Signs and symptoms of low testosterone such as insomnia, infertility, low libido, weight gain, low energy, depression, and trouble concentrating—can be devastating. When Testosterone levels are optimized, it can give both men and women a healthy libido, the ability to improve muscle mass and burn fat, good energy levels, motivation to get things accomplished, increased focus, better sleep, an improved mood, etc.
Certain medications, environmental toxins, obesity, inflammatory conditions, and physical and emotional stress can result in reduced testosterone(along with other hormones). For these reasons, from an integrative medicine perspective, it is important to address diet and lifestyle interventions that address the root cause, in addition to utilizing bio-identical Testosterone replacement to fix the Testosterone deficiency.
Here are interventions that are important in optimizing your hormones:
Stress management: This includes getting good quantity and quality of sleep. According to one study, testosterone increases with increasing sleep duration up to 9.9 hours, after which it decreases, resulting in a U-shaped curve. Getting enough sleep–not too little and not too much– is the key. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with lower testosterone levels. Get a sleep study if you snore or do not wake up refreshed.
In addition to sleep, overall stress reduction is key to supporting healthy testosterone levels, because excess cortisol (stress hormone) depletes your body of other hormones such as Testosterone. Unplug regularly and improve how you handle stress.
Weight loss: Obviously, not all cases of “low T” are associated with overweight and obesity, but many are, and in those situations, weight loss is a no-brainer.
Exercise: Weightlifting or resistance training of moderate-to-high intensity has been shown to boost testosterone. Short bursts of intense sprinting have also been shown to elevate plasma total testosterone.
Eat those greens: An even simpler intervention is to increase consumption of cruciferous vegetables, with their sulfur compounds facilitating the excretion of excess estrogen. (No one ever became unhealthy or fat from eating too much broccoli and Brussels sprouts!). Cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage) help your body to metabolize your hormones properly. DIM is a supplement that works in a similar fashion.
Sexual activity: An arguably more fun strategy for boosting testosterone is to have sex. According to one study, increased testosterone occurred in men due to sexual activity and this effect was unrelated to men’s age. This method may be beneficial for younger as well as older men. (They did not study women for this effect……)
Minimize toxin exposure: There are numerous chemicals in our environment that can disrupt your hormonal balance and cause a decreased Testosterone level. Be aware of everything that you eat, use in your house, put on your body, etc. Change to safer products when you can. EWG.org is a great resource. When you run out of a product look on their site to find a safer alternative. Every little positive change adds up in your favor.
Living an optimal life involves optimizing your hormones and this is done through lifestyle and diet changes in addition to the use of bio-identical hormones. You can feel and look great!!