Maintaining Healthy Testosterone

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in Fertility, Functional Medicine, Nutrition | 0 comments

Maintaining Healthy Testosterone

Testosterone is a vital piece of the body’s hormonal makeup and while it is often referred to as the “male hormone,” it is a critical to female wellness at lower levels. Testosterone is not only the hormone that regulates your sex drive as most people think, but according to the British Columbia Medical Journal, low levels of testosterone are linked to depression, fatigue, decreased muscle mass, weight gain, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Waning testosterone levels can happen early in life. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that one in four men over the age of 30 have low testosterone level and surprisingly only one in twenty of those men had symptoms of hormonal deficiency.

In the book Health, and Sexuality: Reversing The Male Menopause, Dr Eugene Shippen explains the effects of low testosterone on the brain, body, and on mental health. During childhood, testosterone is produced at low levels in males; then at puberty, the brain sends a signal to the testes to release a flood of testosterone. In his late teens a man reaches the highest lifetime levels of testosterone and studies show there is a steady decline in testosterone over the years.

Environmental Toxins

What factors explain this recent epidemic in testosterone deficiency? Could it be widespread chemical exposure is causing a decline in testosterone levels to occur even as early as childhood, and is impacting male biology. I have always been concerned about environmental toxins’ impact on endocrine (hormone) health. Recently, for instance, both statin(1) drugs and the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide were found to interfere with the testicle’s ability to produce testosterone(2). Endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs are used in personal hygiene products, chemical cleansers and contraceptive drugs, which eventually end up in drinking water. In 2004, there was national news coverage of National Geographic’s announcement that 80 percent of male fish in the Potomac River near Washington D.C. were producing eggs, due to exposure to human or poultry wastes containing excreted estrogens. Similar findings were reported in Britain, where 50 percent of male fish were found to produce eggs in their testes.

Phthalates, Bisphenol-A or (BPA), and other chemicals are endocrine disruptors found in vinyl flooring, soap, shampoo, deodorants, perfumes, hair spray, plastic bags, dryer sheets, and food packaging. Other hormone disruptors include, bovine growth hormone added to dairy products, MSG, fluoride, pharmaceuticals, insecticides, unfermented soy, teflon, canned foods and heavy metals.

Pregnant or nursing women who are exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals can and do transfer these toxic chemicals to their child. Exposure to EDC’s during pregnancy affects the development of male fetuses and may even effect birth rate as fewer boys have been born in the United States and Japan in the last three decades.

As exposure to these toxins has grown so has the number of boys with smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent, grown. All of these birth defects and abnormalities, collectively referred to as “Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome (TDS),” are linked to the impaired production of testosterone.

What to do?

Dr. Mercola has written about nine ways men can naturally boost their testosterone levels, and why they work.

  1. Lose Weight. According to a national data base from the Men’s Health Network, more than 70 % of men are overweight.
  2. High-Intensity Exercise Combined with Intermittent Fasting. Both intermittent fasting and short intense exercise have been shown to boost testosterone. Short intense exercise has a proven positive effect on increasing testosterone levels and preventing its decline.
  3. Supplement with Zinc. The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.
  4. Strength Training. In addition to Peak Fitness, strength training is also known to boost testosterone levels, provided you are doing so intensely enough.
  5. Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels. Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido.
  6. Reduce Stress. When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone actually blocks the effects of testosterone.
  7. Limit or Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet. Testosterone levels decrease after you eat sugar, which is likely because the sugar leads to a high insulin level, another factor leading to low testosterone.
  8. Eat Healthy Fats. By healthy, this means not only mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like that found in avocadoes and nuts, but also saturated, as these are essential for building testosterone.
  9. Boost Your Intake of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). Pea protein and coconut oil are excellent sources.

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Footnotes

  1. The effect of statins on testosterone in men and women, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  BMC Med. 2013 Feb 28 ;11(1):57. Epub 2013 Feb 28. PMID: 23448151
  2. Prepubertal exposure to commercial formulation of the herbicide glyphosate alters testosterone levels and testicular morphology.  Arch Toxicol. 2010 Apr;84(4):309-17. Epub 2009 Dec 12. PMID: 20012598.  See also, A glyphosate-based herbicide induces necrosis and apoptosis in mature rat testicular cells in vitro, and testosterone decrease at lower levels.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22200534/

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