By: Dr. Keith Kantor
Testosterone has become the center of discussion around hormones mainly because Americans have lower levels affecting their energy, ability to maintain lean muscle mass and their libido. Normal testosterone levels are not only important to men, women need to get their levels tested as it also affects their metabolism and quality of life, just like it does a man’s.
In addition to libido testosterone has several other important functions it needs to help maintain within the body including:
- A healthy response to pain
- Sufficient levels of red blood cells
- Promote regular sleep patterns
- Optimal bone density
- Maintain lean muscle mass
- Promote high energy levels
It is normal for levels of testosterone to decline with age naturally but this can accelerate faster than normal by the standard American lifestyle and diet which includes:
- Daily stress
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Leaky gut
- Low vitamin D levels
- Weight gain
- Prescription drugs (especially statin drugs prescribed for high cholesterol)
The pharmaceutical drug industry has flooded patients with synthetic hormone replacement therapies for low testosterone. I would not recommend this at first, honestly synthetic hormone replacement therapies should only be used as a last resort, after all of the lifestyle modifications have been made. Ginseng is a natural adaptogenic herb that can help boost levels over time naturally as a supplement. There are several natural ways to boost testosterone levels including boosting your body’s production of human growth hormone:
Exercise–specifically high intensity interval training and lifting weights. Researchers at Ball State University found that “strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release.” Another study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center researched the acute effects of weight lifting on serum testosterone levels. The results concluded that even moderate weight lifting and light weightlifting increased serum testosterone levels in participants.
Combining weight training with HIIT interval training like burst training is the best overall combo to increase HGH (growth hormone). HIIT training has been proven to not only boost T-levels, it helps keeps your testosterone elevated and can prevent its decline. Burst training involves exercising at 90–100 percent of your maximum effort for a short interval in order to burn your body’s stored sugar (glycogen), followed by a period of low impact for recovery.
This causes your body to burn fat for the next 36 hours to replace your body’s vital energy stores. It addition to increasing your T-levels, it can help burn between 3–9 times more fat, lower your resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, keep your brain young by increasing circulation, and aids in detoxification by stimulating the lymphatic system.
Consider intermittent fasting.
The first of the natural testosterone boosters is intermittent fasting. It’s been shown to increase testosterone by nearly 200 percent or even up to 400 percent. In addition, a study by the University of Virginia Medical School noted that growth hormone levels increased 2,000 percent over the baseline in men who ate no calories for 24 hours, and growth hormone levels are correlated with testosterone. This way of eating allows your organs to rest, especially your liver, which is so crucial for hormone balance, especially testosterone.
Increase heart healthy fat consumption. A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry studied the effects of diet on serum sex hormones in healthy men. Results showed that when men decreased their healthy fat intake, serum concentrations of androstenedione, testosterone and free testosterone also decreased. This proves a correlation between a low fat diet and low testosterone levels.
Healthy fat sources include coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, cold-water omega 3 fatty acids fish, and quality all natural chemically pure meats, that have no added hormones or antibiotics.
Consume at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables daily. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, and brussel sprouts. These vegetables naturally detoxify the body of estrogen, which results in a higher ratio level of testosterone.
Reduce Stress Levels
Stress including physical, mental or emotional is truly our number one problem as a society, that has us becoming more unhealthy and overweight. Our body is constantly in fight or flight mode, resulting in poor quality sleep and constant secretion of cortisol (the stress hormone). This not only causes weight gain and insulin sensitivity, it also causes the testosterone levels to increase (temporarily) and over time they bottom out and the results are dangerously low levels, which can increase risk for chronic diseases, fatigue, auto-immune disorders and even certain cancers.
Practicing stress reduction activities like meditation, exercise or your favorite hobbies can dramatically improve your overall quality of life.
Get in the sun daily and consider supplementing with vitamin D. One of the most important nutrients that can help boost testosterone levels is vitamin D3. In 2011, the results of a study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research announced that vitamin D supplementation boosts testosterone naturally in overweight men by up to 30 percent.
Aim to spend time in the sun for 20-30 minutes daily and supplement with 1000IU of vitamin D per 25 pounds of body weight unless otherwise directed by your doctor or laboratory results.
Avoid these foods that can reduce testosterone levels.
Soy based foods including soy beans, tofu, veggie burgers and soy milk, all contain estrogen mimickers which can reduce testosterone levels in the blood, specifically those who consume over 120 mg. or more per day. This results in a decreased sex drive according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Processed carbohydrates made from refined white flours including graham crackers, cookies and breads can decrease testosterone levels. The sugar from these products can cause weight gain and raise the level of estrogen, depleting the testosterone levels, resulting in less sexual desires and poor libido.
Foods with added hormones and antibiotics including dairy and mainstream protein sources of fish, poultry, and meat. The added hormones in these foods can also increase estrogen levels and suppress testosterone levels, resulting in a suppressed sex drive. Instead aim to consume certified all natural animal products. Consuming quality all natural meat is a great way to maintain lean muscle mass and naturally boost testosterone levels.
Live a healthy life full of activity, and consume quality chemically pure whole nutritious plants and animal proteins. Consider adopting some of the lifestyle recommendations listed above before resorting to synthetic hormone replacement.