Some foods, including soy, dairy, and specific fats, have been claimed to lower testosterone levels in the body. But is this true?

A person can also increase testosterone levels naturally, by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.

The food a person eats can affect many aspects of their health, not just their waistline. Food powers the cells and may affect some of the body’s other components, including hormones, such as testosterone.

Testosterone is one of the major sex hormones in the body. Although men produce more testosterone, it is an important hormone for women as well. Testosterone promotes an increase in muscle mass, bone mass, and body hair, and influences reproduction.

Typically, the body does an effective job regulating the hormones and keeping levels of testosterone where they need to be.

Some have claimed that an excess of certain foods may interfere with this process, resulting in a hormonal imbalance. People worried about their testosterone levels might choose to limit the following foods.

However, it is important to note that the research regarding food’s ability to lower testosterone levels is limited. As the current evidence exists, it is not possible to draw strong conclusions about the following foods and testosterone levels.

Soy foods, such as tofu, edamame, and soy protein isolates, contain phytoestrogens. These compounds are physically similar to the estrogen in the body and function in a similar way.

An older 2014 study in the journal German Medical Science noted that although scientists have carried out a lot of research into soy, they still do not understand it fully.

The paper notes that many studies have not found a connection between eating soy products and altered serum testosterone or estrogen levels.

In fact, one 2021 review concludes that neither soy nor phytoestrogens have any impact on testosterone levels. Another study the same year confirms there is no evidence supporting the claim that phytoestrogens disrupt the human endocrine system.

Anyone with concerns about their testosterone levels might also consider giving up or limiting drinking alcohol. This may be especially true for males.

While some studies have found evidence that a small amount of alcohol increases testosterone levels in men, this is generally not the case. As a study posted in Current Drug Abuse Review notes, heavy drinking or regular drinking over long periods causes a decrease in testosterone in males.

The paper also notes that alcohol consumption causes an increase in testosterone levels in women.

Peppermint and spearmint may make a calming tea, but the menthol in mint may reduce testosterone levels, but it must be emphasized that there is a lack of human research to support this.

According to a study paper in Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin, scientists treated female rats with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) with spearmint essential oil to test its effects on the disorder. Researchers noted that spearmint essential oil reduced testosterone levels in these rats.

An older 2014 review posted to BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine also noted that there is some high-quality evidence showing that mint lowers testosterone levels in women with PCOS.

However, there is not enough high-quality evidence surrounding the effect of the herb in general, particularly on men who may be concerned about their testosterone levels.

Most of the research on the topic focuses on animal models or women. Future studies should investigate the effects of mint on both sexes to get a better overall picture.

A study in the journal Nutrients linked a diet high in bread, pastries, and other desserts to low total testosterone levels in Taiwanese men. Additional factors included high dairy consumption, eating out regularly, and not eating enough dark green vegetables.

According to the article, these men also had decreased muscle mass and increased body fat.

A study in Integrative Medicine Research notes that licorice root can reduce testosterone in healthy women during menstrual cycles. Animal studies also show that licorice supplementation can reduce testosterone levels.

Ideally, any future studies would look into the effects of licorice on both sexes to better understand how the herb acts in general.

The type of fat a person eats may also affect their testosterone levels and function. A study in the Asian Journal of Andrology looked at the dietary patterns of young, healthy men in regard to their hormone levels and testicular function.

Their research indicated that eating trans fats may lower testosterone levels in the body. They also found that too many omega-6 fatty acids appear to reduce testicular size and function.

However, eating plenty of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids may increase testicle size and improve function. The researchers called for more studies to confirm their findings, but people who are worried about their testosterone levels may want to avoid trans fats and limit omega-6 fats.

Other factors that may influence hormone imbalances or low testosterone include:

  • aging
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • chronic drug, tobacco, and marijuana use
  • obesity
  • diabetes

There may also be some ways to boost testosterone naturally, including:

  • eating a more balanced diet focused on fresh foods
  • avoiding overeating
  • avoiding obesity
  • doing regular exercise
  • getting plenty of sleep each night

Diet and exercise play an essential role in maintaining good health and keeping the hormones balanced. Recently, the Internet has been filled with commentary that certain foods, especially soy, may reduce testosterone levels in the body.

However, studies largely show a lack of evidence for these claims. Nevertheless, anyone who has concerns about their testosterone levels may want to limit these foods.