John L. Sullivan was known as the Boston Strong Boy. For 10 years, he held the heavyweight gloved boxing title in America. He was also recognized as one of the last heavyweight champions of bare-knuckle boxing. His star faded and Sullivan died at 59 years old, overweight and unhealthy after a life of indulgence in food and drinks. Bare-knuckle fighting certainly sounds masculine, but this isn’t the only way to be a man. One key factor to men’s health is optimal hormone levels… and optimal testosterone levels are not just for body builders and bare-knuckle fighters. Today, I will discuss some dietary approaches that impact levels of this important hormone. This can help provide a long life of health, and ensure that you don’t fizzle out like the Boston Strong Boy.
Benefits of Optimal Testosterone Levels
There are several benefits to having optimal testosterone levels. Some of these include:
- A sharper mind
- Increased muscle mass
- Stronger bones
- Healthy libido and erections
- Improved mood
- A healthy heart
On the other side, deficient testosterone levels can lead to fatigue, depression, increased risk of erectile dysfunction, increased risk of osteoporosis, and weight gain. Before resorting to hormone replacement therapy, there are dietary approaches that can help influence testosterone levels.
There are thousands of chemicals to which we are exposed to in our day-to-day lives. Some of these can have a negative impact on hormone balance. If you are a fan of documentaries, check out The Disappearing Male. This film takes a deeper look at chemical exposures and how they disrupt male reproductive health. Here are some tips for limiting chemical exposures while cooking and eating:
- Replace teflon and non-stick cookware with ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron. The chemicals used in these non-stick coatings have been shown to disrupt endocrine function and should be avoided.
- Replace plastic water bottles with glass or stainless steel. Plastic containers can contain BPA, a chemical that mimics estrogen in the body. While BPA has definitely been called out in the media in recent years, this is only one chemical found in plastics.
- Replace plastic food containers with glass. For the same reasons to switch your water bottle to glass, you shouldn’t be storing or reheating food in plastic containers.
- Avoid canned foods as much as possible. BPA is often used in the sealant coatings inside canned foods. This prevents corrosion of the metal cans during storage, but it can also leach into the food. If buying canned foods, try to stick to brands that do not use BPA. The Environmental Working Group shared a list of brands that don’t use it.
Decrease Conversion of Testosterone to Estrogen
Testosterone has the potential to convert to estrogen. This conversion relies on an enzyme called aromatase. There are several foods that have been shown to block the action of aromatase, potentially increasing testosterone levels. These foods include:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale). These can increase the elimination of excess estrogen, and also prevent the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
- White button mushrooms
- Olive oil
Protect Your Prostate
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men. Estimates for 2016 include over 180,000 new cases of prostate cancer, and over 26,000 deaths from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most deadly cancer for American men. There are foods that can help protect your prostate. These include:
- Tomatoes and tomato products. These contain a substance called lycopene. This compound has been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk. It is a potent inhibitor of 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. High levels of DHT in the prostate have been associated with prostate cancer. Cooked tomatoes are higher in lycopene than raw.
- Pumpkin seeds. These are high in zinc, a mineral that is needed in high amounts in the prostate. These also contain a compound that blocks buildup of DHT in the hair follicle. This may help prevent male pattern baldness.
- Cherries and berries. These are loaded with antioxidants which can protect against cancer.
- LOTS of Greens. Leafy green vegetables are loaded with minerals, especially magnesium. The darker the greens, the better. Spinach and kale are high in zinc, which has been shown to protect prostate. When picking produce, don’t forget about the Dirty Dozen.
Take our Testosterone Quiz & Get Your Levels Checked
Curious about your testosterone levels, or think that you might be low? Take our quiz and find out.
The doctors at Living Wellness Medical Center can order hormone panels to evaluate your levels. We can also test your levels of key nutrients such as zinc, selenium, and magnesium. These three micronutrients play a key role in male hormone and prostate health. Make an appointment and feel better today!