Of all our hormones, testosterone is often the most misunderstood. When you think of testosterone, you probably think about the media’s portrayal of it – bodybuilding, strong muscles, being aggressive and other male behavioural stereotypes. Have you ever considered this might not be true?
The Truth about Testosterone
Testosterone is the major sex steroid hormone in men. As with any hornmene, its effects are broad and have a powerful impact on the body.
During puberty for males, testosterone sparks the development of facial and pubic hair, the Adam’s apple, a deeper voice, larger muscles, and a broader chest.
In adults, testosterone is responsible for sexual desire, erections, and sperm production. It also affects other important body functions like maintaining a normal blood count, bone strength, muscle mass, and mood.
The last spike in testosterone in a man’s life cycle is in his teenage years, causing puberty. Following that, testosterone levels naturally decrease for males and falling levels can be responsible for a decrease in muscle tone, strength as men age.
How to Boost Testosterone Naturally
There are several natural ways to increase testosterone (or keep it from dipping too low) without taking hormones. Diet and exercise play a major role in how the body uses and produces hormones. Here are some natural ways to increase testosterone.
Eat More Onions and Garlic
Both onions and garlic contain high levels of a natural plant chemical called flavonoids, which protect sperm (and other body tissues) against damage. They also raise levels of a hormone that triggers your body to make testosterone. Eating more onions and garlic will help you make more and better quality sperm.
Protein is a building block for lean muscle in your body. When you don’t eat enough, your body makes more of a substance that binds with testosterone, leaving you with less available testosterone to use. Aim for 5 to 6 ounces per day, although the ideal amount for you depends on your age, sex, and how active you are. Great protein food choices are lean beef, chicken, fish, eggs as well as tofu, nuts, and seeds.
Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced by the skin from exposure to the sun. There aren’t many food sources of the sunshine vitamin, but some include fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Vitamin D plays a role in hormone production so getting enough will ensure your body has what it needs to make testosterone. Consider supplementing with D3 if you aren’t getting enough through your diet or sun exposure.
This mineral blocks a protein from binding with testosterone, leaving more of the hormone available in your bloodstream. Foods high in magnesium are spinach, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. You can also take a supplement to make sure you’re getting enough.
Increase Your Zinc
Zinc helps your body make testosterone. Find it in beef, beans, nuts and seeds, or added to breakfast cereal. Oysters have almost five times your recommended daily dose of zinc, making them a great choice for increasing your levels of this testosterone-friendly mineral.
Balance Your Blood Sugar
A diet that’s low in refined carbohydrates and rich in healthy fats and protein can help keep your weight in check and balance your blood sugar. Stable blood sugar levels mean you’re less likely to develop insulin resistance, which is related to lower testosterone levels. It’s also a good idea to monitor your weight- when your testosterone is low, your fat levels go up, which can lead to your body not using insulin well.
Balance your blood sugar to break this cycle. Swap saturated fats for olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Choose lean meats and whole grains. Eat lots of veggies and low glycemic fruit like apples and berries.
Cut Back on Beer
Alcohol is known to throw off different parts of your hormone system. After only 5 days of regular drinking, your testosterone level drops. Heavy drinkers will have higher levels of the female hormone estrogen which causes changes in muscle mass, chest and facial hair.
Swap Plastic Containers for Glass
Are you careful about what you store your leftovers in? Some plastics, cans and food packaging contain chemicals that can disrupt your hormones. One main culprit is Bisphenol-A (BPA) so watch out for it in your home. One study followed men who worked around BPA and showed that after 6 months they had lower testosterone levels than men who didn’t.
Keep Up Your Strength
Resistance training is a great way to focus on building your muscles which will keep your body producing and using testosterone. Make a point to use weight training as part of your regular exercise routine. Careful though, too much exercise can take your testosterone level in the other direction.
Make Sleep a Priority
While you’re asleep, your body turns up the testosterone. When you get 5 or less hours of sleep, your testosterone levels can drop up to 15% during the day. Aim for 7 or 8 hours every night for ideal testosterone levels and your overall health.
The Truth About Testosterone – Myths Revealed
There are so many myths about testosterone. We’ve debunked a few common ones here for you:
- Excessive testosterone makes men uncontrollably aggressive. Actually, it’s more the opposite. Low testosterone levels can make men feel moody and anxious. In fact, testosterone treatment can reduce negative feelings and improve depression.
- High testosterone levels cause male pattern baldness and prostate cancer. Also untrue. First, baldness is not a sign of virility rather it reflects inheritance, which doesn’t have to do with your hormone levels.
Prostate cancer appears to be associated with low levels of testosterone, not high.
- Anabolic steroids are a good way to increase testosterone levels.This type of supplementing isn’t recommended. When you already have normal testosterone levels, taking more won’t have the positive effects you think. Known effects include lower sperm count, tender breasts and acne. Steroids can also thicken your blood, increasing your risk of blood clots and stroke.
- Taking testosterone is bad. This isn’t true either. Taken appropriately, as replacement for naturally low levels, testosterone is not dangerous and it’s legal. Ask your doctor about supplementing if your testosterone levels are low. If you’re trying to increase normal levels, that can be problematic.