First things first, it’s a myth that foods kill testosterone. Your overall health plays a role in your hormonal health, therefore eating a varied, balanced diet is essential for good hormonal health.
There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to the role that your diet may play in your testosterone levels.
Over time, marketing ploys and health anxiety have come together to make people believe that eating certain foods can instantly lead to lower levels of testosterone in the bloodstream.
Read on to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to “foods that kill testosterone”.
Do foods actually kill testosterone?
No, foods do not kill testosterone, however, your diet plays a role in your overall hormonal health.
There are a variety of factors that can have an impact on men’s testosterone levels. The most common cause of low testosterone, or “low T” in men is ageing.
A man’s testosterone levels decline on average about 1% a year after age 40. Only 10% to 25% have levels considered to be low, and often the symptoms will go unnoticed, according to Mayo Clinic.
Let’s run through the top 7 “foods that kill testosterone”, or in other words, the foods you should consume in moderation to promote good health overall:
- Processed or fast foods
- Low quality meat
- Vegetable oils
- Refined carbohydrates
- Refined sugars
- Soy products
Although there are no foods that actually kill testosterone, there are a variety of foods that should be consumed in moderation to ensure that your overall health, including your hormonal health is kept in check.
Processed or fast foods
Processed and/or fast foods are generally high in bad fats (known as trans fat), sodium, sugars and calories.
According to one study of 209 men, men who consume higher levels of trans fats had 15% lower levels of testosterone than those with the lowest levels of testosterone.
While processed and fast foods may not have an immediate impact on your testosterone levels, it is possible that those who have a higher intake of trans fats will be over-weight, especially those who eat trans fats to excess.
Being over-weight or obese is associated with a condition called estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance occurs when the volume of estrogen in the blood is greater than levels of progesterone. Estrogen dominance is more common in women, however, it also occurs in men.
As estrogen is produced in the fat cells, being over-weight may increase the chances of experiencing estrogen dominance.
Low quality meat
Low quality and cheap meats may be sprayed with hormones and anti-biotics to help preserve them for longer.
In one study, it was found that men who have a high intake of low quality meat have a lower sperm count.
It’s important to note that the sample size in studies conducted around on this topic use a small sample size, however, reducing your intake of low quality meat will help to promote good overall health.
Vegetable oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Examples of vegetable oils include canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm and sunflower oils.
A number of studies have claimed that vegetable oils have a negative impact on healthy testosterone levels, however again these studies have a limited number of participants.
For example, one study which claims that men with a high intake of polyunsaturated fats have lower testosterone levels had just 69 participants , another study with the same results had just 12 participants.
A logical conclusion that could be drawn between a high intake of polyunsaturated fats and lower testosterone levels is that a high volume of LDL and HDL cholesterol in the blood is associated with lower levels of testosterone in the blood, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Consuming a large volume of vegetable oils may lead to lower levels of testosterone in the blood due to the fact that cholesterol levels may have increased.
Refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, bread and pastries when consumed in large amounts may lead to a spike in insulin.
Refined carbohydrates are fast releasing sugars. Eating refined carbohydrates in large amounts may lead to weight gain. Like many of the foods listed above, refined carbohydrates may lead to lower testosterone levels due to weight gain, as opposed to having a direct impact on your hormonal health.
According to one study, men who follow a “Western-style diet” have lower levels of testosterone. Limit your intake of white carbohydrates for your overall health, as opposed to choosing moderation just for your testosterone levels.
Glucose ingestion induces a significant reduction in total and free T levels in men, which is similar across the spectrum of glucose tolerance according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology.
Eating large volumes of refined sugars may lead to an instant dip in testosterone levels, over time, over-consuming refined sugars may lead to type two diabetes and becoming over-weight, both of which may have an impact on your overall hormonal health.
Eating soy products such as tofu, soy milk, miso and edamame may lead to a drop in testosterone levels according to a clinical trial study.
According to the research out there, soy products may have a minimal effect on your testosterone levels because soy products contain phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are compounds that are naturally found in soy products. Phytoestrogens mimic the effects of estrogen in your body by altering hormone levels, which may lead to lower levels of testosterone in the blood.
In a literature review study, it was found that soy products have a low impact on testosterone levels. The study concludes that more research is needed to make a an accurate conclusion.
The evidence around alcohol and a decrease in alcohol is not straightforward.
Some studies have shown that increased alcohol increase may lead to lower testosterone levels, while some studies show that drinking alcohol can lead to a spike in testosterone levels.
For best results, drink alcohol in moderation to ensure better overall health. According to Priority Men’s Medical:
- While you drink alcohol, your body metabolizes ethanol a compound found in alcohol. Ethanol metabolism lowers the amount of NAD+, a coenzyme responsible for testosterone production in the liver and testes.
- Continued, heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to elevated levels of the female sex hormone estrogen, testosterone converted to estrogen, and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can destroy testosterone.
- Chronic, excessive drinking can disrupt your sleep schedule, which decreases your body’s ability to produce testosterone.
To conclude, it’s important to note that most of the research published regarding the impact of nutrition on testosterone has insignificant participant numbers. Most studies use under 500 participants, and is not statistically relevant.
For best overall health, you should consider how you can include more whole-grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean cuts of meat into your diet, as opposed to living in fear that certain foods will have an impact on your testosterone levels.
Written by Hannah Kingston on June 21, 2021
- Male menopause: Myth or reality? - mayoclinic.org
- Trans fatty acid intake is inversely related to total sperm count in young healthy men - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- What are the symptoms of high estrogen? - medicalnewstoday.com
- Meat intake and reproductive parameters among young men - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Relationships between types of fat consumed and serum estrogen and androgen concentrations in Japanese men-pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise - pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Are testosterone and cholesterol levels related?- health.harvard.edu
- Testosterone-Associated Dietary Pattern Predicts Low Testosterone Levels and Hypogonadism- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism- pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Soy protein isolates of varying isoflavone content exert minor effects on serum reproductive hormones in healthy young men- pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
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- The Impact of Alcohol on Mens Sexual Health and Testosterone - prioritymensmedical.com