Contrary to popular belief, men DO have hormones and they have more than just testosterone. Men also have small amounts of estrogen and progesterone and they are essential to hormone balance as well as testosterone.
Men tend to have a very gradual decline of hormones—unlike women who experience menopause. Men tend to start a decline in hormones in their 40’s and 50’s, but the rates of decline can vary, depending on lifestyle factors, stress and cortisol, diet and environment. Other factors that affect men’s hormones include medications (especially statins), alcohol intake, fitness, and exposure to xenoestrogens.
Symptoms of lowered testosterone are subtle but may show up as loss of motivation, depression/irritability, insomnia, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and weight gain.
Xenoestrogens are chemical based, synthetic estrogens in our environment. The problem with xenoestrogens is that they are far more potent and dangerous that natural estrogen. In fact, they are highly carcinogenic—for both men and women. Xenoestrogens are easily absorbed in the body and can compete (and win) for access to estrogen receptors.
Xenoestrogens not only disrupt the entire endocrine system, but can build up and cause feminizing characteristics including ‘man boobs’, weight gain, lowered testosterone, low libido, ED as well as some sexually-related cancers such as prostate cancer AND breast cancer in men.
Xenoestrogens are present in many foods including conventional meat and dairy, pesticides in fruit and vegetables and glyphosate, which is sprayed on ALL non-organic grains and legumes. Additionally, many personal care and toiletries are full of xenoestrogens. These include products like shave cream, soap, shampoo, hairstyling products, cologne, and lotions. Weed killers and lawn care products are also full of xenoestrogens as well.
Xenoestrogens are also added to many sunscreens, nail polish, nail polish removers, paints, solvents, household cleaning products, laundry soap and dryer sheets, and even the chemical in your tap water. Xenoestrogens are also present in plastic products, so it’s best to avoid using plastic and Styrofoam to store food. And DO NOT microwave in plastic, because this gets xenoestrogens in your food as well.
How to avoid xenoestrogens?
Eat organic foods and naturally-raised meat, poultry and fish. Get rid of all commercial cleaning products in your home and replace them with natural cleaning products. Replace your laundry soap with a natural soy-based or coconut based detergent, and use natural personal care products. Avoid most colognes and fragrances. There are even natural deodorants available, instead of the usual commercial brands. Lastly, use more natural products on your lawn and garden if possible.
All types of estrogen—whether natural or synthetic—increase the risk of cancer and cell growth.
Let’s talk about androgens—these are male-related hormones that include DHEA, testosterone and DHT. These hormones are tied to masculine characteristics such as facial hair, muscle mass/strength, libido, self-confidence, fat-burning and drive/motivation. Excess androgens have the capability to convert into estrogens in men.
DHEA is a precursor or a ‘master’ hormone. DHEA is a basis for estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. DHEA peaks at about age 25, then begins to gradually decrease. DHEA is often taken as a supplement, especially for men or women over the age of 40. DHEA can help prevent depression, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and symptoms associated with low testosterone.
DHT is a very potent androgen. DHT is converted from testosterone, and can also be produced from DHEA. DHT is often thought of as the ‘bad’ type of testosterone, but is actually the most active form of testosterone in a man’s body. In fact, DHT is found in the brain, the skin and the genitals. DHT does get a bad rap because it is partially responsible for male-pattern baldness, enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
Because DHT is thought of as a ‘bad’ form of testosterone, this conversion can be prevented. However, blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT can not only raise estrogen levels, but can take away drive, motivation, and libido in men.
Many men resort to testosterone replacement but the key factor here is that testosterone replacement can actually shut down the body’s own ability to make its own testosterone. Better than jumping to testosterone replacement therapy, it is far better to support your body’s ability to produce testosterone.
- Avoid processed foods, gluten, sugar and alcohol. All these foods can raise estrogen and lower testosterone. Avoid excess (more than 2 drinks/day) alcohol.
- Get a healthy gut—A detox/food elimination diet will help to uncover hidden food sensitivities like gluten, dairy, corn, soy, etc. that may be slowing down the body’s ability to produce testosterone and other hormones in the correct balance.
- Exercise and weight training not only help to increase Testosterone but also , growth hormone.
- Avoid xenoestrogens as much as possible.
- Get a good night’s sleep, keeping bedtime as consistent as possible.
- Avoid smoking marijuana, this increases estrogen and decreases testosterone.
- Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables, these foods help to lower excess estrogen and prevent further conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
Supplements That Encourage and Support Testosterone and Optimal Hormone Balance
(Take these first for a good foundation)
- Multi-vitamin is always a good start to get key missing nutrients. Be sure it contains vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- B Complex–METHYL folate and METHYL cobalamin. Lowers stress, supports progesterone, reduce hot flashes, support testosterone production, brain and nerve health. Increases energy.
- Zinc-Essential for testosterone production, and prostate health.
- Magnesium-Shown to increase free T, especially in older men and athletes.
- Vitamin D3 and K2–Increases testosterone and balances estrogen dominance in women.
- Omega 3’s reduce inflammation, support hormone production; super high levels can decrease T.
Natural Supplements that Increase Testosterone
- Indonesian Tongkat Ali--Lowers Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG binds with testosterone and makes it inactive). Allows more free/unbound testosterone.
- Fenugreek–Shown to increase free T by 46-90% in study participants.
- Fadogia Agrestistis--Increases testosterone levels in animal studies. Increases libido in humans and may increase testosterone in humans.
- Boron-Lowers SHBG, allows for more free/unbound testosterone.
- L-Carnitine-Increases sperm motility and fertility. Increases testosterone receptors in the body. Helps body burn fat for energy, helps build muscle mass.
- Ashwaganda–Increases testosterone. Helps increase speed, power and VO2max in men. Increases sperm count, increases fertility, boosts thyroid, reduces stress. Helps balance mood.
- Maca-Enhances libido, improves sperm count and motility, increases fertility, improves mood and libido.
- Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium)-Enhances libido, increases testosterone in animal studies—limited research on humans.
- Mushroom Extract-specifically Lion’s Mane and white button mushrooms inhibit aromatase which converts testosterone to estrogen.
Always be sure to:
Ask your Dr. for complete labwork to see hormone levels FIRST. You can also order your own online through Thorne, Life Extension, Everlywell, Inside Tracker, and more.
Since high cortisol has a lowering effect on testosterone, check cortisol levels as well. This can be done with saliva testing.
Always consult with your doctors about taking supplements to be sure there are no adverse effects or interactions with current medications.
Catherine Ebeling, MSN-PH, RN
Catherine Ebeling is an RN, MSN-PHN, and an international best-selling author of 5 books on diet and health, including “The Fat Burning Kitchen”, “The Top 101 Foods That Fight Aging”, and “The Diabetes Fix”, along with hundreds of articles on diet and health, published by The Nutrition Watchdog.
Catherine has had an active and passionate interest in diet and health since she was a teenager. Her life-long fascination with nutrition started in high school. Cat learned how to ‘biohack’ her genetics early on, and learned how to fully optimize her health potential with diet, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle. Cat also possesses an in-depth knowledge of food allergies and sensitivities, based on her own experiences and research, and has found eliminating inflammatory foods and getting the nutrients one needs, can help balance hormones, stabilize weight, eliminate anxiety and depression, and prevent chronic health conditions.
Cat, like many other women, struggled with unpleasant menopause symptoms, while dealing with a difficult divorce. However, Cat changed her life—and her health, utilizing her professional experience in preventative medicine and hormone balance–along with a positive mindset to become a successful entrepreneur, author, and nationally-ranked competitive cyclist.
Based on her own health experiences and hours of intense research on diet, inflammation, and hormones, Cat has found eliminating inflammatory foods, and optimizing nutrition can help balance hormones, stabilize weight, eliminate anxiety and depression, and prevent many chronic health conditions.
Enjoying life to the fullest means adopting a consistent lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, a great social network, and a positive mindset. It is NEVER too late to start something new! Your life can be a journey of discovery, self-love and new and amazing experiences! Let this be a NEW chapter in your life!
Catherine’s company, Simple Smart Nutrition, now offers The Longevity Membership where members can receive personalized diet and nutrition protocols and have access to top-grade, physician-quality supplements–at a 20% discount. Join now for only $14.99 a month.