Anti-estrogen diet for men: What to eat and avoid

Estrogen and testosterone are hormones that occur naturally in male and female bodies. Some research suggests that certain foods can influence the levels of these hormones.

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They play essential roles in libido, mood, health, fertility, and many other functions.

Some people think of estrogen as a “female hormone,” but male and female bodies produce it. If a man’s estrogen levels are too high, health problems can result.

In this article, we look at foods that may raise or lower levels of estrogen in the body and explore the evidence behind these claims.

Dispelling hormone myths

Man in running gear outdoors eating from takeaway pot of pasta.
Both women and men need estrogen for various bodily functions.

Testosterone levels tend to decrease with age.

A 2016 study reports that levels of this hormone decline by 0.4–2.0 percent each year after the age of 30.

In some men, this decline leads to depression, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, and low energy. When a man has a low level of testosterone, a doctor may recommend testosterone injections.

Some people worry that too much estrogen is the cause of low testosterone. This is a myth. Estrogen and testosterone do not oppose each other.

Estrogen is vital for men’s health. It supports the functioning of almost every area of the body, including the brain, heart, bones, muscles, and the immune system.

However, if a man’s estrogen levels are too high, this can cause a number of health problems, including obesity and depression.

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Can men reduce their estrogen levels?

Many websites and natural health gurus say that certain diets can lower estrogen levels, but there has been little research into these claims.

A handful of studies have suggested that specific foods can raise or lower estrogen levels. However, scant evidence suggests that these foods can address the health effects of high estrogen.

Some research suggests that the naturally occurring estrogens in plants, for example, do not affect levels of the hormone in male bodies.

Speak with a doctor before making dietary changes to reduce estrogen. The most healthful diet varies from person to person.

Foods that may lower estrogen

Some research suggests that certain foods may be able to diminish the level of estrogen in the body. However, this research is often low-quality or has involved animals rather than humans.

According to the conclusions of these studies, the following foods may lower levels of estrogen:

Soy products

Block of tofu on chopping board
Soy products, such as tofu, contain phytoestrogens.

Soy-based products, including edamame and some meat substitutes, are especially rich in plant estrogens. Estrogens that occur in plants are called phytoestrogens.

Early research raised concerns that phytoestrogens could raise estrogen levels in the body. However, they may have the opposite effect.

Phytoestrogens are weaker than estrogens that the body produces. When plant estrogens enter the body’s cells, they push out the body’s own estrogens.

In this way, consuming more phytoestrogens could lower a person’s estrogen level. Plant estrogens may also reduce the risk of diseases related to estrogen levels, including prostate cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables also contain high levels of phytoestrogens. This group of vegetables includes:

cauliflower

bok choy

broccoli

cabbage

Cruciferous vegetables also contain high levels of isoflavones, which are a type of estrogen. Results of several studies suggest that isoflavones may prevent the body from converting testosterone to estrogen.

Mushrooms

Certain varieties of mushrooms, including white button and portobello, could raise a person’s testosterone levels and lower their estrogen levels.

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