Let’s do a quick review of what I shared in the introduction to this series. August of last year was a tough month for me, primarily because of a huge and grueling project we were in the midst of here on the site. I was stressed out and my sleeping, healthy eating habits, and workout regimen all suffered. At the end of the month I got my testosterone levels tested and found that my total T was 383 ng/dL and my free T was 7.2 pg/mL – close to the average for an 85-100-year-old man.
Individuals with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for developing coronary artery disease and diabetes mellitus. Predicting who might develop the metabolic syndrome would allow preventive measures to be taken in addition to weight control and other lifestyle modifications such as cessation of smoking and increased exercise. It is known that with decreasing testosterone availability in aging males there is an increase in fat mass and decrease in lean body mass (van den Beld et al 2000), there are disorders of insulin and glucose metabolism (Haffner et al 1996) and dyslipidemia (Tsai et al 2004). Kupelian and colleagues (2006) in analyzing data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study demonstrated that men with low levels of testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, or clinical androgen deficiency, especially men with a BMI of greater than 25, were at increased risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and hence, diabetes mellitus and/or coronary artery disease.
Male hypogonadism is a clinical syndrome caused by a lack of androgens or their action. Causes of hypogonadism may reflect abnormalities of the hypothalamus, pituitary, testes or target tissues. Increases in the amount of testosterone converted to estrogen under the action of the enzyme aromatase may also contribute to hypogonadism. Most aspects of the clinical syndrome are unrelated to the location of the cause. A greater factor in the production of a clinical syndrome is the age of onset. The development of hypogonadism with aging is known as late-onset hypogonadism and is characterised by loss of vitality, fatigue, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, somnolence, depression and poor concentration. Hypogonadal ageing men also gain fat mass and lose bone mass, muscle mass and strength.
When you’re under stress (be it from lack of sleep, workplace stress, emotional stress, stress from a bad diet, overtraining etc.), your body releases cortisol. Cortisol blunts the effects of testosterone (47), which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – if we were stressed as cavemen chances are it was a life or death situation – not running late to a meeting - in this state (i.e. running from a lion) the body wouldn’t care if you couldn’t get it up, there was more to worry about!
ZMA (unnecessary). So when I researched how to increase testosterone, a supplement called ZMA kept popping up. It’s a blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. The purported benefits of ZMA include better and deeper sleep which indirectly is supposed to increase testosterone. Zinc and magnesium are necessary minerals in testosterone production, so a mega-dose should be useful, right? Well, no. I bought some and took it during the duration of experiment. I should have done some more research before I made the purchase. While one study in 1998 showed increased strength among athletes taking ZMA, two recent studies (study 1, study 2) have shown that it has absolutely no effect on total or free testosterone levels. Crap. My advice, unless you have a zinc and magnesium deficiency, no need to waste your money on this.
Longitudinal studies in male aging studies have shown that serum testosterone levels decline with age (Harman et al 2001; Feldman et al 2002). Total testosterone levels fall at an average of 1.6% per year whilst free and bioavailable levels fall by 2%–3% per year. The reduction in free and bioavailable testosterone levels is larger because aging is also associated with increases in SHBG levels (Feldman et al 2002). Cross-sectional data supports these trends but has usually shown smaller reductions in testosterone levels with aging (Feldman et al 2002). This is likely to reflect strict entry criteria to cross-sectional studies so that young healthy men are compared to older healthy men. During the course of longitudinal studies some men may develop pathologies which accentuate decreases in testosterone levels.
The diagnosis of late-onset hypogonadism requires the combination of low serum testosterone levels with symptoms of hypogonadism. Questionnaires are available which check for the symptoms of hypogonadism. These have been validated for the assessment of aging patients with hypogonadism (Morley et al 2000; Moore et al 2004) but have a low specificity. In view of the overlap in symptoms between hypogonadism, aging and other medical conditions it is wise to use a formal method of symptom assessment which can be used to monitor the effects of testosterone replacement.
I recommend using a trans-mucosal DHEA cream. Applying it to the rectum or if you are a a woman, your vagina, will allow the mucous epithelial membranes that line your mucosa to perform effective absorption. These membranes regulate absorption and inhibit the production of unwanted metabolites of DHEA. I personally apply 50 milligrams of trans-rectal DHEA cream twice a day – this has improved my own testosterone levels significantly. However, please note that I do NOT recommend prolonged supplementation of hormones. Doing so can trick your body into halting its own DHEA production and may cause your adrenals to become seriously impaired down.
Hooper, D. R., Kraemer, W. J., Saenz, C., Schill, K. E., Focht, B. C., Volek, J. S. … Maresh, C. M. (2017, July). The presence of symptoms of testosterone deficiency in the exercise-hypogonadal male condition and the role of nutrition [Abstract]. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(7), 1349–1357. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28470410
Yeah, you could do expensive hormone replacement. Or you could take a synthetic test booster. But at the end of the day, neither of these compare to being able to boost testosterone naturally. Nature didn’t intend for you to inject yourself with hormones. Somewhere along the line something went wrong. At your natural level, you are designed to flourish. And the world has everything available for you and your testosterone levels to do so.
Prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or simply an enlarged prostate, is a serious problem among men, especially those over age 60. As I’ve pointed out, high testosterone levels are not a precursor to an enlarged prostate or cancer; rather, excessive DHT and estrogen levels formed as metabolites of testosterone are. Conventional medicine uses two classes of drugs to treat BPH, each having a number of serious side effects. These are:
Like other supplements and medication, testosterone therapy comes with risks and possible side effects. This is particularly true if you try to take it for normal aging rather than for treatment of a condition. Also, the Cleveland Clinic points out that the effects that these supplements may have on your heart and prostate can lead to a number of potential issues. Complications include:
Any day that you don’t get 20 minutes of direct sunlight on your skin, you want to supplement with 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3. If you get your blood levels tested and you’re extremely low — below 50 IUs — you typically want to do 5,000 IUs twice a day for three months until you get those numbers up. You can do everything in the world, but if your vitamin D levels aren’t right, your testosterone levels will stay low.
The basis for my thinking that T levels could be boosted by cold baths came from a post I wrote a few years ago on the benefits of cold showers. One benefit I found in my research was that they could increase testosterone levels. I mentioned a 1993 study done by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England that found increased T levels after taking a cold shower. Here’s the thing. I can’t find a link to the original source and I can’t find any other studies that support this claim! So without supporting research, I’m unsure of the effects of cold showers on testosterone.
Unlike aerobics or prolonged moderate exercise, short, intense exercise was found to be beneficial in increasing testosterone levels. The results are enhanced with the help of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting helps boost testosterone by improving the expression of satiety hormones, like insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucacgon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CKK), and melanocortins, which are linked to healthy testosterone function, increased libido, and the prevention of age-induced testosterone decline. When it comes to an exercise plan that will complement testosterone function and production (along with overall health), I recommend including not just aerobics in your routine, but also:
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There are three categories of healthy fat. Number one is healthy saturated fat. The truth about saturated fat is it’s actually good for you if it’s the proper kind. Healthy saturated fat is found in coconut oil and raw, fermented dairy products like goat milk kefir, yogurt, or raw goat or sheep milk cheese. However, avoid conventional dairy because it will actually damper your testosterone.