Testosterone is the major male sex hormone, although women also produce it. Functions like retaining bone density and maintaining muscle mass are important for both sexes. Men, however, are most affected when testosterone levels are low. Starting at age 30, production begins to decrease by about 1 percent a year. Imbalanced or low levels of testosterone can result in physical and emotional changes, such as decreased libido, fertility, muscle mass and hair growth, with an increase in body fat, fatigue and sleep disturbances. Nutrition affects hormonal balance and can help keep testosterone levels adequate.




Soybeans are widely known for being high in protein and low in fat. Unfortunately, soy has significant anti-nutritional properties as well. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-mimicking plant chemicals. Frequently eating or drinking soy products such as tofu, edamame or soy milk can influence the body’s hormones and disrupt the endocrine system, according to a 2005 article published by the American Nutrition Association. Lowered testosterone is one of these endocrine disruptions.




Extract of licorice root is used as a flavoring agent for products like tea and candy. But the active component of licorice, glycyrrhizic acid, blocks the action of two enzymes that help produce testosterone. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999 demonstrated that consuming just 7 grams of commercially prepared licorice for seven days significantly decreased testosterone levels in the male subjects. A typical serving size of soft licorice is 40 grams of the sweet black candy, an amount easily eaten in one sitting and enough to cause a block in testosterone production.




Breath mints, toothpaste, mojitos, flavored gum: The uses of mint go on and on. Spearmint, however, can cause more than fresh breath. Its chemical properties make it an anti-androgen, meaning that it blocks the effects of androgen hormones, including testosterone. In a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, drinking spearmint tea just twice a day for a month decreased levels of androgens in the blood. This effect could lead to reduced libido, changes in mood and sexual dysfunction.




Drinking beer and liquor may be portrayed as a masculine pastime, but the effect of alcohol on the male reproductive system is anything but. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that alcohol use is scientifically associated with low levels of testosterone. As the liver metabolizes alcohol, compounds are produced that block the release of testosterone. Even a few drinks will cause a temporary dip in testosterone, but the bigger problem is for men who drink excessively because chronic use of alcohol can lead to permanently disrupted testosterone levels.




July 15, 2015



American Nutrition Association: The Whole Soy Story

New England Journal of Medicine: Reduction of Serum Testosterone in Men by Licorice

International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism: An Update on Plant Derived Anti-Androgens

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol and the Male Reproductive System





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Proverbs 14:30

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