The hormone testosterone plays an important role in men’s health. For starters, it helps to maintain muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive. Testosterone production is at its highest in a man’s early adulthood and drops a little bit each year thereafter.
When the body doesn’t produce the right amount of testosterone, the condition is called hypogonadism or “low T”. Men diagnosed with hypogonadism can benefit from testosterone therapy. Therapy isn’t usually recommended though unless your testosterone levels fall within the normal range for your age.
There’s no magic solution for boosting your testosterone, but some natural remedies may help.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It doesn’t get more natural than getting a good night’s sleep. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that lack of sleep can greatly reduce a healthy young man’s testosterone levels. That effect is clear after only 1 week of reduced sleep. Testosterone levels were particularly low between 2 p.m. and 10 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. Most adults generally need between 7 and 9 hours per night in order to function well and lead a healthy life.
- Lose That Excess Weight
Overweight, middle-aged men with prediabetes are also likely to have low testosterone levels. A study from The Journal of Endocrinology revealed that low testosterone and diabetes are closely linked. Men who maintain a normal weight have a lower risk of developing fullblown diabetes as well as hypogonadism.
Research published in the European Journal of Endocrinology confirms that losing some weight can help boost your testosterone.
These findings don’t mean you have to go on a crash diet. The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is through a sensible diet and regular exercise.
- Get Enough Zinc
Men with hypogonadism often have zinc deficiencies. Studies suggest that zinc plays an important part in regulating serum testosterone levels in healthy men.
Eating foods that are rich in this essential nutrient may help. Foods rich in zinc include: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, crabs, nuts, and whole grains.
Adult males should aim to get 11 mg of zinc each day. If you aren’t consuming enough, opt for zinc supplements.
- 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.
The Endocrine Society reports that glucose (sugar) decreases testosterone levels in the blood by as much as 25%. 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 that total testosterone levels increase after exercising, especially after resistance training. Low testosterone levels can affect your sex drive and your mood. The good news is that exercise improves mood and stimulates brain chemicals to help you feel happier and more confident. Exercise also boosts energy and endurance and helps you to sleep better. 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. See your doctor if you suspect you have low testosterone. A simple blood test is all it takes to check if your testosterone falls within the normal range.
The Bottom Line
Learning that your testosterone is low can be unsettling, but it’s not a reflection of virility or “manhood” at all. Speak to your doctor about your treatment options, but a few lifestyle changes may be all you need to re-energize body and spirit.