Testosterone and Flax: A Male Nightmare?

Hola! Hope everyone had a relaxing week because mine was all over the place. By now my head has been spinning like a top for 48 hours since Friday's 'after' blood tests came in. Before I get to that I wanted to talk about Tri Games.

So what are Tri Games?

Every trimester National has a friendly sports competition between all the tris. In the fall, it was flag football; but on Friday it was DODGEBALL! I was so excited to find out that we were going to play a school-wide organized dodge ball tournament! Our trimester had not made a good showing in the fall tri games by getting knocked out in the earliest round, so this winter we were up to avenge our pride.

How did we do this time? We rocked! We steam rolled our way to the finals proudly sporting our tri colors (yellow) only to lose against the superman dressed Tri 5's (blue). The whole thing was run in the gym and there was plenty of laughs, sore rotator cuffs, (I couldn't feel my arm after the finals), and Dr. Darby? Yes, even Dr. Darby (our neuroanatomy teacher) made a surprise visit and cheered us on. Perhaps it was because she had just graded our neuro written midterms and wanted to see our smiling faces before we saw our actual grades! (perhaps not ;) Nonetheless, the whole event was an absolute blast and a wonderful excuse to throw out your shoulder trying to establish top tri dominance! 

Top -dodgeball

So what about those blood tests?

Well, my 'after' blood tests came in this week and I was expecting great results considering my bio-impedance came back rather phenomenally. At my meeting before with Dr. Anderson, he spilled the beans by saying I was going to be "surprised." I was rather dumbfounded until I got to read my 'after' testosterone. It had PLUMMETED in HALF (I can't recall exact numbers but 600 to 300 something)! I was shocked and nobody in clinic knew how the heck that would be possible. I gained 20 lbs. of muscle and lost fat and did it on half the testosterone? You're running a fun joke aren't you? Apparently not. 

So I left the clinic with a rather strange taste in my mouth. The kind of taste you don't know whether to be excited or scared. Had I miscalculated my diet? Had I not consumed enough fat? Had I eaten too much for my body? Had I taxed my endocrine system? Was the trend to continue downward? My mind was absolutely (and still is) spinning. My cholesterol, despite eating a pound of grass fed beef and 4 eggs a day stayed about the same (within a point or too difference), which defied some conventional cholesterol theory. I had been comfortable with that, however, more and more research is now showing that saturated fat and exogenous cholesterol (dietary) are not the bad culprits of heart disease and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) as once thought (refined carbs are). 

However, this made the previous finding of lowered testosterone even more plaguing. I had eaten PLENTY of fat (60% of my diet) and protein (25%) to have PLENTY of building blocks for hormone precursors but something happened along the way that screwed that up. What could it be? 

Flax: A Misunderstood Male Nightmare? 

About 10 minutes after I got home from the clinic, I went to make a shake and low and behold grabbed a jar of my favorite almond/flax seed nut butter from the fridge. I ate A LOT of this to increase my calories, fat and protein to hit the lofty goals I set for my food intake over the last month. I looked down at the jar and did one of those grossly exaggerated double takes. Flax seed! WHOA. What's the matter with flax seed? 

It's estrogenic! Apparently VERY estrogenic. It contains phytoestrogens not unlike soy, yet the research isn't as clear as it is with soy on the ill effects of flax when over-consumed. It seems I became a guinea pig for flax seed consumption warnings. I did a couple pub med searches without a whole lot of findings until Dr. Anderson found one that said 30g/day of flax didn't have a 'statistically significant' drop in testosterone levels. The problem? I was consuming on AVERAGE 150g and up to 240g a few times. It wasn't all flax (mixed with almond butter) but at those levels who knows. Another cited study confirmed it was possible.  

Next Order of Action? 

Well, if you want your manhood to stay in tact (I assume you do) and not grow breast tissue (I assume you don't) it's time to rethink how much flax you want to consume as a male. If you were to read the benefits of flax you'd think it was a super food that should be consumed all the time for its omega 3's that fight inflammation and speed healing time. However, if you take things to the edge, which I have, a weird knack for doing, then you may want to reign in the "everything in moderation" button. 

So, will I start losing my hair and libido? No. Will I be cutting flax out of my diet and retesting in a month to make sure I'm back on track? Heck, yes.

Sooo much fun is there!