Top 10 Tips to Optimise Male Hormones
Life can be very seductive, with lifestyle choices seemingly good, but the impact on your male health may be hidden, or creep up slowly.
Our aim is to educate, and make available, so you can make your own choices.
Modern day life is not designed to support you in being the best you can be. In fact, it's now mainstream knowledge that the male of today isn’t what his grandfather was.
The following tips are what we have found to help optimise hormone levels.
1. AVOID SOY PRODUCTS
A morning soy latte really kills off your male hormone balance.
I understand the desire to find a healthy milk alternative if you're making vegan choices. However, from a male hormone perspective, organic dairy is likely to be better for you than soy or almond milk.
Soy is a massive male hormone disruptor, and almond isn’t much better. Most soy is genetically modified, and most almonds are not organic (i.e. contaminated with pesticide residue that impacts hormone balance).
Give Hemp mylk a go. Organic hemp mylk (hemp seeds, cacao butter and fresh filtered water in the Vitamix) is a healthy alternative. The protein and essential fats from hemp and cacao really support the hormones, and taste good too too. Our favourite Australian-grown pesticide-free hemp seeds can be bought here.
2. EAT AT LEAST 1 SERVE OF CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES EACH DAY
Cruciferous veggies help clean out testosterone receptors from environmental hormone disruptors (xeno-estrogens, in particular, that are a major contributor to declining testosterone levels and sperm health.
The dilemma with adding exogenous testosterone to the body is this: the body has hormone receptor sites, and if these are full of xeno-estrogens then testosterone does not get utilised, and worst still, the body converts the testosterone to estrogen and other less desired hormones.
Xeno-estrogens can be found in bottled plastic water, unfiltered tap water, non-organic diary products, plastic food containers, plastic food wrappers, personal care products, soy protein isolate, soy mylk and more.
Clean out the receptor sites and eliminate / minimise xeno-estrogens from your life.
One really great way of doing this is to eat cruciferous vegetable - broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach, wasabi etc - as they contain a chemical that collects the female hormones, and escorts them out of the body.
Same with insulin and cortisol - both very anti-testosterone. Keep them down and under control, so that any free testosterone does it's job.
3. MOVE YOUR BODY FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES EACH DAY
Ideally lifting weights, HIIT training or yoga.
It’s been scientifically proven that lifting weights will stimulate the body to produce testosterone. High intensity training also stimulates testosterone, and because it's in short bursts, doesn’t stimulate the body to produce stress hormones (cortisol etc). Exercise also helps to balance insulin, and stimulates the burning of midriff fat, all of which helps support testosterone production and assimilation.
Just do it! That’s all there is to say. 30 minutes of intense exercise has massive benefits.
4. AVOID SIMPLE SUGARS
insulin spikes kill off testosterone production and testosterone utilisation, whilst contributing to an increase in belly fat (which then creates a vicious cycle).
In the 1950s, history shows that two American doctors went head to head to advise the then President, who had just had a heart attack, on diet. One suggested a high fat (good fats) diet, the other a low fat one. History shows who won – the low fat fad was born. And history will also show that at this point in time mankind began its journey to poor health. Obesity, diabetes and cancers of every type began to rise and now are sky-rocketing.
So what’s the issue? Apart from poor quality of life and early death!
Simple refined sugar creates a huge issue for the body, and artificial crap like aspartame is nothing more than poison. When refined sugar is present, the body knows it’s a nuisance, so it tries to regulate it. To the cells as fuel and if not needed, or if the cells are insulin resistant to fuel storage (fat). To do so, requires insulin, and when insulin is present, say goodbye to testosterone. The more insulin resistance we have (as the body becomes desensitised to it over time with a high sugar diet), the more we produce, and the less testosterone is present!. A vicious cycle, because the more belly fat we have, the more insulin resistance we have, the more sugar is stored into the belly fat.
Minimise your intake of refined simple sugars, so that insulin receptors in the body don’t de-sensitise. Better still, eliminate simple sugars altogether, and shift to a diet based on whole foods.
Time your insulin spikes after training, so that the intake of sugars fuel your recovery, and not your belly fat.
Excess cortisol (aka the stress hormone) kills testosterone production. Many people believe that estrogen is the opposite (enemy) of testosterone, but it’s not true. Yes we need to manage female sex hormones, but the stress hormone is the big T killer.
Cortisol is not inherently 'bad'. It serves a very important physiological function. It is essential for adaptation, homeostasis and survival. Cortisol has a profound effect on blood sugar regulation, as its role is to liberate glucose when blood sugar levels are low. Very important during acute periods of stress when energy is needed (eg, fasting, exercise).
However, issues arise when stress is long-lasting. In excess, cortisol can negatively impact cardiovascular health, body weight, energy levels, and overall well-being. It appears to have a direct connection to fat accumulation, and in particular, abdominal fat.
There are a number of potential explanations for the stress-cortisol-belly fat connection.
The enzyme that “activates” cortisol from its inactive form (i.e.cortisone) is more prevalent in visceral fat than subcutaneous fat tissue. Another vicious cycle. What’s more, visceral fat tissue has greater blood flow and four times as many cortisol receptors (compared to subcutaneous fat). And even worse still, research shows that cortisol increases lipogenesis, which is the process of fat synthesis and storage.
It's also worth noting that there are a number of factors that can contribute to the stress equation — and subsequently, influence the release of cortisol — including psycho-social stressors, food intake, sleep quality and quantity, exercise, and more.
Stress management can be tricky, but there are a number of things that you can start daily that can all contribute to healthy stress levels:
- Sex. Orgasms are the best way to alleviate stress, as well as stimulate testosterone production, and other anti-ageing hormones.
- Yoga has been shown to exert powerful anti-stress effects and cortisol-reducing capabilities.
- Mindfulness meditation, which is a form of meditation where you focus your awareness on your breathing and body in the present moment, has been shown to lower both stress and cortisol levels.
- Regular physical activity, managing finances, and cultivating healthy relationships can all contribute to healthy stress levels.
- Shinrin-yoku, which is also known as 'forest bathing', typically involves taking a leisurely walk in nature. Forest bathing is commonly practiced for the purpose of relaxation and stress management, and studies show that it can reduce sympathetic nervous system activity (i.e. fight or flight), increase parasympathetic nervous system activity (i.e. rest and digest), and lower cortisol levels.
- Walking barefoot on the earth – proven to energise and de stress the body very quickly.
In addition, there may be certain dietary supplements that can help to reduce cortisol and lower stress. While herbalists have known this for centuries, more and more research suggests that certain herbs (i.e. adaptogens) may be helpful in combating cortisol and improving stress levels. The herbs in STAIT for Men and STAIT Superfood have been used for centuries to help minimise stress.
6. LONG TERM FASTING
72 hours is all you need as part of a seasonal routine to 'reset' your hormone profiles, including growth hormone, insulin and cortisol.
Fasting is one of the most ancient healing traditions in human history. This solution has been practiced by virtually every culture and religion on earth.
Hippocrates wrote, “To eat when you are sick, is to feed your illness”. Plutarch (AD 46 – AD 120) also echoed these sentiments. He wrote, “Instead of using medicine, better fast today”. Ancient Greek thinkers Plato and his student Aristotle were also staunch supporters of fasting.
The ancient Greeks believed that medical treatment could be observed from nature. Humans, like most animals, do not eat when they become sick. For this reason, fasting has been called the ‘physician within’.
The ancient Greeks also believed that fasting improves cognitive abilities. Think about the last time you ate a huge Christmas meal. Did you feel more energetic and mentally alert afterwards? Blood is shunted to your digestive system to cope with the huge influx of food, leaving less blood going to the brain. Result – food coma.
Other intellectual giants were also great proponents of fasting.
Philip Paracelsus, the founder of toxicology and one of three fathers of modern Western medicine (along with Hippocrates and Galen) wrote, “Fasting is the greatest remedy – the physician within”.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), one of America’s founding fathers and renowned for wide knowledge in many areas once wrote of fasting: “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting”.
So fasting is truly an idea that has withstood the test of time. Arguable, the most influential people to have ever lived agreed that fasting is beneficial. If this was a harmful practice, do you not think we would have figured this out, oh, say 1000 years ago?
But back to today, and what does that mean for STAIT for Men fans?
Fasting is the most efficient and consistent strategy to decrease insulin levels. It is quite simple and obvious. All foods raise insulin, so the most effective method of reducing insulin is to avoid all foods. Blood glucose levels remain normal, as the body begins to switch over to burning fat for energy. This effect is seen with fasting periods as short as 24 - 36 hours. Longer duration fasts reduce insulin even more dramatically. More recently, alternate daily fasting has been studied as an acceptable technique of reducing insulin. Regular fasting, in addition to lowering insulin levels, has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity significantly. This is the missing link in the weight loss puzzle.
Next up, one of our favourites - Growth Hormone - known to increase the availability and utility of fats for fuel. Growth Hormone also helps to preserve muscle mass and bone density. One of the most potent stimuli to growth hormone secretion is fasting. Over a five-day fasting period growth hormone secretion more than doubled. JUST READ THAT AGAIN – DOUBLE THE GROWTH HORMONE IN YOUR SYSTEM FOR FREE!!
7. GET OUT IN TO THE SUN (RESPONSIBLY)
The sun has a remarkable effect on our physical and mental health, and is our best source of vitamin D / calcitriol, a hormone that: controls calcium levels in the blood thus maintaining strong bones, muscles and teeth; is involved in making hundreds of enzymes and proteins which are vital for preventing a number of diseases; strengthens the immune system and has anti-cancer properties.
Research shows that the sunshine has a significant effect on mental health and wellbeing and is recommended in the treatment of depression; for treating psoriasis, eczema and acne; and for regulating circadian rhythms (our internal body clock that when disrupted can result in sleep disorders).
A study that came out at the end of 2018 found that men who were deficient in vitamin D (a level below 20 ng/ml) had much lower free-testosterone and higher estrogen. Those same men had more body fat, less lean mass, greater chance of depression, higher rates of cardiovascular disease, and poorer fertility than men with higher vitamin D levels. The men with adequate vitamin D (above 30 ng/ml) had the leanest body composition, higher free-testosterone, and better overall health.
8. INCREASE YOUR UPTAKE OF HEALTHY SATURATED FATS
We have all been told a lie – that saturated fat is bad, and that poly-unsaturated fats are good. Well there is always an element of bullshit in this world, and this is one that will definitely harm your male hormone levels if blindly followed.
You see, PUFAs aka poly-unsaturated fatty acids (present in most vegetable oils, and some nuts) have been shown to increase Sex Hormone Binding Globulin by over 20% in humans. This hormone grabs free testosterone, and binds with it, rendering it inactive.
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios and the legume we call peanuts, all have a high level of PUFAs, as do most vegetable oils.
Change the fat profile of your food and see how you feel. Macadamias, Brazil nuts and tiger nuts are all low in PUFAs, making them an excellent source of 'good' fats. As are eggs, extra-virgin olive oil and avocadoes.
9. MINIMISE YOUR BEER INTAKE
Why? Hops stimulates estrogen production.
Beer (don't get me wrong, I love a cool pint or 4, just as much as the next bloke) is not the optimum liquid for male health. The term 'brewers droop' wasn’t coined for fun. It’s a genuine condition that brewers and farm workers suffer from, if they handle hops.
In his book The Natural Testosterone Plan, Stephen Harrod Buhner writes:
“Hops is best known for its use in beer. The majority of physicians and men overlook its potent chemicals and do not realise that beer itself can significantly alter the male androgen levels. German beer makers noticed long ago that the young women who picked hops in the fields commonly experienced early menstrual periods. Eventually, researchers discovered the reason – hops are perhaps one of the most powerfully estrogenic plants on Earth. Just 100 grams of hops (about 3.5 ounces) contains anywhere from thirty thousand to three hundred thousand IUs of estrogen, depending on the type of hops”.
Most of it is the very potent estrogen estradiol. Estradiol, as it is taken into the male body, causes a direct lowering of testosterone levels in the testes and an increase in SHBG levels, which then binds up even more free testosterone in the bloodstream.
The estradiol in hops has also been found to directly interfere with the ability of the testes Leydig cells to produce testosterone. WTF?!
That long cool beer on a Friday night isn’t going to help you long term with your T levels. Yet if we believe the marketing hype, it’s a man thing to do. Bullshit. It’s not. And no amount of marketing hype will make those testosterone levels rise if you drink beer on a regular basis.
Minimise your beer intake. Or better still, choose a different drink.
10. THROW OUT ALL PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS THAT AREN'T NATURAL AND ORGANIC
Our daily personal care products - shaving creams, after-shave, face creams, deodorants etc - are full of endocrine disruptors.
Whatever we apply to our skin (the largest organ in the body) passes through the semi-permeable membrane into our lymph, blood, and major organs.
Known toxins, hormone disruptors and irritants commonly found in personal care products affect our health dramatically. Especially if the body doesn’t eliminate them.
Use only genuine natural and organic products that are free from hormone disruptors, toxins and irritants.
ONE FINAL ONE
Don’t drink water from the tap or a plastic bottle (see note 10 for details on xeno estrogens). Both are full of female hormones, pharmaceutical and recreational drugs. Not ideal. Invest in a good quality water filter and a stainless steel water bottle. Save your health and a significant amount of money.