Testosterone has many beneficial effects, including increasing bone strength and density, inducing the creation of red blood cells, improving sexual function, enhancing libido, protecting the heart and increasing muscle strength in men and women.
Testosterone and other steroid hormones are cleared from the body through the liver. The pathway that clears testosterone is called Glucuronidation. The enzyme responsible is called UDP-glucoronosyltranserase (UGT2B17). Once testosterone has circulated in the body and worked its magic, it goes to the liver to be excreted through the Glucuronidation pathway. Once here, it is converted into testosterone glucuronidase and then is excreted out of the body through the Kidneys primarily.
How Your Diet Makes an Impact
In 2012 and 2013, researcher Carl Jenkinson et al conducted studies published in Medical Journals (Frontiers of Endocrionology, Nutrition Journal and Steroids), demonstrating the Effects of Dietary Components on Testosterone Metabolism via UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase (UGP). What they found was that red wine samples inhibited the glucuronidation of testosterone by up to 70% over 2 hours. The ethanol content had no significant effect. They went on to discover that green and white tea preparations inhibited the UGT2B17 enzyme by circa 20% with a white tea powder inhibiting glucuronidation by 30%!
Foods that Might Increase Circulating Testosterone
It just so happens, that the active constituents from red wine, coffee, onions and green tea inhibit the glucuronidation pathway and therefore testosterone circulates in the system longer! Not only do these foods have compounds that inhibit this enzyme, but so does Naproxen and Ibuprofen (NSAIDs). Although these studies on the inhibitory effects of Quercetin, caffeic acid, polyphenols and NSAIDs have all been in-vitro studies, which means that they are studies conducted outside of the body, the data is so compelling, that more studies need to be done!
Although there are still no specific guidelines about how much and how often to consume these foods, it is possible to extrapolate certain guidelines for those interested in benefiting more from the testosterone circulating in the body. Red wine had one of the greatest effects on the circulating testosterone levels. Again, it did not have to do with the alcohol levels and red wine comes from grapes, so consider consuming the following foods throughout the day to keep circulating testosterone levels around longer:
- White tea
- Green tea
What do all of these compounds have in common? Quercetin!
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is present in all of these foods. Naturopathic doctors use quercetin for allergies, heart health, blood glucose regulation, cancer prevention and bladder conditions. A dose of 500-1500mg daily is reasonable for most people. Although it is generally recognized as safe, it is not great for everyone! Quercetin should be used with caution with certain medications that are filtered through the liver pathways that Quercetin blocks such as certain antibiotics (Cipro, etc), cyclosporin, tamoxifen, motrin, Effexor, ranitidine, sertraline and others. It is important if you are wanting to use quercetin in higher doses to check with your naturopathic doctor to ensure safety.
Of course, it is not all good to have prolonged testosterone levels circulating if your health could be adversely affected by this. In cases of PCOS, certain cancers, acne, and drug testing for athletics there should be a consideration when using these compounds in excess. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consult with your naturopathic doctor, who knows a lot about active constituents in food and the inner workings of your body’s unique physiology.
Effects of Dietary Components on Testosterone Metabolism via UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2013; 4: 80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703584/
Dietary green and white teas suppress UDP-glucuronosyltransferase UGT2B17 mediated testosterone glucuronidation.
Jenkinson C, Petroczi A, Barker J, Naughton DP.
Steroids. 2012 May;77(6):691-5. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2012.02.023. Epub 2012 Mar 11.
Red wine and component flavonoids inhibit UGT2B17 in vitro.
Jenkinson C, Petroczi A, Naughton DP.
Nutr J. 2012 Sep 7;11:67. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-67.