A few weeks ago, I shared with you the connection between erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
Readers were quick to respond with additional questions. (Thank you – and keep your questions coming!)
Many of you wanted to know more about testosterone and its impact on your health.
It’s a good question and an important issue that men are often reluctant to address.
A Vital Role
Testosterone is most closely associated with sex drive. But it also plays a vital role in bone health and muscle mass… fat storage in men… red blood cell production… and even temperament.
So naturally, a decline in testosterone levels also puts men at risk for hair loss, osteoporosis and loss of strength.
But there’s a lot more to it than just that…
Low testosterone levels are also associated with coronary artery disease and cardiovascular events.1
Because it plays so many roles, testosterone is vital to maintaining optimal health as we get older.
But there are a lot of things working against us…
Factor These In…
Testosterone levels decline with age. Beginning at age 30, they decrease somewhere between 0.4% and 2% every year.2
And unfortunately, the toxic chemicals we’re exposed to every day – including BPAs, phthalates and other xenoestrogens – speed up that decline.
Statins to treat high cholesterol have also been found to interfere with testosterone levels.3
The herbicide glyphosate, found in the common weed killer Roundup, also gets in the way of the body’s ability to produce testosterone.4
Chronic stress is another leading cause of low testosterone levels.5 So is being overweight.6
With all of these factors working against our testosterone, low T may seem like an inevitability that we all must face.
But that’s just not true. There are plenty of simple adjustments you can make to keep your T levels – and your body – humming along.
It starts with managing your weight.
It might sound odd, but the circumference of your waist is the single strongest predictor of testosterone levels.7 A modest 4-inch increase in waist size was found to increase a man’s odds of having a low testosterone level by 75%.
So shedding some of that excess weight will put you on the right path.
You know the gig…
Cut down (or ideally, eliminate) processed foods and drinks, like cereal, microwave popcorn and soda.
Limit your intake of processed sugars. Also avoid industrial trans fats and omega-6 fatty acids (these have been shown to lower testosterone levels in their own right).8
Waistline-friendly foods with healthy fats that boost testosterone levels include olives and olive oil, grass-fed meats, raw almonds and pecans, coconuts and coconut oil, and avocados.
Another important nutrient to make sure you’re getting enough of is zinc, which is vital to testosterone production.9
Oysters, spinach, beef and lamb are all great sources of zinc, as are fermented foods and yogurt.
Now, there are lots of zinc supplements out there too. But you have to be careful. Excessive zinc intake can lead to fever, nausea and fatigue. So keep the dosage below 11 milligrams per day.
Studies have shown that just one week of poor sleep will cause your T levels to drop.
So make getting enough sleep a priority. And get an additional boost from regular exercise.
Time in the sun is important too. I know it’s a little ironic to be sharing this just as the days are getting shorter, but vitamin D can also increase testosterone levels.10
In our companion health newsletter, Practical Health Today, we’ve examined a few lesser-known herbs and nutrients that also give T levels a boost.
The ancient mushroom Cordyceps is one of the world’s most powerful natural cures for low testosterone. It even has the nickname “Himalayan Viagra.”
And a daily dose of pomegranate juice gives you a 24% boost just after two weeks.
Test It Out
These natural tactics might not be enough for everyone, though.
If, despite your best efforts, you’re still showing signs of depression, trouble concentrating, increased body fat, lower muscle mass or a lower sex drive, you might want to have your testosterone levels checked by a doctor.
T levels can vary a good deal during the day, so it’s best to have them measured between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., when they’re at their peak.11
And a single test might not be enough. If you score low, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion before moving on to the next option.
The normal range of testosterone levels is a wide one. For adult males, anywhere between 270 and 1,070 nanograms per deciliter is considered “within range.”
It may turn out you need testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). It’s a simple outpatient procedure that delivers hormones either in the form of an injection, patch or gel.
It’s been shown to be especially effective on those with hypogonadism, which is a testosterone deficiency that can be caused by problems in the testicles, hypothalamus or pituitary gland.
TRT has been shown to offset many of the issues that come with low testosterone levels.
There was once a lingering concern that TRT might stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. But after further investigation, any correlation between the two has been dismissed.12
Keeping testosterone levels in range is an important step to take in order to keep the mind and body happy and healthy… no matter how old you are.