Research shows that men, mostly due to their masculinity and competitiveness, are less likely to visit a nutritionist for health advice or do not have the time to make healthier choices.
In today’s Food as Medicine Episode, we dive deep into men’s health and how to best support our favorite guys with easy-to-implement, effective nutrition and supplement recommendations.
Supporting Healthy Testosterone Levels
One of the most common concerns my male clients had in private practice was low testosterone. They might not have known that they had it, but they complained of symptoms of it on their intake form. And “low t” in men is as common as adrenal fatigue in women.
When life turns up the heat with responsibilities and demands, it drains testosterone from guys while presenting differently via the thyroid and adrenals more in women.
Low testosterone can show as a myriad of symptoms such as low libido, hair loss, fatigue, increased body fat and decreased bone mass. A decline in bone mass as a direct result of low testosterone can be especially of concern for men over 70.
Many don’t know that low testosterone is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A higher waist to hip ratio can be a reason for lower testosterone levels and increased aromatase levels. Aromatase is an enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogen, and too much of this conversion can create low testosterone and unwanted side effects such as weight gain and hormone imbalances.
Healthy levels of testosterone are also necessary to support proper cardiac health; therefore, men with healthy levels of testosterone have a less chance of heart disease.
Recommendations to support healthy testosterone levels:
Exercise such as weight lifting or aerobic exercise even just 2-3 times a week has been found to increase production of the hormone testosterone. Incorporating yoga or exercise which is relaxing helps support stress relief and the parasympathetic nervous system.
Sleep in. Studies have shown that those who sleep less than 5 hours can have a 10-15% drop in T levels so get your zzz’s. Head over to our Sleep Solutions show if you need help creating a nighttime routine that works to give you longer, deeper, better rest. This will help you produce human growth hormone while you sleep as well as testosterone.
Reduce xenobiotics which are toxins that mess up our hormones found in the environment. They do not occur naturally in the body. Xenobiotics include: BPA, plastic water bottles, phthalates which are used in lubricants and binders. Xenobiotics are also found in pesticides and herbicides, which is another reason why we recommend organic products and organic produce. The more chemical exposure to these things guys have, the lower their testosterone is.
Nutrition Support for Gout or Male-Related Inflammation
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood. Gout can be very painful and include localized inflammation and swelling. Some of our favorite supportive remedies for gout and general inflammation in men are:
Cherries can lower plasma uric acid levels as they are rich in flavonoid compounds that are known to reduce inflammation and support melatonin production (bonus – they help you sleep better, which helps you produce more testosterone. It’s all connected. :)).
Quercetin is another flavonoid and has been shown to decrease uric acid levels and lower our inflammation set-point. A supplement which includes both quercetin and nettle can support both inflammation and prostate health, my favorite product for this can be found here.
Turmeric as a supplement or spice can be very beneficial, sneak it into vegetable dishes or make a golden-milk latte or straight up golden milk at night before bed.
An Alkalizing diet and proper hydration are very important. Something as simple as adding lemon juice and liquid chlorophyll to water can help alkalize the body and neutralize uric acid. This includes taking a break from beer and high red-meat consumption. Or at least when consuming red meat, make sure it’s grass-fed or pasture raised, as it has a better omega 3-6 ratio (grain fed animals are higher in Omega-6) and include fiber-rich vegetables as well.
Swap Outs for Optimal Nutrition Support
It can be a daunting task to ask men to remove certain foods from their diet; however, if you change your perspective and find healthier alternatives which taste just as great, you will get all of the taste benefits without any negative interaction in the body. Some of our favorite healthy swap-outs include:
Cassava Chips or sweet potato chips for a healthy source of resistant starch and a grain-free option, look for chips which are made with avocado or coconut oil. Often, chips contain refined oils such as soybean and canola oil. By choosing ones made with a healthier oil, we can increase our healthy fats and decrease inflammation.
Gluten-free beer is an excellent trade-off for regular beer, especially if you are struggling with digestion. So many of our clients complain about stomach issues after hanging with the boys and enjoying beer, and it often feels like an impossible task to cut out the beer. Check out our taste test comparison of the BEST gluten-free beers or even better, try sour soda.
Sparkling water such as La-Croix can be a game-changer for those who are still hooked on sugary sodas, alternatively, reaching for a soda sweetened with stevia like Zevia can also be an excellent choice over “the hard stuff”.
Pumpkin-seed Granola is a great way to nix the Chex-Mix while also including prostate-supporting pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of the essential mineral zinc.
Stinging Nettle & Green Tea are both full of antioxidants and supportive of the prostate as well as healthy testosterone levels; they make great alternatives to processed teas and beverages which are full of unwanted chemicals, preservatives, and sugars. Our favorite nettle tea can be found here.
Burrito Bowls can be a great choice over burritos. Bowls full of leafy greens are rich in magnesium, iron and Vitamin C, all of these nutrients are necessary for the production of testosterone and prostate health.
Bars made with real food are a great option instead of cereal bars (hello sugar!) or high protein bars for primal-kitchen bars or grass-fed beef bars. These are great for those on the go and need some quick nourishment.
Supplements to Support Men’s Health
Saw Palmetto: Prostate health can affect over 70% of men, and is the most common type of cancer in men. Saw palmetto is a supportive herb to the prostate. It’s a small palm tree which is a popular and studied therapy for male health. It has been shown to improve low libido, hair loss, and chronic pelvic pain in men. Saw palmetto can help reduce 5-alpha reductase enzyme in your body, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which naturally increases the prostate.
Men’s Multi-Vitamin: Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin E deficiency and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies can contribute to lower testosterone levels and an increased risk for poor prostate health, along with a whole foods diet, we recommend a multivitamin which can provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals that are needed.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in healthy, fatty fish, omega-3s have many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, decrease aromatase enzyme and have an anti-estrogenic effect in men. Supplementing with fish oil which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to support healthy levels.
Prostate health can affect over 70% of men and is the most common type of cancer for men. I often recommend lab testing to be done on a routine basis to monitor levels. Lab values to check include C-Reactive protein, testosterone, estradiol, vitamin D and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Routinely checking these levels can help assess for hormone imbalances, inflammation, muscle loss and bone loss.
Making small changes towards a healthy whole-foods based diet and including supplements which specifically support a healthy prostate and optimal testosterone levels can help lay the foundation for a healthy and balanced life.
- Should Family Physicians Screen for Testosterone Deficiency in Men? Yes: Screening for Testosterone Deficiency Is Worthwhile for Most Older Men
- Androgen action in prostate function and disease
- Doing masculinity, not doing health? a qualitative study among dutch male employees about health beliefs and workplace physical activity