Testosterone is the get up and go hormone. Men need it the most but women also need it for energy and vitality.
It is essential for many functions like reproductive health, healthy muscle mass, bone density, high energy and cognitive ability.
Dr Shanna Swan, one of the world’s leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologists, recently completed a systematic review to find there has been a significant decline in sperm count and testosterone levels.
Most of us know that lifestyle factors such as exercising, limiting alcohol, not smoking and eating fruits and vegetables are important when it comes to our health. We may not actually implement these recommendations for a variety of reasons, but it’s not because we are not aware of them.
What we may not realise is the role that environmental toxins play. From cleaning products to packaging to food our body is bombarded with unnatural poisons on a daily basis.
However, with some awareness and minor tweaks in our habits we can greatly reduce our exposure.
Avoidance is key and the main culprits are all within our control.
Avoidance is Key
Below are the main toxins to avoid as much as possible. These have all been shown to reduce testosterone.
Avoid body-care products like aftershave, lotions and shower gel with ‘fragrances’ or ‘phthalates’ on the ingredient list like the plague. Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals that make plastic more flexible and resilient. They are found in most body care products and some single use plastics.
They are absorbed into the body through the skin and nostrils and studies have highlighted the link between phthalates and declining testosterone. This study showed that phthalate exposure causes a significant decline in testosterone production.
Phthalates are also one of the most pervasive of the endocrine disrupters which have the capacity to alter our hormones. Yes they might smell good, but the irony is they are having the opposite effect that’s intended!
It simply entails swapping to the many naturally available alternatives to keep yourself clean and smelling good. Personally I use Dr Bronners soap, coconut oil as a moisturiser and make up my own products using essential oils like lavender and lemongrass.
BPA (bisphenol A) can trick the body into imitating the sex hormone estrogen. Studies have shown men who were exposed to BPA had lower levels of testosterone in their blood compared to those who weren’t exposed.
BPA has been linked to cancers, obesity and heart disease. BPA is often found in receipts, canned food and many plastic products like food containers and water bottles.
Buy fresh instead of canned food (or buy BPA free canned food), avoid receipts, avoid plastics marked with PC and preferably opt for glass or BPA free food containers and water bottles.
Pesticides are common in all conventionally grown and processed food.
There seems to be a perception that a conventionally grown carrot and organic carrot are the same, apart from the price. That organic food is a con. But there’s a reason the people who spray pesticides wear masks and moon suits!
They should list the pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides used to grow the conventional carrot on the packaging. Because you are ingesting all of this as well as the carrot.
In this human study, the pesticide chlorpyrifos were noted to have a dose-dependent testosterone lowering effect in multiple linear regression models. Several animal studies have also shown that chlorpyrifos has a significant testosterone lowering effect as well as other pesticides like atrazine.
Personally, it’s finding a balance between price and reducing exposure. Therefore, I always opt to buy the dirty dozen organic. Pesticide Action Network UK has a list of the dirty dozen. For all other produce, I wash with baking soda which is very cheap and has been shown to remove some of the pesticides.
Build your testosterone naturally
Whilst avoidance is key, it’s good to also build up our natural capacity to boost testosterone.
Bromelain in pineapple core
Studies have shown that bromelain can help preserve testosterone levels that were increased during a workout. Therefore, it appears to provide great benefits in those who move and exercise regularly. Pineapple also has magnesium and zinc which are vital minerals for testosterone.
Zinc and Magnesium rich foods
Research suggests that zinc plays an important role in maintaining testosterone levels in men. There is also evidence to show that magnesium is linked to increased testosterone levels among male athletes.
Magnesium also plays an important role in utilising vitamin D3 supplementation and enhances sleep quality. These are two essential components for normal testosterone production.
Pumpkin seeds are an essential staple for me because they are high in both zinc and magnesium. Dark chocolate, eggs and legumes are also high in these minerals.
Consuming this Mediterranean-born superfruit does wonders for the heart. The main reason being that pomegranate juice has such a positive effect on testosterone levels is due to its ability to facilitate nitric oxide production. Compounds within the juice of pomegranates increase the production of an enzyme system (eNOS) responsible for the creation of nitric oxide.
Also, these edible seeds are rich in a mineral called dietary nitrate. Healthy gut bacteria helps convert dietary nitrate into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator throughout the body. As we age, a lifetime of poor food choices, medication usage, and other mitigating factors leads to buildups throughout the arteries in our systems. What makes nitric oxide so important for testosterone production is that this gas clears the pathways of veins so that blood can circulate freely. This is essential for a properly functioning heart.
A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry examined the effects of diet on testosterone in healthy men. Results showed that when men decreased their healthy fat intake, serum concentrations of androstenedione, testosterone and free testosterone also decreased.
The best healthy fat foods that boost testosterone include:
- coconut oil
Progress over perfection
It may seem overwhelming to implement all of the above strategies for avoiding toxins and boosting testosterone naturally. This all or nothing approach can be stressful.
Therefore, I would invite you to focus on avoidance first and choose one simple thing you feel ready, willing and able to change. Just avoiding one main source of exposure will go a long way.
Then after a month or so you can try changing something else.
If you want help to reclaim your physical freedom and vitality, book a free consultation.