Honestly, it seems like testosterone is to blame for everything these days. The epidemic of low testosterone has been linked to economic recession, wars, bank failures and even global warming. Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating, but many men feel (or are told) that their testosterone levels are the root cause of much of the way they feel. Leaving aside causality and association, what can you do about it?
Testosterone and You
I am the first one to say that testosterone is important for a healthy, long life. Clearly, men with low levels, termed hypogonadism, do not live as long as men with normal testosterone levels. I understand too, what testosterone isn’t and can’t do. So, I am entirely empathetic to patients who ask: “Doc, what can I do to naturally increase my testosterone levels?” Forget about expensive gels, creams, injections, pellets or patches of testosterone that have side effects. They want to know what they can do, on their own, to improve their testosterone balance. As a big fan of self-empowerment, I dedicate this post to these men.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Testosterone Balance
- Lose weight. Fat converts testosterone to female hormones called estrogens. Less fat means less circulating female hormone levels.
- Exercise. Although it is true that while you exercise, testosterone levels may be lower, exercise stimulates muscle recovery and growth through increased testosterone at rest.
- Don’t overtrain. Rest between exercise sessions allows testosterone to work its magic.
- Get good sleep. Poor sleep habits stress the body as a whole and stress reduces testosterone levels. Perpetual jet lag is no place to be.
- Eat smart and cut the alcohol. Eat healthy meals regularly; skipping is not allowed. Also cut down on alcohol as it tends to impair testosterone production and increase conversion to estrogens.
Dietary Supplements That Improve Testosterone Balance
- Get zinc. Zinc is a co-factor for testosterone production. Oysters, peanuts, chicken, lamb and (how timely) pumpkin seeds are excellent source.
- Get vitamin B. This vitamin is also a co-factor for making testosterone. Bananas, avocados, watermelon, eggs and raspberries are excellent sources.
- Control cholesterol. Eat plenty of monounsaturated fats, as found in fish, yogurt, almonds, and olive oil.
- Eat garlic. Some evidence suggests that allicin within garlic can help improve testosterone balance. Watch your breath, though.
- Herbal remedies: Tongkat ali, Catuaba bark-Muira pauma, Mucuna pruriens, Tribulus, Yohimbine and Ginseng. You know my opinion on these so take at your own risk.
Medical Treatments that Improve Testosterone Balance
If all else fails, see a specialist, as there are excellent prescription medications that can boost your body’s testosterone production, which is not the same as testosterone replacement. Clomiphene citrate, tamoxifen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are not anabolic steroids, but nor are they FDA approved in the U.S. for this purpose. But they are drugs that either convince the brain to send more gas (luteinizing hormone, LH) to the testicles to make more of your own testosterone, or directly provide the LH to stimulate testicles to make it. Unlike anabolic steroids, they encourage bioidentical (read: “your own”) testosterone production and do not impair fertility or shrink testicles.
You should try to optimize testosterone balance naturally, as these behaviors are generally healthy and good for a long and happy life.