Jarom Ipson, NMD, Real Health Men’s Clinic
You may have heard that “testosterone levels naturally decline as we age.” But if you look at the average total testosterone of men in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, you may notice something interesting. Seventy-year-old men in 1987-89 had an average testosterone level that was almost 100 points higher than even 55-year-old men in 2002-04. So if testosterone levels decline naturally as we age, that would mean men in 2002-04 were aging at a much greater rate than men in 1987-89, and that trend seems to be getting worse.
These men have the same basic DNA and physiology. Why, then, 15 years later and even today, do men have so much lower testosterone and are aging faster? There is nothing natural about that.
Signs of low testosterone include: fatigue or decreased energy, reduced sex drive (libido), sexual dysfunction (weak erections, fewer erections), depressed mood, increased body fat (especially around the midsection), reduced muscle mass and strength, decreased bone strength, and/or night sweats.
What are the causes of low testosterone?
- Endocrine disruption
We live in a stressed-out world. Deadlines coming, bosses looming, phones buzzing, coffee brewing, traffic not moving, you not sleeping, kids screaming, wife nagging (sorry, hun, we still love you). No wonder people are aging faster today than 25 years ago. It seems like we are consistently burning the candle at both ends. The physical and psychological stress has huge impacts on our testosterone levels and us. But there is another often overlooked factor relating to stress and cortisol levels. Stress in the body creates a rise in cortisol. While cortisol in the body is a good thing to deal with immediate stress, chronically high cortisol levels are not good.
The production pathway of cortisol and testosterone are closely related. In fact both hormones are produced from the same hormone, pregnenolone. When the body is under stress, especially chronic stress, it uses all of the pregnenolone available to produce more cortisol. This means that the body has less pregnenolone to use on the testosterone production side, resulting in lower testosterone levels. Multiple studies have shown this to be the case.
Our stress is not just burning us out physically as we age, but it is burning out our ability to have healthy testosterone levels.
Why would nutrition be a second leading cause of low testosterone? A recent study reports that poor dietary habits lead to low testosterone levels. The study doesn't go into specifics, but when we remember that testosterone doesn't magically appear but is produced in the body, it makes sense. This production requires vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to make it happen correctly. The testosterone production and signaling pathways have many intricate steps. Each one of these steps requires nutrients, enzymes, or energy to make it happen. If the body doesn't have enough of these building blocks and production facilitators, testosterone production will be limited or even stop.
Processed foods have less of these vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. So it's very possible to eat lots of food but be malnourished. Also poor diets are commonly full of free radicals, which cause oxidative stress inside our body. To fight this, our bodies use what little amounts of vitamins that we do have to counteract the effects of these free radicals. This further depletes our usable nutrient storage for testosterone production.
The standard American diet is having a huge impact on aging and lower testosterone levels found in men.
Stress and nutrition are known terms but what is an endocrine disruptor and how does it affect testosterone? The endocrine system controls your hormones. An endocrine disruptor is a substance that affects the normal balance and flow of hormones in the body. The Environmental Working Group has a great list of what endocrine disruptors do: “Increase production of certain hormones, decrease production of other, imitate hormones, turn one hormone into another, interfere with hormone signaling, tell cells to die prematurely, compete with essential nutrients, bind to essential hormones, and accumulate in organs that produce hormones.”
The production, utilization, and signaling pathways mentioned previously are the endocrine pathway for testosterone. Endocrine disruptors can affect every arrow and box in the pathway causing imbalances, destroying cells, shutting off testosterone production, and/or preventing testosterone functions.
These chemicals are in everyday items that we use, consume, and come in contact with. More and more chemicals are being produced and used every day. Some of these chemicals have been shown to be so potent they can turn male animals into female ones.
One amazing thing about the body is its ability to heal. There are many other possible causes of low testosterone. But addressing these three factors of stress, nutrition, and endocrine disruption can have a huge impact.
At Real Health Men’s Clinic, our Testosterone Restoration program identifies and targets your individual obstacles to healthy testosterone levels and stimulates your body to optimize testosterone production. If you want to naturally take control of your testosterone levels, call and schedule today. Chandler Office: 480-726-7800, Gilbert Office: 480-861-4362. Find us online at www.MensRealHealth.com.
Photo credit: Digital Vision/Thinkstock
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