Low Testosterone in Males
Testosterone is a steroid hormone produced in the male body, mainly in the testes but also in the ovaries of females and adrenal cortex. If you have ever been or know a boy going through puberty, you know first hand the changes that elevated levels of testosterone bring to the young male’s maturing body. He will most likely experience facial hair, increased muscle mass, develop a deeper resonating sound to his voice, and of course, begin to experience changes sexually as well.
Testosterone stimulates the development of a man’s secondary sexual characteristics, so when low testosterone, also called Low T, is a problem, it is about a lot more than what the Viagra commercials would like you to believe. In fact, Low T is a risk factor for several diseases and additional health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and even obesity. Having Low T could also put you at risk for developing cognitive decline, dementia, or maybe even Alzheimer’s.
Closely related to the male’s reproductive health issues is the prostate. The prostate gland is a walnut-sized endocrine gland that sits below the bladder and wraps around the urethra. It produces a fluid that combines with sperm and is released during ejaculation. The prostate also has receptors for the hormones testosterone and estrogen. When the prostate gland becomes enlarged due to infection, inflammation, or cancer, it will reduce the flow of urine. Prostate cancer currently affects 1 out of every 9 males in America and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation. Men should have regular examinations for prostate issues as they age to catch any issues early.
Of course, testosterone plays an important role in a man’s sex drive and ability, but there are so many additional functions of testosterone that are not addressed when you treat only erectile dysfunction. Proper amounts of testosterone is important for its role in maintaining lean muscle mass, eliminating excess fat, helping you get a good night’s sleep, and working with neurotransmitters to improve brain function.
Men usually start noticing symptoms of Low T during mid-life. Of course, if we have sat through any television or radio commercials, we are all aware that Low T can bring on a lower libido or even erectile dysfunction, but there are other symptoms of Low T that should not be overlooked. These symptoms are part of what is called Andropause, a man’s version of menopause, and include those similar to what a woman experiences during menopause such as:
- Decreased stamina or lack of energy
- Decreased urine flow
- Extra fat around the abdomen
- Less muscle mass
- Mood swings, irritability, or an overall feeling disconnected or even depression
- Brain fog
- Trouble getting a good night’s sleep accompanied with night sweats
- High cholesterol
- Lack of bone density, osteoporosis or a condition known as osteopenia
- Increased risk of resistance to insulin
A man’s testosterone levels peak in his twenties and then gradually begins to decline after the age of thirty at a rate of approximately one percent a year. Between 1987 and 2004, the overall testosterone levels in men had a significant drop of 22%, most likely attributed to estrogen mimicking hormone disruptors found largely in mass-produced meats and dairy as well as everyday use of personal care products.
In recent years, studies show that male testosterone levels are dropping with between thirty to fifty percent of American men living with some form of erectile dysfunction. The average sperm count is half of what it was about 70 years ago. One fourth of males are affected severely enough to require medical attention, even surgery. Approximately thirty percent of these males who have surgery go on to experience complications like incontinence, impotence, or enlargement of breast tissue in the chest caused by a hormone imbalance.
Foods to Avoid
Sometimes, the foods you avoid are almost as important as the foods you eat. One way to increase testosterone drastically is to fast intermittently. Don’t eat breakfast, and then eat three meals relatively close together starting at noon and ending by 6 p.m. This intermittent fasting will allow your liver and other organs to rest which is necessary for balancing hormone levels naturally. Also avoid artificial sweeteners
Eliminate sugar from your diet. Avoid refined sugars and grains along with unhealthy fats. High carbohydrate diets tend to put stress on the adrenal glands and on the pancreas which ends up increasing insulin and reducing DHEA, which is a necessary building block for testosterone. Also watch those cholesterol levels, but don’t jump to a low-cholesterol diet since DHEA along with all reproductive hormones is made from cholesterol. Pushing cholesterol levels too low may actually create reproductive problems. Low cholesterol levels increase depression and reproductive health problems.
Avoid xenoestrogens that come from toothpaste with fluoride in it, pesticides, and herbicides. Avoid phytoestrogens that come from estrogenic plants such as soy, flax seeds, or licorice as these foods may tend to decrease testosterone levels. Consume grapefruit sparingly since it may interfere with estrogen breakdown.
Sorry guys, but don’t drink alcohol. Hops contains extremely potent estrogens that could reduce a man’s sex drive, so consider exchanging your beer for one without hops.
Foods that Help
Good nutrition and exercise are important for maintaining good levels of testosterone in males. To avoid unnecessary xenoestrogens, make sure you are eating organic and that you thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables with a natural cleaning solution.
Eat foods like button mushrooms, grape seed extract, nettles, raw milk, raw cheese, beans, along with fermented foods, like yogurt and kefir. Eat foods that help to lower your blood sugar, and eat plenty of healthy fats, found in nuts, coconut, fish, and avocados. Eat plenty of vegetables and healthy fats found in raw nuts and avocados, olives, olive oil, coconuts, coconut oil, and butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw nuts, such as almonds or pecans, organic pastured egg yolks, palm oil, grass-fed meats, whey protein, and unheated organic nut oils. Chia seeds along with walnuts are also beneficial for boosting omega-3s to help testosterone levels.
Add oysters to your diet as they are rich in zinc. Protein-rich foods will help to increase your branch chain amino acids. Fermented foods may be helpful in maintaining a healthy gut.
To lose body fat, a Keto diet that also keeps your Alkaline balanced, to avoid inflammation, may help. Increase fiber, and eat vitamin B, folate, choline, and betaine-rich foods along with cruciferous vegetables that will provide your body with glucosinolates, which help to get rid of estrogen’s effect.
The emotions that a male experiences when erectile dysfunction occurs is extensive. Couple this with other underlying symptoms of Low T, and the emotional component is strong. Seeking help is embarrassing, and it is estimated that only between five to ten percent of men experiencing erectile dysfunction and signs of Low T actually seek treatment. Compound these emotions with those men who are in a relationship feeling as if they cannot satisfy their partner along with the potential negative response and damage it often causes to the relationship.
Herbs and Vitamins that Help
Prescription medications such as antibiotics, antifungals, statins, anti-inflammatory drugs, sleeping pills, calcium channel blockers, high blood pressure drugs, and anti-depressants can damage your sex drive. So, it’s important to make sure you are replenishing the vitamins and minerals that these drugs rob from your system. Few studies have shown the benefits of saw palmetto.
DHEA is also necessary as a building block for all other male hormones. Some men find it helpful to supplement with approximately 25 to 50 mg of DHEA a day.
Make sure you are getting enough zinc. Zinc helps with immunity and fertility issues, helps to prevents hair loss, keeps hormones balances along with insulin and dopamine that will help with overall mood and drives.
Vitamin D is important. Proper amounts of Vitamin D helps to lower the sex hormone binding globulin, SHGB. If you are taking Vitamin D supplements, it’s important to also add Vitamin K2 which will help to increase your Vitamin D levels. The Vitamin K2 will work with the Vitamin D to help reduce the risk of calcium deposits.
Additional vitamins and supplements that may help include Maca, Ashwagandha, Siberian Ginseng, and Rhodiola Rosea help to nourish the adrenals, B vitamins, high dose of Vitamin C, Omega 3’s found in salmon, oysters, sardines, and other fish or seafood, Carnitine will help to improve energy production and will support the mitochondrial, and L-Arginine is needed to produce nitric oxide. Progesterone cream in a small dose may help.
Your liver is a vital organ and so important when trying to maintain healthy testosterone levels. The liver provides an enzyme that binds 17beta-hydroxyl group of testosterone.
Stay away from processed grains and sugars. When you eat refined, processed grains and sugar, your blood glucose levels elevate. To balance this out, your pancreas produces insulin. The insulin helps to send the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells to be metabolized into energy. When cells are constantly exposed to insulin, you develop insulin resistance which leads to diabetes. Diabetes plus prostate issues can tax your body even more.
Essential Oils that May Help
Some essential oils are beneficial for hormone balance. Three primary oils are clary sage, thyme essential oil, and sandalwood. Clary Sage essential oil balances out estrogen production, reduces cortisol levels and has been shown to improve thyroid hormone levels TSH. Clary Sage may also help lift depressed moods. Thyme has been shown to improve Progesterone production in both men and women. Sandalwood essential oil is really good for balancing testosterone levels. Mix the oils with coconut oil and massage it into your skin.
Rose essential oil may also be helpful with lifting a bad mood as well as working as an aphrodisiac. Lavender oil or chamomile oil also helps to reduce stress. Frankincense essential oil is great for reducing inflammation and aids thyroid health.
Stress management is important. When you are stressed, your body reacts by going into what is commonly called fight or flight mode, which lowers testosterone production. One approach to helping with this is to nourish your adrenal glands. When the stress hormone cortisol is active, testosterone also elevates, but quickly crashes to even lower levels than before the cortisol appeared. This is why stress management is so important. Also, add ginseng to your diet as it is an adaptogenic herb that helps to lower cortisol. Get plenty of sleep. Every night your circadian rhythm is rest to release chemicals that balance hormones.
Go to the gym to workout at least three days a week. Short, intense exercise has been found to be the most beneficial in boosting and maintaining testosterone. To increase testosterone levels, combine weight training with high intensity interval training at short intervals to not only boost but to maintain testosterone levels and burn more fat, lifting heavy weights for 6 to 12 repetitions for at least 30 minutes at a time.
Hormones That Affect or Are Affected
Have your hormone levels tested with a simple urine test. Check for results such as DHEA levels. One hormone that causes problems for men is one that is usually associated with women – estrogen, or estradiol to be exact. In fact, one statistic claims that the average 60 year old male has more estradiol in their bodies than an average 60 year old woman. All of this extra estrogen is most likely coming from environmental factors of foods, such as meat and dairy raised with human growth hormones, and personal care products that contain estrogen-mimicking components. Estrogen actually has a significant impact on men’s overall health. As men grow older, their free testosterone levels begin to drop while their estradiol levels begin to rise.
An environmental pollutant called xenoestrogens are chemicals that mimic estrogen and produce an estrogenic effect in the human body. These xenoestrogens come from synthetic estrogens found in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy used by women that are making their way into the drinking water supply. Xenoestrogens tend to offset the balance between estrogen and testosterone, and the end result is lack of muscle mass, increased fat, infertility, low sperm count, erectile dysfunction, and reduced drive. Pair these xenoestrogens with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to additional toxins in the environment, and the result is weaker males. These xenoestrogens also make it more likely for these men to experience heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Most men are ingesting a large overdose of xenoestrogens every day. Estrogenic chemicals found in pesticides and thalates in plastics are a real concern. All of this excess estrogen floating around may also create “man-boobs”. Estrogen is also found in chickens and cattle, so if a human ingests their meat, eggs, or dairy products that come from these animals, it has an effect on their body.
Also ask for a T/E ratio, Testosterone to Estrogen, hormone test that may have become altered because of aromatase enzymes. What the aromatase enzymes do to the male’s body is sometimes called aromatization, which results in the creation of more estrogen in men. Aromatase enzymes are found in fat tissue and actually convert testosterone into estrogen. While, it is a natural process in healthy males as small amounts of estrogen are necessary for healthy bones and other functions. However, as men age and develop excess belly fat, these enzymes multiply. And, fat tissue loves to store estradiol.
Metalloestrogens mimic estrogens and are found in aluminum, antimony, copper, lead, mercury, cadmium, and tin. Nonylphenol ethoxylates NPEs mimic estrogen and interfere with the endocrine system. Bovine growth hormones are often given to cows who produce dairy products, and these BgH also mimic estrogen.
Phthalates are chemicals that disrupt endocrine, are linked to birth defects, and have a huge negative effect on male hormones. These chemicals are added to some plastics, food packages, detergents, vinyl flooring, personal care items like soaps, shampoos, and deodorants, perfumes, hair spray.
Bisphenol-A, BPA, is found in plastics and sealants used by dentists.
Fluoride is a neurotoxin that is added to the water supply in America and has been found to disrupt the endocrine system, and decrease fertility.
Methoxychlor and Vinclozin are used as an insecticide and fungicide. Unfermented soy contain hormone-like anti-nutrients that should be avoided. MSG is a food additive that can negatively impact fertility. Synthetic hormones such as contraceptives can lead to several problems in the body.
Perfluorooctanoic acid PFOA is found on Teflon, non-stick cooking pans and in our water supply.
Replace your Teflon cookware with stainless steel. Stop eating food that comes from a can. Get rid of cleaning products that contain the hormone disrupting chemicals. Don’t use artificial air fresheners or dryer sheets. Change out your vinyl shower curtain, and begin using personal care products like shampoos that are natural.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin SHGB binds to the testosterone. Discuss bio-identical testosterone replacement with your doctor. This form of testosterone help comes in the form of infections or creams. It is made from natural compounds that are identical to the male body’s natural hormones to provide help without the bad side effects that accompany synthetic hormones.
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