Could it be my hormones?
5 Steps to Improve your Testosterone
Testosterone is a “masculinizing hormone”, meaning it contributes to classically male characteristics in the body. That being said, it is normally present in both men and women, only at different levels. Like all other hormones, there is an optimal amount of testosterone for your body, and when the levels fall below this point, there are telltale low-testosterone symptoms.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
The symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Change in sleep patterns, with an increase in sleep disturbances
- Increase in body fat and decrease in muscle mass, loss of strength
- Hair loss
- Reduced libido, sexual stamina
- Erectile dysfunction or infertility
- Decreased motivation, decreased energy
- Worsening of sleep apnea
- Worsening of congenital heart failure
- Hot flushes or sweats
- Loss of body hair
What Causes Low Testosterone
Testosterone peaks in men around age 20 and naturally begins to decline by 1% every year after age 30. But other factors also contribute to blocked production and falling levels, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, other hormonal disorders, and infections. Another major culprit that is becoming more and more common is exposure to estrogen-mimicking compounds in food, water, and your environment. These hormone-disrupting pollutants increase estrogen, which reflexively causes testosterone to decrease.
How is Low Testosterone Diagnosed?
The normal range is 9–38 nmol/L (270–1070 ng/dL). The functional or optimal level for testosterone is above 19 nmol/L meaning if you are below this level, you may benefit from testosterone-boosting treatments. A blood sample must be collected in the morning, preferably before 10 AM, or within 3 hours of waking, and preferably in a fasting state (not having eaten). Testing should occur when the sleep-wake pattern is stable (e.g., not during shift changes or jetlag) as this can affect short-term testosterone levels.
Natural Ways to Increase Testosterone
There are many non-invasive and lower-risk ways to boost testosterone before turning to hormone therapy or trying anabolic steroids. Below are the best ways to increase testosterone levels naturally.
Avoid exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals
As mentioned before, chemicals can disrupt the body’s normal hormonal balance. Avoid exposures by completely avoiding plastic near your food, not using BPA plastic water bottles or other products, eat organic as much as possible, and opt for non-GMO foods. Phytoestrogens (especially soy) should be taken in moderation. Finally, avoid hoppy IPA beers because of the phytoestrogen from hops in high concentration in IPAs. Sorry guys! Take our environmental quiz to see how you score and if you are in need of a customized detoxification program
If you are overweight, losing weight can be very beneficial for testosterone levels. Strength training is advantageous but also using short, intense intervals of exercise, like HIIT training, can boost levels.
Supplement to support testosterone-production pathways
Like other hormones, testosterone is produced from cholesterol using a number of cofactors and enzymes, including zinc, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, so the body must have enough of these elements to complete the pathway. It is also derived from DHEA, which is considered the “anti-aging” hormone – so checking this level is also important if your testosterone is low. Other helpful supplements/herbs include tribulus, stinging nettle root, ashwagandha, adaptogenic herbs, and Myomin.
When we are stressed, we produce cortisol which tends to lower testosterone, so it is important to get your stress under control by examining your commitments and eliminating what you can/setting boundaries, or building in regular stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing and stretching, especially after exercise, as well as meditation. Getting enough sleep is a part of this because sleep deprivation directly increases the next day’s cortisol levels, and decreases hormone production.
The most impactful diet changes you can make to support your testosterone levels are:
- Limit or eliminate sugar from your diet
- Eat healthy fats, such as mono-, and poly-unsaturated fats, as well as saturated fats from animal sources
- Eat foods such as olives, olive oil, raw nuts such as almonds or pecans, grass-fed meats, coconuts and coconut oils, organic eggs, palm oil, butter made from grass-fed/organic milk, avocados, unheated organic nut oils
- Increase intake of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) from food like whey protein
Testosterone is an extremely important reproductive hormone that has major impacts on your daily physical and mental health. Testing is easy, and there are effective ways to boost levels to achieve your overall optimal health. Ask about testing your levels today – call 587-521-3595 or schedule an appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood online.