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This Type of Diet May Lower Your Testosterone, New Study Says

Your bad eating habits may be causing a testosterone deficiency, which affects up to 50 percent of men.

It's impressive to think about the ways our food choices affect every aspect of our lives, like our heart health, our moods, and even life in the bedroom. This week, a new study published in the Journal of Urology identified one diet habit that's linked to testosterone deficiency in men… and the hormonal disturbance is especially severe in men over a certain size.

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What is testosterone?


First, a simple biology lesson: what exactly is testosterone? The study's news release reminds us: "Testosterone is a male sex hormone that plays important roles in reproduction and sexual function." Of course—but what you might not have known is that a remarkable 20% to 50% of American men have a testosterone deficiency, which the researchers in this study defined as a testosterone level less than 300 nanograms per deciliter (or ng/dL).

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How does diet affect testosterone?

Woman holding plate of keto foods at a table

Guys living with clinically low testosterone levels might recognize loss of libido, inability to perform in the bedroom, and low energy as a few of the dreaded signs, but this study's researchers also list poor concentration and depression among the symptoms. Meanwhile, past studies have found correlations between cardiovascular disease, obesity, and low testosterone—so this research team wanted to see whether testosterone levels could be impacted by diet. Turns out, they appear to be.

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There's a link between testosterone and inflammation.

inflammation overweight

"Men with low testosterone have higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines," the study's news release says, adding that cytokines are "small proteins released by cells during injury, infection or in response to inflammatory factors in the environment." In other words, low testosterone is associated with higher inflammation.

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Diets that cause inflammation could cause low testosterone.

plate of fried chicken
Adam C./Yelp

The study looked at diet patterns and data on hormone levels from 4,200 participants. Their findings: "For men with the most pro-inflammatory diet, the odds of testosterone deficiency were about 30 percent higher compared to men with the most anti-inflammatory diet." Just to ensure other lifestyle factors weren't playing in, they added, "The associations remained significant after adjustment for other characteristics, including body mass index and smoking."

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This may be one more reason to take up healthier habits.

Senior athlete walking outdoors in the city

Foods that cause inflammation include processed meats, foods high in sugar, and some fast food. The researchers pointed out that more research needs to be conducted on the influence of inflammatory foods on testosterone before we blame highly inflammatory diets for low testosterone levels. However, they added: "Our results suggest men who eat a pro-inflammatory diet, particularly those who are obese, are more likely to have testosterone deficiency … Since men with obesity likely already experience chronic inflammation, physicians should be aware of contributing factors, like diet, that could likely worsen this inflammation and contribute to the risk of other health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease."

Looking to boost your men's health game? Fortunately, we've got your list of 7 Testosterone-Boosting Foods.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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