Let’s face it guys, healthy testosterone levels are extremely important for a man’s overall health and vitality.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that stimulates the development of male secondary characteristics. It is vital for the development of muscle, bones, hair growth, energy levels, and production of sperm (among other things).
You need to eat the right foods and supply your genes with the best exercise and lifestyle inputs to optimize hormonal expression.
Signs of low testosterone include lowered sex drive, decreased energy levels, increase in body fat, reduced muscle mass, difficulty sleeping, and even erectile dysfunction.
None of these symptoms are especially fun. They certainly do not ensure that we are living at optimal levels of happiness and wellness.
Today’s modern lifestyle may be at odds with producing the levels of testosterone needed for overall wellness, especially as we age.
There may be products in your own home, dietary or otherwise, that are disrupting hormonal expression and causing a drop in testosterone levels.
But what are they, and how can we get rid of them?
1. Soy Products
The Soybean is a species of legume native to East Asia, and has a wide variety of uses. Soy milk, soy sauce, tempeh, miso, tofu, edamame, and soy protein are very popular products.
Soybeans are an agricultural subsidy in the United States, meaning that the government financially aids the production of soy. Therefore, soy finds its way into many of our food products, whether we are aware of it or not.
These government subsidies make soybean oil a cheap source of oil, which makes its way into a plethora of processed food products, including breadcrumbs, cereals, crackers, meal replacement shakes, mayo, and nutritional supplements.
Soy contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens – plant-based compounds that behave like estrogens.
Animal studies have shown that plasma testosterone and androstenedione levels were significantly lower in animals fed a phytoestrogen-rich diet compared with animals fed a phytoestrogen-free diet.
When estrogen levels in men increase, testosterone levels tend to decrease, so that symptoms of high estrogen tend to occur along with symptoms of low testosterone.
Recently, many articles have begun to question the idea that soy has an effect on men’s testosterone levels by pointing to this study published in Fertility and Sterility. However, it is worth noting (surprise, surprise) that one of the authors received funding from the Soy Nutrition Institute for his work on the manuscript and another consults for companies in the soy food industry.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to hang my health on one conflicted study.
Product(s) to ditch: Anything in your house containing soy.
BPA (bisphenol-a) is a nasty little chemical that is added to many consumer products, including reusable plastic bottles.
Studies have shown that exposure to BPA (which can leech into food and drink from plastic bottles) can have negative effects on health.
BPA has also been shown to disrupt hormone levels, including testosterone levels in men. One study found that chemical plant workers who were exposed to BPA for six months had significantly lower free testosterone levels than workers who were not exposed.
Similar to the phytoestrogens in soy, BPA molecules are structurally similar to the female sex hormone estrogen, and may have a role in increasing that hormone and decreasing testosterone in men.
Product(s) to Ditch: Plastic bottles (especially reusable plastic bottles), canned food, and plastic Tupperware. Look for products that are labeled “BPA Free” and use glass, porcelain, or steel cups and containers instead of plastic.
3. Industrial Seed Oils
Industrial seed oils and vegetable oils like canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil should be avoided like the plague.
These oils are far from anything that could be considered an actual whole food and were never really meant for human consumption.
Industrial seed oils are very high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which in and of themselves are not harmful. But the pervasiveness of these oils in the Standard American Diet has sky-rocketed our average Omega 6: Omega 3 ratios to dangerously unhealthy levels.
This imbalance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 can cause problems such as cognitive decline, cancer, cardiovascular disease, gut problems, obesity and arthritis.
A study conducted in 2010 and published in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences showed that canola oil and hydrogenated soybean oil significantly lowered testosterone levels in the serum and testes of rats.
We must move away from these types of oils and replace them with more healthful fats to protect our wellness and ensure optimal testosterone levels.
Product(s) to ditch: Canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil. Replace with non-industrial fats like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, lard, and tallow.
Studies have shown that men who have been exposed to chemicals called parabens (preservatives used in cosmetic products like shampoos, shaving gel, and toothpaste) have lower testosterone levels and irregularly-shaped sperm.
Research on animals has shown that parabens can also mimic the hormone estrogen and cause lowered testosterone levels in men.
The most common parabens used in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. They are often used in combination with one another to increase their effectiveness.
If you want to protect your testosterone levels, you must steer clear of products containing these chemicals and opt for more natural shampoos, soaps, and toothpastes.
Product(s) to ditch: Most commercially popular shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and toothpastes. Look for more natural products or anything labeled “paraben free”.
Phthalates are yet another nasty chemical wreaking havoc on our collective testosterone levels.
They are substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.
However, a new study found reduced levels of circulating testosterone were associated with increased phthalate exposure in several key populations, including a 24-34 percent decline in testosterone levels in boys aged 6 to 12.
Phthalates may reduce testosterone synthesis by interfering with an enzyme needed to produce the hormone.
Other studies have shown that pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of phyhalates have a greater chance of giving birth to males with smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent.
Product(s) to avoid: Vinyl shower curtains, dryer sheets, artificial air fresheners, detergents. Opt for more naturally-made cleaning products.
I hope you see the wide away of product in your own home that may be compromising your healthy levels of testosterone.
In today’s modern world, it is important to be mindful of these harmful products and make the necessary adjustments to protect yourself!
For more men’s health and fitness tips, news, t-bosting recipes and more be sure to follow me on Instagram @refuelvitality, Twitter @joeghealthcoach, and follow the Refuel Vitality blog by clicking on the toolbar to the right!