The hormone testosterone plays an important role in men’s health. It helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive for starters. For men, testosterone production is at its highest in early adulthood and drops a little each year after.
A disease called hypogonadism makes it harder to produce the right amount of testosterone. Men diagnosed with hypogonadism can benefit from testosterone therapy. Therapy isn’t usually recommended, however, if your testosterone levels fall within the normal range for your age.
There’s no magic solution to boosting your testosterone, but there are some natural things you can do to help.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It doesn’t get more natural than a good night’s sleep. A University of Chicago study showed that lack of sleep can greatly reduce a healthy young man’s testosterone levels. That effect is clear after only one week of shortened sleep. Testosterone levels were particularly low between 2:00 and 10:00 p.m. on sleep-restricted days. Study participants also reported a decreased sense of well-being as their blood testosterone levels dropped.
How much sleep your body needs depends on many factors, but the National Sleep Foundation suggests that adult males generally need between seven and nine hours per night.
Lose That Excess Weight
It is not uncommon for overweight, middle-aged men with prediabetes to also have low testosterone levels. A 2012 study revealed that weight loss among men with prediabetes improved their testosterone levels by almost 50 percent.
These findings don’t mean you have to go on a crash diet. The healthiest way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is through a sensible diet and regular exercise.
Get Enough Zinc
Men with hypogonadism generally have zinc deficiencies. Studies suggest that zinc plays an important part in regulating serum testosterone levels in healthy men.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, adult males should get 11 mg of zinc and females should get 8 mg of zinc each day. Oysters have a lot of zinc. It is also found in red meat and poultry. Other food sources include beans, nuts, crab, lobster, whole grains, and many fortified foods.
Go Easy on the Sugar
Zinc isn’t enough to ensure you’re getting the all the nutrition you need. The human body is a complex system that requires a wide variety of vitamins and minerals for smooth operation.
Research published by The Endocrine Society shows that glucose (sugar) decreases testosterone levels in the blood by as much as 25 percent. This was true of study participants whether they had prediabetes, diabetes, or a normal tolerance for glucose.
Get Some Good Old-Fashioned Exercise
Studies show an increase in total testosterone levels after exercising, especially after resistance training. Low testosterone levels can affect your sex drive and your mood, but the good news is that exercise improves mood and stimulates brain chemicals that help you feel happier and more confident. Exercise also boosts energy and endurance and helps you sleep better. All that can help with your sex drive and sexual performance, too. Fitness experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise every day.
How Do I Know I’ve Got Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone levels may contribute to decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fragile bones, and other health issues. Having low testosterone levels may also indicate an underlying medical condition. If you suspect you have low testosterone, see your doctor. All it takes is a simple blood test. If your testosterone falls within the normal range, a few lifestyle changes may be all you need to reenergize body and spirit.
Did You Know?
The American Diabetes Association says that men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone than men who don’t. This is yet another reason to stick to a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Research published by The Royal Society of Biological Sciences shows that men with children have less testosterone than men who don’t. Additionally, there are great variations between men who are married and those who aren’t.
Women have testosterone, too, although in much smaller amounts.