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The Top Testosterone Killers

Sometimes, modern life seems determined to make us unhappy and unhealthy. And when it comes to testosterone, our lifestyles may deprive us of this hormone credited with preserving muscle, maintaining brain power and sustaining libido. But kick these endocrine-disrupting habits and you may keep pumping out testosterone well into your dotage.

Keeping your testosterone levels up to a proper level is required for a rewarding life. For men, especially, adequate testosterone is necessary for avoiding frailty. Without enough of this hormone, your muscles progressively weaken and getting around on your own becomes difficult as you move past middle age.

Modern-day testosterone killers include:

1. Gain too much weight. Being seriously overweight compromises your body’s production of testosterone.

The good news, though, is that if you lose weight, you may be able to restore your testosterone. Research at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, shows that weight loss can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight, middle-aged men by about 50 percent. In this research, scientists analyzed the testosterone levels of men who were at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“Doctors should first encourage overweight men with low testosterone levels to try to lose weight through diet and exercise before resorting to testosterone therapy to raise their hormone levels,” study co-author Frances Hayes says.

2. Be a couch potato. The old exercise adage “move it or lose it” applies to the body’s supply of testosterone. If you spend your waking hours sitting down and barely budging, your body’s production of testosterone will never wake up.

A surprising aspect of exercise’s stimulatory effect on testosterone is that much of the testosterone teased out by physical activity may be produced in the brain. Lab research shows that merely indulging in a mild exercise like slow jogging can bring about significant increases in the supply of the brain’s testosterone.

The increase in testosterone seems to produce important potential benefits for memory and learning. When scientists examined the brains of animals who exercised, they found that the resulting increase in the hormone and its metabolites boosted the brain’s production of new neurons.

3. Don’t get enough sleep. If your sleep time decreases drastically, your production of testosterone also decreases.

You have to get enough sleep if you want enough testosterone. Research at the University of Chicago shows that if you sleep less than five hours a night, your testosterone is slipping.

“(These) low testosterone levels are associated with reduced well-being and vigor, which may also occur as a consequence of sleep loss,” warns researcher Eve Van Cauter.

At least one of every six adults gets less than five hours of sleep a night and suffers many adverse health effects because of it. This study found that skipping sleep reduces a young man’s testosterone levels by the same amount as aging 10 to 15 years.

4. Don’t socialize. If your main social activity is surfing the Internet and playing video games solo, you’re losing testosterone.

In general, men who live in isolation have lower testosterone levels. Research in Australia, for example, finds that married men have higher testosterone levels than those who are single. The married men’s higher level of socialization and frequency of sexual activity increases their testosterone. Other research shows that merely sniffing the scent of other people (particularly the scents of women, and especially the scent of ovulating women) increases testosterone.

5. Be a flunky. If you’re at the bottom of the corporate ladder, your testosterone may also be at rock bottom. To improve your endocrine production, put an end to your meek and mild ways.

Studies on primates show that males on the lower end of the social scale are on the lower end of testosterone production. Interestingly, though, research on baboons shows that being at the very peak of the power structure may not be as beneficial as being the second in command. Researchers found that males who were near the top of the social order had higher testosterone levels than those who were in charge.

6. Vote for a loser. A joint study by researchers at Duke and the University of Michigan found that young men who voted for Republican John McCain or Libertarian candidate Robert Barr in the 2008 Presidential election suffered an immediate drop in testosterone when they learned their candidates had lost.

“This is a pretty powerful result,” says Duke researcher Kevin LaBar. “Voters are physiologically affected by having their candidate win or lose an election.”

On the other hand, men who voted for the winner, Democrat Barack Obama, had stable testosterone levels immediately after the outcome. Women who voted had no significant change in their testosterone levels before and after the results were known.

Why do male losers lose testosterone? According to Steven Stanton, also of Duke, the scientific consensus suggests the testosterone response to fighting and competition in males affects their future behavior in a way that eases the transition to a new social order. The loser chills out a bit so he doesn’t keep pressing his case and cause trouble. In contrast, the winner may be motivated to pursue further gains in social status.

Pass The Testosterone Test

Your endocrine system produces a wide range of hormones, including testosterone, designed to keep your body and mind functioning at their best. Unfortunately, if your primary hobby is spending lonesome hours in front of a video screen, that system may start to sputter and malfunction. So it’s time to put down the remote control, the game controller or the cellphone, and go out into the real world to interact with other flesh and blood humans. Your testosterone will thank you.

Filed Under: Alternative MedicineEasy Health Digest™ExerciseGeneral HealthWeight Loss

About the Author: Carl Lowe has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.

Facebook Conversations

  • Matt Bishop

    [expletive deleted]

    Political activism, whether for winner or loser, is a good thiing. The other items you mention certainly can contribute, but you utterly fail to mention the worst physical threatst to sexual function, based on testosterone: excessive alcohol consumption, drug addiction, and SMOKING TOBACCO, not to mention circulatory problems brought on by poor diet, as well as the above.

    Go back to school, you need remedial biology courses.

  • http://Smith Kay

    Number 6 is a cheap shot. You shouldn’t have mixed voting (and a thinly-veiled endorsement of Barack Obama) into your “findings”.

  • Bo

    What a good article until the last point of voting for Obama.. Another liberal gimmick to persuade the foolish to vote for the idiot in the white house. When wil you creeps stop trying to manipulate weak minds.

    • http://Yahoo Donnie

      Now that you have turned this into a political statement you should tell the truth.The republican party manipulates weak minded people all the time.The majority of the people who vote republican are weak minded.You can’t see all the lies Mutt Tells.He is the biggest bull shooter of all time.Mr. Flip-Flop.

      • Thomas Malone

        The Republican party manipulates weak minded people? Are you serious? What about all the poor, uneducated, on the government doles that the Democratic party has. Talk about manipulation.

  • Rich

    Barack Hussein Obama is low on testosterone , as seen in his poor debate performance .

  • Ernest Dean Ludwick

    wow; I thought the citation of credible scientific study results was pretty far from a “thinly veiled endorsement”. You’ve got some pretty thin-skinned readers, Doc. I found this article very interesting and useful.

  • maxeberle

    Anyone who votes for Obama or Romney is an idiot. Ron Paul or bust. Nice article. The scent of a sexy woman always gets my engine churning! ;)

  • tired of it

    to liberal ernest, you showed you colors, everyone clearly stated it was good except the obama bump. seem that you are pretty sensitive yourself, maybe the week mind point got to ya.

  • Ronnie

    You forgot smoking!

  • Yepi

    I agree on number 1, 2 and 3. Not getting a proper sleep, too much weight and being lazy can affect the reproduction of your testosterone. What I read in this website the said cause of low testosterone is based on our life style and changes in our body as we grow old.

  • Manny

    How the hell did this become a political issue! I’m not going there.
    One thru five are fine. But you forgot smoking and alcohol consumption.
    Ohh by the way a great woman in your life really helps!

  • Carl Lowe

    The study about the influence on testosterone of voting for a winning or losing political candidate showed that the hormonal effects are unrelated to party affiliation. The study indicated that no matter which party you belong to or vote for, if your candidate loses, your testosterone decreases. It has nothing to do with party or political beliefs. In reporting on this study we are certainly not advocating any political position or trying to make any kind of political statement.

    As for the effects of smoking on testosterone, research seems to indicate that in the long term, smoking does not do good things for your testosterone levels or your health. The immediate effects, however, are less clear.

    • Paul

      If the results are valid, they have nothing to do with politics. The last election was used to demonstrate and effect….backing a winner seems to result in sustained testosterone levels whereas backing the loser resulted in a decrease which is probably an emotional response. I would conjecture that similar results would be obtained for a sporting event. This might be an interesting research project. What happens if you are gambling? etc.

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    How can a healthy 86 year old (five feet-6inches tall) 133lbs slender weight person gain about 12 to 15lbs without being concerned about high saturated fat/cholesterol/trans fatty acids/triglysterides/sugary pastries and white flour starchy and misc processed foods. Please respond!!! Thank you very kindly!!!