Out of all the modern health risks that get media attention, one “silent” threat to men’s health in particular that seems to consistently swim under the radar is low testosterone.
Testosterone is a crucial hormone for men that is responsible for maintaining the health of the testes and prostate, promoting muscle and bone mass, facilitating the growth of body hair, and regulating sex drive and the production of sperm and blood cells. And while it’s normal for testosterone levels to decline as men age, numerous studies have shown that modern male testosterone levels are decreasing generation by generation. Not only that, but one article from Forbes magazine noted that while the average testosterone level is decreasing, we’re also seeing an increase in rates of reproductive disorders, a decrease in average musculoskeletal strength, and a decrease in average sperm counts of modern men.
And this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how bad things can get for men with this condition. Because low testosterone has been linked to a ton of different men’s health issues, such as:
- Lowered sex drive
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased body fat
…and even erectile dysfunction!
In other words, low testosterone in modern men is definitely a big deal, and its effects are very tangible. But that raises the question…
Why Is It Just Becoming A Big Deal Now?
After all, humans have been around for quite some time now, and low testosterone was never a problem before… So why all of the sudden is this becoming an issue?
Well the truth is that the answer to this question is fairly complicated. There are a lot of aspects of our genetics and lifestyles that can contribute to low testosterone, such as:
- Hormonal Disorders
- Poor Diet
- Drug Use
So it’s hard to make the call that one thing causes low testosterone across the board.
But recently, scientists have locked onto one material that has been linked to all sorts of problems in men. A subset of chemicals that are commonly found all over the place (I’d be willing to bet that you could find some of these in the room you’re sitting in right now) that are proven to have adverse effects on men. These chemicals are known as:
“What on Earth Is A ‘Xenoestrogen’?”
If you’re anything like most men, seeing this word conjures up images of alien microbes sent to wipe out the human race… and unfortunately, that vision is not too far off.
Xenoestrogens are a subset of synthetic chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. For those of you who aren’t scientifically inclined (even the well-educated Dr. Squatch had to do some digging to figure this stuff out), an endocrine disruptor is a category of chemicals that – surprise surprise – disrupt the natural function of certain hormones in the body. They do this by mimicking the hormones in our body (such as testosterone and estrogen) and blocking the hormone receptors we need to receive them. Xenoestrogens in particular mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, and block their corresponding hormone receptors and contributing to low testosterone.
Truthfully, there are a LOT of these xenoestrogens floating around in the environment today, but some of the more common one include:
- BPA: Short for Bisphenol A, BPA is an industrial chemical introduced in the 1960s that is used to make certain plastic products.
- Parabens: A chemical preservative (and known carcinogen) often found in personal hygiene and beauty products that is believed to contribute to decreased sperm levels in men.
- Phthalates: A chemical compound often used to treat packaging materials which one study done on animals linked to reduced sperm production, undescended testes, and decreased testosterone production.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): A popular synthetic plastic polymer that is often contaminated with DEHP, a known xenoestrogen-producing compound.
- Pesticides and Insecticides: Many popularly used pesticides and insecticides include xenoestrogens such as endosulfan (which played a hand in India’s “Endosulfan Disaster” – an event where pesticides sprayed from the sky caused the local population to develop various cancers, mental health issues and physical deformities). To quote an article from the scientific journal “Environmental Health Perspectives”: “These very low effective doses for xenoestrogens demonstrate that many environmental contamination levels previously thought to be subtoxic may very well exert significant signal- and endocrine-disruptive effects, discernible only when the appropriate mechanism is assayed.”
Recognize anything you see in your day to day life?
Yeah, they’re kinda everywhere.
Now, before you start freaking out, it’s important to note that every healthy man has a need for a balance of BOTH estrogen (the female hormone) and testosterone (the male hormone) in the body. And the body’s pretty good at regulating that balance itself. It’s only when your system becomes inundated with synthetic estrogens from outside itself that things start to get thrown out of whack.
And that’s exactly what happens with these synthetic estrogens. As estrogen levels rise in men, testosterone levels tend to fall. So when they’re introduced in excess (and given how common they are in mainstream society, excess is pretty common these days), they can cause the body to become estrogen dominant – or so overwhelmed with estrogens that the testosterone in the body is overpowered. Which is where the low testosterone scare comes from.
All this kind of leaves you wondering…
Where Did Xenoestrogens Come From?
Odds are, you never heard about these things growing up. But while they might seem like a new discovery, the truth is xenoestrogens have been around for quite some time in one form or another.
See, in the race to become more and more efficient with their products, services and healthcare solutions, corporations are constantly experimenting with new technologies and chemical materials. Unfortunately, given the rather slow nature of the scientific method, it often takes us many, many years to realize that these things are hurting us more than they’re helping us.
That’s exactly what happened with xenoestrogens.
Despite the fact that we’ve known since the 1930’s that synthetic chemicals can interact with our hormone receptors – and even though the earliest failed attempt at using synthetic estrogen as a medicine was done way back in the 1940’s – because it takes so long for us to scientifically prove that these chemicals are dangerous and create laws to reflect that, we’ve ended up creating a lot of products (many of which are now deeply ingrained into society) that are stuffed with xenoestrogens.
And while scientists and corporations are quickly trying to back-peddle and remove these chemicals from the environment as the public becomes more aware of the sheisty stuff going down behind factory doors, the fact of the matter is that it’s going to take a long time for us to solve the problems we’ve created. And every single day we continue production of these materials we contribute to hormonal issues such as low testosterone (not to mention the the environmental damage these substances cause) more and more.
As a result it pays for us to do our research and learn where we can find these endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them.
Where Are Xenoestrogens Found?
With the amount of chemicals wantonly being thrown into industrial production (and consequently, the environment) today, it can be hard to pin down where exactly xenoestrogens can be found. However, some of the places you’re most likely to find xenoestrogens happen to be pretty close to home. Here’s where you’re most likely to come into contact with xenoestrogens in your daily life:
- Personal Hygiene Products such as moisturizers, hair care products, shaving products and soaps that use synthetic chemical ingredients.
- Tap Water
- Plastic Food Containers
- Receipt Paper and other heated papers are known to contain trace amounts of BPA that can enter your body “transdermally” (through the skin).
- Non-Organic Meats and Produce
- Building Supplies treated with chemicals.
- Chemical Insect Repellents (the effects of which can easily be reproduced by eating antimicrobial foods and creating your own natural alternative, by the way).
- Certain Fertilizers
- Noxious Fumes emitted from chemically treated products and at gas stations.
What You Can Do To Limit Your Exposure To Xenoestrogens
With these endocrine disruptors running amok throughout the modern world, avoiding them might seem hopeless. But the truth is there are a lot of things you can do to dodge the environmental estrogens in your daily life and keep low testosterone at bay.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything that you know is treated with or contains synthetic chemicals. But, given that these days just about everything in modern society is treated with chemicals in one way or another (and since we all can’t make like Squatch and move out to the woods), we’ve compiled some some more specific steps you can take to avoid the most toxic products you’re likely to come into contact with on a daily basis:
- Avoid Non-Organic Fruits and Vegetables: Unfortunately, most of our non-organic food supply is sprayed with xenoestrogen-rich pesticides multiple times over before it reaches your plate. You can avoid this by opting for their organic produce instead. Sure it’ll cost you a little extra, but consider it an investment in your health. (And if you need an extra incentive to drop the junk food, it’s worth mentioning that poor diet can contribute to body odor.)
- Only Eat Meat and Dairy From Organic, Free Range, Grass-Fed Sources: A study out of the Iranian Journal of Health has indicated that “…environmental estrogens may pass through the food chain and exert some disorders in male reproductive system…” That means that that burger you’re chowing down on might just be pumping your body with xenoestrogens and, consequently, may result in low testosterone over time. Luckily the fix is easy: Just put down the cheap, flash frozen fast food burger and pick up some free range, grass-fed meats and you’ll be in the clear. The same can be said for dairy: make sure you’re checking where your milk and cheese comes from and how the cows are raised there. Again, doing this kind of research can be a hassle, but once you’ve got a grip on which brands to avoid, it’ll become second nature.
- Maintain a Strong Immune System Through Exercise and Healthy Eating: Ultimately, try as we might, we’ll never be able to avoid ALL of the toxins in our modern environment. So it’s in your best interest to keep your body in top condition for when your immune system has to duke it out with some nasty xenoestrogens by exercising and eating clean foods. We all know that healthy eating contributes to a strong immune system, but few know that exercise can be immensely beneficial to immune response. Not only that, but exercise stimulates the production of testosterone and the release of pheromones – the natural chemical signal that sexual attracts members of the opposite sex.
- Avoid Storing Your Food and Drinks In Plastic Containers: When stored in cheaply made plastic containers such as tupperware, it’s possible for food and drink to become contaminated with BPA and phthalates. Try replacing your tupperware with glass containers, and your plastic water bottles with one made of stainless steel. And, if you’re too attached to your tupperware to let go, at the very least don’t microwave or heat it. When heated, cheap plastics tend to release MORE chemicals that can leach into your food and beverages.
- Say No To Receipts: (Really, does anyone actually keep them anyway?) Receipt paper is often contaminated with BPA, which can enter your body through the skin and start disrupting your hormones. So next time that cashier at the supermarket asks if you want a receipt, tell him to stuff it. Or, if you really have to take one, grab it by the very edge or with your shirt sleeve. You’ll look paranoid, but you can rest easy knowing that your precious stores of testosterone (and, as a result, your manhood) are well protected.
- Use A Water Filter: There are a lot of ways that estrogens sneakily make their way into your tap water. From petroleum derivatives (which are often contaminated with xenoestrogens) that contaminate water due to industrial spills, to runoff from farms where the animals are fed hormone-filled foods to inspire unnaturally fast growth, to the urine of women who take birth control pills – there are a million different ways for estrogens to get into your tap water. Luckily, there’s a quick fix: find a powerful water filter that promises to filter out all of the above (it’s worth doing your research to find which ones filter the best) and you’re golden. (And if you’re really gungho about all this and want to go the extra mile, install a water filter in your bath or shower. After all, when you take a hot shower, your pores expand making you that much more susceptible to the chemicals in the water hitting your body.)
And most importantly…
Give Low Testosterone the Boot By Only Using Personal Hygiene Products Made With All-Natural Ingredients
Unfortunately, many of the name-brand soaps you’re probably familiar with are contaminated with parabens – the carcinogenic xenoestrogen we mentioned earlier. On top of that, when it comes to personal hygiene products in particular, xenoestrogens shouldn’t be your only concern: Many of the mass-produced products on the shelves today are filled with all sorts of other harmful chemicals as well. (Check out our Ultimate Guide to Bar Soap For Men for more information on that). And considering how often most civilized people wash their hands and their bodies, and that your skin (also known as the largest organ in your body) is literally the connection between the outside world and your bloodstream, your soap bar can easily be the source of the most intense exposure to chemicals you receive all day. So it pays to invest in some soap made by companies you can trust.
Welp, there ya go. You now have a PhD in “Xenoestrogen Avoidance” from the University of Squatch – which means you’re certified to go out and spread the word to your masculine brethren about how to give low testosterone the boot. The next step: Stock your bathroom with some all-natural, 100% xenoestrogen-free soaps that will protect your body rather than compromising it, while at the same time leaving you smelling like the high testosterone woodsman you are deep down. You can start here by taking the Dr. Squatch Soap Quiz to find the bar that’s right for you, or you can hop on over to our shop to look through our line of colognes and hair care products.