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Can Foods Really Reduce Testosterone Levels in Men & Women?

Do an internet search and you will find a myriad of articles proclaiming the benefits of testosterone. Obviously, for men, testosterone is the hormone that makes a man a man. It is responsible for many of the male functions are associated with masculinity such as increased muscle growth, stronger bones, reduction of fat, improved libido and improved mood just to name a few. Testosterone, however, is also an important hormone for women.  Present in women at much lower levels than men in the ovaries and adrenal glands, the hormone nonetheless is responsible for many important functions such as the growth and maintenance of reproductive tissue and bone mass.

The role testosterone plays in our bodies

The importance of testosterone in men and women is hopefully apparent to anyone reading this article and if you are a male and suffer any of the symptoms of low testosterone, it is imperative to have your levels tested.   Symptoms in men of low testosterone levels include:

  • Low sex drive
  • Difficulty with erections
  • Low semen volume
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased body fat
  • Decreased bone mass
  • Mood changes
  • Affected memory
  • Loss of testicular size
  • Low blood count

How to determine if your levels are natural

A simple test such as our at-home Testosterone and Performance Hormone test can help to determine if an individual is, in fact, suffering from low testosterone levels.

The test is an at-home saliva test that is approved by a physician where the individual submits a saliva sample and mails it in the prepaid envelope provided with the kit that is sent. The saliva is tested by a certified laboratory and the results are available in the BodyHealth IQ online portal in a few days.

Factors that contribute to decreased testosterone levels

The benefits of optimal testosterone levels are known, but how can we prevent testosterone levels from decreasing?  There are a number of factors that naturally result in a reduction of testosterone levels in males including a phenomenon called Andropause. Andropause can occur in males starting at the age of 30 and is the normal reduction of testosterone in men due to the natural aging of the body.

This reduction can occur not only naturally but also through exogenous factors which include alcoholism, smoking, obesity, injury, tumors of the pituitary amongst others. In addition to the causes, there has been some speculation that there are certain foods that can also suppress testosterone levels.  While there are numerous articles that are available that claim this effect of lower testosterone levels through food, there is very little actual scientific evidence to back up the theory.  It seems that it is not so much that the foods will actually lower the testosterone levels,  but more the wholistic effects that the food has on the body.  Let’s look at some common foods that can supposedly lower the testosterone levels in the body.

Foods that may lower testosterone levels…

(hint: it’s a lot of the “indulgence” foods)

Breads, pastries and desserts – a study published in the Nutrients Journal, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266690/ showed that a diet high in bread and sugary desserts led to low levels of testosterone in Taiwanese men.  The question, however, is whether or not its the sugar and/or the bread that causes decreased levels?  Refined carbs and sugar spike insulin in the body. Insulin release helps to control the high sugar levels. It’s also noteworthy to mention that insulin can lead to a reduction in testosterone.  This study documented the effects of elevated insulin levels in the body- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6445266/

Dairy products contain synthetic and natural hormones and there has been evidence of infertility in women related to dairy.  One study showed that dairy can affect hormones levels in women – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5265695/   While more research needs to be completed, dairy may lower testosterone levels in the body although the exact correlation is still unknown.

Low quality and processed meats due to their high levels of artificial hormones and antibiotics have been said to trigger hormonal imbalances as these meats are high in sodium, calories, sugar and trans fats.  One study found a reduction of sperm in young men with the increased intake of processed meat.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24681577   While not a direct correlation with lower testosterone, low sperm count is a side effect of lower testosterone levels.

Alcohol is another factor that may affect testosterone levels.  This study showed that ethanol exposure in rats resulted in lower testosterone levels – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3589998/   While the liver metabolizes the majority of the alcohol in our body, and it is by far from the only factor that contributes to lower testosterone levels, alcohol may be one of the many factors that affects testosterone in our bodies.

Soy products are another factor that some assume to cause lower testosterone levels.  Soy products contain the precursor to estrogen called phytoestrogens which some claim can cause a reduction in testosterone levels.  While one study showed the opposite that phytoestrogens actually increased testosterone levels in goat kids, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803173/, another showed that phytoestrogens in a invitro setting inhibited testosterone production by the Leydig cells of the testes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16641036   More research is needed on the effects of soy products and testosterone levels as the exact correlation is unclear.

What you should do next

Now that we know that diet may have an effect on your testosterone levels, how can we help to increase those levels?  The first step is to get tested to see where your actual testosterone levels are and whether they need to be addressed.   As discussed previously, an at-home Testosterone and Performance Hormone test is the first step to determine your testosterone level.

If you do suffer from low testosterone levels, testosterone replacement therapy or TRT may be an option to look into.  TRT is a therapy where a physician monitors your hormone level and prescribes medications, typically testosterone cypionate via a syringe, to be injected on a weekly basis. 

While this therapy is appropriate for many with low hormone levels, those who simply want to optimize their hormone levels can do so via natural methods.  Some of these methods include:

  • Balanced diet
  • Sleep well
  • Exercise regularly
  • Adequate Vitamins
  • Cortisol Balance

Regardless of the path you choose to optimize your testosterone level, the first step is to determine if there is actually a reduction of testosterone in the body.  Get tested today to find out if your body is functioning at an optimal level