The Surprising Link Between Testosterone Levels and Aging

Foods that boost testosterone - Dr. Axe

Did you know the average 100-year-old Okinawan male has much higher levels of testosterone than the average American male who is 30 years younger, and today, low testosterone in males is rapidly growing? There are a few factors, including lifestyle, body weight and not eating enough foods that boost testosterone.

Maintaining the right level of testosterone can be tricky, and I’m not just talking to guys here. Healthy women make up to 300 micrograms of testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands every day.

Like men, women with low testosterone levels often experience chronic fatigue, a stunt in their libido and a decreased sense of well-being. This truly is a hormone that everyone should keep tabs on.

However, low testosterone in men has especially become a major health issue today, and I will explain why and how you can fix.

If you have low testosterone, like many men do, these testosterone-boosting foods and lifestyle changes will help you overcome it faster.

How Testosterone Works

You’re probably most familiar with testosterone as the sex hormone responsible for defining “manhood.” And yes, it does.

However, proper levels of this key hormone are also necessary to stimulate sexual desire, increase libido, heighten arousal and ensure sexual satisfaction for both men and women. It’s also necessary to maintaining the following:

  • A healthy pain response
  • Sufficient levels of red blood cells
  • Regular sleep patterns
  • Optimal bone density
  • Muscle mass
  • High energy levels

As men and women age, their T levels naturally decline, but this can accelerate faster than normal by the typical American lifestyle:

  • Chronic stress
  • Insufficient nutrition
  • Imbalanced microflora
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Weight gain
  • Inadequate exercise
  • Prescription drugs (especially statins)

All of these risk factors deplete the normal immune response, lead to obesity and diabetes, tax the body, and decrease metabolism. This, my friends, is the recipe for low T levels, and most people are stuck on the gerbil wheel desperate for a ticket to get off of the ride.

Research shows that low testosterone has become such an issue that up to 40 percent of men over 45 are affected. No one knows the prevalence of women with low T levels yet, but a Wall Street Journal article suggests that the pain epidemic many women struggle with may be linked to imbalance hormones, including testosterone.

No wonder men and women are racing to supplement stores to get their hands on makeshift testosterone therapy, but there are natural testosterone boosters that work as well, including the following foods that boost testosterone.

Top 7 Foods that Boost Testosterone

What are the best foods that boost testosterone? These seven types are among the most effective.

1. Healthy Fats

One group of foods that boost testosterone is healthy fats.

Most men with low testosterone consume too much junk food and too many carbohydrates. You have to get rid of those empty calories and load up on healthy fat.

A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry examined the effects of diet on serum sex hormones in healthy men. Results showed that when men decreased their healthy fat intake, serum concentrations of androstenedione, testosterone and free testosterone also decreased. This indicates you can add low testosterone to the list of low-fat diet risks.

The best healthy fat foods that boost testosterone include:

  • coconut oil
  • fermented dairy products, like goat milk kefir, yogurt, or raw goat or sheep milk cheese
  • quality fish oil
  • flaxseeds
  • chia seeds
  • walnuts
  • avocado
  • olive oil
  • almonds

2. Good-Quality Protein

To maintain healthy testosterone levels, it’s important to consume good-quality protein sources. Studies indicate that protein restriction or a protein-energy deficiency affects testosterone biosynthesis.

Eating good-quality protein sources also promotes satiety and helps prevent overeating. Because a higher body fat percentage may cause decreased testosterone production, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.

Try the following high-protein foods:

  • grass-fed beef
  • wild salmon
  • organic chicken
  • protein from bone broth
  • whey protein
  • eggs
  • beans
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • seeds

3. Complex Carbohydrates

The consumption of complex carbohydrates is important for optimizing testosterone levels and maintaining energy. This is especially true for athletes or men who engage in weight lifting.

Studies highlight that dietary protein helps minimize the decline of insulin-like growth factor-I, which is associated with low calorie intake and high energy expenditure.

Some of the best complex carbohydrates that help boost energy and mood, while helping maintain healthy testosterone levels, include:

  • oats
  • quinoa
  • barley
  • brown rice
  • chickpeas and other beans
  • legumes
  • sweet potatoes

4. Ginger

Ginger consumption has been linked to enhanced testosterone production, especially among males with oxidative stress conditions. Study participants typically used ginger supplements, which improve testosterone levels by enhancing luteinizing hormone production, normalizing blood glucose and reducing oxidative stress.

You can also add ginger into your diet by drinking ginger tea, using the root to make fresh juices or adding it to recipes.

5. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps enhance the body’s ability to deal with stress and reduce cortisol levels. Research shows that it also promotes youthful vigor, enhances muscle strength and endurance, and increases testosterone levels.

A study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health found that ashwagandha intake for an eight-week period was associated with an 14.7 percent greater increase in testosterone compared to placebo.

Ashwagandha can be consumed in several ways. It’s available as a tea, in capsules, tinctures and powders.

6. Zinc Foods

Zinc is an important nutrient for hormonal health, and it plays an important role in hormone production by increasing testosterone naturally. Research suggests that zinc plays an important role in modulating serum testosterone levels in normal men.

Some of the best foods high in zinc include:

  • lamb
  • grass-fed beef
  • chickpeas
  • yogurt
  • pumpkin seeds
  • eggs
  • mushrooms
  • cashews

7. Magnesium Foods

Studies conclude that magnesium consumption is linked to increased testosterone levels among male athletes. We also know that magnesium plays an important role in vitamin D metabolism and enhances sleep quality — two important factors for normal testosterone production.

The top magnesium-rich foods that boost testosterone include:

  • wheat bran
  • dark chocolate
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • cooked spinach
  • banana
  • amaranth
  • almond butter

Testosterone-Killing Foods

While you want to eat more foods that boost testosterone, the following foods you want to avoid in order to support your T levels.

1. Sugar

If you want to normalize your hormone levels and naturally boost your testosterone, the first thing you need to do is kick the sugar habit immediately. It has been reported that the average American takes in 12 teaspoons of sugar a day (about two tons of sugar in a lifetime), and sugar has been linked to depleting T levels in several ways.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), for example, type II diabetics are twice as likely to develop low T levels. Here’s how it works:

  • When you eat a diet high in sugars, your blood glucose levels become chronically elevated.
  • To help keep blood sugar levels from going haywire, your pancreas starts to work overtime to produce insulin, which helps transport the sugar from the bloodstream into your cells to be metabolized for energy.
  • Ultimately, if your cells are exposed to insulin for extended periods, you develop insulin resistance, which causes type II diabetes.

Once diabetes develops, your body isn’t able to produce the right levels of testosterone as it should, and the ADA recommends that diabetics get their T levels checked by their doctors if they start to develop any of the symptoms that I mentioned above.

If you can follow these steps, you are going to see great results in naturally boosting your testosterone levels.

2. Refined Grains

Refined grains have a low nutritional value, and studies show that, like sugar, they can negatively impact blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. We know that diabetes can cause low testosterone levels, which is why it’s much better to stick to complex “good” carbohydrates.

Refined grains that should be avoided include:

  • white bread
  • white flour
  • white pasta and rice

3. Alcohol

Studies suggest that heavy alcohol consumption may reduce testosterone levels. Alcohol also impairs the function of the testicular Sertoli cells that play a critical role in sperm maturation.

Alcohol consumption can reduce the production and release of hormones that are needed for reproductive functions and interfere with hormone production in the hypothalamus.

Because of the potential toxic effects of alcohol, especially on the male reproductive system, it’s important to consume it sparingly.

Other Natural Testosterone Boosters

In addition to consuming more foods that boost testosterone, the following lifestyle changes can help with T levels.

1. Intermittent Fasting

The first of the natural testosterone boosters is intermittent fasting.

One of the biggest intermittent fasting benefits? It’s been shown to increase testosterone by nearly 200 percent or even up to 400 percent.

In addition, a study by the University of Virginia Medical School noted that growth hormone levels increased 2,000 percent over the baseline in men who ate no calories for 24 hours, and growth hormone levels are correlated with testosterone.

Intermittent fasting allows your organs to rest, especially your liver, which is so crucial for naturally balancing hormones, especially testosterone.

2. Heavy Weight Training and Interval Training

If you want to naturally boost testosterone and HGH, then combine weight training with HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training).

Go to the gym at least three days a week, and lift heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights for six to 12 reps with larger muscle groups like your quadriceps, hamstrings, back, shoulders and chest will help your body pack on the maximum amount of muscle.

Researchers at Ball State University found that “strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release.”

Another study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center researched the acute effects of weight lifting on serum testosterone levels. The results concluded that even moderate weight lifting and light weightlifting increased serum testosterone levels in participants.

In addition to weight training, combining this with interval training like burst training is the best overall combo to increase HGH. In fact, burst training has been proven to not only boost T levels, but it helps keeps your testosterone elevated and can prevent its decline.

Burst training involves exercising at 90 percent to 100 percent of your maximum effort for a short interval in order to burn your body’s stored sugar (glycogen), followed by a period of low impact for recovery.

This causes your body to burn fat for the next 36 hours to replace your body’s vital energy stores. It addition to increasing your T levels, it can help burn between three to nine times more fat, lower your resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, keep your brain young by increasing circulation and aid in detoxification by stimulating the lymphatic system.

3. Liver Detox

Your liver is so crucial to testosterone levels. Research proves that when your liver does not function optimally, it affects your testosterone output. That’s because the liver holds an enzyme that conjugates the 17beta-hydroxyl group of testosterone.

A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology notes that “serum testosterone is reduced in up to 90 percent of men with cirrhosis, with levels falling as liver disease advances.” This shows just how vital liver health is to your testosterone, and countless studies verify the effects of liver function on testosterone.

4. Stress Reduction

For most men with low testosterone, if you struggle with frustration, unforgiveness, anger issues, etc., those things all drop your testosterone levels over time. It’s one of the ways chronic stress is killing your quality of life.

Mental and physical stress can be quite therapeutic and actually necessary for the body. The problem is when you are chronically stressed and your body gets stuck in the state where it’s pumping out cortisol (the “stress” hormone) nonstop.

A 2010 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior first suggested this when researchers evaluated the “dual-hormone hypothesis” clinically. They discovered that when cortisol is elevated, testosterone responds by elevating as well but soon after bottoms out at a much lower level than before cortisol kicked in!

That means you want to find ways to relieve stress to keep your testosterone levels up.

5. Vitamin D

One of the most important nutrients that can help boost testosterone levels is vitamin D3. In 2011, the results of a study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research found that vitamin D supplementation boosts testosterone naturally in overweight men by up to 30 percent.

If you have vitamin D deficiency symptoms, it will absolutely crush your testosterone levels. You want to get out in the sun 20 to 30 minutes every day to detox your body with the sun and get that all-important vitamin D.

Any day that you don’t get 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin, you want to supplement with 5,000 international units of vitamin D3.

6. Get Quality Sleep

An article from the journal Current Opinion of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity relays that getting enough sleep and at the right times are two of the most effective natural ways to raise testosterone. Most people require around seven hours of sleep every night.

Your body’s circadian rhythm essentially resets itself every night and releases chemicals like cortisol, which contribute to the overall hormone balance that can prevent low T levels.

Ideally, go to bed by 10 p.m. and wake up around 6 a.m. for optimal hormone balance.

7. Lower Body Fat Percentage

Dr. Gary Wittert, head of the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide in Australia, stated that weight loss has a predictable and linear relationship with increased testosterone naturally.

When you consider the effects that insulin resistance and poor sleeping habits have on testosterone, this makes perfect sense because they are all closely knit together with obesity. At the core of this issue is cutting out processed sugars from your diet, which have been linked to insomnia, obesity, diabetes and countless hormone disorders.

Risks and Side Effects

Healthy testosterone levels are important for both men and women. For people dealing with low testosterone, these natural remedies and foods that boost testosterone may be able to help normalize your levels.

It’s important to consult your health care professional about what steps you are taking to maintain healthy testosterone. This is especially true if you are beginning any new supplement for increased testosterone.


  • Low testosterone is not an uncommon issue among American men. It can be the result of dietary, lifestyle and health factors.
  • There are foods that boost testosterone and help the body to maintain normal hormone production.
  • The best foods that boost testosterone include those rich in healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, zinc and probiotics.
  • In addition, you want to avoid or limit testosterone-killing foods, such as sugar, refined grains and alcohol.
  • Other natural testosterone boosters include intermittent fasting, weight training, detoxing the liver, reducing stress, vitamin D supplementation, getting quality sleep and lowering body fat.

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