Testosterone is a key hormone, present in both men and women, that is vital to many functions in the body. It plays an important role in male development, stimulating hair growth and muscle development during puberty and regulating your drive and supporting healthy bones, muscle mass and the production of red blood cells and sperm in adult men.
Testosterone production peaks in men at around the age of 20 and begins to slowly decline. Some estimates put the average loss of testosterone at about 2% per year for men between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. While this loss of production is a natural part of the aging process, research suggests that as many as 40% of men over the age of 40 are adversely affected by low levels of the hormone.
Things like stress, weight gain, doctor recommended drugs and a lack of exercise can affect the body’s production of the key hormone as well as illnesses like type 2 diabetes. Low testosterone not only causes issues like erectile dysfunction, fatigue and depression but research also suggests that men with lower than normal testosterone levels face a higher risk of serious illnesses like osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from low levels of testosterone it’s important to visit your primary care physician for a full diagnosis and treatment plan, however, there are several natural ways that everyone on the testosterone spectrum can increase and stabilize testosterone production in the body.
Heavy resistance training has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men and so even if you’re active in other ways, it’s important to include these kinds of exercises in your fitness routine. Things like squats, bench presses, deadlifts and push ups may help your body to produce more of the all important hormone. The amount of muscle mass involved in exercise is an important factor in the release of testosterone so focus on the body’s large muscle groups and safely build the amount of weight that you work with.
While some patients with an extreme testosterone deficiency may require hormone replacement therapy it should not be taken lightly. HRT for testosterone deficiency can cause serious side effects such as an increased risk of developing prostate abnormalities, heart attack, stroke and blood clots. Luckily there are several natural testosterone boosting supplements on the market that can help.
According to a study at Graz Medical University in Austria, vitamin D could improve testosterone levels by up to 90% so it’s a good idea to get a lot of the essential vitamin in your diet as well as magnesium, zinc and vitamin K. Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon are a good choice as are dark leafy greens, shellfish and egg yolks.
There is also a lot of research that suggests that there is a beneficial relationship between diets that are high in fat and testosterone production. The amount of fat you should eat will depend on your exercise routine but as a general rule your intake of fat should land somewhere between 25-40% of your daily calories. Focus on saturated fatty acids like those found in coconut oil, red meat and dairy and Monounsaturated fatty-acids like olive oil and avocado.
Testosterone levels fluctuate during the day and are strongest in the morning. The human body needs sleep to generate the testosterone it needs for the day ahead and there is evidence that suggests that a good night’s sleep can as much as double your testosterone levels. One study published in the US national library of medicine found that men who slept for 4 hours had about 60% less testosterone than men who slept for 8 hours.
Getting a good night’s sleep may be easier said than done but there are several ways that you can prepare your body to catch some necessary Zs.
Be sure to go to bed at the same time every night even if you’re not tired. Your body will eventually fall into a rhythm and cooperate with your new routine.
Make your bedroom a tech-free zone! Do your TV watching in another room and use an alarm clock instead of setting the alarm function on your smartphone.
If you need an activity to help you wind down before you sleep, choose reading over your favorite tv show. This activity doesn’t stimulate the brain in the same way and will help your mind unwind naturally.
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