Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Dr Mike Hart

GET UPDATES FROM Dr Mike Hart
 

10 Ways to Keep Testosterone Levels High

Posted: 07/05/2013 5:32 pm

Is the male species disappearing?

Testosterone levels are plummeting. Studies have shown the average man's testosterone in today's society is nearly 25 per cent lower than in the 1980s. Without adequate testosterone, men become infertile, impotent, docile and weak. In fact, men with low testosterone are 52.4 per cent more likely to be obese; 50 per cent more likely develop diabetes; 42.4 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure and 40.4 per cent more likely to have high cholesterol. Why is the average man's testosterone lower than our ancestors and what can be done about it?

BPA

BPA may be the biggest culprit to the declining levels of testosterone. BPA is Bisphenol-A, a synthetic chemical often found in various plastic containers that leaches out as it is heated. When workers were exposed to BPA, it resulted in lower levels of testosterone and androstendione, a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen.

Trying to have kids? A recent study showed that 89 per cent of men attending fertility clinics had BPA in their urine. Subjects exposed to BPA not only had lower levels of testosterone, they also had a lower TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Your thyroid helps regulate your metabolism, an under or overactive thyroid can lead to a hoist of medical problems. The bottom line is, you should avoid drinking from plastic bottles and use glass or stainless steel whenever possible.

Soy

Whatever you do, don't eat soy. According to a 2008 Harvard study, sperm counts in male infertility clinic patients were found to be lower by 41 million/ml in those who included soy foods in their diets compared to those who had a soy-free diet. The study also found that the combination of being overweight compounds the detrimental effects of soy foods, driving sperm counts even lower.

Beer

Don't worry, I'm not telling you to never drink alcohol again. I'm just warning you about hops, one of the ingredients used to make beer. The hops in beer are so estrogenic; they are currently being studied as a treatment for hot flashes in menopausal women. If you want to optimize your testosterone levels, it's best to completely avoid alcohol. Research has shown that even two drinks/day can lower your testosterone levels. My advice would be to avoid alcohol during the week and sip on vodka on the weekends. A couple vodka and sodas with lime on the weekend shouldn't crush your testosterone.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a very common problem in the 21st century due to the added pressures in society. Sleep deprivation, whether from cramming for exams, meeting work deadlines, anxiety-related insomnia or any other of a myriad of causes, constitutes a form of stress that squelches testosterone levels by raising cortisol levels. For middle-aged and older men, who already secrete less testosterone overnight than younger men,getting less sleep correlates to lower morning testosterone levels.

For young men, losing sleep in the first half of the night doesn't have as much impact on testosterone levels as waking up early or losing sleep during the second half of the night.

Stress

There are many reasons to eliminate stress and even the people who may be stressors in your life. Stress, by inducing the fight-or-flight stress response, makes men less competitive, less assertive and also, as it turns out, less fertile. Cortisol, the stress hormone produced by adrenal glands, blocks the effects of testosterone which suppresses libido, healthy competitive drive and aggression.

Instead, the mind and body shifts into crisis mode, preparing your body to turn and run or fight against an attacker. As an example of the suppressive effects of cortisol on testosterone, a study found that men with high testosterone and low cortisol were more likely to seek a rematch after losing in a competition than men with high cortisol and low testosterone levels

Researchers at Berkeley found that stress acts in the brain to decrease testosterone by increasing levels of a hormone that inhibits testosterone production. The hormone, known as gonadotropin-inhibiting hormone, is produced by the pituitary gland. This hormone acts as an orchestra conductor that controls the activity of the entire endocrine system. If your deadbeat friend harasses you about not calling back, tell him you're just trying to increase your testosterone.

Obesity

If you are among the almost one in three Americans battling obesity, you can add low testosterone levels to the list of obesity-related health complications added to heart disease, diabetes and a host of other problems. In a study of obese men with underactive testicular function, up to 40 per cent had lower-than-average testosterone levels. Having diabetes also lowers testosterone levels and is nearly equivalent in effect to carrying around an extra 20 pounds. If you are a young man in the prime of your reproductive years and saddled with obesity and diabetes, you can expect a greater than 50 per cent chance of having low testosterone levels.

Adipose tissue (fat tissue) contains an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into estrogen. If you want healthy testosterone levels, drop the body fat.

Dietary Factors

Your body uses certain vitamins and minerals to produce testosterone; an important one being zinc. Shellfish, beef and pork are your best sources of this mineral, followed by dark meat poultry. Antioxidant vitamins E and C help maintain zinc status and protect against loss from exposure to environmental toxins.

The low-fat diet fad of the '90s has finally lost much of its popularity. Men who eat a low fat diet have low testosterone. While sparing details regarding which fats are healthy; my daily fat intake mostly consists of the following sources: grass-fed butter, medium chain triglyceride oil, fish oil, krill oil, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, free-run eggs, and almond butter.

Sex

There is one benefit to having wandering eyes. Research studies performed with men have shown that staring at attractive women increases your testosterone. When men attended a gentleman's club, their testosterone increased by 36 per cent. While I'm not advocating attending a sex club or participating in any inappropriate behavior, thinking about sex is a healthy male behaviour and should be guilt-free.

Summary -- 10 tips

There are many reasons why you may have low testosterone. Fortunately, by following the steps listed below, you may increase your chances of optimizing your testosterone levels naturally.

1) Drink water from glass or stainless steel and avoid plastic Tupperware.
2) Avoid soy like the plague.
3) Limit your alcohol consumption.
4) Drink vodka on special occasions instead of beer.
5) Sleep eight hours at night in a dark room.
6) Eliminate stress when possible. Meditate, practice yoga, laugh and hang out with people who make you happy.
7) Decrease your body fat.
8) Eat foods rich in zinc.
9) Eat healthy fats from the sources listed above
10) Think about sex and openly discuss any issues with your partner.

If you have any other tips on how to raise testosterone, please share them. You can also listen to my most recent podcast (The Outlaws of Health) which I co-host on testosterone optimization: The outlaws of health show

Loading Slideshow...
  • It's Not Over

    Everything in our culture makes people, and women in particular, feel that after the age of 40, they're no longer sexually attractive, and this belief gets internalized. But researcher Gina Ogden, in conducting her famed Isis study (a national survey of sexuality and spirituality), found that women in their 60s and 70s were having the best sex of their lives -- people need to understand that the brain is the most important sex organ in the body!

  • Hardware vs. Software

    Men and women get into sexual patterns in their teens, 20s and 30s that never change. So in recognizing this, we need to say, "the hardware is going to stay the same, but we can update the software." And you can update the software by trying different things, but mostly by getting to know yourself.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice

    If your body is an instrument, then you're only going to get better by practicing. And quite frankly, from a health standpoint, there isn't a better use of your time. Men take erection-enhancing drugs to increase nitric oxide in the penile blood vessels, but they can increase nitric oxide themselves by improving their sex lives either on their own or with a partner. Orgasms trigger a huge burst of nitric oxide, which balances the neurotransmitters in your body -- the same neurotransmitters that people take drugs to balance. It's a shame because antidepressants lower one's ability for full sexual expression, so the one thing that could really decrease depression is the one thing that the drugs quiet down. People don't realize that you can turn on chemicals in your own body without importing unnatural drugs to do it for you.

  • Get Fit

    If you're fit, you're much more likely to have a satisfying sex life. Being and feeling healthy and being and feeling sexy are synonymous. I just spoke to a 70-year-old friend of mine -- a total fox -- who's trying his luck on eHarmony. So we talked about what people in his demographic are looking for, and we both agreed -- health! When you're healthy and your hardware is working the best it can, you can focus on downloading new software.

  • Take Your Time

    Women need to understand that they are far more complicated sexually than men are. For men, the focus is in the genitals. But with women, sex is like a martial art, and women need to master that art and have the ability to move sexual energy around, manipulate sounds and focus on certain areas. The beauty of being over 50 is that you have more time to practice this. Women need 45 minutes to get fully turned-on. Do you know how long the average couple spends making love? 15 minutes. Slow down! Take time!

 

Follow Dr Mike Hart on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@drmikehart

FOLLOW CANADA LIVING