Testosterone is the body’s naturally occurring growth hormone Photo: TerryGeorge/Flickr
Testosterone is the body’s naturally occurring growth hormone produced in the testes of a man and the ovaries of a woman; in men it has anabolic effects which distinguish the male sex characteristics and other physical attributes such as a deeper voice, more muscle and increased body hair.
It is important to understand that testosterone is a key marker to overall health, and low testosterone levels are common amongst men; what many men are not aware of is that testosterone levels start to naturally deplete around the age of 30 by approximately 1 – 2% per year. This may not seem much, but over the course of 10 or 20 years it is quite a substantial rate of decline.
Testosterone provides many health benefits, most of which you may not have even considered, therefore, it is essential as men that we do all we can to ensure that the levels of testosterone in our bodies remain at optimal in order to lead healthy lives.
Body Composition – Having low testosterone makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight or indeed build more muscle.
Bone Development and Strength – As people age their bones become less dense and this is due to lowering levels of testosterone and increasing levels of estrogen.
Wellbeing – Having a hormone imbalance can be a cause of depression; even not receiving enough vitamin D from sunlight can have a massive effect on a person’s mental health.
Cholesterol Levels – Your body’s natural source of testosterone can lower lipid levels and as a result lower the risk to your cardiovascular health.
Anti-inflammatory – Aching joints as your body ages is also a sign of low testosterone levels.
Energy and Performance – Not only will testosterone help to increase your energy levels, a study saw that men with low testosterone had a higher cardiovascular mortality rate. A healthy cardiovascular system helps pump blood and therefore oxygen to your muscle which will give you more energy, strength and overall performance.
Leader – A Harvard psychologist says that alpha males have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol.
Recovery Rates – A study showed that men over the age of 66 who were admitted to hospital and had higher levels of testosterone were less likely to be readmitted to hospital within 30 days than those with diminished levels. It also helps with rest and sleep.
Libido – Testosterone helps with your libido as it is a sex hormone; it also helps with your sperm count too.
With these reasons in mind it is ideal to start to think about how to increase testosterone levels and slow down the rate of depletion, naturally.
With this in mind, see these 10 effective ways to naturally stimulate testosterone levels:
- Resistance training – By which, we mean compound exercises. These are the multi joint lifts when using free weights. Performing these exercises secrete your own growth hormone which is a response to demanding workloads. A particularly demanding routine is known as the ‘Twenty Rep Workout’. If carried out whilst performing the squat or deadlift it can see elevated testosterone levels which will trigger significant muscular growth. For the most effectiveness pause between every rep up until your twentieth, this will allow for the maximum weight to be lifted.
- Nutritious, whole foods – The vitamins and minerals found in whole, raw, unprocessed foods are vital to testosterone stimulation and in some cases help to remove estrogen. Foods that contain high levels of zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, B12 and K2 are imperative and can be found in fish, meats, eggs, nuts, potato, grains and fruits. Let’s not forget the fibrous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli which contain diindolylmethane which helps eradicate estrogen levels or healthy fats that are found in avocados and oily fish. Eating a varied diet will ensure you get all of the nutrients required for hormone balance.
- Sleep – Not only great for recovery and recuperation but also for testosterone levels. Lot’s of people neglect sleep, however, a deep sleep is required for growth not to mention concentration and alertness.
- Healthy weight – this is true to those who are underweight as well as overweight. Being overweight reduces your testosterone levels and a lower percentage of androgens in the blood. The fat tissue harbors the transformation of male sex hormones into estrogen and the more estrogen means less testosterone. Maintaining a balance is key.
- Sunshine – Your skin synthesises vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) from the sun and becomes a hormone which increases testosterone levels. It is beneficial to (ensure it is safe) expose your skin to the sunlight for approximately 20 minutes per day. If you are finding it hard to be out in the sunlight due to your location or shift patterns it is possible to get D3 from some foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals. Ensure if you are taking a supplement that it is D3 and not D2 (calciferol) as the latter is harder to absorb.
- Reduce Stress Levels – Modern lifestyles and the increase of invasive technologies mean that it is harder than ever to ‘switch off’; however, it is vital that we do. Stress causes the hormone known as cortisol to surge and a surge in cortisol can suppress the availability of testosterone to be utilized within tissues. Stress can bel relieved in a manner of ways but exercise or reading a book to take your mind off other issues is a great start.
- Medications – Some of the most common medications and prescription drugs will lower testosterone levels. Painkillers known as opioids act on the nervous system to relieve pain by signalling the nervous system. However, they impair your brain’s chemicals which are responsible for instructing the testes to produce testosterone. Other drugs such as antidepressants and statins which also lower T levels are a little harder to avoid but even Ketoconazole which is used for treating fungal infections is responsible for low T levels too. Therefore it is important to review all medications and maybe drop the ones that are not entirely necessary.
- Steroids – Anabolic steroids effectively ply your body with synthetic testosterone, way more than your body can produce naturally. However, the body can detect this overload and recognises that it does not need to produce any testosterone, this is known as ‘shutting down’, however, when the cycle of steroids has ended, it take a long while for your body to then recognise the need to kick start testosterone production which can leave your body depleted for a month or more.
- Natural Testosterone Booster – A good testosterone booster will only use approximately 9 or 10 natural ingredients that are proven to stimulate testosterone production in the body. Ingredients will consist of D-Aspartic Acid, fenugreek, asian ginseng, zinc, magnesium, D3, B6, B12, K2, Calcium and maybe oyster extract. Also ensure that there is no proprietary blend and that you get a substantial daily dose ideally in excess of 2500mg, anything less will be ineffective. Testosterone boosters are used as part of a ‘Post Cycle Therapy’ once a steroid cycle has finished in order to essentially jump start your hormone production.
- Alcohol – This may be difficult to swallow, however, it could also be the reason why your testosterone levels have plummeted. Alcohol can sadly stimulate the transformation of testosterone into estrogen. Alcohol use affects all three parts of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, a system of endocrine glands and hormones involved in male reproduction. Alcohol use is associated with low testosterone and altered levels of additional reproductive hormones.
Author: Ben Bunting