How to Improve Testosterone Naturally
For many men, a trend takes place during the aging process that causes their testosterone levels to become sub-optimal. This can cause a multitude of issues, from decreased sexual drive to lethargy and decreased muscle mass. More individuals are searching for ways to improve testosterone naturally. There are some very effective ways of doing this, but first it helps to understand the role of testosterone in the body and the effects of changing testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and also acts as an anabolic steroid. It is produced in the pituitary gland and plays an important role in the development of male reproductive tissues. Beyond its basic functions, it has a secondary role in promoting muscle and bone mass growth. Because of these important functions, sub-optimal testosterone levels can lead to issues such as osteoporosis and improper protein synthesis.
Beyond physical effects, there are several psychological implications of low testosterone. There is a direct link between testosterone and aggression, with higher levels of testosterone showing individuals to be more prone to violence. A study conducted by Princeton University found evidence that testosterone reduces fear. Because of this, high levels of testosterone make an individual less able to distinguish the emotional state of others. That concern would be an impediment to the drive for competition for status.
After age 30, the majority of men begin to experience a decline in testosterone. This can result in a decreased interest in sex along with fatigue and depression. It is for these reasons that some men decide to improve testosterone naturally, in place of resorting to synthetic measures which may have adverse consequences.
Excessive Weight Can Lower Testosterone
In most healthy men, testosterone can be a great booster for losing excess weight. Since testosterone boosts muscle growth and is in essence an anabolic steroid, excess weight can create a cycle whereby the body produces less testosterone and then gains more weight. This is a negative downtrend that can become a very difficult hurdle to overcome for anyone.
It’s not just the weight that is the issue. There can be problems with individuals who choose to diet in certain ways to lose fat and inadvertently reduce their testosterone levels. For example, diets that cut out fat can be a problem. It has been shown that there is a link between monounsaturated fats helping to improve testosterone naturally. This is great if you enjoy some fresh olive oil from time to time, and it can cause problems if you are not consuming it at all due to dietary restrictions.
The problem is set in modern fad diet concepts which completely limit certain types of foods. We are always hearing of a new miracle diet that is supposed to help us lose tons of weight by just eliminating fat, carbs, et cetera. There are many benefits of fats, though the downside of overconsumption can’t be ignored, helping improve testosterone naturally is but one of them.
Whenever dietary advice is given, it’s prudent to recognize that everyone has a different situation involving their own diet and health. Just because something is suggested in an article does not mean that it is necessarily good for you. Always be careful and take the time to research on your own before implementing any of the concepts suggested herein. That being said, there are several options available for increasing your testosterone levels naturally, and some might be the right choice for you.
Sugar and Testosterone
When excess amounts of sugar are consumed, insulin levels spike so that the body can process it. This is a natural and healthy mechanism for our bodies to deal with excessive loads of sugar. Excessive sugar consumption can result in an increased insulin resistance in men which is known to drive down testosterone levels. The conclusion is this. Don’t consume too much sugar.
It might seem difficult to reduce your consumption of sugar, but this is a step that many people need to take to improve their health. It’s not just that decreasing your sugar, and corresponding insulin levels, can improve testosterone naturally. The point of lowering sugar intake is that sugar often leads to an increase in body fat. This causes the body to produce more estrogen in men, decreasing sexual drive and lowering muscle mass.
There are a few points that should be touched on about how sugar affects the body. Sugar reduces the production of growth hormone, which is the catalyst for maintaining proper health.
Sugar also makes you tired. When you consume sugar, your insulin levels rise and you experience a brief boost in energy. This is great, but it doesn’t last long. It is best to consume foods that provide sustained energy and don’t have counterproductive effects on hormone levels.
In essence, lowering sugar consumption could be one of the easiest steps for to improve testosterone naturally that you can implement.
Vitamin D Can Help
Low levels of vitamin D have been significantly associated with low levels of testosterone in healthy middle-aged men. There have been several studies, but a constant trend shows that those who supplement with vitamin D have a statistically significant increase in testosterone.
It is not possible for everyone to get out into the sun to secure their healthy allotment of vitamin D. Some of us spend long hours in the office, have many responsibilities, or live in areas without adequate sunlight.
However, it is still important to ensure that our bodies get the necessary exposure to vitamin D. In times like this, one must consider dietary supplementation. Taking a vitamin D supplement may be the solution for lack of sunlight and improving testosterone naturally.
There will always be many different ways to tackle a problem. The best approach is often to combine small amounts of multiple solutions to achieve a balanced result that will be sustainable in the long term.
It is important to caution anyone who may be considering a change in supplementation. This is a good way for some to increase testosterone naturally but might not necessarily be the best way for you. Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about low testosterone and develop a plan that’s right for you.
Reduce Your Stress to Improve Testosterone Naturally
Many aspects of emotional and physical health tend to become cyclical, and stress is a mainstay of many negative health cycles. It is no secret that stress is a negative contributor to overall health, causing inflammation, fatigue, anxiety, and weight gain. There are also side effects of stress that contribute to lower testosterone levels, such as lack of motivation to exercise and poor sleep.
Once you begin to experience these negative effects from high levels of stress, you will tend to slip into a state where lower testosterone levels contribute to even more lethargy and stress. Now, this is not a hopeless situation by any means. There are a few ways to both reduce stress and improve testosterone levels naturally.
Getting proper periods of rest is extremely important for reducing stress. Sleeping for the right amount of time and getting deep, restful, sleep can increase testosterone levels in most men. The standard recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation is that adults aged 26-64 get seven to nine hours of sleep per night and those who are over 65 get seven to eight hours sleep.
There are two main types of stress, short term and long term.
Short term stress is often not a detriment to our health. Stress in the short term is often a way for us to respond to the challenges that life puts in our paths. It is nearly impossible to eliminate this from our lives, and we all know that some stress is inevitable. Some stress is even healthy and necessary.
The second type of stress has more health hazards. Long term stress, by definition, continues over a long period of time and keeps stress hormones high for extended periods. These stressors can include difficulty at your job, relationship problems, or financial issues.
One of the main problems is that, during stress, cortisol levels in the body rise dramatically. When this happens, the synthesis of cortisol requires large amounts of cholesterol. Cholesterol is also a necessary component of testosterone biosynthesis. This means that when the body has to produce cortisol on a regular basis at above normal levels, there is not enough cholesterol left to produce adequate levels of testosterone.
Reducing stress has an endless list of benefits. There aren’t many things that you can definitively claim to be an all-around gain, but this is one of them. Reducing your stress levels is a great way to improve testosterone naturally.
Testosterone and Zinc: The Connection
Zinc is an essential dietary mineral. Zinc is necessary for the immune system to function in a proper manner and also for cell division. When you consume proper amounts of zinc, it aids the body’s digestive process while helping to build proteins.
When someone has a zinc deficiency, it is often accompanied by low levels of testosterone. It is not fully understood why this is the case, but the correlation is strong enough to make this something worth exploring. There aren’t a very high number of cases involving zinc deficiency, but it is possible.
As with any supplementation, the incorporation of zinc into your diet should be carefully considered with the guidance of a professional. You can never be too careful when making changes to your intake. Because zinc can be stimulatory for the thyroid, those who have adrenal or thyroid weakness needs to be especially careful.
That being said, zinc supplementation may be a good way to improve testosterone naturally and avoid using synthetic hormone therapy replacements.
Foods that Boost Testosterone
Let’s start with a food that almost everyone enjoys: shrimp. Shrimp is a great source of vitamin D and an easy food that improves testosterone naturally. Seafood is normally popular, but there are many food options to suit everyone’s dietary needs.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which when deficient contributes to low testosterone levels.
Using food to directly supplement your nutrient intake is a great way to avoid costly derivatives and over the counter solutions.
There are often many people who cry out against saturated fats but some are good for you. Coconut is a great source of saturated fat which can help improve testosterone naturally. Unprocessed saturated fats have less negative health risk. This is not to say that there are no dangers and increased risks from consuming high levels of fat. The link between coronary disease and overconsumption of fats should be taken into consideration when implementing coconut into your diet.
Wheat bran, as simple as it is, can also improve testosterone naturally. This is because wheat bran has high levels of magnesium, which have been shown to help with testosterone production. Many other foods are high in magnesium, and these include almonds, oat bran, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and beans.
Everyone has a different dietary requirements, but most likely something in this list could be safely added to yours. Food is something that is a part of our daily lives, and it is often a great place to start when making changes to our bodies. Make sure you choose your foods carefully and do what’s right for your particular situation before adding anything new into your diet.
Exercise and Gain
Exercise is one of those things that always seem to be brought up when searching for a solution to health problems. This time is no different. Exercise has a direct correlation to testosterone levels.
Research has shown that high intensity workouts, and weight training in particular, play a large role in to help improve testosterone naturally. This is only for those who are healthy, as excessive high intensity workouts can be detrimental for those who are weak.
There are many ways that exercise can help your body, and this is only one of them. Doing push ups, for example, can increase growth hormone secretion, which in turn will increase testosterone output.
Moderate exercise also reduces stress levels, which have a negative effect on testosterone production as well. When you exercise on a regular basis, it also improves sleep and releases endorphins which can help with depression and anxiety. After exercise, testosterone levels immediately rise and remain higher for hours. This helps with burning excess fat and weight loss.
Not everyone can take part in high intensity exercise because of certain health issues and that is understandable as mentioned above. If you have any concerns about exercise and what is the best approach for your situation, consult a clinical professional so that you can ensure it’s safe. This is particularly important for those living with chronic stress and adrenal fatigue.
NEM Stress Response
The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response is a system within all of our bodies that helps combat stressful situations on a physical level. A brief overview of the NEM begins in the brain. The hypothalamus is the first piece to the stress response puzzle. Once the hypothalamus signals that there is danger, the pituitary gland is triggered to act by producing hormones and further signaling to the adrenal glands. At the adrenal glands, the physical reactions really begin to take off.
The adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol, a powerful hormone so directly related to the stress response that it is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone”.
Cortisol has many jobs in the body and while it can be very helpful in difficult times, it also has the ability to inflict great damage to the body. There are a few things that take place when cortisol levels remain high for a prolonged period of time. A few of these include, sleep disruption, decreased muscle mass, high blood pressure, and decreased wound healing timelines.
Because of the negative things associated with a poorly regulated NEM stress response, it is important to mitigate any exposure to stress and control your reactions to it. It is easy to fall into a cycle of high stress which causes many long term issues that, if directly confronted, can be lessened with personal intervention.
Connecting the NEM Stress Response and Testosterone
High levels of stress over long periods of time can be detrimental to testosterone production, and this also has hormonal effects. One of the biggest things that happen when we experience stress is the release of cortisol by the adrenal glands. This can be chaotic for a multitude of reasons. Cortisol elevates awareness and contributes greatly to lack of sleep. Over the long term it causes lethargy. This can cause an individual to gain weight, decrease muscle mass, and become depressed. In a cyclical way, all of these separate problems created by excess cortisol have a direct impact on testosterone.
When considering the NEM stress response, it is important to note the link between stress and low testosterone levels. Controlling your stress response to the best of your ability will give your body the tools that it needs to improve testosterone naturally. One can reduce stress to better cope with difficult situations, and incorporating proper diet, exercise, and rest is also an important part of the recovery process.
When the body is under continual stress, there is a limit on how much cortisol can be produced. Eventually the body reaches a state of exhaustion and can’t keep up with demands. Constant stress also makes it difficult to muster the energy that’s necessary to make changes in lifestyle patterns which are contributing to low testosterone levels.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you have to start somewhere, and small changes make a difference. Whether you’re adding something to your diet, making an effort to get better sleep, or taking supplements to ensure your nutrition is adequate, there is somewhere that everyone can start to make a change.
Adrenal Fatigue and Low Testosterone
Low testosterone levels are often a sign of the body slowing down and conserving energy when under stress. This also happens with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Adrenal fatigue affects a large percentage of the population and results in a myriad of symptoms, ranging from depression to the inability to handle stress. The adrenal glands are responsible for the creation of a large number of hormones in our bodies. Because of this, they are constantly working to produce what is needed for a healthy balance.
The adrenal glands are particularly active during times of stress, which often results in them being overworked. If there are not sufficient building blocks for the adrenals to produce necessary hormones and steroids, they can become fatigued and even reach the point of exhaustion.
Testosterone relates to adrenal fatigue through the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces testosterone, albeit at steadily decreasing levels from the mid 20’s onward. Meanwhile, the adrenals rely on the pituitary gland to release adrenal corticosteroid hormones (ACTH).
When AFS is present in an individual, it can lean to insufficient signaling between the adrenals and the pituitary gland, resulting in tremendous imbalances that lead to inflammation and fatigue. Chronic inflammation is detrimental to cell regeneration. However, maintaining sufficient testosterone levels can help to normalize cortisol levels, which have a direct impact on inflammation.
Testosterone and AFS Recovery
Many of the same things that trigger AFS also result in low testosterone, as the body slow down reproductive desire. Likewise, many of the steps you can take to improve testosterone naturally also help AFS recovery.
It’s important to note, not all of these solutions should be implemented by everyone, especially in severe cases of adrenal exhaustion. The more advanced the adrenal fatigue, the higher the possibility of negative reactions, so it’s wise to consult with a professional. However, for most readers, many of these suggestions can help.
Lowering your stress level not only helps to increase testosterone naturally but also lowers cortisol levels. This is a key component of recovery because of the negative impact that sustained high cortisol can have on the body. When your cortisol levels are kept under control, you can get better sleep, reduce anxiety, and even lose weight.
Because so many aspects of testosterone directly correlate to AFS, taking steps to help one will often help the other. Reducing stress can help to reduce weight, which in turn helps to improve testosterone naturally. Fortifying and supporting adrenal function will lead to a higher testosterone level. Avoid over stimulating the adrenals with glandulars, herbs, or anabolic hormones as it can lead to adrenal crashes. Focus on a long term nurturing strategy to optimize adrenal function, and testosterone levels will also normalize. Exogenous hormones such as DHEA, pregnenolone, and testosterone can be considered, but they have many drawbacks. Short term use can be contemplated. However, an exit strategy should be in place prior to starting such a regimen to avoid dependency, withdrawal, and side effect issues that often plague the user over time.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.