Men might tell you they are bigger, stronger and, therefore, healthier than women… but medical records don’t lie.
The truth is that men, by and large, succumb to disease and even death more often and at younger ages than women.
And this is a truth that has been proven again with COVID-19.
In fact, in a head-to-head comparison, the case fatality rate for men compared to women due to coronavirus is significantly higher.
But why? And how could it relate to the other health burdens men experience? And how can these outcomes be improved?
Male sex hormones and immunity
If the coronavirus pandemic has done anything useful for us all, it’s to shine a glaring light on the role that a man’s main sex hormone, testosterone, plays in the health and function of their immune system.
After an exhaustive review of data collected worldwide, research reported in the journal, Andrology, has revealed that “Low serum testosterone levels may predispose older men to worse COVID-19 outcomes and could explain the higher coronavirus case fatality rate among men compared with women.”
In fact, low testosterone equals high fatality rates from COVID due to:
- Systemic inflammation
- Impaired cerebrovascular function
- And other so-called sequelae events that lead to worse COVID-19 outcomes
Interestingly enough, additional studies have shown that not only does COVID-19 seem to take advantage of low T to make men more ill, but that it can also deplete a man’s normal testosterone levels, creating a dangerous cycle. They also found that a male’s mean total testosterone decreases as the severity of the COVID-19 increased — although, the research also pointed out that it doesn’t take a severe infection to do damage.
In fact, a study by experts from the University of Mersin and the Mersin City Education and Research Hospital in Turkey found that “Even 65.2% of the 46 male patients who were asymptomatic had a loss of loss of libido (a symptom of low testosterone levels).”
Natural testosterone boosters
A man’s testosterone levels may naturally decrease with age. But the cause can also be related to medications and genetic conditions.
A doctor can test your levels, help determine the cause and will likely talk to you about the pros and cons of testosterone treatment, including the risk for accelerated prostate growth and enlarged breasts.
But there are a few proven ways to not only increase testosterone naturally but also avoid anything that may be stealing it…
#1 — Eat more cruciferous vegetables
The vegetables in this category, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and cabbage are unique because they contain significant amounts of indole-3-carbinol, a precursor to diindolylmethane, also known as DIM. This combination of plant nutrients helps manage estradiol levels to avoid estrogen dominance which can lower testosterone.
#2 — Exercise to raise testosterone
The best exercise for raising T levels is fast, brief cardio, which includes high-intensity interval training, or HIIT.
A study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology reported that levels of testosterone rose immediately as well as 30 minutes after young athletes engaged in HIIT. Another research effort showed that men who participated in HIIT showed a significant increase in testosterone and an improvement in their testosterone-to-cortisol ration when they completed exercise. An Italian study found that adding resistance exercise to HIIT also resulted in an increase in testosterone with a corresponding rise in cortisol.
#3 — Add fats
Did you know that you actually need fat to build testosterone? While you shouldn’t go overboard, the fats in avocados, nuts, coconut oil and other healthy fats have been shown to increase testosterone levels.
#4 — Push away the alcohol
Skipping that beer, after-dinner scotch or a glass of wine is a great way to up your testosterone for three reasons…
First, alcohol increases your body’s breakdown and excretion of the hormone. It also lowers testosterone production. And, of course, it saves your liver, which plays a major role in the regulation of the free testosterone.
#5 — Try light therapy
At a 2016 meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a researcher reported on the results of a pilot trial in which 38 men with low libido were placed into one of two groups: one received bright light therapy from a lightbox and the other was exposed to a lightbox that had less bright light. The lightboxes were like the ones used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that responds well to this light therapy.
After two weeks of daily exposure for 30 minutes, the authors found that the testosterone levels of men who were exposed to bright light increased by 300 percent, and their libido increased by the same percentage. The lightbox works by triggering the pineal gland (in the brain), which produces the hormone melatonin. This action results in the production of more testosterone.
Older studies have suggested red light therapy has been beneficial at raising testosterone levels as much as 200 percent.
Mars vs. Venus: The gender gap in health — Harvard Health Publishing
6 ways I’ve naturally increased my testosterone levels after 50 — Easy Health Options
Natural testosterone booster that work — Easy Health Options