Written by Dr. Donna Schwontkowski (ret. D.C.), M.S. Nutrition, M.H.
| Published on September 23, 2013Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA
on September 23, 2013
Maybe you just turned 40, and your body is starting to feel a little different than it used to. Or maybe you’ve had a recent health scare and you’re realizing that you’re not so young anymore. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself asking, “What do I need to know to live a long and healthy life,” we’ve got you covered.
There are two key things to remember:
Testosterone, the love hormone…let’s talk about that one first.
If you wonder if low testosterone levels (also known as low-T) will threaten your manliness, the answer is yes and no.
With low-T, you could lose all enthusiasm for life; muscles could start to wither away as body fat increases; and strength and endurance could dwindle to a fraction of what they were before. BUT, these symptoms don’t occur in everyone with low-T.
When your testosterone is low, you should be evaluated for a much more serious problem called hypogonadism. In hypogonadism, a man may have low-T and erectile dysfunction (or ED). Hypogonadism could be caused by a problem with the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, or an infection like mumps.
The symptoms of low-T or hypogonadism could really change a man’s life. As the brain slows down, you could experience changes in your thinking. You may become irritable and depressed, with little desire for sex.
Some studies suggest that normal levels of testosterone help men stay healthier. A recent study from the Journal of Endocrinology suggests that testosterone may protect your arteries and ward off diseases like atherosclerosis. We’ll probably find out whether testosterone is a marker of good health in the next decade. However, right now we don’t know if more is better.
Now on to the second part: your habits. If you’ve adopted more bad than good health habits over the years, you could end up in the graveyard before your time. But good habits could help you make it to your 50th high school reunion still looking and feeling good
We’ll break it down for you: five good habits are what you need, and you can think of them in terms of how your day starts.
1.) Get good sleep. Your mind is sharper when you get a good night’s sleep. You can concentrate better during the day, and aren’t as prone to accidents.
2.) Brush your teeth. It should be the first thing you do when you wake up. Research is finding that your heart disease risk increases from infection, especially periodontal disease caused by the bacteria in your mouth that multiply all night long. Bacteria can cause chronic inflammation that damages blood vessels in the body—including the penis. One study found that men with periodontal disease had erectile problems three times more than those who didn’t—and these were men in their 30s!
3.) Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages with high fructose corn syrup. Studies in the journal Diabetes and Metabolism found that high fructose corn syrup may be related to a higher incidence of gout, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, belly fat, and diabetes.
4.) Work out. Pump iron and do cardio at 75 percent output: not too much and not too little. Exercise raises testosterone levels and helps your nervous system adapt to stress. But don’t try to be a superhero: too much can actually work against you by lowering testosterone levels.
5.) Have a good work attitude. Even-keeled emotions go a long way in warding off stress. Your body is designed to react to stress and then get back to life as normal. However, cortisol and other stress hormones can lower testosterone and increase your risk of developing insomnia, digestive disorders, memory loss, heart disease, obesity and depression. What you do have control over—to an extent—is the way you handle stress.
The bottom line? You have to learn how to cope with life. Managing stress will give you peace of mind and, combined with these other healthy habits, perhaps a longer-lasting, healthier life.
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