The hormone testosterone is often associated with masculinity, but while it’s true that men produce as much as twenty times more testosterone than women, everyone needs to keep their testosterone levels up in order to be healthy and happy.
Healthy levels of testosterone are associated with sexual ability, fitness and a sense of well-being, as well as reduced risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Unfortunately, testosterone levels begin to drop after the age of thirty, and some people can experience low testosterone even earlier, due to an unhealthy lifestyle or diet.
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Testosterone Levels and Your Body
People who suffer from low testosterone can experience reduced sexual desire and ability, as well as depression and difficulty concentrating.
Over a long period of time, low testosterone can result in decreased bone density and a lower red blood cell count, and you might be at greater risk for a heart attack.
There are a number of testosterone supplements available, but they should only be taken under the direction of a doctor. If you believe you are experiencing low testosterone, a better first step might be to try boosting your testosterone naturally.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make in order to boost your testosterone levels without any negative side effects.
Try to Lose Weight
A higher body fat percentage contributes to a reduction in testosterone levels. This is because body fat contains aromatase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
It’s important to try and lose weight in a healthy manner, because dieting can cause the body to go into starvation mode, and cause it to stop producing testosterone. If you cut your caloric intake by more than fifteen percent, your body will likely interpret this as a threat and go into starvation mode.
The key is to change your diet, instead of cutting back on the amount you eat. Eliminate sugary foods like pop from your diet, as well as processed carbohydrates like breakfast cereal, bagels and snacks such as popcorn and pretzels. Try to become more active and exercise frequently. A healthy diet and lifestyle will not only boost testosterone levels, but comes with a myriad of other health benefits.
Get More Sleep
Most adults need at least six to eight hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can be associated with an up to forty percent reduction in testosterone levels. Just a week of poor sleep will result in a ten to fifteen percent drop in testosterone.
This is because your body uses the time you spend sleeping to recharge, and steps up the production of testosterone, as well as many other beneficial hormones and enzymes. The quality of sleep you get is important as well.
There are many steps you can take to improve your sleep, but a good start is to refrain from consuming caffeine or alcohol in the evening.
Don’t Stress Out
When you’re feeling stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol negates the effects of testosterone in your body. The biological reason for this is that during an emergency, your body knows you should be focused on survival, instead of on testosterone-driven behaviours like mating or competing.
If you’re interested in increasing your body’s testosterone levels, you would do well to avoid stressful situations. You can also engage in proactive behaviours like prayer, meditation or yoga. Even a restful activity like reading a book or taking a nap can help reduce your stress and lower cortisol levels.
Exercise More Often
Working out can help boost testosterone levels, but only when the exercise is performed at a very high intensity. You can sprint for a short time, or lift weights while keeping your rest intervals under two minutes.
In comparison, jogging or performing other types of moderate exercise, while beneficial for your health, doesn’t have the same effect on testosterone. It’s important that you get enough rest as well, and don’t overtrain.
Remember that your body produces testosterone while resting, and if you don’t take the time to recover after working out, your overall levels of testosterone can actually drop.
Eat Healthy Fats and Cruciferous Vegetables
You probably already know that you should avoid the trans fats found in processed foods, but monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and even saturated fats like those found in animal products can be beneficial for your health, and are associated with increased testosterone levels.
Your body requires healthy fats to function, and you can obtain them from foods such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, eggs and red meat. Your body synthesizes the fat in these foods and turns it into testosterone.
As well as eating the right kind of fat, it is important to eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. These vegetables help eliminate excess estrogen from your body, and are an excellent choice for anyone looking to lose weight.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Zinc in Your Diet
Low levels of dietary zinc can inhibit your body’s ability to produce testosterone. Many people don’t get enough zinc, in part because the pesticides and chemicals used in conventional farming deplete the soil of nutrients, including zinc.
Shellfish such as oysters have among the highest known concentrates of zinc, but you can also eat other kinds of seafood, as well as nuts and beans. It’s possible to take zinc supplements, but consuming too much zinc has no effect on testosterone, and is associated with health risks such as inability to absorb other minerals.
Another helpful tip is to refrain from overcooking your food. Overcooking food depletes it of many key nutrients, including zinc.
Spend Some Time in the Sun
Vitamin D has a number of health benefits, and as well as helping out with muscle and bone growth, and increasing sperm count in men, is associated with increased testosterone levels.
Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in many First World countries, because people simply aren’t spending enough time in sun. Everyone knows that excessive exposure that causes burning is bad for you, but moderate exposure to sunlight is vital for your health.
Going outside and enjoying the sun is the simplest way to boost your Vitamin D levels, but if you live in an area where this isn’t possible, you can take a supplement.
Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking copious amounts of alcohol has been shown to reduce testosterone levels.
Too much alcohol affects your body’s ability to break down estrogen, and disrupts zinc absorption. In addition, many alcoholic beverages are extremely high in sugar, and will cause you to gain weight if consumed regularly.
It’s never a good idea to binge drink, and even two or three drinks can lead to a reduction in testosterone levels. With that said, moderate alcohol consumption is associated with numerous health benefits, including decreased stress and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Just try to keep to one or two drinks a day, and favour red wine over drinks like cocktails and beer.
Health by choice, not by chance,