People of both genders produce testosterone, but for men, testosterone is the defining hormone. It is produced by the testicles, and it plays a major role in men’s sexual and reproductive functioning. Testosterone is responsible for muscle mass, hair growth, maintaining strong bones, production of red blood cells, and emotional health.
Testosterone levels naturally decline as men age, beginning as early as age thirty. The decline is associated with the activity of an enzye called 5-alpha reductase, which converts the hormone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). As the levels of testosterone drop, the risk increases for prostate enlargement, hair loss, and cancer. The prostate gland requires a certain level of testosterone in order to remain healthy. Another side effect of testosterone decline is overweight, particularly belly fat. Research presented at the 2012 conference of the Endocrine Society showed overweight men generally have low testosterone levels.
There are a number of ways you can support your body with age-related testosterone decline. Hormone replacement therapy is one. Others are:
Supplements – Saw Palmetto is a natural supplement that reduces your risk of prostate cancer while reducing the enlargement of the gland that frequently occurs in middle age. There are approximately 100 studies that support the efficacy of saw palmetto. Be sure to use a high-quality source. Experts recommend an organic supercritical CO2 extract of saw palmetto oil. Saw palmetto is a fat-soluble supplment, so taking it with eggs will enhance absorption.
You can improve the activity of saw palmetto by taking it with astaxanthin. Other valuable nutrients to support prostate health and raise testosterone levels are zinc (oysters are a great natural source) and vitamin D3.
Diet and Weight Reduction – Avoiding processed sugar in your diet is key to weight reduction. Keep your overall consumption of sugar, including fructose from fruits, below 25 grams a day. If you have diabetes, high blood sugar or high cholesterol, keep it below 15 grams per day. Eliminate refined carbs like cereals and soda, and focus on vegetables and healthy fats like avocados, raw nuts, olive oil and coconut oil.
Exercise – Exercise is an excellent testosterone booster, and can also help with weight loss. Short, intense exercise has been proven to increase testosterone levels. Experts recommend not just aerobic exercise, but also high-intensity interval training and strength training.
Reduce Stress – Mindfulness training, yoga and meditation are all ways to reduce your experience of stress. An important – and often overlooked – way to bypass the inevitable stresses of life is to have fun. Be sure to schedule fun and relaxing activities into every day of your life.