Last month we introduced women and the effects of diet during menopause. This month we’re introducing Men and Testosterone.
As the primary male hormone, testosterone controls many characteristics of a man’s health. During puberty, it causes the genital organs, facial and body hair to grow and muscles to be built. It also plays a role in adulthood with red blood cell production, fertility, bone mineral density, and metabolism. Most of this hormone in men is made in the testes, ovaries, and adrenal glands for women. Control of its production is signaled by the pituitary gland in the brain.
Effects of low testosterone
Men with metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and insulin resistance have been shown to have low levels of testosterone in the bloodstream. This correlation may be with the strength of the signal that the visceral (belly) fat is playing. Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells that tells us that we are full when we feel full. This leptin balance seems to be disturbed in obese men with low testosterone levels. When testosterone is low there is less fat burning.
The Journal of Urology reported in 2020 that a low-fat diet in men can increase the risk of testosterone deficiency. While this sounds like good news, dieters shouldn’t get a free high-fat diet license. Further studies have shown that obesity is related to testosterone levels.
500,000 American men are diagnosed with low testosterone levels annually. To measure the values, a doctor may request a blood test, which is usually done between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Since the values will fluctuate throughout the day, it is important to retest them at a similar time to compare the results.
Lifestyle changes and testosterone
Lifestyle factors that can be modified to improve testosterone include improved insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation, an in-range body mass index, and constant physical activity.
Research shows that increased daily exercise can increase serum testosterone. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, groups of men who took up to 10,486 steps per day had an increase in serum testosterone compared to groups who took fewer than 3,579 steps per day. The study also showed improvement in groups that participated in aerobic activities for 60-90 minutes three times a week.
The same study examined the effect of calorie restriction on testosterone levels and concluded that there was no significant difference between the low-calorie group (1680 kcal) and the high-calorie group (2735 kcal). In my opinion, it is the balance of these calories that makes all the difference. A diet high in refined carbohydrates and high in saturated fat is likely to lead to obesity. We also know that a low-protein diet can lead to lower testosterone levels.
Good sources of protein are:
– Beef or bison (brisket, feed, flank steak, lower round, eye of the round, upper round, sirloin, fillet, top roast)
– Dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, milk, Greek yogurt)
– Fish (cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, mahi-mahi, perch, pollock, salmon, sol, snapper, tilapia)
– Lamb (blade chop, thigh, roast leg, sirloin chop, sirloin)
– Pork (center-cut chop, center-cut sirloin, 90-95 percent lean ham, leg, fillet, Canadian bacon)
– poultry (chicken, turkey)
– Seafood (mussels, crabs, lobsters, oysters, scallops, prawns)
– grains (quinoa, amaranth)
– Legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils and pasta made from these)
– Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and butter made from them)
– seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia, flax and butter made from them)
– I am (tofu, tempeh, I am yogurt, I am milk)
Essential fatty acids can also affect free testosterone levels. These anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA / DHA) and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) are found in food. The adequate intake for men is between 1.3 and 1.6 grams per day. Consider oily fish like:
– Atlantic salmon (1.8 grams EPA / DHA per 3 ounces)
– Atlantic mackerel (1.0 grams EPA / DHA per 3 ounces)
– Anchovies (0.8 grams of EPA / DHA per 4 ounces)
– Sardines (1.2 grams of EPA / DHA per 3 ounces)
– Atlantic herring (1.7 grams EPA / DHA per 3 ounces)
Plant sources can also be found in:
– flaxseed oil (7.3 ALA per 1 tablespoon)
– Chia seeds (5.1 ALA per 2 tablespoons)
– Walnuts (2.6 ALA per 14 halves)
– Whole flaxseed (2.4 ALA per 1 tablespoon)
Maintaining a normal weight and supporting healthy endocrine function is a prerequisite for maintaining healthy testosterone levels. In addition to choosing a diet based on whole foods, including healthy fats (hormone precursors) and fiber, choosing daily physical activity can also guide you towards optimal hormonal balance.