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    Testosterone Killers

    Testosterone Killers

    Are you worried that some of your daily habits could be testosterone killers?

    It is a widely accepted medical fact that as men age the level of testosterone they produce naturally decreases. Generally, this decrease begins around age 30, with the average male losing around 1% of their testosterone each year. [1]

    There are certain behaviors and environmental factors that are testosterone killers. These may be responsible for lowering men’s testosterone levels prematurely, even at much younger ages than would be expected.

    These dangers, as well as how to prevent them through lifestyle changes and supplements, will be the subject of this blog post. If you want to keep your testosterone levels high, make sure you avoid these T-killers.

    1. Alcohol

    Did you know that alcohol is the fastest testosterone killer on the list? There has been plenty of talk about the impact of excessive alcohol consumption on testosterone levels so we won’t dwell on that here. [2] Alcohol, when consumed responsibly and irregularly, is not inherently toxic to your testosterone levels. Chronic, regular consumption, on the other hand, can have a toxic effect on your testicles. More noticeable, however, will be the catabolic effect of alcohol. This means that alcohol actually encourages the breakdown of testosterone and worse still will change into estrogen! The other health issues chronic alcoholism can lead to such as liver cirrhosis are likely going to be a more pertinent concern at the point your testosterone becomes affected. It’s a good idea for your general health to not overindulge.

    2. Inadequate Sleep

    Your body manufactures testosterone when you sleep, but only when you sleep enough. [3] [4] According to a study carried out in 2016, peak testosterone production occurs in men during their first three hours of uninterrupted sleep, which includes the REM sleep stage.

    If you have been doing consecutive all-nighters or your sleep time is decreasing, your testosterone production may also decrease with time. [5] Moreover, lack of sleep disrupts your sleep-wake cycle, which blocks your overall testosterone synthesis. [6]

    3. Low Levels Of Zinc And Magnesium In Your Body

    Magnesium and Zinc are the minerals that are responsible for testosterone production. If you have low levels of Mg and Zn in your body, you may have low T-levels too. Although the relationship between zinc and testosterone levels is not fully understood, many medical practitioners and nutritionists agree that healthy levels of the mineral support a healthy level of testosterone.

    Zinc functions to support the activities of the immune system and also aids in cell division. It regulates the activity of enzymes that help in protein building as well as those that break down the products of food. Zinc deficiency, therefore, may negatively affect your testosterone levels. A study conducted on the topic found that supplementation of 30 mg of zinc daily led to a significant increase in the levels of free testosterone in the study participants. [7]

    4. Weight Gain Or Obesity

    The more obese you are, the lower your testosterone levels will be. NERI researchers have found that men who are obese or overweight are more likely to experience a drop in their T-levels. [8] An article presented at the Endocrine Society 94th Annual Meeting suggests that making some lifestyle changes such as the reduction of calorie and fat intake will go a long way to help you maintain a healthy level of testosterone. [9]

    Weight gain negatively affects testosterone levels. [10] When you are overweight, you are prone to developing type-2 diabetes. This can drive down your T-levels even faster as low testosterone is independently linked to insulin resistance, even if your BMI is normal. This creates a spiral of weight increase as you lose the catabolic effect of your male hormone which pushes the testosterone level further down.

    5. Stress

    After alcohol, high-stress levels are known as the biggest killer of Testosterone. [11]

    Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get an erection when you’re under stress? Whenever you are experiencing stress the cortisol levels in your blood reach their peak and have a particularly bad effect on your T-levels.

    Your testicles produce an enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 and this enzyme protects your decreasing testosterone from the harmful effects of cortisol. When your stress levels become too high, the cortisol also elevates. [12] It becomes too much for the enzyme to handle and as a result, your T-levels start decreasing in your testicles before it enters your bloodstream. On a much more positive note, however, the scientists carrying out this study did make one surprising discovery. Although short-term stress did decrease testosterone levels in the test subjects, this was regardless of any previous stress. In fact, they were pleasantly surprised that testosterone seemed resistant to more long-term stressors.

    6. Aging

    Some evidence also shows that testosterone declines naturally as men start aging. [13]

    Testosterone is at its peak level during early adulthood and early adolescence. But as men age, their testosterone level declines 1 percent a year after the age of 30. By the time you reach the age of 60, your testosterone levels are only one-third of that in your 20s.

    If you feel that your testosterone levels have started to decline you can take testosterone supplements like tongkat ali, tribulus terrestris, and ashwagandha.

    7. Poor Diet and Nutritional Deficiencies

    Poor diet impacts your body in many ways, including your testosterone levels. If your diet has low protein, lacks essential fats or has high sugar intake, it will simply lead to lowering the T-levels in your body.

    When it comes to your diet, you should ensure that it consists of nuts, avocados and a balanced amount of vitamins, proteins, and minerals. Keep an eye on carbohydrates, especially white rice and bread as they convert quickly into sugar. Sugar turns into body fat and body fat leads to a decline in the T-levels.

    Fat also contains a high amount of cholesterol which is converted to steroidal hormones by the body. A diet that contains fewer calories from saturated fat limits the body’s ability to produce testosterone. It is advised to get about 20 percent of your daily caloric intake from fats. [14] So sometimes it’s not the direct effect that is important but the cascading effects our lifestyle choices can have on our declining testosterone.

    8. Marijuana

    Marijuana also referred to as cannabis is another testosterone killer you should look out for. While many states in America have decriminalized the use of the drug, others have gone ahead to legalize it. A large number of Americans use the psychoactive drug for different reasons including for medicinal and recreation purposes.

    About 44 percent of the American population had used marijuana in 2015, with its use surpassing that of the tradition cigarette in 2014. It has been found that men are twice more likely to use cannabis compared to their female counterpart. For this reason, it is imperative to mention that the plant may be detrimental to testosterone levels and the overall reproductive health

    The negative effect of cannabis on testosterone levels is attributable to the activities of the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – one of the 113 cannabinoids found in the plant. [15] This psychoactive constituent of marijuana inhibits the activities of various hormones that are regulated by the hypothalamus by altering the normal functions of neural transmitters in the central nervous system.

    The activities of the THC further prevent the functions of the Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) thereby leading to the decreased production of Luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These hormones support male reproductive health and a decrease in their production will consequently lead to a reduced production of testosterone by the Leydig cells.

    THC also inhibits thyroid functions and cause the reduced production of the growth hormone and prolactin, among other things. [16]

    There is no denying the fact that there is a risk that the consumption of cannabis reduces the t-levels and sperm count. [17] According to a study done in 2011 on mice, THC (one of the 113 cannabinoids in cannabis) reduces testosterone levels by 65% and the effects last for one hour.

    Though the duration of 1 hour seems like a short-term problem, chronic use of marijuana has long-lasting effects on the testosterone levels in your body.

    9. Regular Intake of Fizzy Drinks or Soda

    There are countless number of foods that are testosterone killers. Regular intake of soda or fizzy drinks is a common culprit Fizzy drinks are full of calories, around 40g of sugar per can which causes a sharp spike in your insulin levels. Chronic increase in insulin is directly related to a decrease in testosterone levels.

    Apart from this, every drink or snack that is loaded with sugar or sweeteners will have a similar effect, directly contributing to further weight gain and a continuous downward spiral.

    10. No Physical Exercise or Strength Training

    Just in case you weren’t aware of this fact, exercise is one of the most obvious ways to boost your testosterone levels.

    According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers have found that there is an increase in testosterone levels post-exercise as compared to the samples that were obtained before the workout. [18]

    So, keep your activity up, and your testosterone levels will follow.

    11. Consumption of Milk

    Milk contains a component known as lactose. Lactose has been known to increase insulin resistance while reducing the testosterone levels in your body. Milk also contains a high amount of glucocorticoids, prolactin, androgens, and the female sex hormone – estrogen. [19], [20]

    12. Consumption of Opioids

    Opioids are painkillers that are directly related to the reduction in testosterone levels with long-acting painkillers having a much more significant effect [21] Within just a few hours of taking opioids like morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone, testosterone concentrations are known to drop by 50%. But after a few hours, the T-levels return to the baseline; once the drug leaves the body.

    Depending on the opioid, it may also take up to one month or more for your testosterone levels to recover. If you are regularly taking opioids, there is a chance that your T-levels will not recover.

    13. Soy

    It is believed that a soy-based diet may decrease testosterone levels in males. [22] According to a study in 2008, various Australian researchers validated this point by demonstrating that testosterone levels are lower after the tofu diet, and a regular soybean diet may result in lower androgen activity. [23]

    14. Bad Fat In Your Diet

    It is not fat per se that is bad, but it is oils, sugars, and trans fat that we consume through food.

    There are various fats like monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega fats that are essential for our regular diet. Other fats like trans-fats have actually been shown to lower the testosterone levels in your body. [24], [25]

    Apart from this, greasy and high-calorie foods like pasta, fries (chips) and junk food may cause testosterone levels to drop.

    15. Rice Bran

    Rice bran does not lower your testosterone levels directly. Instead, it has an enzyme blocker that stops the conversion of dihydrotestosterone from testosterone.

    Once this conversion is blocked, this food product also blocks testosterone from exerting its full effects on the body. Do not confuse this with wheat bran which has high levels of magnesium, in turn helping boost your testosterone!

    16. Licorice

    Licorice is an herbaceous perennial plant that is used commonly used to process sweet candies.

    It was found that there is a compound in licorice that leads to a significant decrease in testosterone concentrations. [26] Just by consuming 7 grams of licorice, testosterone levels came down to half.

    17. Frequent Ejaculation

    Whether due to frequent masturbation or sexual intercourse, frequent masturbation may have a negative impact on your testosterone levels. Research conducted on the topic found that abstaining from masturbation for about 3 weeks led to a significant increase in the testosterone levels of study participants. [27] It has also been found that testosterone levels significantly increase after seven days of abstaining from ejaculation. [28]

    Believe it or not, every time you ejaculate, you lose up to 5mg of zinc. As already stated, zinc is one of the minerals that are important for testosterone production. This is one of the unfortunate testosterone killers.

    18. Use of Phthalates

    Phthalates belong to the class of synthetics that are commonly found in shampoo, deodorants, bottles, bottled water, and other plastics. Over 80,000 synthetic chemicals are available in retail products that are known to decrease the T-levels in your body.

    According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, multiple Phthalates were responsible for lowering the T-levels in both men and women who are aged 40-60.

    19. Regular Intake of Prescribed Drugs

    The side effects of some prescribed drugs may be related to decreasing in testosterone production. [29] For instance- there are various acne drugs that are simply anti-androgens. Apart from this, statins halve the testosterone levels, cough relievers medications reduce testosterone, and hair loss drugs block the conversion of testosterone. Chronic stress from lifelong illness is also likely to play a part in this effect, rather than the drugs themselves being fully responsible.

    20. Use of Antidepressants

    There are various easily available antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) that lead to a low libido and subsequent weight gain, which is directly related to low testosterone levels. Although whether this antidepressant is truly the cause of the decline in the levels of testosterone is inconclusive many medical practitioners argue that the decline is attributable to depression and not the antidepressants. [30]

    21. Flax Seeds

    Flax seeds are the rage in almost every health store for their high amounts of omega-3, fatty acids, and protein. But according to a study the subjects who consumed flax seeds over a four-month period noticed a reduction in their testosterone levels.

    Flax seeds contain a chemical compound known as the Lignans. [31] Lignans are highly estrogenic compounds that suppress an enzyme in the body that primarily converts testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone. [32]

    22. Peppermint and Spearmint

    Spearmint and green tea also have anti-androgen properties and are two surprising testosterone killers. If you regularly consume spearmint tea, you will have a significant decrease in your T-levels. [33]

    The reason behind the decrease in testosterone due to peppermint and spearmint is that mint induces oxidative stress in the hypothalamus of the brain. Once the oxidative stress starts to build up, it leads to the synthesis of luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormone that kills the testosterone.

    23. Illness

    While there are a variety of illnesses that may be responsible for this occurring, some of the more common illnesses associated with this drop in testosterone levels include type 2 diabetes, chronic lung disease, and HIV. Also, a notable side effect of chemo and radiation therapy for cancer is a decrease in the natural production of testosterone within the body.

    In most of these cases, especially with cancer treatments, the best course of action is one that should be determined with your physician, as you need to be sure that any supplements you might take will not interfere with any treatments for the illness causing the decrease in the first place.

    24. Environmental Pollution

    While it is already clear that our lifestyle and the food we ingest may significantly affect hormone levels in the body, the negative effect of environmental factors and pollution on testosterone levels may come as a surprise to many. Although it may be difficult to escape, environmental waste and pollutants may pose a threat to your testosterone levels. This is confirmed by a study conducted on an E-waste dismantling area in Taizhou of Zhejiang Province.

    The researchers collected samples from soil, groundwater, corn, rice, pork, and chicken from the dismantling area. They investigated into the effects of multi-media lead pollution on the male sex hormone and blood lead levels and found that e-waste is a major contributing factor to age-related testosterone decline. [34]

    Furthermore, radiation from mobile devices and air pollution may increase the levels of cortisol and estrogen in the body thereby reducing free testosterone levels in the body. Another study conducted on the topic found that the levels of the human reproductive steroid hormones (Testosterone) in men are greatly affected by their childhood environment. While individuals living in developed regions may have higher levels of the hormone in their later life, this may not be the case for those living in less developed areas where pollution is prevalent. [35]

    Biological Causes for Low Testosterone

    Physicians divide the kinds of male hypogonadism, another name for low testosterone levels, into two categories: primary and secondary. With primary hypogonadism, the decrease in testosterone is a direct result of a problem in the testicles, such as trauma, injury, or disease. Secondary hypogonadism is caused by a pituitary gland or hypothalamus issue that causes the testicles to function improperly even though there has been no major injury or illness that causes the drop in the hormone.

    So, what can you do to counteract these “testosterone killers”?

    Food and Beverages

    Well, when it comes to food and beverage concerns, the most obvious solution is to simply not consume them. Now, abstinence from engaging with these food and beverage choices is by no means an easy task.

    If you find that this is perhaps too difficult, the next logical step would be to cut back on your consumption. Whether this means backing off from everything, or cutting certain foods and drinks out of your diet and leaving others, is entirely up to you. Usually, the easiest method to follow here is slowly tapering back until you’ve removed the items completely from your diet.

    Keep a journal documenting everything you eat and drink. Document how you feel periodically throughout the day, this may also give you a clearer indication of how the items consumed are affecting you.

    Medical Causes

    Things get more complicated when we move into the medical causes of decreased testosterone. This may include chronic illnesses and terminal diseases. Many prescription medications may also significantly affect the levels of hormones including testosterone in the body.

    Something many physicians will stress to patients with lower testosterone is that unless you are displaying symptoms, you probably don’t need any kind of treatment. It is only when the decreased hormone levels begin to inhibit basic functioning, such as energy and libido, that health care providers feel it necessary to take action, as this displays the relative seriousness of these lowered levels.

    Disease or Injury

    For men who aren’t producing the hormone naturally because of some disease or injury, or even because of testicular cancer obligating the removal of one of the testicles, there is hope for treatment. In these men, the typical course of action is testosterone replacement therapy, usually delivered in the form of injections or pills. These solutions, however, are usually only short-term for those with minor conditions. If it is not secondary hypogonadism then it means the root cause may be easier to treat. This is best done with the tried-and-true long-term solutions that are typically diet and exercise.

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