiol into weaker and beneficial ones like 2OHE (2-hydroxy-estrone). Improved estrogen balance may hugely help in weight loss in both men as well as women.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed that indole-3-carbinol has the potential to prevent metabolic disorders and obesity by affecting multiple mechanisms such as decreasing inflammation and adipogenesis and activating thermogenesis.
How to use indole-3-carbinol
Indole-3-carbinol can be taken either by consuming a lot of cruciferous vegetables or directly as supplements, which many people find the easiest way. However, there is no official recommendation of daily amounts for it so far.
Most clinicians recommend a dose of 400 mg per capsule with a serving size of one or two capsules per day. If you want to incorporate I3C supplements into your daily, consider asking a licensed naturopath or nutritionist to determine what dose and form would be the best for your specific health conditions.
Precautions and side effects
Indole-3-carbinol is generally safe and well-tolerated for most people. Some people, particularly those who are allergic to certain types of cruciferous vegetables, may experience food allergy symptoms such as hives and swelling, but these are typically mild and not common.
Besides, I3C is believed to have goitrogenic effects. This means it might affect the synthesis and functions of thyroid hormones. People with thyroid conditions should seek the direct supervision of a licensed healthcare provider prior to using indole-3-carbinol.
Finally, I3C may cause excess gas and flatulence in some people, drinking plenty of water and cutting back the dose a bit can help combat these issues. However, it’s important to consult with a licensed healthcare professional before taking I3C supplements, especially if you have any existing health conditions.
Indole-3-carbinol or I3C is a plant chemical that is naturally found in high concentrations in cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The link between indole-3-carbinol and weight loss lies in its hormone-balancing effects.
Research shows indole-3-carbinol has the potential to reduce inflammation and adipogenesis in the body while activating thermogenesis, all of which can aid in weight loss and benefit in treating obesity. If you decide to take indole-3-carbinol supplements, consider asking a licensed naturopathic doctor, especially if you have thyroid or any other conditions.
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