Low testosterone has a negative impact on almost every system in the male body, from increasing insulin resistance, obesity levels, cardiovascular disease, reducing skeletal muscle mass, decreasing bone density, to increasing the risk of depression, diabetes and cognitive problems. From the age of 30 testosterone production starts to decline and often we don’t even notice it or think about it until some of these more serious issues have gained momentum. However there are a number of ways to help drive up testosterone levels, protecting your body against the effects of low testosterone, as well working to keep a leaner more muscular physique as your get older.
There are 3 main lifestyle factors that contribute to boosting testosterone levels:
- Stress management
In this article we are going to address mainly the dietary changes you can implement to drive up testosterone, however inevitably a good diet will also have a knock on effect on improving sleep quality and reducing stress in the body.
Eat more cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables help lower certain oestrogens which in turn can help reduce oestrogens inhibitory effect on testosterone production. Cruciferous vegetables, when digested, help the body release a phytochemical which helps the body metabolise and clear oestrogen thereby reducing its negative effect on testosterone levels.
Sources: Broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, watercress, bok choy and cauliflower are all great vegetables to include in your daily diet.
Increase your omega 3 levels
Testosterone is what we refer to as an anabolic hormone, meaning it is a hormone that promotes growth and repair within the body and is predominates in a low stress environment. The hormone cortisol, which is released when the body experiences stress, is a catabolic hormone and counteracts the role of testosterone, promoting breakdown and inflammation.
When the body is in a chronic state of stress a great deal of cortisol will be produced and it will start to sacrifice the production of other hormones to support the stress response. Testosterone production is one of the hormones that is inhibited at this time.
Omega 3 can be very important in this situation, it reduces stress and inflammation in the body as it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. By lowering inflammation and stress, testosterone production can increase improving overall levels.
Sources: Sardines, walnuts, salmon and mackerel are all great sources of omega 3. I would also recommend a supplement to support the diet to ensure high quality omega 3’s are being ingested.
Zinc is an aromatase inhibitor, meaning, similarly to cruciferous vegetables, is blocks oestrogen receptor sites reducing the amount of testosterone that is converted into oestrogen leading to higher overall levels.
Sources: Shellfish, crab, lobster, oysters, beef, mussels, pumpkin seeds, spinach and cashew nuts are all great sources.
Vitamin D is another important nutrient that works to regulate the aromatase enzyme which reduces the amount of testosterone that is converted into oestrogen. Therefore an increase in Vitamin D levels will have a positive effect on testosterone.
Due to the position of the UK we are often without sunshine, this plus our increasingly indoor sedentary lifestyle means when the sun is out we are often not in it. These issues have resulted in most of the population in the UK being Vitamin D deficient, meaning most of people do need a supplement regardless of gender or age.
Sources: The sun is the best but as a secondary source is a Vitamin D3 supplement.
Alcohol can inhibit testosterone metabolism in the liver and as it negatively impacts liver function it reduces the livers ability to remove oestrogen from the body resulting in increased levels.
Reducing your alcohol intake by a couple of glasses a week can have a positive effect and if you can keep your intake to a minimum it will be even more beneficial.
Selenium rich foods
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is rarely obtained sufficiently from our diet. It is essential for male fertility and plays a vital role in testosterone production.
Sources: Crab, liver, shellfish and Brazil nuts. A high quality multi vitamin will supply the body with the adequate amount.
Cholesterol is made by every cell in the body and is incredibly important to overall health. Cholesterol has had a lot of bad press in the past but it is very important to understand that dietary cholesterol rarely negatively effects blood cholesterol levels, therefore avoiding foods that have a high cholesterol level can actually be detrimental to your health.
Cholesterol is an essential ingredients to hormone production and plays an important role in the synthesis of testosterone. Particularly foods that promote high levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol) are associated with high testosterone levels.
Sources: Eggs, chicken, butter, beans, fatty fish, flax seeds, olive oil.
When taken alongside vitamin D3, vitamin K2 helps to stimulate testosterone production.
The best way to increase Vitamin K2 is to take a high quality supplement.
Avoid extreme diets
Low carbohydrate diets can be very effective in reducing body fat and with the association of a lower body fat percentage to increase testosterone levels they are not to be avoided. However the best way to utilise a low carb diet to improve testosterone levels is to follow it for a short period of time only. The reason for this is that a diet low in carbohydrates can reduce testosterone production over a long period of time. High quality natural carbohydrates help to lower cortisol (a testosterone inhibitor), support metabolism, support thyroid function and increase tryptophan (improving quality of sleep). All of these factors link into the 3 main influences on testosterone levels that we detailed at the beginning. The role of carbohydrates should therefore not be ignored when looking to increasing testosterone levels.
Low fat diets are also detrimental to testosterone production. The body requires high quality fats to produce hormones and therefore a lack in these will effect testosterone levels. Fat and cholesterol are the raw ingredients for testosterone and are required to transport and absorb the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K, two of which (D and K) are essential for healthy testosterone levels.