Proper nourishment is essential for our survival and overall well-being. The food we consume daily acts as the primary source of this necessary nourishment. While many foods provide the nutrients we need to sustain our bodies, there are certain food items that silently undermine our energy, enthusiasm, and vitality.
What’s worse is that we often disregard these harmful foods. It’s easy to give in to the temptation of indulging in tasty treats like refined sugars and greasy burgers, without realizing the negative consequences they have on our health.
What we eat has a direct impact on how our body functions. Among the numerous hormones in our body, testosterone plays a unique role. This male sex hormone is responsible for various important functions, from promoting muscle growth to facilitating facial hair growth.
Unfortunately, many food items lurking in our kitchens can disrupt the delicate balance of this hormone.
Curious to discover the foods that can reduce testosterone levels? Let’s closely examine these detrimental food items and uncover their impact on our vitality.
What is Low Testosterone?
Testosterone is a vital hormone present in both males and females, although males generally have higher levels compared to females. Low testosterone, also referred to as hypogonadism or low T, can have significant effects on various aspects of your health, both physical and mental.
Low testosterone is characterized by having testosterone levels below the normal threshold. In males, this is defined as less than 300 ng/dL.
In addition, individuals may experience different symptoms of low testosterone. Since these symptoms can vary from person to person, it’s important to consult with a doctor to address the issue effectively.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Having a healthy level of free testosterone and total testosterone in the body is crucial for optimal functioning of various bodily processes. This includes regulating sex drive, improving sperm and red blood cell production, and enhancing bone mass, among other important functions.
However, if there is a deficiency of testosterone in the body, you may experience symptoms of low testosterone, which can range from mild to severe. Here are some potential issues associated with low testosterone:
- Diminished libido
- Decreased testicular size
- Hair loss
- ED (Erectile Dysfunction)
- Low energy
- Reduced sperm count
- Lack of motivation and/or depression
- Decrease in cognitive function
- Weight gain
If you are a man experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to re-think your dietary habits and consult a medical professional for guidance on addressing abnormal testosterone levels.
See Also: The Signs of Low Testosterone
The Top 9 Foods That Lower Testosterone
Curious about which foods can lower testosterone levels?
The following is a list of foods you should steer clear of if you want to maintain optimal testosterone levels:
1. Soy and Soy Products
Soy products, including tofu, edamame, and soy protein isolates, contain phytoestrogens. These compounds are similar to estrogen in the body and have similar functions.
According to a 2014 study published in the journal German Medical Science, despite extensive research, scientists still have incomplete knowledge about soy. The study highlights that numerous studies have found no association between consuming soy products and changes in testosterone or estrogen levels.
In fact, a review conducted in 2021 concluded that neither soy nor phytoestrogens have any impact on testosterone levels. Similarly, another study from the same year supported the fact that there is no evidence indicating that phytoestrogens disturb the human endocrine system.
2. Alcoholic Beverages
Drinking a glass of wine every so often has been associated with certain health benefits. However, a small study conducted in 2004 found that consuming 30-40 grams of alcohol per day, equivalent to about 2-3 standard drinks, decreased testosterone levels in men by 6.8% over a period of 3 weeks.
Another study in 2014 showed that alcohol consumption affected semen and reproductive hormones in young Danish men. Nevertheless, the impact of alcohol on testosterone levels is not fully understood.
Previous studies in both humans and animals have yielded inconsistent results, with some suggesting that alcohol may actually raise testosterone levels in certain scenarios. Further research is necessary to determine the effects of different alcohol doses on testosterone levels in the general population.
See Also: How Alcohol Affects Testosterone
Spearmint and peppermint are known for their calming tea properties. However, it is important to note that the menthol found in mint may potentially lower testosterone levels. It should be emphasized that there is a lack of human research to fully support this claim.
In a study published in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, female rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) were treated with spearmint essential oil. The researchers observed a reduction in testosterone levels among these rats.
A previous review published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine also highlighted some high-quality evidence indicating that mint can lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS.
Nevertheless, there is a scarcity of high-quality evidence regarding the overall effects of mint on testosterone levels, especially in men who may have concerns. Most of the research conducted so far has focused on animal models or women. To gain a comprehensive understanding, future studies should explore the effects of mint on both genders.
4. Licorice Root
Licorice root is commonly used to sweeten candies and beverages. It is also used in holistic medicine as a natural remedy for various ailments. Recent studies have indicated that licorice may affect hormone levels, potentially leading to a decrease in testosterone over time.
A study involving 25 men showed that consuming 7 grams of licorice root daily led to a 26% decrease in testosterone levels after just one week. Another study found that licorice reduced testosterone levels in women by 32% after one menstrual cycle.
However, a recent animal study demonstrated that licorice extract raised testosterone levels in mice injected with methotrexate, which had decreased testosterone levels. Further research in humans is necessary to confirm the effects of licorice root on testosterone.
It is important to differentiate between licorice root and licorice candy, as the latter often does not contain licorice root.
5. Breads, Pastries, and Baked Goods
Baked goods like cookies and bread, especially when fresh out of the oven, are hard to resist. However, it’s important to note that many of these treats contain trans fat, which is known to decrease testosterone levels.
A 2017 study found that individuals consuming high amounts of trans fat had testosterone levels that were 15 percent lower compared to those with the lowest intake.
But it’s not just the trans fat you need to be cautious of: indulging in pastries, danishes, pies, and sweet treats can also raise insulin levels and contribute to a larger waist size. Both of these factors can lead to lower testosterone levels and have a negative impact on your overall well-being. So, think twice before grabbing that second doughnut.
6. Trans Fats
Trans fats, an unhealthy type of fat that has been banned since 2015, have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation. Moreover, regular consumption of trans fats from sources like processed foods has been found to potentially decrease testosterone levels.
A study involving 209 men revealed that those with the highest trans fat intake had 15% lower testosterone levels compared to those with the lowest intake. These individuals also had a 37% lower sperm count and a decrease in testicular volume, which could indicate reduced testicular function.
Animal studies have similarly indicated that a high intake of trans fats may lower testosterone levels and negatively impact reproductive performance.
7. Processed Foods
Processed and fried foods are a common indulgence for many of us. However, it’s important to consider the hidden drawbacks that come with the convenience of these unhealthy options.
Packed with trans fats, artificial additives, and sugars, these canned goods not only have a negative impact on our overall health but also interfere with testosterone production.
This interference occurs because these foods raise the risk of inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity due to their excessive fat and sugar content. These factors can ultimately lower testosterone levels.
Before indulging in that cheese platter or glass of whole milk, it’s important to consider their potential impact on testosterone levels. Numerous studies have shown that dairy products can actually lower testosterone levels. This is primarily because the milk produced and sold commercially comes from pregnant cows, and it contains high levels of estrogens and progesterone.
These hormones interfere with testosterone production by suppressing the release of important hormones like gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) that are necessary for testosterone synthesis.
A thorough analysis conducted in 2010 further supports the negative association between dairy products and men’s hormone levels. Additionally, it’s worth considering that a significant portion of soybean meal, which is commonly used as animal feed, contributes to even higher estrogen levels in cows’ milk.
If you truly desire milk, opt for low-fat or skim versions, and ensure they are fortified with Vitamin D, which can be beneficial for testosterone levels.
Consuming excess sugar can have a negative impact on testosterone levels, which is something to consider if you have a sweet tooth. The American Heart Association highlights that the average American male consumes around 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, almost double the recommended limit, and sugar is already notorious for its association with various health issues.
Understanding the effects of sugar on hormones may help motivate you to reduce your intake. Research has documented that males between the ages of 19 and 74 can experience a significant 25 percent decline in testosterone levels after consuming sugar, with the lowered levels lasting for up to two hours.
For those who love soda and energy drinks, it’s worth noting that sugar-sweetened beverages were found to be linked to low testosterone levels in 59 percent of subjects.Out of all the foods that can negatively affect testosterone, sugar is likely the easiest and yet the most challenging one to eliminate from your diet.
10. Certain Nuts
While nuts are often praised for their healthy fats and mineral content, it’s important to be mindful of certain varieties that can have a negative impact on your hormones. Various studies indicate that nuts high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, and almonds, can contribute to oxidative stress in storage tissues, ultimately leading to a decrease in testosterone levels.
For those who enjoy snacking on nuts, it is advisable to opt for nutrient-dense varieties that are higher in cholesterol- and heart-friendly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Good choices include brazil nuts, chestnuts, or macadamia nuts.
To maintain healthy testosterone levels, it’s beneficial to make changes to your diet. By replacing testosterone-lowering foods with nutritious whole-food alternatives, you can effectively manage your levels and improve your overall well-being.
In addition, adopting a healthy lifestyle, prioritizing sufficient sleep, and incorporating regular exercise into your routine are crucial steps towards naturally boosting testosterone.
Mark McIntyre is the founder of MaleHealthReview.com and acts as it’s chief contributor. He is a fitness trainer and avid mountain biker who also enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. Besides managing Male Health Review, Mark is also a guest columnist for several blogs related to men’s health. More about this author…