Male Hormonal Balance, Part 3

Don’t Boost, Optimize

Optimizing your hormone levels is all about finding the right balance, the one that works best for your body.

Considerations for Hormone Balance

Before you take specific actions to balance your hormones, consider these potential contributing factors:

  • How much alcohol do you drink? Alcohol can lower testosterone and raises estrogen.
  • How much bottled water do you drink? The chemical BPA, used to modify texture in plastics and to line cans of food, is a known “endocrine disruptor”. Endocrine disruptors also include phthalates – additives that modify the texture of plastics – and perfluorinated compounds – used to make other materials stain- and stick- resistant.
  • How much do you weigh? Fat is not a metabolically inert tissue – it can affect hormone levels. Fat cells synthesize the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone into a form of estrogen.
  • How active are you? Activities and exercise that increase your heart rate are associated with better (age-appropriate) hormone levels.
  • Inadequate quantity and quality of sleep can have negative impacts on testosterone levels.
  • Are you sexually active? Masturbation counts. Sexual activity promotes healthy hormone levels.
  • Excessive consumption of certain botanicals such as licorice, reishi mushrooms, green tea and spearmint can alter hormone levels.


Nutritional Approaches to Hormonal Balance

Two of the nutrients involved in testosterone production are zinc and vitamin D. Deficiencies of these nutrients will depress testosterone levels, however supplementation will not increase testosterone if zinc and/or vitamin D levels are normal. Ensuring dietary adequacy for these is easily accomplished by regularly consuming beef, lamb, pumpkin or sesame seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cold water fish such as salmon or tuna, milk, eggs, and shiitake mushrooms. Your body can also produce the vitamin D it needs when your skin is exposed to strong sunlight. Do not take supplements without medical supervision.

There are no diets that are designed to prevent low testosterone. You can eat any diet you like as long as you get enough healthy fatszinc and vitamin D. Do not take zinc supplements without medical supervision because you will increase the risk of a copper deficiency. Eating foods that contain zinc is perfectly safe.

The following foods have been found to have androgen-balancing activities: soy, green tea, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, avocados, nuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil.

Dietary intakes of flax seed and soy do not materially impact testosterone in most men. See More on the effects of flax for men [below].

Inositol is a nutrient falsely described as a B vitamin what has been found to lower testosterone levels in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. It has not been found to have the same effects on testosterone levels in men.


More on the effects of flax for men:

Flax contains lignans, which are plant chemicals with estrogenic properties.

Studies on rats and humans have looked at the impact of flax lignans on hormone-sensitive conditions, such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, and breast cancer. The lignans appear to have anti-androgenic (anti-testosterone) effects.

I have not found any studies that showed dietary consumption of flax (seeds, meal or oil) has adverse effects on testosterone levels in healthy men.


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