10 Natural and Effective Ways To Increase Your Testosterone
For many men the very word testosterone is synonymous with maleness. It is what makes men men. While it is only one of a number of male sex hormones (or androgens) it is the one that almost everyone can name. Testosterone is associated with strength, muscle, sexual prowess and also, rather more negatively with violence and aggression.
The natural production of testosterone starts to reduce from the early 20s (which makes sense from a historical perspective as our ancestral cave men would have been old at this stage and more likely, if they were still alive, to be wise men home in the cave rather than out hunting for meat).
These days of course men (and women) remain active for much longer and the early 20s is considered very young. Older men may therefore be concerned at the impact that reduced testosterone levels may have on their lifestyle. Low testosterone levels are associated with depression, loss of energy, reduction in strength, impotence or a lower sex drive and obesity. Of course these conditions can be symptomatic of many causes and the only way you will know if your testosterone levels are low is to get a blood test analysis from your doctor.
If you do have low or lower end of normal testosterone results then there is no need to worry as there are many simple and natural things you can do to boost your levels. Here is our list of 10 ways to keep your levels healthy.
Exercise is known to boost testosterone. How much of a boost you will get depends on how fit you are already and how long you are exercising for. If you typically lead a sedentary lifestyle a brief bout of exercise will raise your testosterone levels my more than it would someone who is used to being more active. As your body becomes more used to activity you need to exercise more strenuously to get the same benefit.
Exercise boosts for testosterone last about 15 minutes on average but can last longer. Exercise is most effective in the morning when testosterone levels are already naturally higher. Exercise alone will not help to maintain or increase testosterone levels but it is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle and, in combination with the other strategies set out here, will help to keep testosterone at a healthy level or help to boost falling readings.
In order to get the best results an exercise routine should be challenging enough to promote the production of testosterone but not so challenging that you end up overtiring or stressing your body as this can result in an increase in the stress hormone cortisol which can cause a reduction in testosterone. With that in mind try to ensure that your fitness and activity sessions last less than 45 minutes.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for our background health and general wellbeing. With the shocking fact that at least 14% of the adults in the US get less than 5 hours sleep a night and 40% less than 7 hours the chances are that you are almost certainly not getting the sleep you need to keep you healthy. With all the pressures of life it is easy to feel that there are just not enough hours in the day. Something has got to give and it is usually an hour or two of our night time rest. Not only do we go to bed later but the rise in technology means that it is just too tempting to run one last check on the email, browse Facebook or play a game to wind down. Sadly the blue light from screens actually suppresses our sleep mechanisms keeping us awake for longer than we mean to be.
While the odd late night will not cause any problems, the reality is that a chronic and long term lack of quality sleep can be a risk factor for obesity and also for diseases such as stroke and heart attack. If this is not enough to convince you that you need sleep think of it this way. Not getting enough sleep causes a reduction of testosterone levels to such an extent that it is equivalent to ageing 10-15 years. If you are worried about your testosterone levels one of the most effective things you can do to recharge them is to literally do nothing and go to sleep!
Keep Your Weight In A Healthy Range
As recently as 100 years ago it was very difficult to be overweight. Our diets were overwhelmingly natural and therefore lower in processed fats, sugar and salts. While it was possible to overindulge, the difficulties surrounding the growth and transportation of food and the reliance on seasonally available produce meant that overindulgence and excess weight was typically a problem experienced only by the very wealthy. Sadly with increased wealth and prosperity comes obesity. CDC studies for 2011-12 showed that a frightening 69% of Americans over the age of 20 were overweight and 35% of all American adults were obese.
Carrying too much weight is really bad for you. It can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and a whole range of other horrible problems. In men it is also linked with low testosterone levels. The effect is so pronounced that obese men are 40% more likely to suffer from low testosterone than those with a normal weight. The same studies showed that low testosterone was closely linked to diabetes so if you are a diabetic you should aim to maintain your sugar at normal levels. Exercise (see above) and weight loss will help with this giving a dual benefit.
Even young men, who normally have very high testosterone, can suffer from low testosterone levels if they are obese. Studies of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 20 showed that testosterone levels were up to 50% lower in obese teenagers compared to their peers with normal weight measurements. The researchers raised concerns that this could impact on the future sexual potency and fertility of these boys. If you are a parent to a young male, you should help them to maintain their weight in a healthy range.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
For most people alcohol is a part of life. We consume it as a way to be social, to lubricate business events and sometimes just to relax. A glass of wine with dinner or a bottle of beer with a barbeque or whilst watching the game are seen as an integral part of our daily lives. The advice from CDC is that while it is ok for most people to enjoy alcohol it should be in moderation and that men should not drink more than 2 drinks a day. This may seem like very little alcohol – after all 2 glasses of wine is hardly enough to see you through a cocktail party and a beer or two or three is not going to do any harm… or is it? Beer is, it appears, the worst of all alcohol offenders because the hops used in production are full of estrogen (see below).
A heavy drinking session can impact on testosterone levels for up to 24 hours or more. Imagine what the impact on testosterone if you drink heavily on a regular basis! Even at moderate levels, however, alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce testosterone levels in the blood by approximately 7%. This relatively small reduction may not be of concern to men with normal testosterone levels but if you are concerned that your levels are low you should reduce your consumption of alcohol or cut it out altogether.
Keep Away From Estrogens
Whilst testosterone is considered to be the sex hormone that is ‘quintessentially male’, estrogens are often thought of as the female equivalent. The truth is, however, that testosterone and estrogen are found in both men and women. Too much estrogen, however, can cause a reduction in testosterone within the body. This is not normally a problem but if a man is exposed to too much natural or artificial estrogen it can cause an imbalance. A particular problem for men is exposure to a chemical called xenoestrogen which imitates estrogens and can have a disastrous impact on testosterone levels. Research has shown that high levels of BPA (a common xenoestrogen) may be linked to fertility problems in men.
Xenoestrogens are commonly found in many compounds with which we come into contact on a daily basis – plastics, toothpaste, water and canned food. In order to avoid excess exposure to these chemicals eat organic food wherever possible, use only BPA free bottles for drinking water, do not microwave foods in plastic containers (they also contain BPA) and use your own bags to bring your shopping home from the grocery store.
Reduce Carbohydrates And Eat More Vegetables
We don’t quite know why but it appears that eating carbohydrates causes a temporary reduction in testosterone levels. If you eat a small amount of carbohydrates once a day this should not cause you any problems but, if you tend to gorge on carbs whenever possible you may find your testosterone levels taking a dive after every meal and for some hours afterwards. Depending on how often you eat this could lead to a permanent reduction. Carbs are a necessary part of a healthy diet but try to limit them wherever possible and when you do eat them ensure that you are eating low GI carbs ie swap white bread and rice for whole-wheat and brown rice. You should avoid all soy based products as eating soy has been linked to fertility problems and low sperm counts.
At the same time as you start to reduce your overall carbohydrate intake you should try to increase the amount of vegetables you eat. You should try, in particular, to add more cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli to your diet. Studies have shown that eating these vegetables helps to remove excess estrogens from the body.
Reducing your carb intake and increasing the vegetables that you eat will also help to keep your weight under control (see above).
Drink Ginseng Tea
Ginseng infusions have long been a popular herbal remedy for erectile problems and low sex drive. Favored particularly in the Far East it is not uncommon to hear of ginseng being prescribed to men as they get older and foods prepared with ginseng have been used as aphrodisiacs for centuries.
Studies undertaken on rats have shown that taking Asian ginseng (thought to be more potent than American ginseng) resulted in a significant increase in testosterone levels. As a result of positive animal studies human based research was undertaken which showed that ginseng could improve sperm counts in infertile men and reported that men who took ginseng noticed an increase in libido and sexual performance.
The research is still in the early stages and therefore no level of safe or effective dose has yet been established. It is possible to buy ginseng supplements but the easiest way to take it is as a tea. There is some research that ginseng might help to lower blood sugar levels so people taking diabetes medications should exercise care when using ginseng and it is also known to interact with blood thinning medication. If you take any of these medicines you should speak to your doctor before starting to take ginseng.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
It may seem flippant to say that you should reduce your stress levels, after all everyone knows that high levels of stress are bad for you and can lead to ask sorts of problems such as high blood pressure. Stress is an ordinary and indeed necessary part of life. Our bodies are designed to handle stressful situations and to react to them in a way that protects us from danger. We are not, however, designed to life in a constant state of high stress with no break.
Modern life is, it seems, designed to be stressful When we consider that work requires us to check email even when we are at home and our connected society prevents us from ever really stepping back and taking a break no wonder we feel under pressure. Add to that the worries of caring for elderly relatives, having children, schooling children and paying their way through college all while saving for retirement and it would be more of a surprise to hear we are relaxed than stressed.
Stress, along with many other negative impacts on your body, produces high levels of cortisol. Cortisol in turn reduces the amount of testosterone in the body. So effective is cortisol that men who are under high levels of stress and therefore with high cortisol readings are rendered less fertile than their relaxed peers.
If you know that you are susceptible to stress try to practice effective relaxation techniques during periods of stress. The more you practice the more it will become like second nature to you and you will find your general health, as well as your testosterone, thanking you for it.
Take DHEA Supplements
DHEA is a hormone that is closely linked to testosterone and is known to be a precursor for both testosterone and estrogen. It is thought by some that taking DHEA supplements could help to increase testosterone levels in older men. Natural DHEA levels drop after the age of about 30. Some preliminary research has shown that taking DHEA can prevent the drop in testosterone that is associated with intensive training (see above). This is still at very preliminary stages and it is not yet known whether DHEA could be beneficial in other circumstances. There are also potential side effects in men including shrinking testicles and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking DHEA.
While DHEA supplements are popular with some men you should be aware that as DHEA is considered a ‘prohormone’ whose use is banned by many organizations including the Football and Baseball leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. If you do want to use DHEA supplements you should speak with your doctor before doing so.
Men think about sex. In fact it is no secret that men think about sex a lot! This turns out to be a good and healthy thing as sex and thinking about sex can help to boost testosterone levels. While most of the suggestions on our list are easy to implement and should not be too unpleasant we are betting that you will find this one a pleasure!
It might seem like the best research topic ever (and we guess it was thought up by men) but a study on the testosterone levels of men in sex clubs showed that just visiting a sex club to watch the action could increase testosterone by a significant amount. Getting more intimately involved led to a greater increase (72%) than just watching (11%) On average visitors experienced a 36% increase in testosterone.
The research seems to suggest that getting active with the partner of your choice is better for you than watching some porn. Levels of testosterone appear to be closely linked to levels of prolactin in the blood. Sex has been shown to increase the levels of prolactin with penetrative sex being far more effective at raising levels than masturbation.
We are not suggesting that you start to visit sex clubs – your wife or significant other might have something to say about that. What we do suggest is that you make sure that sex is a normal and healthy part of your life. The more often you do it (preferably with someone else) the better for your hormone levels.
Sex is also good exercise (see above) and an orgasm can help to reduce stress and tension (see above) all of which are good for your testosterone levels. If your testosterone levels are low you might find your sex drive and libido have suffered. If you just don’t feel like sex try watching some porn, or if that is not your thing, think about someone you find deeply attractive. You might find that following some of the other tips in this article can help to increase your testosterone levels enough to make you want it once again.
Are we becoming an emasculated society? Sure, women have taken (and rightly so) their place as men’s equals in society and we would not suggest that female emancipation has caused male emasculation but it seems that for some reason these days men are just not as manly as they were in the past. Large scale studies in Massachusetts have shown that men today have 25% less testosterone in their bodies than men in the 1980s. Effectively, we are less of a man than our fathers and grandfathers.
Studies in the Philippines appear to show that being heavily involved in raising your children can reduce levels of testosterone during the childhood years but these levels should come back up to age normal once the children are mature. Yet the studies from Massachusets show that the reduction in testosterone is standard across all age groups ie the testosterone levels of men in their 20s is lower now than in the 1980s as is the testosterone of 60 year olds. This means that we cannot blame the trend on an increased interest in raising children. The drop is both worrying and inexplicable. The researchers who ran the study considered it might be attributable to environmental factors. The increase in xenoestrogens and widespread use of BPA may play a role in this. Sure testosterone might be associated with unpleasant traits (bullying, aggressive and violent behavior for example) but it is also associated with strength, potency and general health.
Whether or not your testosterone levels are lower than your father or grandfathers were at your age there are many things you can do about it, all of them are easy, most of them are cheap and one of them is a lot of fun.