Both men and women have the hormone testosterone, but it is mainly a male hormone. Women also need it, but much lower levels of it than men. Testosterone is famous for supporting libido and sexual function, but there is a lot more to testosterone than this. It also gives energy, helps protect joints and bones, is needed for concentration, keeps mucous membranes moist (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.), helps with blood building, adds muscle tone and mass and reduces fat accumulation (especially abdominal fat), and increases a feeling of confidence. What a great hormone to have if you have enough of it!
However, more and more men nowadays often have low testosterone levels. Turn the benefits of it around and that means low energy, lack of concentration, low muscle tone, increased abdominal fat, possibly low libido and erectile dysfunction, dry mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth,etc.), possible joint pains and loss of bone mass and low confidence or even sometimes depression and anxiety. That again does not sound like a great quality of life at all!
The solution often offered to this problem is an injection with testosterone to fix it. The injection is very conveniently named to sound like “libido”…
When you look at the benefits and possible side-effects of the injection, it is quite clear that it is not the same as when your body would increase testosterone production naturally. There are many relatively common side-effects, including prostate problems and “male breast” related conditions.
The hormones in the body are a like an orchestra. They all have to play their part – sometimes louder, sometimes softer, faster, slower, take a break, play again – all in sync with each other. This is one of the reasons why simply injecting a hormone that is low often causes havoc. It is similar to saying the orchestra is not playing well, so the double bass must please play louder and faster to try and fix it all.
The reason for low testosterone can often be found in these 2 things:
- Metabolic syndrome/insulin sensitivity
- Hormone disruptors in our environment.
1.Metabolic syndrome/Insulin resistance
This is a relatively new syndrome that is on the rise and can result in a variety of degenerative disease conditions. Bad blood sugar management is at the root of it. If you have the modern mix of too much sugary- and starchy-foods (even fruit juices, pasta, bread, etc.), lots of stress and little or no exercise you have the perfect cocktail to develop insulin resistance. If your belly is growing and your muscles are shrinking, maybe it is time to look into insulin resistance before starting to blame age and inject testosterone. Think about the orchestra! If you know this is you, have a look at our article “How to quit sugar” to start getting yourself out of insulin resistance and on the way to better testosterone production!
2.Hormone disruptors in our environment
Our environment is saturated with hormone disruptors up to the point that we cannot avoid them 100% anymore. Even polar bears are developing fertility problems, because of our severe pollution of the ocean with these hormonally active chemicals. Instead of getting discouraged by it, try and do as much as you can to avoid it yourself and reduce the environmental load!
Hormone disruptors are found in most commercial sunblocks, pesticides, mass produced animal products (in South Africa where the use of routine growth stimulants have not been banned yet), plastics and more. See our article “Why go BPA-free” for a more complete list of hormone disruptors.
Another factor to keep in mind with testosterone production is lower back problems. The nerve- and blood-supply to the testes pass through muscles that are very often shortened or tight in people who sit a lot or have lower back pain. Go for a “lower back” and “hip-flexors” check-up with your physiotherapist or osteopath to see if this might be an added factor. They should be able to help you improve the flexibility in the relevant muscles.
Here is a quick summary of what is important if you want to increase testosterone levels:
- Do not just accept an injection if you have not addressed the possible causes
- Balancing hormones can take time – give yourself at least 3-6 months to see changes happen
- Avoid sugar and all foods that increase blood sugar fast
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can increase testosterone levels
- Avoid hormone disruptors
- Have regular meals consisting of pasture reared animal products, colourful tasty foods from nature, plenty of vegetables, herbs, spices, natural butter, top quality olive oil, and more.
- Find creative ways to manage stress levels
- Use zinc supplements – it can increase low testosterone levels
- Take a good vitamin B-complex to support hormones, stress-levels and blood sugar.
- Remember the orchestra – don`t only pay attention to the double bass!!!
- Have fun and enjoy life!