Hormonal harmony

Hormonal harmony

The key postulate of the book is very simple: The hormone testosterone makes men feel good, bringing down the stress level, while for women, it is oxytocin. These are the fire and ice that give the book its title. According to Gray, testosterone is produced by activities that involve urgency, emergency, problem solving or sacrifice for a noble cause.

Oxytocin, on the other hand, is produced by  activities that are safe and co-operative, nurturing, caring and supportive. The key to a happy and harmonious relationship between men and women, therefore, lies in allowing and enabling these activities in your partner and for yourself. If it means gender stereotyping, so be it. You cannot rebel against biology and win, because the body and the mind are closely interlinked.

Gray expands on this idea in much detail, citing concrete examples from contemporary life situations. He explains why men don’t like to do daily chores while living up to the challenge when it comes to changing a tyre. Women like to talk about how the day went and to be taken out for candle light dinners. He explains why men commonly think women are ‘getting upset over nothing’, and why women commonly think ‘men have no feelings’. That’s because a man’s brain only registers a strong emotional reaction when the problem is an emergency. Gray also introduces the concept of ‘cave time’, the time a man spends plopped on the couch watching TV as useful rest period for rebuilding the depleted level of testosterone.

Gray touches upon the broader biochemistry domain, talking about cortisol, the hormone that our body produces when we are under stress, inhibiting the production of the mother hormone DHEA from which are derived testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. He talks about dopamine and serotonin — dopamine gives men the motivation to do things and serotonin allows women to relax and feel good. He also explains how important it is to have a stable level of blood sugar for our mental well-being. There are helpful tips on what kind of food and eating habits can help in stabilising the level of sugar in our blood. He even lets out on a revolutionary new compound, PGX (PolyGlycopleX), made from plant fibres, that can reduce blood sugar fluctuations.

There are helpful appendices in the end. One lists the superfoods that Gray uses to make his morning shake. These range from Gojiberries from Tibet and Magnolia to Stevia from South America. But people in India need not despair as water, sea salt, lemon, aloe vera, coconut oil and molasses also feature in the list. There are lists of brain boosters and natural supplements to help you sleep. And how can any book on well-being of men and women be complete without some tips on how to improve your sex life? So, there is an appendix with a list of herbal supplements that can enhance desire in both men and women (Ashwagandha from India is in the list). And there is a list featuring 100 oxytocin-producing activities a woman can engage herself in.

Gray believes that romance plays a key role in the well-being of couples and it is natural for it to wear off with the passage of time. To keep it alive, men and women have to try to understand each other better and make conscious efforts to keep the flame of romantic fire burning. He advices women not to forget to show their appreciation  and also to expressly tell what they want their partners to do. Men enjoy their role as providers and protectors and women must let them have that satisfaction. While qualifying that “a woman is not expected to behave like a pet”, Gray nevertheless recommends that “Understanding why a man bonds so deeply with his dog may provide some useful insight to a woman”. He goes on to add, “Women tend to overlook or underestimate how important it is to her man that she is delighted with him”. “He wants to enchant, she wants to be enchanted,” he concludes. But Gray admits that there may be a limit beyond which the two incompatible sexes cannot understand or accommodate each other. So he suggests what he calls his 90 per cent solution — only 10 per cent of a person’s well-being should depend on one’s partner.

Of late, there has been a lot of talk about parents teaching their children to break gender stereotypes. In a way, Gray recommends the opposite. He cites the case of one of his reader fans who asks her daughter to scatter her toys so that her brother can find them. The mother then asks her daughter to show her appreciation by thanking him profusely. The son loves the challenge of solving problems, and the daughter stops being the complaining type.

One could have balked at much of these, but when they come from a writer with 16 books behind him and a  PhD to boot, backed by impressive hormonal details, who are we to argue?

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