There is a growing epidemic in this country of men becoming less men-like and more female-like based on hormone levels. Testosterone levels are at an all-time low for all age groups. This leads to anxiety/depression, low sex drive, fatigue, weight gain/obesity, and low muscle tone. I have seen guys in their 20’s have testosterone levels that are comparable to a male in their 90’s. Some call this epidemic, “The Disappearing Male” and statistics show the male labor workforce has diminished by over 70% since World War II. Two questions to ask yourself: what is the cause? Can it be reversed? People are quick to jump on the genetic bandwagon as the main cause of low hormones, but they would be wrong. The real reason for low hormones is the environment we have created and how that environment is effecting our genes; Epigenetics.
The foods we eat, the water we drink, the stress we are under, and the lack of movement all play a role in the change of hormones. Things like pesticides, plastics, and personal hygiene products act like estrogen in our body throwing off the balance in testosterone levels. Too much estrogen means too little testosterone. A good place to start looking at making a change would be to eat organic foods, stop eating refined carbohydrates (fake foods), and increase good proteins.
Next, get rid of plastic water bottles (steel or glass is much better), and use more natural products for personal hygiene (I like the Healthy Living App from EWG.org to see which products to buy).
When we eat a Standard American Diet (SAD), insulin levels rise in the body. A roller coaster of high and low blood sugar causes your body to produce more estrogen and sex hormone-binding globulin which causes the testosterone level to drop even more. A telltale sign of low testosterone is a big belly and skinny legs. This is what I call the diabetic body. Insulin likes to go to the leg muscles first – when there is no muscle, the insulin floats around, and eventually you can become a diabetic.
It’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Testosterone levels are highest at night and after a strength training workout. Too much cardio work will actually lower your testosterone levels. Think of the sprinter vs the marathon runner and the amount of muscle tone they each have. The sprinter will have more muscle mass. Decreasing stress is also essential. We are a stressed-out population. Levels of stress cause us to make a hormone called Cortisol instead of Testosterone – leading to anxiety, depression, and weight gain. The right amount of sleep helps reduce stress.
Lastly, we need to be lifting more things and moving them to different places to increase muscle mass. Strive to build muscle mass and strength your whole life. There are studies showing that the amount of muscle mass a person has directly affected the length and quality of life they will have. I tell my patients that muscle is king. Unfortunately, getting a prescription for testosterone is one common quick fix for people. This is very dangerous and does nothing to address the causes listed above. If you take a prescription of testosterone, your body can still convert it into estrogen through an enzyme called Aromatase (turns testosterone and DHEA into estrogen). When this enzyme is over-active, it will eventually lead to prostate cancer in males. You could be putting fuel to the fire when you take testosterone.
By using these suggestions, you could raise testosterone levels naturally and safely. I have supplemented patients with DHEA (precursor to testosterone), zinc, and some natural aromatase inhibitors to help speed the process along. I take these myself on a daily basis because of the environment we live in and it would be a good idea to incorporate this into your daily health routine. If you want to live a long and healthy life, you need to have adequate testosterone levels throughout life. If you start seeing the belly creep out and the man boobs show up, you know you are headed for all the symptoms mentioned above. Having those symptoms may create a long list of medications prescribed that will not help you get to the cause. So stay healthy with the things I’ve listed and you will start to feel better.