It takes two to tango, as they say, particularly when it comes to conceiving. Yet most people are unaware that, where couples fail to conceive, male infertility is just as likely to be a factor as female infertility.
This is because one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, one-third by female reproductive issues and one-third by both male and female factor or unknown factors. In fact, around 7% of men are infertile and in about half of those cases the cause cannot be determined.
One of the causes of male infertility can be low testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. It plays a key role in the development of male reproductive organs such as the testes and prostate. It also promotes secondary sexual characteristics, such as increased muscle and bone mass and the growth of body hair.
What is the problem with low testosterone in males?
Quite simply, low levels of testosterone may result in decreased production of sperm. Also low testosterone leads to loss of libido that can result in a lack of desire to even have sex. It can also cause erectile dysfunction making it difficult to reach climax or to have sex often enough for reproduction.
The causes of low testosterone, apart from natural ageing can include:
- Lifestyle (e.g., stress, excessive alcohol consumption, marijuana use, chronic opioid use, smoking)
- Disease (testicular cancer, early or late delayed puberty) or injury to testicles
- Environment (e.g., chemicals from pollution)
Medical treatments can raise testosterone levels, but men can also encourage the body to produce more by making simple changes to their diet and lifestyle.
Foods that promote testosterone production
One of the easiest ways to turbocharge testosterone production is to provide the engine of production with some super fuels. This means eating foods that contain the necessary components the body needs to assemble the testosterone molecule.
So, here are some foods that, by their inclusion in a balanced healthy diet can aid testosterone production:
Shellfish are high in zinc, a mineral that is essential for healthy sperm and reproductive function. Zinc also prevents hypogonadism – which leads to low testosterone.
2. Leafy green vegetables
Vegetables such as spinach, green cabbage, chard, and kale are rich in magnesium, a mineral that may increase the body’s level of testosterone. In fact, a 2011 study found that magnesium boosted testosterone in both sedentary males and athletes (although the levels were higher in athletes – suggesting that the effect is boosted by exercise).
3. Fish (particularly oily fish)
Research suggests that Including oily fish in your diet may be especially beneficial in increasing testosterone because fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon is a good example of oily fish
The evidence was boosted when results of an animal-based study from 2016 indicated that fish oil can increase the serum testosterone levels in dogs by improving their fatty acid profiles.
4. Olive oil
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, an antioxidant. These factors likely contribute to the food’s health benefits, which include reduction in the risk of heart disease and cancer.
It can also improve male reproductive health: results of a small study conducted in 2013 suggest that olive oil may boost serum testosterone levels in healthy adult men. Participants in the study also experienced an increase in luteinizing hormone, which stimulates cells in the testes to produce testosterone.
Onions are good sources of nutrients and antioxidants and can provide many health benefits, from protecting the heart to losing weight. In addition, onions may increase low levels of testosterone.
This was demonstrated in a 2012 study in rats, where researchers found that a daily intake of fresh onion juice for four weeks significantly increased testosterone levels.
Further research will be needed in humans, but these initial findings are promising.
Ginger has been used as both a medicine and a cooking ingredient for over a thousand years and modern research backs up an old claim that it improves male fertility. Researchers, in 2012, found that taking a daily ginger supplement for three months increased testosterone levels by 17.7 percent in a group of 75 men. So, there you have it: six testosterone-boosting superfoods that can be easily integrated into a balanced diet and which also provide options for more exotic dishes, from fish curries to paellas with everything in between, including vegetarian and vegan options.