Your favorite fast foods are wrecking your manliness. Pro-inflammatory fast foods high in PUFAs are reducing testosterone levels in men.

Not only are fast foods that contain ultra-processed foods, seed oils, and refined sugars that all contribute towards ill health and obesity, but they can also destroy your testosterone levels.

We have already discussed how sugar has been shown to sharply lower testosterone levels, it is now time to turn our attention to its common pairing: fast food.

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Fast Food and Lower Testosterone Study

Flinders University and UniSA researchers have found that a high fat (polyunsaturated fatty acid) intake from ‘fast food’ meals has a decisive negative effect on a man’s serum testosterone levels.

Their investigation into the impact of dietary fat on testicular endocrine function showed some alarming results. They found that the ingestion of a high-fat Fast Food mixed meal, which is a common practice for obese men, produced a 25% fall in serum testosterone within an hour of eating, with levels remaining suppressed below fasting baseline for up to 4 hours.

The results appeared to match a similar pattern to the effects of refined sugar on testosterone levels following consumption.

These results – which only investigated the impact on overweight and obese men, and therefore may not apply to lean men – suggest that the passage of fat through the intestinal tract elicits a response that indirectly elicits a post-prandial fall in testosterone.

The Study found:

“The observed falls in serum testosterone (25% decline from baseline, 2–3 nmol in absolute terms) are likely to be clinically significant for the obese or older man with low baseline levels of testosterone,” says Flinders University’s Professor Kelton Tremellen, Gynaecologist and Strategic Professor of Reproductive Medicine, who undertook the research with Dr Karma Pearce from UniSA.

“These men are likely to be placed into a continuous hypogonadal state during waking hours if they frequently consume meals and snacks high in fat. This will clearly have an adverse impact on both their mental and physical wellbeing, plus possibly their fertility potential.

“Our results suggest that these men should minimise their fat intake and avoid inter‐meal snacking in order to optimise testicular function.” [R]

We also noted that:

A scale known as the “Diet Inflammatory Index” (DII) had already been developed to help investigate how food impacts one’s risk of inflammation, particularly in relation to other health indicators, and the Chinese researchers used this index as a central part of their research. 

The researchers decided to investigate the relationship between the DII and testosterone deficiency in 4,151 males from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

All the male subjects submitted a 24-hour nutritional questionnaire and were tested for sex hormones. The DII of each participant was estimated according to his food history questionnaire. In all, approximately 26% of the males had low testosterone.

The researchers discovered that the risk of low testosterone was nearly 30% greater in men who ate the most pro-inflammatory foods than in those who ate foods with lower rankings on the DII scale. After controlling for other factors such as BMI and smoking, the correlation remained significant.

Obese men who scored high on the DII – eating more pro-inflammatory foods – were 60% more likely to have low testosterone compared to those who scored lower.

“While these findings do not prove causation, they do support previous research suggesting a pro-inflammatory diet can contribute to testosterone deficiency, among other potentially debilitating health issues,” the authors say .

They add that further research is needed to confirm the causal connection between DII and testosterone levels, but they believe that eating fewer pro-inflammatory foods “could be a feasible method to reduce the accumulated inflammatory burden, [potentially] leading to an increased testosterone level.”

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