Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It gives men larger muscles and organs, and it drives sexual function, but about 5 million American men are affected by low testosterone. After men hit age 40, their testosterone starts to naturally decline. If it drops too low men may experience symptoms of low testosterone, or low T. This is part of andropause, or male menopause. A doctor can check a man’s testosterone levels by taking a blood sample. The normal range is between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter. A doctor can also measure free and bioavailable testosterone to see how well the body is making testosterone.
A doctor may rely more on the actual symptoms of low T than the actual testosterone levels when deciding how to treat low T. Symptoms of low T can include changes in the body, health or even personality.
Symptoms of low T may also include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased energy
- Increased body fat
- Loss of muscle mass
- Mood changes
- Trouble concentrating or focusing
- Thinning body hair
- Trouble in home, work or personal relationships
Natural Testosterone Boosters
There are several dietary and lifestyle changes a man can make to help boost testosterone.Men looking for natural supplements rather than pharmaceuticals have several options. Here are 7 natural ways boost testosterone.
Get More Sleep
It may be easier said than done, but strive for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Studies show that men who get less than five hours of sleep nightly experience a 10-15 percent drop in testosterone levels. Here’s that perfect guilt-free excuse to get that afternoon nap you know you want.
Exercise And Maintain a Healthy Weight
Exercise and a healthy weight are connected in terms of helping with testosterone. Both are important for overall health. A regular exercise program helps control body weight. Lack of exercise can contribute to andropause, while being overweight and having too much body fat affects hormone levels.
Fat cells generate estrogen causing an imbalance of a man’s estrogen and testosterone. Weight training stimulates muscle growth and elevates testosterone in the period of time after a workout. Men may notice increased energy and libido after weight training. Muscle mass and testosterone go hand in hand: Building muscle mass boosts testosterone, while testosterone helps to build muscle mass. That is a cycle you don’t want to break.
Have More Sex
Yes, another cycle. Low T can cause sexual problems such as libido and erectile dysfunction (ED), but having sex, and even just getting an erection, boosts testosterone. Seek help if you are experiencing low libido and ED, which can also be an early sign of cardiovascular problems. Don’t automatically attribute ED to low T. A healthy sex life is one enjoyable way to increase testosterone levels.
Certain dietary changes can help boost testosterone. Consume plenty of healthy sources of protein. Plant sources of protein (beans, legumes, certain grains and seeds) can help maintain strength and lean body mass. Avoid high-protein diets; they can lower testosterone. Many people are not aware that eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts which are important for many health reasons, including cancer protection, can also boost testosterone. The phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables, called indoles, can also suppress estrogen. In addition, men need heart-healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids and fats such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts, to support proper testosterone production.
A high stress level increases the hormone cortisol. When cortisol increases, testosterone decreases. Ongoing stress can keep the levels of cortisol high, suppressing testosterone. Stress management techniques like meditation and yoga are helpful to reduce stress and cortisol. These techniques can also alleviate symptoms of low T such as depression and mood swings.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Large amounts of alcohol can impair testosterone production, causing and lower testosterone levels. Try to limit consumption to one to two drinks or less per day .
Consider supplements, such as fenugreek or avena sativa. Avena sativa, also known as wild oats, has health benefits in increasing testosterone and helping with ED and sexual function. Anecdotal evidence shows it may work even better when combined with horny goat weed or tribulus terrestris (which can also increase testosterone levels). Fenugreek has several health benefits such as raising testosterone levels and improving libido and sexual function.
The Role Of Medication In Low T
There are other causes of low T besides andropause. Certain medications can lower testosterone levels, so men need to talk to their doctor about medications they are taking to see if that could be the cause of their low T. Some of the symptoms of low T can also be the signs of another problem, such as heart disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about any changes you may be experiencing to rule out other health problems, and check with him or her before taking any prostate supplements or embarking on any major lifestyle changes.