According to the latest research, for the past four decades, testosterone levels in men worldwide have been declining. Rapidly. What’s worrisome is that this trend can’t be explained by general health and lifestyle changes alone. Even after accounting for obvious factors such as obesity, smoking, and low physical activity levels — all of which are known to decrease testosterone levels in men, there’s still a substantial age-independent population-level decrease in mean testosterone concentrations.
The good news is that you can prevent this by making some simple adjustments to your routine. You may know the gist of it already: lift weights, sleep more, eat better, cut down on booze, and quit smoking. This alone is generally enough to ensure healthy testosterone levels in most men.
But there are other external factors that can decrease your testosterone levels. Lately, there’s been a growing amount of evidence that certain chemical compounds — that were considered safe just a few decades ago — can disrupt your hormonal balance. Here’s what you want to do to keep your testosterone at healthy levels:
#1. Stay away from plastics (and not just BPA)
The latest research shows that most kinds of plastics can leach xenoestrogens, a group of compounds that your body reacts to in the same way it reacts to estrogen, a female sex hormone. Water bottles, food containers, and cling wrap are the most serious offenders since they come in direct contact with your food.
There’s also compelling evidence of widespread contamination of mineral water from compounds leaching from the plastic packaging material. So get a hydro flask, swap your Tupperware for silicone or metal food containers, and try to avoid food and produce that came in contact with any kind of plastic.
Now don’t get too anxious. Completely avoiding plastic in this day and age is practically impossible, unless you live in a cabin in the woods or something. Luckily, it’s the chronic exposure that you should worry about. Nothing bad will happen if you drink from a plastic water bottle a few times here and there. Just do your best.
#2. Wash your hands, wash your produce
In case this isn’t yet already a habit for you, definitely wash your produce before eating it (even if the produce came in a brown paper bag), and wash your hands before meals. This will help rinse out most of the harmful chemical residues that could disrupt your hormonal balance. Just try avoiding fragranced soaps, which could also harbor chemicals you want to avoid.
#3. Read the labels on beauty products
Shampoos, perfumes, lotions, deodorants, and many other products found probably in every bathroom in the world can be a source of parabens, various chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors in humans. Look for simple, organic, hippy-friendly cosmetics and rethink the beauty products you use daily. For example, organic soap is a great alternative for body wash.
#4. Say no to canned foods
Aside from plastic, metal is another substance you don’t want touching your food. Those cans your favorite beans come in don’t just have tin — their insides are lined with BPA or similar compounds as well. Even the cans labeled “BPA-free” aren’t completely safe. These compounds might help prevent the can from corroding, but they can also harm your testosterone levels.
Again, coming in contact with those once in a while is no big deal, but a lifetime of exposure can cause problems. Go for fresh, frozen, or dried foods. But if you have a huge craving for some Skyline chili, don’t feel guilty. Go for it! Just be sure not to heat the food in the can hobo-style.
#5. Avoid phytoestrogens
There’s solid evidence that certain foods naturally contain compounds that affect your body the same way female sex hormones do. These are called phytoestrogens, and there’s scientific evidence that they can decrease testosterone levels. So, it might be a good idea to avoid excessive consumption of phytoestrogen-rich foods, such as soy and soy products, flaxseed, alfalfa, and licorice.