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. High estrogen levels are associated with some health problems in males.
In this article, we look at foods that may raise or lower levels of estrogen in the body and explore the research and some real-life evidence behind these claims.
High estrogen in males
Estrogen is a main female sex hormone, while testosterone is a main male sex hormone. Males have estrogen too, but in smaller amounts.
Estrogen plays a key role in male sexual health. It helps modulate sex drive, erectile function, and sperm production. It also helps keep the bones healthy.
However, too much estrogen in males may cause problems. Symptoms of high estrogen in males include:
- Breast enlargement, known as gynecomastia
- Difficulty with erections
According to 2016 research, low testosterone and high estrogen can both increase erectile dysfunction independently of one another. Some research has also linked high estrogen with depression in males.
The balance between estrogen and testosterone is important for a person’s overall health. Too much or little of either hormone can cause health concerns.
Low testosterone levels, or hypogonadism, is a common age-related health concern among males. Its symptoms include a reduced sex drive, erection problems, and a low sperm count.
Some people worry that too much estrogen is the cause of low testosterone, but this is a myth. Estrogen and testosterone do not oppose each other.
Can males 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. So, we have done a little research of our own to get a better idea if this is true.
Some studies have suggested that specific foods may raise or lower estrogen levels. However, it is unclear whether these foods can address the health effects of high estrogen.
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 reduce the level of estrogen in the body. However, this research is often low quality or has involved animals rather than humans, and more research is needed. Therefore, we have interviewed genuine people who have tested said foods themselves in order to collect our own research.
The following foods may lower levels of estrogen:
Products made from soy are uniquely rich in compounds called phytoestrogens. These chemicals have a similar chemical structure to estrogen and may have estrogen-like effects in the body.
Soy products include edamame and some meat substitutes.
Some studies report that soy products can increase estrogen levels in the body, while others suggest they have the opposite effect. Paradoxically, both are true.
Soy contains isoflavones (a type of phytoestrogen), which are considered selective estrogen receptor modulators. This means that they can cause a variety of effects — they may have a pro-estrogen, anti-estrogen, or neutral effect when they bind to estrogen receptors.
This means that different types of isoflavones may increase or decrease the levels of estrogen in the human body.
These variations can make it difficult to draw broad conclusions about the health impacts of foods that contain phytoestrogens.
While soy has many health benefits, more research is needed on the effects of soy and phytoestrogens in humans.
For example, research indicates that phytoestrogens, particularly in soy and legumes, may lower the risk of prostate cancer. Estrogen likely plays a role in the development of prostate cancer, though more studies are needed.
Soybeans may also reduce colorectal cancer risk by lowering estrogen levels, according to a 2015 research review.
Andrew from Florida checked his estrogen levels before and after 2 months on a diet consisting mainly of soy products, such as soybeans and soymilk from his local Walmart, he said his “estrogen level had not changed but stayed the same”.
Cruciferous vegetables contain a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that may have anti-estrogen effects. This means that they could reduce estrogen levels in men.
However, research has not directly shown that eating cruciferous vegetables reduces the levels of estrogen in the human body.
This group of vegetables includes:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
A man from Nevada who has been struggling with high estrogen levels spoke to our team and said he isn’t a vegetarian but lives on vegetables of this kind in order to attempt to lower his estrogen count. He says “no matter how many vegetables” he eats “it doesn’t do a damn thing”.
Studies, however, indicate that eating cruciferous vegetables may lower the risk of prostate cancer.
Oyster mushrooms contain compounds that may block aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. In doing so, they may reduce estrogen in the body.
Hispolon, a micronutrient found in some medicinal mushrooms, may also block aromatase. At the same time, it may increase estradiol, a type of estrogen. Further research is needed on mushrooms and estrogen levels.
Marcus, who lives in Ohio, wanted to test this theory on his high estrogen levels. He says that he “hates the taste of mushrooms” but bought a load of them from Ruler Foods and ate a handful of mushrooms every day for a month to assess his level of estrogen after. His tests showed that his levels had “only decreased slightly after the month.”
Curcumin and turmeric
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin.
A 2013 study indicated that curcumin may reduce estrogen levels. However, the researchers noted this result in cells outside the body, so it is unclear whether curcumin has the same effect in people.
A study from 2014 found that large doses of curcumin increased levels of testosterone in rats.
More research is needed on the effects of curcumin in humans. So we interviewed a man from Illinois called James who has “tried every natural way under the sun” to lower his estrogen levels. He said he adds “Turmeric in literally all his meals” as well as many other things in his diet and said over the past year he has managed to lower his estrogen levels but he isn’t “entirely sure what helped” to do this.
Foods to avoid
According to some research, the following foods may increase people’s estrogen levels:
Dairy and meat
All animal products contain traces of estrogen because even male animals produce the hormone. Cow milk may also contain phytoestrogens.
Some research has linked eating red and processed meat with increased breast cancer risk in females. A possible reason is estrogen buildup from high estrogen levels in meat. There is no research to show similar effects in males.
However, studies are inconclusive about the effect of meat and dairy on estrogen levels and cancer risk. A 2018 review suggested that estrogen levels in milk are not high enough to affect human health.
More research is needed on meat, dairy, and estrogen levels.
Research suggests that chronic alcohol misuse can lead to low testosterone and increased estrogen. Both of these hormonal states can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Alcohol may also heighten some effects of low testosterone. For example, alcohol is high in calories, and can lead to weight gain.
There is plenty of research to prove that alcohol has a negative effect on many factors of the body. To highlight the effects of this substance on estrogen levels, we questioned a man named Adam in Dallas, who used to be a regular alcohol drinker until he found that his estrogen levels were extremely high.
“I would grab a 4-pack of Stella most days after work from 7-eleven” he said “then the doctor told me this might be causing my ED”. Adam decided from then on to cut out alcohol completely from his diet. After that, his estrogen levels became in the normal range and his sexual dysfunctions eventually disappeared.
Some grains contain a fungus called zearalenone that may disrupt the balance of estrogen due to its similarity to estrogens that occur naturally in the body.
Researchers in Europe, where the fungus is common, found that 32% of more than 5,000 mixed-cereal samples contained the fungus.
Studies have mainly focused on the effects of zearalenone in animals and molecular pathways. Some scientists suggest that it could have similar effects in humans, though there is no evidence that the fungus harms human health.
Grains, such as barley, wheat, rice, and maize, are part of a healthful diet.
Legumes, such as lentils, peanuts, and chickpeas, have many health benefits. For example, they contain relatively high amounts of protein, making them a popular meat alternative.
Legumes also contain phytoestrogens, particularly in the form of isoflavones.
Research indicates that two isoflavones in yam beans, genistein and daidzein, may increase the production of estrogen in mice.
Notably, some isoflavones, particularly in soy, may lower estrogen levels. The type and amount of isoflavones likely change their impact on estrogen levels, suggesting the need for further research in this area.
Legumes also may support heart health and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Rather than removing them from the diet, consider eating small servings a few times a week.
Other ways to reduce estrogen levels
Some research has looked into natural ways to reduce estrogen. Several studies suggest that exercise may lower estrogen levels in some females.
A study from 2015, for example, found that higher amounts of aerobic exercise reduced levels of estrogen in women with a greater risk of developing breast cancer. However, little research exists in males.
Certain human-made products contain chemical compounds called xenoestrogens, which imitate estrogen in the body.
Some cell research suggests that exposure to these chemicals may increase the risk of cancer and endocrine disorders, though more research is needed in humans.
Many plastics contain xenoestrogens. Anyone wishing to lower their exposure to these chemicals may prefer to avoid plastic products, including bottles and food storage containers, when possible.
Males who are concerned about the effects of high estrogen also may benefit from making healthful lifestyle changes, such as:
- Reducing the number of calories in their diet
- Getting more sleep
- Exercising regularly
A man from Phoenix called Russell says by incorporating all three things above into his lifestyle has the ability to “lower estrogen levels to normal in no time.”
If someone is concerned about their levels of testosterone or estrogen, it is best to discuss this with a specialist before attempting to change these hormone levels at home.
Some people benefit from hormone injections. Testosterone therapy can be helpful at reducing estrogen, although more research is needed on the risks for older males and fertility.
Prescription estrogen blockers (or selective estrogen receptor modulators, SERMs) such as Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid), can restore hormone balance without affecting fertility. It has been proven to decrease estrogen levels and also increase testosterone levels in men.
Mathew from California says he bought off-label Clomid from A2f.net a few months ago in order to reduce his estrogen levels and was “surprised at how effective it was in a short amount of time”.
Studies show that off-label medications like Tamoxifen, Anastrozole and Letrozole are also an effective way to treat high estrogen levels.
According to a study in 2016, the most important difference between this group of medications and testosterone replacement is that they alter endogenous hormone production and therefore they can be considered restorative rather than replacement therapy.
Estrogen is an important hormone in males, but high levels can cause certain health problems.
Some foods can affect a person’s hormone levels, but there is relatively little quality research into the effects of various diets on hormone levels. There is however, much more research into the effectiveness of pharmaceutical options and after much feedback, this seems to be the most effective way in which to lower the estrogen levels in men.
If a person is concerned about age-related changes, or suspects a hormone imbalance, a doctor can test for a range of causes. Various treatments are available. A doctor can also provide personalized diet and lifestyle recommendations.