MALE TESTOSTERONE'S DECLINING. CAN NUTRITION FIX IT?
Testosterone, an essential sex hormone, is on the decline nationally. According to research, male testosterone levels have dropped at least 20% in the last 20 years, with more and more men suffering the effects of low testosterone at younger ages—from low sex drives, erectile dysfunction, depression, and infertility, to hair loss, poor memory, and decreased muscle tone and bone health.
What’s driving the premature decline in testosterone in men—and can nutrition help reverse it? We tapped our in-house nutritionist Colleen Coffey, MS, RDN, LDN, to learn more.
Why Is Testosterone on the Decline?
Produced in the gonads in males, testosterone is an androgen hormone essential for maintaining optimal energy, strength, reproductive function, and a healthy libido. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland within our brain are key players when it comes to controlling the amount of testosterone produced by the testes—and can be influenced by a variety of factors, particularly chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can disrupt the normal function of our endocrine system and is closely linked to secondary hypogonadism (when the body's sex glands, the gonads, produce less hormones). It can manifest from a multitude of reasons, including:
- Poor Diet: A lack of nutrient-dense foods needed to make testosterone can directly contribute to overall low levels of the hormone. Think: refined carbs and sugars, inflammatory vegetable oils and fried foods, alcohol, and a lack of fresh fruits and veggies.
- Poor Gut Health: Poor gut health and dysbiosis can directly impact testosterone levels, as inflammation driven from the gut can decrease the count of Leydig cells, which are responsible for the production of testosterone. Not to mention, the gut plays a crucial role in nutrient absorption and the regulation of hormones. When gut health is compromised, it can lead to problems such as leaky gut syndrome or dysbiosis (imbalanced gut microbiota). These conditions can impair the absorption of essential nutrients required for testosterone production, like zinc and vitamin D.
- Excessive Stress: Chronic exposure to stress over time is closely linked to a decline in testosterone. Elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can interfere with testosterone production.
- Toxin Exposure: Chemicals found all around us are linked to disruption of the endocrine system. These toxins can mimic or interfere with hormone signaling, leading to decreased testosterone production. Research has also tied pesticide exposure to sperm quality (which is just another reason to opt for organic when possible!) and other environmental factors, like exposure to pollutants, may be linked to lower fertility rates.
The good news? Basic lifestyle changes, like daily movement, improved sleep, managed stress, and a nutrient-dense, plant-rich diet (like our Signature Nutrition Program), can help boost testosterone production in men, enhancing both sexual and overall health.
Below, how to eat for healthy testosterone levels, addressing inflammation and nourishing our guts, our hormones, and our vitality in the process:
- Leafy Greens: Rich in magnesium and plant bioactives that reduce oxidative stress, abundant leafy greens (like kale, collard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard) support testosterone production.
- Healthy Fats: Fat is your friend. Include more high-quality oils, nuts, avocado and the like to help the Leydig cells (the primary source of testosterone in males) absorb more cholesterol and support testosterone production.
- Sulfur-Rich Veggies: This under-the-radar mineral (found in Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, and onions) is abundant in indole-3 carbinol, which can boost testosterone production by breaking down estrogen.
- B-Vitamins: In legumes, leafy greens, and seeds, B-vitamins are necessary for testosterone production.
Ready to get fired up? Join us for ready-to-eat, plant-rich meals or reserve your spot for our transformative Performance System (featuring plant protein-rich snacks, body-nourishing supplements, and a comprehensive guide).