Updated: May 7, 2020
By Dr Klaudia Raczko
Everything you need to know about how to maintain Men's Health until Old Age! A simple guide to our best Workout, Diet, Health & LifeStyle tips for men.
What is Testosterone & how it affects men's health?
While talking about men’s health, the first thing which comes to our mind is often testosterone. Testosterone is a sex hormone produced mainly by testicles and is associated with male features such as deeper voice, wide shoulders or body hair. It also has an effect on bone density, muscle mass, libido, red blood cell production, brain, skin, liver health and male fertility. Interestingly women also produce testosterone, however in much smaller amounts.
We all know that as we age our bodies tend to function less effectively and this also includes testosterone production.
But are there any ways men can help their bodies to maintain healthy testosterone levels?
Apparently research shows that there are many factors that can affect the hormone’s level. But let’s have a better look at the testosterone molecule first.
Testosterone: how is it produced and how does it work in our body?
All steroid hormones are produced from cholesterol. We all know that too high levels of cholesterol may not be good for our health, however, too low levels are not good for us as either, especially as we age. Special cells in testicles called Leydig cells produce testosterone when they receive a signal from the brain.
What can affect the production of testosterone in those cells?
Many factors, however, the most important ones include chronic stress, obesity and zinc deficiency.
You may wonder what happens to the testosterone molecule after it’s been produced.
40 – 60 % of testosterone in the bloodstream is bound to the protein called sex hormones binding globulin (SHBG), which means it is not readily available to use by the cells. Only a small amount of testosterone travels in its free form, and the rest is loosely bound to other transporting proteins and this fraction of testosterone is bioavailable meaning it can do its job. That is why it is important to measure the free and bound testosterone at the same time. Testosterone tends to be the highest in the morning hours, when it should be measured, however in older men there is less variation over the course of the day.
Everyone heard of menopause, but not everyone might have come across andropause. While women start to produce fewer oestrogens following menopause, the same situation, however less drastic may affect middle-aged men, when they do not produce as many androgens (male hormones) as they used to. Research shows that 10% of men in their 40s and 25% of men in their 70s may have lower serum testosterone levels.
What are the possible signs of low male hormones?
Male infertility, Low mood, poor memory, reduced libido, sweats, decreased energy and physical performance, decreased muscle strength and higher body fat are just a few to name.
Oestrogens, why do they matter?
Before we talk about the ways to maintain healthy testosterone levels, I want to bring attention to oestrogens. We often associate oestrogens with women’s health, however healthy men also produce a small amount of this hormone. If the ratio between oestrogens to testosterone becomes too high, then we have a problem. Obese men tend to have higher levels of circulating oestrogens as the conversion of testosterone to oestrogen takes place in the fat tissue by the enzyme called aromatase. Abdominal obesity (fat around the belly) may be the most dangerous form of obesity which not only affects the hormonal balance but also may lead to heart problems, diabetes and increased inflammation.
What can you do to reduce the level of oestrogens & improve men's health?
1. Lose weight!! Need some inspiration? Watch this!
2. Reduce the exposure to xenoestrogens which are chemicals that mimic oestrogen from sources like conventional self-care products and plastics,
4. Eat more vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy or Brussels sprouts
5. Try Frankincense, the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory remedy
What about another important aspect of men's health: prostate health?
Abnormal oestrogen to testosterone ratio can affect the prostate, leading to its enlargement. One of the most common conditions affecting the prostate is called benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). Common symptoms include frequent or urgent need to urinate especially at night, inability to completely empty the bladder or difficulty starting urination.
It is always important to discuss your symptoms with your GP however if you have been already diagnosed with BPH, is there anything you can do, except for taking medications?
1. Balance the oestrogen to testosterone ratio mentioned earlier
2. Impacting the way testosterone is metabolised to other male hormones by eating:
- green tea,
- flax seeds,
- nutrients such as omega 3 fats found in fatty fish; zinc found in oysters, shellfish, nuts and seeds, and selenium which is abundant in Brazil nuts.
- quercetin found in onions and apples
- certain herbs such as saw palmetto or stinging nettle root.
One of the main nutrients involved in prostate health is lycopene, found predominately in tomatoes. For better absorption tomatoes should be heated up and eaten with a source of healthy fat like olive oil.
What else can you do to improve men's health and adequate testosterone levels?
1. Research has shown that intermittent fasting, in addition to improving metabolic health, can also balance male hormones. An effective way to do it is to fast for at least 12 h a day, or you may simply consider skipping your dinner or breakfast.
2. High-intensity training like sprinting and weight lifting can increase testosterone levels, while prolonged running may decrease it.
4. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha may increase testosterone while other adaptogenic herbs like maca know as ginseng of Peru and Rhodiola can improve performance and improve resistance to stress. Some medicinal mushrooms like cordyceps may also improve testosterone levels.
5. Balancing blood sugar by avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrates like bread or pasta and adding healthy fats and proteins to each meal will help with testosterone balance.
6. Adequate vitamin D levels may also contribute to a healthy testosterone level.
7. Fenugreek, which can be used a spice, has been shown to be effective in addressing andropause.
8. Zinc from dietary sources or as a supplement is essential for adequate testosterone production.
9. On the other hand, some spices as liquorice may decrease testosterone levels.
Simple lifestyle interventions and some dietary changes can help to maintain men's health (adequate testosterone levels and prostate health). There is no magic pill, but by implementing a healthy lifestyle and individualised supplementation when appropriate, you will be able to maintain your health until old age!
Dr Klaudia Raczko is a medical doctor with extensive training in nutrition as well as conventional medicine. When she realised that conventional medicine does not always have the answers to common health problems and mainly treats the symptoms instead of the underlying cause of the disease, she found Functional Medicine, which she believes is the most powerful approach to treat and prevent diseases. She has a special interest in nutrition, microbiome, lifestyle and personalised medicine. She uses medication-free, lifestyle solutions based on the Functional Medicine approach to optimise her clients' health and manage chronic health conditions. She offers a wide range of tools to help her clients understand their individual health needs such as genetic, nutritional, gut health and hormonal testing. This approach works for both preventions as well as disease 'reversal'. She wants to guide her clients towards optimal health and well-being in a relaxed atmosphere.
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