Some have speculated that Christiano Ronaldo’s recent gesture was inspired by growing evidence of collapsing male fertility and studies showing that refined sugar consumption may be playing a role.
At a press conference ahead of Portugal’s Euro 2020 match against Hungary, Christiano Ronaldo was in no mood to Drink Coca Cola™.
Ronaldo Removes Coke in Favor of Water
In front of the assembled press, Ronaldo removed two strategically placed bottles of the Real Thing from the table in front of him, before remarking ‘Coca Cola… ugh.’ Later, he held up a bottle of water and exclaimed ‘Agua!’ in approval.
The gesture had dramatic effects, knocking almost $5 billion off Coca Cola’s market value overnight. It also inspired a similar gesture by French star Paul Pogba, a practising Muslim, who removed a bottle of Heineken from his press conference with reporters.
Ronaldo is known for his extremely strict diet and exercise regimen, which has kept him performing at the highest level of club and international football for nearly two decades. In the past, though, Ronaldo had no problem advertising Coca Cola or KFC. So what has changed?
A much younger Ronaldo advertising Coca Cola. What has changed?
Some have speculated that Ronaldo’s gesture was a protest at collapsing male fertility levels and, in particular, the role played by consumption of refined sugar in reducing testosterone. Evidence is growing of a looming disaster as male sperm counts and testosterone levels plummet.
On March 10, Politico ran an article with the headline, ‘No more babies? The hormone-altering chemicals threatening human procreation’, to coincide with the release of a new book on the subject by Dr Shanna Swan, a world-leading expert on reproductive health.
By 2045, Swan claims, the majority of men may no longer be able to reproduce because of the effects of harmful chemicals from a variety of sources. ‘We’re about 40 years behind global warming, in terms of awareness’, she notes, and yet the threat to human survival is just as great as, if not greater than, our concerns about greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Swan’s projections, in 2045 the sperm count of the median man will reach zero. This means that one half of all men will have no sperm at all. The other half will have an amount that is barely more than zero, making them functionally sterile.
The implications are obvious: no sperm, no babies. Such a scenario has already been dubbed ‘Spermageddon’.
One of the root causes of the massive (59%) decrease in the sperm count of the average Western man between 1973 and 2011 is almost certainly the growing exposure to endocrine (i.e. hormone)-disrupting chemicals, such as pthalates and bisphenol A. These chemicals are ubiquitous in the modern developed world. Plastics, electronic goods, packaging, pesticides, cosmetics, personal hygiene products and, yes, the drinking water and food supply – even honey! – all contain such chemicals that disrupt male fertility.
But it’s not just xenoestrogens that are responsible for the precipitous decline in male fertility we’re witnessing. Swan also points to a variety of other factors that seem to be at work, including the use of contraceptives, obesity, smoking and ‘cultural shifts’. There may be other biological factors at work too, she suggests, pointing to the collapse in testosterone levels in western men over the last half century.
Although falling testosterone levels are a fact of life for all men as they age – after the age of 30, a man can expect to lose 1% of his natural testosterone every year for the rest of his life – this natural reduction pales in comparison with the society-wide collapse in T levels that has occurred over the second half of the twentieth and the first quarter of the twenty-first century.
Men today have considerably less T than men of the same age even a single generation ago. A 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed a significant reduction in the T levels of men since the 1980s. A 60-year-old American man in 2004, for example, had 17% less testosterone than a 60-year-old American man in 1987. These findings were corroborated in a study of Danish men, who displayed a two-digit decline between the 1920s and the 1960s.
If Christiano Ronaldo has read our article on foods that reduce your testosterone – we can’t say for certain whether he has – he would know that consumption of refined sugar can lead to reduced testosterone levels in men and to reduced sperm motility. At least two studies have shown this. [R][R].
By giving men a 75g dose of refined sugar every day, researchers at Oxford University were able to reduce their testosterone by 25% with almost immediate effect. The effects took place within a very short period of time and testosterone remained suppressed two hours after administration of the sugar dose.
To put this in perspective, one can of Coca Cola contains about 40g of refined sugar, so it wouldn’t be difficult to consume more than the dose administered by the Oxford University researchers. Indeed, refined sugar consumption has skyrocketed over the past century, doubling among Americans between 1900 and 2009. In 1900, Americans consumption had risen to 90lbs a year, from 18lbs in 1800. By 2009 consumption had reached 180lbs a year, which equates to ½ lb – about 225g, or five-and-a-half times the amount administered in the Oxford study mentioned above.
By attacking so publicly one of the most potent symbols of easy refined-sugar consumption, Ronaldo may have been taking a stand against the foods and chemicals that are threatening male potency, and with it the future of the species. At the same time, by holding aloft the bottle of water, he was also offering a powerful rebuke to those who believe this process of decline is irreversible: if you change your habits, you can transform your life. We at Herculean Strength wholeheartedly agree.
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