Biologically speaking, testosterone is the primary reason why we often use the phrase “men will be men”. The hormone plays a key role in the development of the male reproductive system as well as other characteristics that we define as masculine. Most healthy, active adolescent boys and adult males produce sufficient testosterone to ensure healthy bodily functions, though the hormone level may begin to drop after the age of 25-30 years. Yet many adults look for ways to boost their testosterone. They do not need to “enhance” testosterone levels unless certain medical conditions require it. These could be low thyroid function, cancer, chemotherapy and chronic disease which can also lead to reduction in testosterone production. These are special cases where doctors may prescribe testosterone therapy.
Apart from this, I do not recommend taking testosterone supplements and the so called “testosterone enhancers” or “testosterone boosters”. Instead, you can look for natural ways to improve your testosterone.
What Does Testosterone Do?
Testosterone plays a very important role in the development of the male body. These include:
- In the womb: Testosterone is required for the development of testes, the male reproductive system and even some regions of the brain in a male fetus.
- At puberty: Testosterone is essential for the development and enlargement of the reproductive organs in adolescent boys. It is also important for the development of secondary male characteristics that are seen at this time, such as increase in bone and muscle growth; appearance of facial, chest and pubic hair and enlargement of the larynx (voice box) which is responsible for the deepening of a boy’s voice.
- In adulthood: Men need testosterone to produce sperm and for their sex drive. Even women produce small quantities of this hormone (in their ovaries and adrenal glands) which contributes to their libido.
- Metabolic support: Testosterone increases protein synthesis which is why men usually have greater muscle and bone mass as compared to women. It also helps the body to break down and utilize some carbohydrates, fat and minerals.
- Emotional well-being: Testosterone helps to boost a person’s mood and energy levels.
Living a healthy lifestyle is the ideal way to naturally maintain your testosterone level. Here are some ways you can do this:
1. If You Are Overweight, Lose Weight: Being overweight increases the probability of having a low testosterone level. Losing weight increases the level. It is important not to lose weight too rapidly, aim to lose about 0.5 kilograms in a week.
2. Do High-Intensity Exercise: If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you are more likely to have a lower testosterone level. High-intensity exercise like lifting weights can improve this level. Resistance training to increase muscle mass can also improve the testosterone level. Talk to a certified physical trainer before starting on high intensity exercise to eliminate any negative impact.
3. Check Your Vitamin D Status: Studies show that daily supplementation with vitamin D helps increase testosterone levels. Your daily dose of vitamin D comes from spending the right amount of time in the sunlight (not too much, though!) and also from foods such as cheese, egg yolks, tuna fish, mushrooms and fortified juices. Make sure you talk to your doctor before you take a vitamin D supplement.
4. Take Care of Your Diet: Follow a healthy diet which includes the good (not saturated) fat that is found in olive oil and nuts, and a limited intake of sugar. Research suggests that nutrients such as zinc (found in whole grains, legumes, and meat) and magnesium (found in spinach, almonds, cashews, peanuts) may help to increase your testosterone level.
4. Reduce Stress: Studies also show that when you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol, another hormone, which can lead to lowering of the testosterone levels. This is yet another way how stress hurts your body.
6. Get Plenty of Good Quality Sleep: Poor sleep can affect the production of many chemicals and hormones in your body, including testosterone. Spend less screen time and do not compromise on the amount and quality of your sleep.
Optimum testosterone levels help improve a man’s physical, sexual and emotional well-being. At the end of the day, it is about creating a balance. Testosterone levels that are too high are as much of a problem as levels that are too low. Speak to your doctor if you think you may have a problem, and live a healthy lifestyle to improve your testosterone, naturally.