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4 Things You Should Avoid to Keep Your Testosterone Levels Optimal, 2022

While it’s in vogue to recommend certain foods or supplements to boost testosterone, not enough lip service is paid to things you should avoid to keep your testosterone optimal.

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Things You Should Avoid to Keep Your Testosterone Levels Optimal

1. Plastics, Pesticides, Xenoestrogens

Now it’s the turn of xenestrogens, a diverse class of industrial compounds that also mimic the effects of estrogen. What’s more, these chemicals are so ubiquitous that it’s much harder to avoid them than the naturally occurring compounds in your diet. 

But why does this matter? Why is having low T such a bad thing?

T is the hormone most associated with masculinity, and although it’s also important to women’s bodies and their health, the increased levels of T in the male body are responsible for the host of traits that make men men, rather than women. 

Xenoestrogens interfere with the endocrine systems of both sexes.

Body hair, muscle mass, bone density, strength, aggression, dominance and competitiveness – increases in all of these things are associated with increased T in men. 

It’s worth noting that falling T levels are a fact of life for all men as they age; unless you take exogenous T, it’s as unavoidable as taxes and death, I’m afraid. After the age of 30, a man can expect to lose 1% of his T every year for the rest of his life. 

But the natural reduction all men can expect to suffer 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.

Apart from taking a blood test to establish whether you have low T, there are various symptoms you’ll experience if you have low T.

The main symptoms include:

  • Reduced libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fertility problems (inability to conceive)
  • Fatigue

Boys with low T may develop slower, with little or no body hair, under-developed muscles and smaller penises; and men with low T will have difficulty building muscle, no matter how hard they try.

In extreme cases of low T, usually referred to as hypogonadism, men may also develop breast tissue (gynecomastia) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).

Hypogonadism has a variety of causes, which include:

  • Certain genetic disorders
  • HIV
  • Pituitary disorders, including pituitary tumours and injuries
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Obesity and also rapid weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Steroid use

Obesity, in particular, is an increasingly common cause of hypogonadism. We will later discuss the interrelation between xenoestrogens and fat, plus the vicious cycle xenoestrogens set into motion.

Enter Xenoestrogens

xenoestrogens structure
xenoestrogens structure

So where do xenestrogens come in?
Alex Jones Just “Came Out” as a Gay Frog, and It's Amazing | David Gee

If the general public, at least in the US, know anything about xenestrogens, it’s likely to be as a result of the Alex Jones ‘gay frog’ meme. In 2015, during one of his many lengthy rants, after discussing the US military’s supposed development of a ‘gay bomb’ to make enemy combatants make love (with each other) and not war, Jones uttered the now immortal line, ‘I don’t like ‘em putting chemicals in the water that turn the frickin’ frogs gay!’

Lost among the mockery and viral memes, including a parody indie folk song, was the fact that there really are chemicals in the water that make amphibians and fish change their gender. These chemicals are xenestrogens and among the worst of them is atrazine, a pesticide which is banned in the EU but continues to be used in US.

The endocrine-disrupting (i.e. hormone-disrupting) effects of atrazine in living creatures have been well-established for some time [R].

A study showed that atrazine exposure could not only chemically castrate male frogs, but also cause adult frogs to change their gender completely [R].

In 2006, a statement was made before the House Committee on Government Reform about the increasing number of male fish observed to be bearing eggs in the Potomac River [R].

The study [R] noted:

‘Current research on intersexual characteristics has related numerous chemicals to reproductive effects in fish. These chemicals, often termed “endocrine disruptors’ include previously banned chemicals, such as DDT and chlordane, natural and anthropogenic hormones, herbicides, fungicides, industrial chemicals, and an emerging group of chemicals including personal care products and pharmaceuticals that may act as endocrine disruptors in fish as well as other organisms.’ 

And added that:

‘Potential sources of these endocrine disruptors include agricultural, as well as individual use of herbicides and pesticides, human waste (discharges from wastewater treatment facilities and individual home septic systems), animal wastes that may reach the aquatic environment through runoff, leachates from landfills, and even atmospheric deposition.’

In 1999, a US Geological Survey investigation showed that such chemicals could be found in 80% of all streams that were sampled nationwide.

Of course, the damage to aquatic ecosystems is bad enough, but it’s not just amphibian and fish species that are affected. Humans are affected directly by these chemicals too (as well as indirectly, since they may cause ecosystem-level collapses in human food sources if fish and amphibians cannot reproduce properly).

Some of the most commonly encountered xenestrogenic chemicals, and their sources (in brackets), are:

  • 4MBC (in sun lotion)
  • Hydroxy-anisole butyrate (a food preservative)
  • Bisphenol-A (a food preservative and plasticiser)
  • Dieldrin (a pesticide)
  • DDT (a pesticide. Although it is banned in the US, it is used in countries that export food to the US)
  • Erythrosine (a red dye)
  • PCB (in lubricants, adhesives and paints)
  • P-nonylphenol (in PVC and by-products from detergents and spermicide)
  • Parabens (in lotions)
  • Pthalates (in plastics)
Xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens list

Yes, that’s right: not only is the spermicide in the condom you’ve used killing the sperm you’ve just released, it may also be making it harder for your body to produce fertile sperm in the first place! 

Aren’t Xenoestrogens wonderful?

A number of studies of exposure to the chemical diethylstilbestrol (DES) have concluded that it is responsible for testicular cancer and malformation of the genitals. Indeed, prenatal exposure to an increasing variety of xenestrogens is hypothesised to be behind the massive rise of testicular cancer since 1975 [R].

Studies of pthalates have shown that prenatal exposure may cause feminisation of baby boys and be responsible for smaller penis size — another potential side effect of xenoestrogens [R].

Pthalates were first introduced on a wide scale during the 1950s, when PVC became readily available. They are used to increase plastic flexibility, and as a result have a myriad of applications: in food containers, water bottles and children’s toys, as well as foams, solvents, perfumes, pesticides, nail polish, adhesives and lubricants.

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Of course, industries with interests in the manufacture and use of xenestrogenic chemicals have argued that they display effects at a much weaker level than naturally occurring estrogenic compounds; this makes it harder, so they say, for these xenestrogens to compete in the body and cause estrogenic effects [R]. 

The truth is, though, that there is already significant evidence to show that xenestrogens do mimic estrogen in the bodies of living creatures, including humans, readily binding to receptors and inducing rapid effects [R] [R] [R].

It’s worth noting that all of the other side effects associated with increased estrogenic activity are to be expected as a result of exposure to these chemicals, and that includes increased body fat and metabolic disorders — one of the main reasons why xenoestrogens have been targeted by the fitness community.

The weight gain, in particular, can become a vicious cycle. Within the body, estrogen synthesis takes place in the fatty tissue. The fatty tissue produces the aromatase enzyme, which in turn converts androgen (male) hormones into estrogen.

In the past, we have spoken about the estrogenicity of fat; xenoestrogens plunge you into a frustrating and emasculating vicious cycle.

Xenestrogens bind to estrogen receptors in fat tissue, inducing aromatisation and leading to the production of more estrogen. In turn, this increases fat tissue – leading to further estrogen production, and so on and so on. What began as exposure to xenestrogenic or phytoestrogenic compounds can soon become a weight-gain cascade.

So what’s the answer? How can you reduce your exposure to these xenoestrogenic chemicals? Here are some simple tips.

  • Install a reverse osmosis water filter with an activated carbon filter for your drinking water
  • Choose organic, locally grown, seasonal food
  • Always wash properly and peel fruit and vegetables that are non-organic
  • Buy the highest quality meat and dairy products you can: aim for local, organic, pasture-raised products
  • Reduce your reliance on plastics, including water bottles, canned foods, non-stick cookware and plastic wrappings

Clearly, this may involve a serious change to habits and some expense, but take it from us: the immediate cost will be far less than the cost of slow-burning chemical castration via xenoestrogrens, not just for you but for the generations that come after you as well. 

2. Hopped Beer

The health hazards associated with drinking, especially frequent drinking to excess, are well known, and hardly need to be rehearsed in detail here. One of the health hazards that receives much less attention than alcoholism, liver disease or cancer is hormonal imbalance in men. 

Testosterone is the master male hormone, and increased testosterone in men is associated with the entire host of traits that make men men, rather than women. Body hair, muscle mass, bone density, strength, aggression, dominance and competitiveness – increases in all of these things are associated with increased T in men. 

It’s worth noting that falling T levels are a fact of life for all men as they age; unless you take exogenous T, it’s as unavoidable as taxes and death, I’m afraid. After the age of 30, a man can expect to lose 1% of his T every year for the rest of his life. 

But the natural reduction all men can expect to suffer 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.

Apart from taking a blood test to establish whether you have low T, there are various symptoms you’ll experience if you have low T. The main symptoms include reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, fertility problems (inability to conceive) and fatigue.

Boys with low T may develop slower, with little or no body hair, under-developed muscles and smaller penises; and men with low T will have difficulty building muscle, no matter how hard they try.

In extreme cases of low T, usually referred to as hypogonadism, men may also develop breast tissue (gynecomastia) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).

The death of man – by beer?

This civilisational decline in testosterone is also associated with a terrifying collapse in male fertility, the potentially dire consequences of which – i.e. the end of the human race – are now being considered with increasing alarm by scientists, journalists and indeed anybody with an interest in the continuation of the species.

Count Down by Shanna H. Swan and Stacey Colino

Professor Shanna Swan’s new book on the coming fertility apocalypse, often referred to as ‘spermageddon’

Professor Shanna Swan, author of a new book on the subject, has linked this process to our unprecedented exposure to powerful estrogenic chemicals, especially industrial chemicals such as BPA and pthalates, which are used in the manufacture of plastics and are found just about anywhere you care to look in the modern world. Microplastics, microscopic pieces of plastic as the name suggests, can carry these chemicals into the deepest parts of the ocean, into Arctic ice cores and even float around in the air, waiting to be inhaled.

The bad news for beer drinkers is that, while your granddad might have been able to get away with drinking pints and pints of bitter, he didn’t inhabit a toxic, estrogenic chemical environment from birth. (Studies of pre-natal exposure to pthalates show that they are causing baby boys’ penises to shrink, for instance.)

Image

Average male beer drinker before the invention of PVC in 1950

The Estrogenic Effects

Although more detailed scientific research needs to be done on the estrogenic effects of consuming hopped beer in the long term, especially in male subjects, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence testifying to the powerful effects of hops on female hormonal balance, which are backed up by scientific studies on animals and human subjects. 

One of the most powerful pieces of anecdotal evidence is the observation that female hop pickers – women who simply touched hops when they were working – would regularly suffer menstrual disturbances because of their contact with the plant. Likewise, it is regularly observed that men who suffer alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver – i.e. men who have consumed huge amounts of alcohol, usually including large quantities of beer – often ‘show testicular failure and symptoms of feminization’. [R]

Studies on subjects that produce no natural estrogen – rats with their ovaries removed and post-menopausal women – have shown that phytoestrogens in beer and other alcoholic drinks do exert estrogen-like effects in the body. [R]

(Beer Phytoestrogens | NutritionFacts.org)

Indeed, one phytoestrogen in hops, 8-prenylnaringenin, was isolated and shown to have an estrogenic activity ‘greater than other established plant estrogens,’ which was demonstrated in tests on cells from rat uteruses. [R] The study of 8-prenylnaringenin states that although this phytoestrogen can be detected in beer, ‘the levels are low and should not be any cause for concern.’ 

However, more recent research has shown that levels of this chemical can be massively amplified within the body by the body’s own gut flora. Another phytoestrogen in hops, isoxanthohumol, can be converted into 8-prenylnaringenin at up to a 90% rate, as one study showed. [R] This may be one reason why 8-prenylnaringenin can be detected in the urine of beer drinkers for days afterwards: because the body’s gut flora is still continuing to produce it. [R]

What To Do About It?

See the source image

When in doubt, do as Arnold did

Although more work needs to be done on hops and hopped beer in particular, the evidence for the way that other estrogenic chemicals upset hormonal balance and retard masculine development is strong enough that we can be sure that reducing or even totally cutting your hopped beer consumption has the potential to do you a world of good.

If you drink a lot of beer, try switching to another kind of alcoholic drink. Red wine, for instance, contains aromatase inhibiting compounds, which actually prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen by the aromatase enzyme.

Note, though, that consumption of even moderate quantities of any kind of alcohol has been associated with reduced testosterone. [R] [R]

This is the kind of health intervention that is easy and comes with little cost and no risk. If you don’t like it or it doesn’t have much of an effect, you can stop. Simple.

Here are ten ways low testosterone can ruin your mental health.

3. Soy

Be in no doubt: soy is bad for your testosterone levels and fertility if you’re a man.

But hang on: what’s so important about testosterone?

Testosterone is the hormone most associated with masculinity, and although it’s also important to women’s bodies and their health, the increased levels of testosterone in the male body are responsible for the host of traits that make men men, rather than women. 

Body hair, muscle mass, bone density, strength, aggression, dominance and competitiveness – increases in all of these things are associated with increased testosterone in men. 

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 testosterone every year for the rest of his life. 

But the natural reduction all men can expect to suffer pales in comparison with the society-wide collapse in testosterone 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 testosterone 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 testosterone 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.

Apart from taking a blood test to establish whether you have low T, there are various symptoms you’ll experience if you have low T.

The main symptoms include:

  • Reduced libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fertility problems (inability to conceive)
  • Fatigue

Boys with low testosterone may develop slower, with little or no body hair, under-developed muscles and smaller penises; and men with low T will have difficulty building muscle, no matter how hard they try.

In extreme cases of low testosterone, usually referred to as hypogonadism, men may also develop breast tissue (gynecomastia) and osteoporosis (reduced bone density).

Hypogonadism has a variety of causes, which include:

  • Certain genetic disorders
  • HIV
  • Pituitary disorders, including pituitary tumours and injuries
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Obesity and also rapid weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Steroid use

Obesity, in particular, is an increasingly common cause of hypogonadism.

For more information on how you can determine whether you have low testosterone, you can check out our article on the subject.

The low testosterone epidemic doesn’t just end with dire physiological effects, but low testosterone in men can have far-reaching consequences and wreck their mental health.

But it doesn’t have to be this way; for most men, boosting their flailing T levels can be remedied by losing a little fat and being a little more active.

If you need a little helping hand, you can check out our article on 20+ strategies to raise your T levels.

Failing this, we recommend that you consult your physician as to what can be done as raising your natural testosterone production will improve your quality of life.

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Soy is what is known as a phytoestrogen, a plant product that mimics the effects of the female hormone estrogen in the human body. No wonder, then, that scientific research has shown that regular consumption of soy products like edamame, tofu, soy milk and miso may cause a drop in testosterone levels. For example, one study in 35 men found that drinking soy protein isolate for 54 days resulted in decreased testosterone levels. [R]

As well as lowering testosterone levels, soy consumption has also been found to reduce male fertility.

‘There was an inverse association between soy food intake and sperm concentration that remained significant after accounting for age, abstinence time, body mass index, caffeine and alcohol intake and smoking. In the multivariate-adjusted analyses, men in the highest category of soy food intake had 41 million sperm/ml less than men who did not consume soy foods (95% confidence interval = -74, -8; P, trend = 0.02)…

The inverse relation between soy food intake and sperm concentration was more pronounced in the high end of the distribution (90th and 75th percentile) and among overweight or obese men. Soy food and soy isoflavone intake were unrelated to sperm motility, sperm morphology or ejaculate volume.’ [R]

So not only does consumption of soy reduce your sperm count, but this problem becomes even worse if you’re overweight or obese. It’s worth remembering, as we’ve said elsewhere, that fat tissue itself is estrogenic, and this is probably why being fat compounds the effects of soy on male fertility.

Chet Yorton, one of the few to defeat Arnold in competition : bodybuilding

Chet Yorton used to take soy protein powder in the early days, but then he wasn’t as bombarded with estrogenic chemicals as we are today, nor was he otherwise a vegetarian or vegan

Interestingly enough, soy protein used to be a popular protein powder in the Golden Age of bodybuilding. However, it has since been recognised as an inferior quality protein, with low bioavailability compared to whey and milk and egg proteins.[R

Sorry, vegan gainers: you’d be better off sticking to meat.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Proper rest – including proper sleep – is an often-overlooked aspect of the gains equation, with many lifters prepared to put in the regular hard work at the gym but unwilling to take their foot off the gas and kick back when they need to. The most successful bodybuilders, weightlifters and other strength athletes regularly extol the benefits of adequate rest as an essential part of their training. 

One study provides powerful substantiation of this wisdom with regard to sleep. It’s well known that sleep is critical to the body and brain, allowing it to replenish energy and carry out critical repairs. Scientists believe that a variety of critical processes occur during sleep, such as memory consolidation, information processing, physical growth and muscular repair. Sleep also appears to be vital to proper immune function.

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At the same time, people are thought to be sleeping less and less well. In the US, the number of people experiencing short sleep (less than six hours a night) has been steadily increasing since at least 2013, putting the health of an increasing number of people at risk. Factors usually blamed include the increasingly stressful nature of modern-day life; the ubiquity of electronic equipment, especially computers and mobile phones, whose use before bed can interfere with the body’s vital circadian rhythms; and rising levels of obesity, which can cause obstructive conditions like sleep apnoea. 

See the source image

Using your phone in bed: not a good idea

Click Here to Purchase Home Testosterone Test Kits

The study in question, led by Plamen Penev, showed that men can sometimes double their testosterone levels if they improve their sleep quality. The study builds on other studies that have already shown that poor sleep can play havoc with the body’s hormonal balance: one night’s bad sleep can reduce insulin sensitivity in young men by 20%, and that of diabetics by 25%.

It was already known that the body makes most testosterone when we are asleep, so the hypothesis that reduced sleep might disturb this process was valid prima facie. Penev’s study began from the dual premises that i) men as they age tend to sleep less and ii) although some older men experience steep declines in testosterone levels, others maintain high testosterone levels even into their eighties. A previous study had also showed that, while sleeping, men in their forties make less testosterone than men half their age.

Could the two premises be linked? Do men lose testosterone as they age because they sleep less? 

Penev first established a baseline morning testosterone reading for the subjects, 12 healthy non-smoking men between the ages of 64 and 74. He then got them to wear a device that monitored their sleeping pattern. The results clearly showed that those who slept the most experienced the greatest increase in testosterone levels when their testosterone was measured the next day.

The men that slept the least had testosterone levels in a normal to low (200-300ng/dl) range for their age, while the men who slept the most had levels (500-700ng/dl) that you might expect today in a healthy young man.

These conclusions suggest that before men consider testosterone replacement therapy, they might more sensibly consider measuring the amount of kip they get. As Penev notes, however, measuring should be done accurately, because most men estimate their sleep levels wrongly. Penev’s subjects thought they had slept an average of 7.25 hours a day, when in fact the average was only 6 hours.

Some testosterone replacement clinics have begun prescribing MK-677 or Ibutamoren — a growth hormone secretagogue — instead of testosterone. MK-677, in both my personal experience and the experience of dozens of reported users, can significantly improve rest quality and recovery times.

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