Hormone levels do not only depend on genetics.
The environment also plays a significant role.
When we talk about the environment, it is not only where we live.
It also includes what we eat regularly and our exposure to different nutrients.
At the end of the day, testosterone is a substance that requires certain building blocks to be created. They come from food, naturally.
Read on to learn why your diet can cause low testosterone levels, which foods to eat, and which ones to avoid.
How your diet can impact your health
What we eat affects almost every aspect of our health. The traditional approach we can take in this regard is cardiovascular health. A higher saturated fat intake is associated with atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems (1).
Similarly, our hormone levels change depending on what we eat, and the typical example is insulin resistance.
Added sugar increases insulin levels, and the body gradually will get used to higher levels, causing resistance to the hormone. The pancreas becomes exhausted and starts to lose function, causing type 2 diabetes (2).
So, your diet can definitely affect your health and hormone levels. Thus, weight loss and increasing your muscle mass is more than an aesthetic goal.
Can your diet cause low testosterone?
As it happens with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, your diet also affects testosterone. This influence can be positive or negative.
Testosterone is created from a cholesterol molecule. To change cholesterol into testosterone, different enzymes are used.
These enzymes require several minerals to become active, and we get them from the diet. And even though we need fatty acids to build testosterone, excess body fat lowers serum levels (3).
Thus, we really want to achieve a balance: maintaining a healthy body weight.
A healthy diet should include:
- Healthy fatty acids (for example, monounsaturated fat)
- Minerals to boost testosterone-building enzymes (zinc, boron, magnesium, selenium)
- Essential vitamins that also contribute to the synthesis (B vitamins, vitamin D).
Another thing we should keep in mind is a protein known as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). It binds testosterone in the blood, inactivating the hormone.
So, even if you have high total testosterone levels, SHBG would make it useless. Some foods contribute to lowering SHBG levels.
Besides, we can increase our serum testosterone level through resistance exercise and testosterone boosters. Smart foods to boost testosterone production include ginger, oysters, fatty fish, and others you can see in the section below (3).
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7 foods you should eat to boost testosterone
- Ginger: This spice is excellent for increasing testosterone production. It boosts luteinizing hormone, produced in the pituitary gland, stimulating the testis. It also increases the blood flow and helps the body deliver more cholesterol to the testes (4).
- Oysters: Seafood is an excellent option to treat low testosterone levels, and oysters are a perfect example. They are commonly used to improve erectile dysfunction and promote testosterone synthesis. This is partly because of the high zinc content and various oligopeptides found in oyster meat (5).
- Fatty fish: Next, we have one of the best sources of omega 3: fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. They should be included if you’re following a high-fat diet such as keto. It is essential to maintain a balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and fatty fish is helpful to reach the right numbers (6).
- Leafy green vegetables: They are a reliable source of minerals, especially magnesium. This mineral is essential to boost enzymes for sex hormone production. Thus, low dietary intake may lead to testosterone deficiency (7).
- Grapes: You have many reasons to eat grapes. One of them is the antioxidant profile they offer by providing resveratrol. This protects your testes from free radical damage, increases your sperm count, and may result in higher testosterone levels (8).
- Pomegranate: Another source of antioxidants is pomegranate, and fruit extracts are known to increase testosterone levels in clinical trials. Moreover, pomegranate improves a few symptoms of low testosterone, especially mood swings (9).
- Olive oil: If you’re using a type of oil, it should be olive oil. According to clinical trials, testosterone and luteinizing hormone increase after using olive oil in your diet for three weeks (10).
7 foods you should limit or avoid
- Mint: It provides an overall fresh feel, but mint is known to lower testosterone levels. Mint lowers testosterone significantly and is used in women with facial hair to lower their male sex hormone levels (11).
- Alcohol: Drinking heavily is one of the worst things you can do for your testicles. If you want to keep optimal testosterone levels, stay away from heavy drinking. According to studies, even people who drink moderately may lower testosterone levels if they keep doing it over a long period (12).
- Processed foods: This food comes with many ingredients associated with reduced testosterone levels. For example, they have a considerable amount of trans fat and polyunsaturated fats in a combination that increases inflammation and impairs testosterone synthesis.
- Fried foods: This is another common source of harmful fatty acids. They also tend to have a lot of sodium, complicating things by causing cardiovascular problems. Avoid fried foods, and if you’re following a low-fat diet, eat plenty of fatty fish and olive oil. Do not use olive oil to prepare fried foods, though.
- Added sugar: Sugary foods and drinks are the modern sources of obesity and cardiovascular problems. We tend to consume too much sugar every day, which increases inflammation and brings down testosterone.
- Flaxseed: Yes, they have plenty of dietary fat, but consider other sources if you have constipation. Flaxseed reduces the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which is a more active form of testosterone. It also reduces free testosterone by increasing SHBG levels (13).
- Vegetable oil: It sounds healthy due to the word vegetable, but it’s not. They have a disproportionate ratio of unsaturated fatty acids that won’t do any good to your testosterone. If you’re following a keto diet, try to use another type of oil.
Diet and testosterone have a close relationship, as noted in this article. Fat intake is essential to build this hormone, but you need to know what type of fat is the most appropriate.
Healthy dietary patterns with fruits and vegetables will provide the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your testosterone levels up. Additionally, it may also reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Talk to your doctor if you still have low testosterone problems after adjusting your diet.
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