How to Successfully Address Low Testosterone
The new glut of “Low T” commercials has my head spinning. “Low T” is the new fad diagnosis sweeping the country because
so many pharmaceutical companies stand to make such a huge profit. It goes by many names: “Low T,” “Andropause” and “Male Menopause” are just a few names given to low testosterone levels in men.
An interesting side note is that “Low T” is considered a “disease” and testosterone creams for men are therefore covered by insurance, but hormonal imbalances in women are not considered a “disease” and are not covered. Let’s chat about that some other time.
Please note it is imperative to measure testosterone levels before boosting them. Low testosterone levels have many vague symptoms that can mimic many other physical challenges. NEVER take any supplement designed to boost testosterone levels without first using a saliva or blood hormone test to measure your testosterone levels. Adjusting hormone levels without knowing what specific deficiencies and excesses exist can have very negative results. Please do not try to adjust hormone levels on your own, and please thoroughly discuss your test levels with your physician.
Moving on … it is perfectly normal for testosterone levels to drop as men age. Thirty years ago, the natural drop was minor and did not produce the severe symptoms men are experiencing today. Symptoms of low testosterone levels may include:
- Fatigue and lack of energy and motivation
- Loss of libido
- Erectile dysfunction, softer erections, less ejaculate, etc.
- Hair loss
- Inability to build muscle and/or a loss in muscle mass
- Weight gain and an increase in body fat
- Depression and other mood changes
- Decreased facial hair, “man boobs,” shrunken testicles, etc.
- Loss of height due to losses in bone mineral density
The main reasons testosterone levels are dropping to lower levels and men’s symptoms are stronger today than they were in years past include:
- We are surrounded by xenoestrogens, or estrogen imitators, that negatively impact hormone balance in men by artificially elevating estrogen levels. These xenoestrogens exist in plastics, chemicals sprayed on crops, body products, and other common products.
- Our food system is overloaded with soy and soy derivatives. Soy is a known phytoestrogen which elevates estrogen levels and therefore decreases testosterone levels in the body.
- Obesity can cause the body to produce less testosterone.
- Insulin resistance, which often precedes Type 2 diabetes, is known to play a role in lowered testosterone levels.
- Meat and dairy raised in mainstream farming operations are raised with high levels of hormones that may impact the body’s normal hormonal balance.
- Physical imbalances and illnesses such as pituitary disease may impact testosterone production. Many of these conditions are severe and require medical intervention.
- Steroid use is known to decrease testosterone production.
- Sedentary lifestyle habits also decrease the body’s natural production of testosterone.
- Chronic inflammation can affect testosterone production by inflaming the cells responsible for producing testosterone. We live in a world where ingesting inflammatory substances such as food additives, alcohol, etc. is common and even encouraged.
For men dealing with low testosterone, here are a few approaches known to help:
- Test to make sure your symptoms are caused by a testosterone deficiency and not by other physical illnesses. The symptoms of low testosterone can mimic many other illnesses. Make sure you’re addressing the correct cause of your symptoms.
- Clean up your diet. Eliminate all processed foods, all white flours and sugars, all soy, soda pop, hydrogenated oils, etc., etc.
- Insulin resistance is one known cause of reduced testosterone levels. Work with a trained professional to reduce and target carbohydrate consumption and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Exercise! Exercise is known to boost testosterone levels and to improve testosterone receptors. There’s just no getting around the fact we all need to exercise. Start slowly and work up very gradually. Try to combine small amounts of cardio or walking with weight lifting for best results.
- Switch to stainless steel drink containers instead of drinking bottled water. BPA – common in plastic water bottles – is a known xenoestrogen. Avoiding canned food is also a good way to avoid BPA.
- Clean up your body care by switching to all-natural soaps, shampoos, lotions, body washes, etc., to reduce your exposure to additional xenoestrogens.
- Sleep more. Men who get less than six hours of sleep per night tend to have reduced testosterone levels. This is in part because their body is tired and diverts its energy to tasks it considers more important than hormone production.
- Check for nutritional deficiencies. Deficiencies in Vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients are all known to be causative factors of low testosterone.
- Check Candida levels and address any overgrowth. Candida tends to cause systemic inflammation that can cause the testicles to produce less testosterone.
- Switch to a non-inflammatory eating style. As mentioned above, inflammation can directly impact testosterone production by causing inflammation in the testicles. Reducing toxins is a first step to reducing inflammation. Identifying food allergies, eliminating night shade vegetables, avoiding processed foods and drinking adequate water may all help reduce systemic inflammation.
- Consider herbal alternatives. There are a number of herbal supplements known to boost testosterone production. I’m not going to discuss them here because some have severe side effects, I do not believe they are appropriate for everyone, and because I feel it is dangerous to take supplements that affect hormone levels without first checking to see if any hormonal imbalances exist.
There are times where physical injury, vasectomy, pituitary disorders, exposure to extreme toxins or other issues can cause testosterone levels to drop so low that medication is needed. I believe testosterone creams are often prescribed without doing adequate testing and without making the necessary lifestyle changes first. In extreme cases, testosterone pills and/or injections may be required to return levels to normal. When testosterone medications are used, it is important to test hormone levels frequently to ensure hormone levels are where they should be.
There are a number of side effects with the creams, so they must be used with caution to avoid exposing women and children to the hormones in the cream. Use caution and research heavily before agreeing to use them.
Most of all, don’t lose hope. Low testosterone levels can be improved naturally or via medication. Take the time to do adequate research and receive correct testing before choosing the program that is best for you.
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