We mostly get caught on methods to increase testosterone such as what to eat, how to train and what supplements to take etc. This article is going to discuss the mostly forgotten synthetic and natural chemical compounds that can play a big role in decreasing testosterone levels. These compounds are called xenoesrogens.
What are xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that have estrogen-like properties. Plants and plant products with similar effects are referred to as phytoestrogens. While they are not chemically similar to estrogen, xenoestrogens have similar bio-effects to estrogen produced in the body’s endocrine system. Getting into the body from the outside and having unregulated effects, xenoestrogens can interfere with hormonal balance and thereby affect various body functions including male fertility and testosterone levels. The fake estrogens are also linked to the development of many cancers. In the face of this, are there ways how to avoid xenoestrogens?
To find this out, we first need to know where these xenoestrogens come from.
Sources of Xenoestrogens
As we have seen, xenoestrogens are synthetic compounds that mimic estrogen. Because many items in everyday use contain xenoestrogens, it is easy for these compounds to find their way into our body systems in various ways including physical contact, through food or drink as contaminants, and personal -care products. But what are the specific sources of xenoestrogens? This is important if you are to know how to avoid xenoestrogens.
Sources of xenoestrogens
- Herbicides such as atrazine used to control of weeds
- BPA and BPS which are compounds used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and lining for food canning containers
- Pesticides such as DDT and endosulfan
- Dioxin, a chemical used in pesticide manufacture and bleaching of wood pulp
- PBB, a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and textiles to make them less combustible
- PCBs, chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds used in coolants and electric insulation
- Phthalates, used to make plastics more flexible. They are also used in personal care products like lotions, perfumes and in coating some slow-release medications.
- Zeranol, an anabolic growth compound used to hasten livestock growth
Food sources of xenoestrogens
Because many xenoestrogens come into contact with food either during growth, processing or storage, food is a major carrier of these estrogen-mimicking ingredients. When herbicides and pesticides are sprayed in the farms, they end up on the food crops and some are absorbed into the crops. Additionally, during processing, equipment containing estrogenous compounds may be used, and ultimately the processed food is packed in cans and other packaging materials that may also contain xenoestrogens.
When you consume such food products, the xenoestrogens end up in your body.
Some foods have effects similar to those of xenoestrogens. Soy is probably the best known culprit in this respect. It is worth noting that these effects are significantly reduced by fermentation.
How xenoestrogens reduce testosterone levels
One study comparing men working in a BPA chemical manufacturing plant and men working in a tap manufacturing factory found that men working in the BPA factory had much lower testosterone levels, especially free testosterone than those working in the tap factory. According to another study, BPA leads to male sexual dysfunction. Other studies such as this one and this one, also indicate that bisphenol A has estrogenic properties. Similar to other xenoestrogens, long-term exposure to BPA leads to sexual dysfunction including lower testosterone.
In a study on the effects of phthalates on male sexual functions and testosterone, it was established that the chemicals used in manufacturing flexible plastics xenoestrogenic properties. They bind to estrogen receptors thereby promoting femininity in the body.
Similar studies have shown that different xenoestrogens inhibit testosterone production in the testicles.
How to avoid xenoestrogens
- Avoid use of plastics whenever possible. This includes dishes, water bottles, toys, baby bottles, clothing and furniture. A study that involved testing of 445 plastic items in everyday use showed that 70 percent of the items had significant xenoestrogenic effects. However, upon putting these products to their ordinary use such as washing in the dishwasher and using them in the microwave; 95 percent of them were found to be estrogenic. It is also worth noting that most of the items in the study were supposed to be BPA-free and were so labeled. This shows how difficult it is to trust that plastic labeled BPA-free is safe. An important way how to avoid xenoestrogens is to use alternatives made of glass, stainless steel, porcelain and silicon.
- Avoid canned foods whenever you can. Metallic canned food containers have plastic lining to prevent rusting. Go instead for fresh or frozen foods, and for packed foods, opt for those in glass jars. If you must buy food packed in plastic, transfer it into glass or stainless containers as soon as possible to minimize its contact with plastic.
- Watch out for synthetic food additives as they may have xenoestrogenic properties. These include preservatives, colors and flavorings like BHA, MSG, artificial sweeteners, etc. You may need to compile a watch list to help you identify culprit xenoestrogenic ingredients.
- Avoid animal products from livestock raised with growth hormones and factory raised animals. The hormones used on the products will end up in the consumers’ systems and have negative effects of testosterone levels. Opt for naturally raised beef, pork, poultry and eggs, and if possible go for pasture fed livestock products.
- Avoid personal care products with xenoestrogens. Items like sunscreen, body lotions, soaps, toothpastes, hairsprays and gels may contain xenoestrogenic ingredients like phthalates, parabens and phenoxyethanol. Watch out for ingredients by such names as 4-methyl benylidene camphor, benzophenone -3 and octyl –methoxycinnatemate. Also watch out for sodium lauryl sulfate, tricolsan, stearalkonium and propyl gallate. It is advisable that you choose products made with natural ingredients.
- Avoid household cleaning products that may contain xenoestrogens and whever possible use products made with traditional biodegradable ingredients like borax, vinegar and baking soda. It also makes sense to use products made with minimal chemicals and to avoid using fabric softeners.
- Avoid or cut down on unfermented soy products including cooking oil and flour. Phytoestrogen properties are much reduced in fermented soy products which are therefore much safer.
- Avoid inorganically grown food that may contain residual estrogen-mimicking herbicides, pesticides and hormones. Whenever possible, choose organically foods. In any case, thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables and remove the outer peels or skin. This is especially important when you are not sure whether the foods are organic or not.
- If you are a farmer or you grow some of your foods, avoid using chemical pesticides and herbicides like atrazine, DDT, methoxychlor and endosulfan. These are known xenoestrogens that affect your testosterone levels as well as contaminate your produce and expose users to similar dangers. Use organic products whenever possible or non-xenoestrogens if you must use conventional chemicals.
- Eat fiber-rich foods such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. Fiber, especially soluble fiber supports the liver to remove the estrogenous compounds from the bloodstream.
Xenoestrogens found in many products in everyday use have been found to cause hormonal imbalance, one effect of which is to lower testosterone levels in males. The results can be disastrous including feminizing men. The good news is that you can reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens by following the 10 ways how to avoid xenoestrogens.