Did you know that your liver affects your testosterone levels and vice versa? Indeed, our livers and hormones are intimately linked. But the liver doesn’t make any hormones, these are made in several glands in the body. So, it’s no surprise that we usually don’t associate the liver to hormonal issues, less alone testosterone levels.
However, the liver plays a significant role in hormonal imbalances.
The liver metabolizes/breaks down hormones after they have done their work in the body.
So, let’s look into details how your liver affects your testosterone levels…
How your Liver Affects your Testosterone Levels – Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver
As you may know (by reading us regularly), testosterone – or T – deficiency becomes more common with age. Over time, T goes down and it leads to decreased libido, metabolic syndrome, a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and the endemic type 2 diabetes.
Also, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which tends to hop-in alongside metabolic syndrome, can aggravate metabolic problems and testosterone levels… (1)
So, what’s the deal with metabolic syndrome?
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Essentially, to get a metabolic syndrome diagnostic, patients must have at least 3 of the following risk factors: low HDL cholesterol (also known as “good” cholesterol), high triglycerides levels, high blood pressure, high blood glucose (aka. high blood sugar) and abdominal obesity (a waist line bigger than normal). Note: “Skinny fat” people can also suffer from metabolic syndrome.
Obviously, when suffering from metabolic syndrome, being idle is not an option. The most effective way to improve both metabolic syndrome and T levels is by dramatically improving diet and lifestyle. There’s no secret to it.
How your Liver Affects your Testosterone Levels – Alcohol
I enjoy a drink as much as the next guy. However, it’s so easy to over-drink and unfortunately, it’s not without consequences. Even when coupled with a pretty healthy lifestyle.
Over time, we just don’t process alcohol as well. Meaning: a 20 year old may be able to recuperate from a binge but a 40 + year old won’t be able to manage as well. And as a result, the body, more specifically the liver is going to pay for it.
If you are a middle aged or an older man, you should acknowledge that alcohol can have some very serious health consequences and reduce your consumption, if necessary.
When it comes to the liver, it processes alcohol out of your blood. Basically, it thinks alcohol is toxic (technically is). So the liver proceeds to “detox” your blood from it. However, alcohol – and not only binging, regular drinking also – can gravely damage or destroy your liver cells. Consequently, it can interfere with the essential role of the liver (processing food, beverages, removing damaging substances, participating in T production, etc).
When alcohol enters the bloodstream, your liver will prioritize alcohol over fat. Thus, that unprocessed fat will also increase the risk factor for…fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis. These two conditions are characterized by fat deposits in liver cells. Moreover, in a more advanced stage of liver damage (associated with alcohol consumption), cirrhosis causes severe scarring and disrupts the structure and function of the liver. In addition, cirrhosis can be fatal. No one wants to go there. Avoid getting there by all means necessary.
Furthermore, alcohol in itself interferes with one of the liver’s processes: which is testosterone production. So, the more you’ll chug, the less T you’ll have.
To demonstrate this, a four week study had healthy men consume 220 grams of alcohol daily. Only after five days, they saw their testosterone levels decline significantly (and continue to drop after the end of the study)! (2)
How your Liver Affects your Testosterone Levels – Conclusion
Weight Loss and Healthy Eating Habits
Taking care of your liver and overall health is essential to maintain and boost testosterone production.
If you have a medical condition or suspect one, seek professional advice.
If not, prevention is key. Start by improving your diet and eliminating most processed foods (white pasta/rice/bread, pre-prepared meals, hydrogenated fats like margarine, sunflower oil, etc.). Instead, try incorporating as much seasonal veggies as possible, moderate amounts of fruit, wholesome grains in moderation, quality meats and fish, legumes, quality dairy products in moderation (if possible organic) and good fats (nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, organic butter, cream, lard, coconut oil, walnut oil, avocado).
If you are overweight or obese, weight loss is necessary for the health of your liver, to boost your T levels and overall health. Look into the ketogenic diet, CICO (calories in, calories out), the paleo diet, LCHF (low carb, high fat), etc… – and find what suits you best.
Also, exercise is crucial to keep your liver and other organs healthy. Find the activity you can stick to.
However, you can start small: if you start exercising 10 minutes a day, that’s better than nothing. Just make sure to create a new routine. Consequently, exercising will become a habit, not a difficult feast of discipline.
Last but not least, if you need help (for weight loss or alcohol issues), you will find a lot of communities online (Reddit comes to mind) or in your local area that can provide support and advice. Don’t hesitate to contact them, there actually are people that WANT to help people who are struggling.
Stay strong and take care of yourself, no one else will for you.
This article was written by Michael King.
(1) Relevance of low testosterone to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Avni Mody, Donna White, Fasiha Kanwal and Jose M Garcia. Cardiovasc Endocrinol. 2015. (2) Effect of Alcohol (Ethanol) Administration on Sex-Hormone Metabolism in Normal Men. Gary G. Gordon, Kurt Altman, A. Louis Southren, Emanuel Rubin and Charles S. Lieber. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1976.