Testosterone! We have all heard of this hormone and the huge impact it has on our bodies. It’s directly correlated to confidence, aggression, risk-taking, energy, mood, sleep, muscle mass, strength and body fat. Research has even shown that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to attract and “win the girl,” than men with lower testosterone levels. Basically, if you want to look, feel and perform your best, you need to optimize and boost your testosterone function. It is our master hormone.
Male testosterone levels are at their lowest levels in recorded history. Blood levels of testosterone only go back to around the early 60s, so we can’t say exactly what total testosterone levels were back in the early 1900s, however, we do know that average testosterone levels were at least 30% higher in the early 80s, so chances are your grandfather had much higher testosterone levels than you, and all who came before him in the family lineage.
This generation just doesn’t match up. We may be better at listening, dressing and taking pictures but let’s face it, decades ago men were just better at being men. While low testosterone levels may not be the sole cause of this, most believe it is a major contributor, and research shows us that male testosterone levels were significantly higher 100, 50, even just 25 years ago!
Back in the 50s fewer people were overweight and obese. Today you couldn’t walk down that same street without seeing the majority of people overweight. The chronic overweight and obesity problem in America is obviously having a huge impact on our health and wellness and increasing the risk for illness and disease, yet being overweight also directly impacts testosterone function.
Fat cells contain an enzyme called aromatase. It is the job of aromatase to increase the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. To put it simply: more body fat - more aromatase - more estrogen - less testosterone.
Rather than make this another article about eating right and exercising to lose weight and boost testosterone, let’s focus on another significant cause of poor testosterone function. One that gives you immediate control and that can have a profound impact in the short and long term. I’m talking about toxic chemical build-up.
While estrogen is made by the body and is necessary in males for sperm production, and bone maintenance, too much of it can cause unwanted health issues and increase our risk for certain illness and disease.
There is another type of estrogen we take in from the environment. These chemical compounds are called xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors, which are substances that disrupt hormone production, and are found in many different products and foods including herbicides, pesticides, plastics in water bottles, cosmetics, lotions, hairspray, aftershave and oil based coating, to name a few.
These endocrine disruptors have changed how our bodies function, causing an increase in certain diseases and unexplained illnesses, and they have had a direct impact on testosterone and sexual function. Over the past 50 years there have literally been more than 80,000 different chemicals that have been created and distributed into the environment and subsequently, our bodies. Our parents and grandparents weren’t exposed to the amount of xenoestrogens that we are today.
The good news is, we can improve how our bodies eliminate xenoestrogens from our system, increasing our testosterone levels naturally and also potentially lowering our risk for certain types of cancer such as breast, prostate and ovarian.
Limiting exposure to these chemicals should be at the forefront for lowering the overall estrogen load on our bodies. Below are five of the most important things you can do to lower your overall estrogen load.
Use natural cosmetic and cleaning products. This includes cologne, after shave, hair spray and gel, face and body lotion, soap, shampoo, counter tile and carpet cleaner. These products contain toxic compounds. You can easily find natural products at most grocery stores.
Eat organic as often as possible to avoid ingesting estrogenic pesticides and growth hormones.
Drink plenty of water. The quantity depends on how active your are, but a minimum of .6 oz per pound of bodyweight.
Move your body with some form of exercise everyday. Anything from lifting weights to going for a walk.
Use glass containers instead of plastic ones. Plastic containers have the estrogen mimicking compound BPA. One study found that BPA decreased testosterone levels and lowered libido by inhibiting the amount of androstenedione in the body. Androstenedione is directly responsible for making testosterone. If you do use plastic containers, NEVER use them to heat up food in the microwave. The heat from the microwave causes the BPA to leak into our food. Plastic containers that say BPA free are not any better. Those containers still contain unwanted chemicals that have a negative impact.
There are daily steps we can take and nutritional strategies we can implement to immediately start eliminating these harmful chemicals from the body. One of the most powerful ways to immediately start eliminating toxins and xenoestrogens is by using lignans and phytoestrogens.
Lignans are polyphenolic compounds found in plants. They provide many health benefits and have a beneficial effect on estrogen metabolism.They have even been shown to support hair growth.
Many toxic compounds found in the gut don’t get eliminated and often get recirculated back into the body. Lignans bind to these harmful toxins and improve elimination. When the removal of these chemicals occur, we can experience an immediate and long term impact on our testosterone production and function.
Phytoestrogens are another plant-based compound that can have a positive effect on and increase testosterone levels. This happens when phytoestrogens bind to the estrogen receptor, taking the place of more harmful estrogen. While some argue that phytoestrogens increase the amount of estrogen in the body, the truth is, phytoestrogens have about 1/1000 the effect of natural and chemical estrogen. A great example would be, is it better to have a brand new Mercedes AMG in your garage or a 2001 Kia that has 100,000 miles on it?
They’re both cars, yet the Mercedes AMG will run better, look better, go faster and probably not break down as much. A good phytoestrogen can also decrease aromatase activity, which is the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
There are a few of foods that contain both lignans and phytoestrogens, but the hands down winner is flax seed hulls. While flax seeds may be a little controversial, experts are coming to understand the powerful effects this fiber can have on our bodies. I have given high doses of flax seed to several men and all have experienced a positive impact with their health and even low testosterone levels. You can grind it up yourself or buy it already broken down. I’ve also seen it available in the form of pill or gummy.
One of my favorite products is DetoxiFiber by Garden of Life. It contains 5 grams of fiber per serving coming from different lignan rich plants, with the majority coming from flax seed. Whether you use DetoxiFiber or something else, aim for 5 grams of flax seed hulls first thing in the morning. If well tolerated for a few days, I would add another 5 grams before bedtime. Additionally, if this dose is well tolerated after a week, you can then add more until you reach 15 grams daily.
Other phytoestrogen and lignan rich foods to include in your diet are sesame, leafy greens, kudzu, barley, alfalfa legumes, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Incorporating these into your daily diet will also have a beneficial effect on estrogen metabolism.
By improving how your body eliminates harmful chemicals, you can lower your risk for illness, decrease body fat and increase testosterone function. Excess estrogen is a major problem for men as well as women today, but by implementing these basic steps you can naturally change and improve the health of your body.
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