What it is, why it might be beneficial and suggestions for how to do it.
Did you know that 2 out of every 100 men have low testosterone? (American Urology Association). Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays an important in the body. It is essential to maintain optimal testosterone levels. But how can men ensure that their levels are reasonable and can they naturally improve them? Read on to learn more about testosterone and how to naturally raise your levels.
Testosterone is responsible for the physical changes that occur during puberty such as facial hair, deepening voice and muscle growth. The pituitary gland is responsible for regulating testosterone levels. Additionally testosterone plays an important role in regulating male reproductive health, sexual function, bone health and muscle mass. (McBride et al, 2006). Testosterone symptoms follow a U shape. Too low of a level and too high of a level can be equally problematic but for different reasons. However, most men struggle with lower testosterone levels as they get older.
After age 30 testosterone declines at a rate of 0.4-2% annually (McBride et al., 2006). Signs of low testosterone include reduced sexual desire, low sperm count, increased body fat, decreased physical performance, reduced muscle mass (Sizar & Schwartz, 2020). When a man is experiencing low levels of testosterone, he may also find himself with less energy and he may have mood changes, depression and low self-esteem. It is also important to note that low testosterone can present without any symptoms.
Sleep is essential for maintaining endocrine regulation. According to one study, male participants who slept for 5 hours a night compared to 8-10 hours a night, saw a decrease in daytime testosterone levels by 15% (Leproult & Van Cauter., 2011)
Another study, according to healthline.com, found every extra hour of sleep a male gets, his testosterone levels increase by 15% or more. The best way to get a goodnight’s sleep is by reducing evening blue light exposure, limiting caffeine consumption and going to sleep at a consistent time. Ensuring an early and consistent bedtime can help you wake up feeling refreshed and help maintain/increase your testosterone levels (Granata., 1997).
Check out our recorded live stream titled “The Role of DNA & Epigenetics in Stress & Sleep”
Studies show that to maintain a healthy balance in hormone production one should consume a diet of whole foods and a nutritious balance of fats, proteins, and carbs. Constant dieting and even overeating can disrupt hormone levels. According to healthline.com, certain foods may aid in naturally raising a man’s testosterone levels, especially if the foods contain testosterone precursors. Food rich in vitamin D, such as sardines, cod liver, and egg yolks help increase your levels and may also help you live longer.
Zinc deficiency is common throughout the United Stated and is associated with low testosterone in men. A study looked at the connection between zinc and serum testosterone and found that a zinc deficiency results in a lower testosterone. Additionally, zinc supplements can increase testosterone levels (Prasad et al., 1996). Zinc is another precursor in making testosterone and can also be found in food. It is acquired in a variety of shellfish, with oysters having the highest concentration of zinc.
Following along with the theme of a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight is also important to maintaining testosterone levels. Studies found both young and older males with an above-normal body mass index (BMI) have 40-50 % lower testosterone levels than those with a normal BMI (Morgi et al., 2013).
This is due to the increased fat cells having a large amount of aromatase, an enzyme in the body that builds estrogen out of testosterone. While men do need some estrogen, if their levels get too high, their testosterone levels will plummet. Therefore, if they want to raise their levels, they need to drop the weight to lower the amount of aromatase their body is making.
The more active a man is the higher his testosterone levels will be, according to shared studies. Regular exercise, which includes resistance training, high-intensity training, or an overall active lifestyle can help immensely.
Exercise can also help ensure quality sleep which provides even more benefits to regulating men’s testosterone levels. Additionally, exercise can help lower stress levels. Stress is another thief of testosterone. Try increasing your exercise by getting a pet, which is also shown to lower stress as seen in our post on the health benefits of having a pet.
When men become stressed, they increase their levels of the hormone cortisol. Studies show that when levels of cortisol are elevated, their testosterone will go in the opposite direction: down. Stress also leads to the consumption of extra food and weight gain, which, as we previously discussed, also lowers testosterone. Researchers have found that low levels of serum testosterone are reported during psychological stress, physical stress and actual stress (surgery) (Afrisham et al., 2016).
Men with low testosterone have also been found to have more anxiety compared to men with normal testosterone. This makes it even more important to identify ways to eliminate stress in your life. A great way to relieve stress is by practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation through yoga practice. Next time you are feeling stressed try a deep breathing exercise when you inhale through your nose, and slowly exhale through your mouth try doing this 10 times to help reduce stress and increase testosterone levels. To learn more about how practicing yoga can help, read our yoga vs. pilates post here
When the testosterone hormone is imbalanced, it can affect all facets of life; physically, emotionally, and mentally. But, by taking care of yourself through a balanced lifestyle that includes enough sleep, exercise, and whole foods, you can maintain the right level of this essential hormone.
My Toolbox Genomics empowers individuals in their healthcare journey by creating reports focused on genetic predispositions derived from published research. Test results and suggestions are intended to lead to consultation with one’s healthcare practitioner. MyTBG reports do not diagnose disease or medical conditions. Any lifestyle changes should result from consultation with qualified healthcare practitioners.