Do you routinely find yourself exhausted, too busy, or just not in the mood for sex? Does your sex drive seem to be reduced as of late, that it is not the same as it used to be?
The hormones that are secreted and control long term functioning in our bodies are the most likely culprit here, more specifically the hormone testosterone. Testosterone plays multiple roles in its function within the endocrine system, but it is not responsible for libido alone. This is more so the case for men, where testosterone plays a much larger role in these processes as opposed to women.
Low levels of testosterone are not just a problem when it comes to sexual drive, but can also influence overall stamina, our emotions and as a result can affect our behavior. This is important to know and understand considering that low testosterone alone can be the cause of someone becoming more irritable, withdrawn, anxiety. Low testosterone can also have an effect on behaviors detrimental to one’s health such as a proneness to addictive and destructive behaviors.
If this sounds familiar, you or someone you know may be suffering from these problems associated with low testosterone production. This is a problem that affects millions of men worldwide, and can become a problem relatively early in life. Many of these sufferers are in their 20s and 30s so if you think you are too young to worry about this problem, you may want to revisit that thought.
Low testosterone levels have not only been attributed to changes in desire, mood and behavior, but can also cause life threatening problems as well. Those with low testosterone statistically have a greater risk of developing heart disease, type II diabetes, and increased rate of bone fracture compared to other men who had normal levels of testosterone. The rate of death among men with lower testosterone is also greater than those with normal levels, some studies showing upwards of an 33% greater chance of death in general from all causes as a result of low testosterone.
What can I do to See if I am Suffering from Low Testosterone?
The first thing to do is to listen and recognize the signs that your body is showing you. Adding additional weight without a change to diet or exercise routine is one sign, as is a change in libido, fatigue, and muscle loss. If you see any of these changes take place, especially over a short period of time, you should get tested by a medical professional who can determine the underlying causes of these issues.
While hormone replacement therapy seems like a viable option here, it may be possible to restore testosterone levels back to normal through changes in lifestyle and diet. This is the advisable route to take initially before seeking out an expensive and potentially unnecessary hormone replacement therapy.
Stay in Shape
The first step in trying to regulate testosterone levels and bring them back to normal is staying in shape. Additional weight through adipose tissue not only stresses the body out because of the additional load it must carry, but the fat cells themselves release hormones that reduce testosterone levels. Fat cells contain many compounds, one relevant one to this discussion being an enzyme called aromatase. Enzymes are also referred to as catalysts, or chemicals that speed up other chemical reactions. This enzyme found in fat converts testosterone to estrogen, and is believed to be the culprit causing this inverse relationship of decreased testosterone to increased fatty tissue.
This can be problematic for those who are obese because the addition of more fat tissue leads to the reduction of testosterone, which further encourages hormonal imbalance. With that being said the reverse is also true, in that decreased fatty tissue leads to more testosterone production so breaking out of this cycle while difficult, is not impossible.
Get a Full Night of Rest
Sleep has been known to affect virtually every biological process that goes on in our bodies, so it is no surprise that it affects testosterone levels as well. Some studies have shown that in just one week of reduced sleep, testosterone levels in males dropped up to 15%. The individuals in this study got just 5 hours of sleep a night which doesn’t seem like a huge deficit but has tremendous effects.
Get More Sun
Just like our digestive tract, the male reproductive tract is very dependent on Vitamin D. Vitamin D is one of the only Vitamins out there that we do not obtain solely from our diets, but through sun exposure as well. This is extremely important to know because let’s face it, most people work indoors inside of an office and do not get the necessary sun exposure that they need for adequate Vitamin D production. Vitamin D deficiency is a huge problem in the United States so it may be a good idea to get tested periodically.
There are numerous toxins found in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat on a daily basis. Eliminating or avoiding all of the potential things that can lead to toxicity is impossible, but limiting our exposure to certain types is possible and recommended. Plastics in particular are of concern, because of how these chemicals found within some types of plastics interact with our hormone production. One hormone in particular that is affected by exposure to toxins in plastics is testosterone. This includes every day things like water bottles, receipts and personal care products.
If possible it is best to take precautions such as drinking from glass, ceramic or metal containers, and using more natural, unadulterated soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products.
Believe it or not, stress can be a huge factor in low testosterone production. This is because the endocrine system, the one that controls our hormones requires a delicate balance to keep the body in a state of homeostasis. To put it simply, there are a lot of processes going on all at once within the body that influence each other one way or another.
Stress increases the production of an enzyme we discussed earlier called aromatase, which break down testosterone in to estrogen. In addition, stress influences the production of a hormone cortisol, which in turn reduces the production of testosterone.
There are numerous stress reducing techniques out there, including yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, etc. Studies have shown that even incorporating a 10-min routine of relaxing exercises can positively influence testosterone production as a result.
Avoid Statins(Drugs) and Eat More Omega 3’s
Statin drugs have been shown to reduce free and total testosterone levels, and have been known to negatively impact mitochondria metabolism as well. The mitochondria is the organelle within our cells which controls metabolism, or how fast your body breaks down and synthesizes nutrients. This means that these stains both reduce testosterone levels and slow metabolism having a compounding effect. We know this because a slow metabolism promotes fat accumulation, and accumulated fat influences the production of cortisol which negatively impacts testosterone production.
Omega 3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish, krill, algae and other seafood lowers inflammation, which in turn promotes the production of testosterone. This is because fish oil promotes the production of cholesterol, which is a precursor to testosterone production.
Make Sure to Take Your Vitamins
Zinc and selenium are two important minerals to consider when seeking to improve testosterone levels, as well as Vitamins A and E. All four of these micronutrients are known to promote androgen production. and androgens are the beginning product that is converted in to testosterone in men and estrogen in women. As far as where to obtain these necessary micronutrients in our diet, zinc and selenium are mainly found in meats, where Vitamins A are usually found in foods with an orange color. Vitamin E can be found in various nuts and seeds. It is virtually impossible to get an adequate amount of all four from the same food source, so a multivitamin may be suggested.