Increasing Testosterone Naturally

Testosterone’s Role in the Body

While testosterone tends to only be associated with male characteristics - especially in the media, where there is no shortage of advertising for products to have men magically feeling twenty years younger - this hormone plays a critical role in the well-being of everyone. Produced in the testes, the ovaries, and the adrenal glands, testosterone has a crucial role in maintaining a host of physiologic processes including:

  • Libido

  • Sufficient levels of red blood cells

  • Regular sleep patterns

  • Optimal bone density

  • Muscle mass

  • Energy levels

  • A healthy pain response

As people age, their testosterone levels naturally decline at around 1% per year after age 30 but many facets of the way we live can accelerate a drop in levels:

Evaluating Testosterone Levels

The evaluation of testosterone levels usually involves looking at free and total levels in the blood, although a saliva sample can also be used. It’s important also to look at estrogen, cortisol, and sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) as the liver will produce more SHBG in response to elevations in estrogen or cortisol. However, it is testosterone which hops aboard this circulating before the others. Therefore, even if levels of total testosterone look normal, it could be the case that much of it is inaccessible to the body if it is bound to SHBG.

One of the concerns of excess testosterone can be the formation of its metabolite di-hydroxy-testosterone (DHT) which can cause hair loss in everyone and enlargement of the prostate in men. Another is the conversion of testosterone to estrogen via the process of aromatization (when testosterone gets turned into estrogen by an enzyme called aromatase).

We can keep cortisol levels in check by looking after the health of our adrenals with nutrition and stress management as well as by maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

Estrogen has the potential to be trickier as we have to consider not just what our bodies produce but also the estrogens we encounter through the environment (from plastics and pesticides especially).

How to Boost Testosterone Levels Naturally

As ever, natural/alternative medicine provides a vast array of ways to help achieve specific health goals!

Intermittent Fasting

Confining your eating window to 8-10 hours daily allows the digestive organs to rest, especially your liver, which is so crucial for naturally balancing hormones. In short, intermittent fasting means you skip breakfast, and eating your meals closer together. This technique has been shown to increase testosterone by nearly 200 percent or even up to 400 percent.

Weight Training & Interval Training

Lifting heavy weights with your large muscle groups (legs, chest, and back) as well as HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training) have been shown to increase blood testosterone levels. HIIT or Burst training involves exercising at 90–100 percent of your maximum effort for a short interval in order to burn your body’s glycogen stores, followed by a period of low impact for recovery. This causes your body to burn fat for the next 36 hours to replace your body’s vital energy stores. It also leads to an extended increase in circulating testosterone levels, lowering your resting heart rate and blood pressure, and detoxification by stimulating the lymphatic system.

Healthy Fats

Replacing empty calories with healthy fats poses a great deal of potential benefit including increased testosterone levels. Consuming salmon a couple times a week or adding a quality fish oil supplement is great place to start. Flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also great sources for omega-3s. Additionally, monounsaturated fats from sources like avocados, olive oil and almonds can be natural testosterone boosters.

Stress Reduction

Occasional short-term mental and physical stresses can be quite therapeutic and are actually necessary for the body; however, the problem is when individuals are chronically stressed and the body gets stuck in a state of excessively pumping out cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, testosterone responds initially by elevating as well - but this also leads to an increase in SHBG and soon after, testosterone bottoms out to a much lower level than before cortisol kicked in!

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