Low testosterone(T) causes many problems in men, particularly as they age. Symptoms include depression, low libido, fatigue, and infertility. But there are many other symptoms including:
Decreased testosterone in men is also common in many other conditions. In particular, men with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD) and Type 2 diabetes tend to have lower T levels. Additionally, as we age, levels tend to decrease.
Certainly, many factors contribute to this relationship. One factor in particular is increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. In fact, a theory known as the GELDING theory seeks to explain this relationship:
- Leading to a
- Gonadal function
Let’s take a look at this theory and recent evidence.
GELDING theory of low testosterone
The GELDING theory seeks to explain the relationship between obesity and low T levels. It’s based on several studies that identify a relationship between systemic inflammation, obesity and decreased testosterone.
It posits that leaky gut increases the absorption of bacterial endotoxin, a highly inflammatory stimulus. This, in turn, decreases testosterone production by blocking production in the testis and luteinizing hormone by the pituitary.
However, this may be a beneficial response. Testosterone has immune suppressing effects. Thus, during infection, a decrease may prevent the immune suppressing effects. As a result, the immune system responds better to infection.
Unfortunately, during chronic inflammation, T levels remain depressed. Addressing gut health and correcting leaky gut may reverse this process.
This gives us a target, but does it have relevance to healthy, lean men?
Leaky gut and low testosterone in healthy men
In 2017, the GELDING theory was put to the test. Researchers administered endotoxin to 33 lean men between the ages of 18-40 years of age. Administration of endotoxin increased inflammation in these men for approximately 6 hours.
Additionally, both testosterone and luteinizing hormone tended to be lower for 24 hours. However, only T levels were significantly decreased by 33% at 6 hours post-adminstration.
This clinical trial indicates that leaky gut may promote decreased testosterone levels, even in healthy men of reproductive age.
Testosterone is an incredibly important hormone for men’s health. T levels are decreased in several chronic metabolic conditions as well as aging. Preventing this decline yields beneficial effects to men.
Currently, hormone replacement therapy is the chief approach to addressing low T levels. Indeed, leaky gut appears to drive changes in testosterone production in men. Recent evidence indicates addressing gut health may be another valid method of addressing low testosterone in otherwise healthy men.
Wanna learn more about reversing leaky gut? Check out this course on 3 common causes of leaky gut.