Pro-Inflammatory Diet May Significantly Increase Low-T Risk

Posted by Dr. Michael White, Updated on May 12th, 2024
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What we eat is intricately involved in our well-being. While caloric intake and body weight are major factors for good health, the effects of diet are far more complex than that. It's important that we get the specific nutrients necessary to support optimal vitality. It's also critical that we be careful to limit the intake of other foods that can potentially harm us. This includes foods that are categorized as “pro-inflammatory.” Some of the most notable foods in this category include polyunsaturated fats, simple sugars, and refined carbs.

Chronic Inflammation Is Unhealthy and Can Be Dangerous

Chronic Inflammation is very bad for hormone balance because it leads the body to produce too much Cortisol and too many Cytokines. When the body is afflicted by Inflammation, it diverts resources away from the production of Testosterone, HGH, and other hormones that are important to long-term maintenance and function. A recent study published in The Journal of Urology provides strong evidence that a diet consisting of too many inflammatory products can deplete Testosterone to the point of Clinical Low-T.

The lead authors of this study, Zhang Chichen and Qiu Shi, are quick to point out that this study does not offer sufficient evidence to determine a causal relationship between pro-inflammatory foods and Hypopituitarism. On the other hand, data analysis shows that Low-T risk is at its highest for obese men who eat a diet high in overly refined products.

Researchers used the Dietary Inflammatory Index to determine the specific Inflammatory effects of various food/drink in the diet. This index was the first ever constructed to specifically categorize different foods by their unique inflammatory capacity using human and select cellular and animal studies as reference.

Testosterone Deficiency Impairs Quality of Life for Millions of American Males

Low-T is increasingly common among American men and is usually defined as below 300 ng/dL Total Testosterone. The effects of Testosterone Deficiency are widespread and have a significant impact on short-term well-being and long-term mortality, and quality of life. Male Hypogonadism leads not only to fatigue, loss of strength, erectile dysfunction, and depression, but it also contributes to heightened risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other dangerous conditions.

Linking Chronic Inflammation to Testosterone Deficiency with Medical Research

There are many animal and human studies that connect Low Testosterone to high Inflammation. Specifically, guys with Low-T have been shown to have elevated cytokine levels. Cytokines are cellular defenses released by cells in response to infection or injury. Sometimes cells respond to factors in the environment which trigger cytokine production. The Dietary Inflammatory Index is a tool to help researchers analyze the effects of diet on inflammatory activity in a uniform and consistent way.

This study gathered evidence from 4151 male participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The goal was to consider the potential correlation between a patient's score on the Dietary Inflammatory Index and their Testosterone Levels. All participants had sex hormone levels evaluated and were subject to a 24-hour dietary recall. Based on the dietary recall, researchers estimated a DII score.

In the DII, different foods are given ratings dependent on their inflammatory effects. Foods rated with a negative score are anti-inflammatory, and foods with a positive score are considered pro-inflammatory. Patients in this study scored between -5.05 and +5.48 on the DII. Patients were split into two groups based on their scores. The Low-DII group had Total Testosterone of 422.71 ng/dL, while the pro-inflammatory group had 410.42 ng/dL. 26% of participants had clinically low Testosterone Levels.

Foods that Promote Inflammation Appear to Suppress Testosterone

Overall, the guys in the high DII score group were around 30% more likely to have Low-T than the Low-Inflammatory group. This correlation remained strong even when accounting for smoking, BMI, and other factors. Patients that had a high DII combined with obesity were at the highest risk. They were almost 60% more likely to have Testosterone Deficiency than obese men that had a less inflammatory diet.

While this study shows a connection, future studies would benefit from a dietary index with a greater range of foods. Future studies can be arranged in a way that proves that a high-inflammatory diet directly contributes to Low-T. For now, this study is good evidence that you should consider transitioning to a less inflammatory diet, especially if you're worried about your hormone balance and Testosterone Levels.

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