Monday, October 20, 2014

The "Low-Testosterone" Debate

We are hammered by it on a daily basis!  Testosterone therapy is the new miracle fountain of youth for middle aged men.  Feel fatigued, unhealthy, low sex-drive? Take a pill, use a gel, get a shot…and you will feel young again, heal faster and have more energy! It’s amazing! Right?!?

But should you really do it?  If you are like me, you are cautious about using a substance to fix something that may or may not be broken.  I don’t like to take medication that I really don’t know much about.  Well, never fear!  I did the work for you and am going to report on it here. (I mentioned this briefly in a previous post, but felt like it deserved a bit more room.)

In short, taking an artificial testosterone supplement is a TERRIBLE idea!  For 99% of us it is totally unnecessary and might even be dangerous! (there are some who have a diagnosable problem and for them this is a great medical breakthrough.)

I’ll explain why in a bit.

First of all let me say that it is somewhat normal for your body to produce less T (testosterone) as you age.  You can slow this though with some lifestyle changes.  So let’s address a few things in this blog.  1) How can you tell if your T is low? 2) Why don’t I want to supplement my T with supplements? 3) So how do I raise my T levels without supplements?

#1 So how can you tell if your T is low?

The ads for supplements would like you to believe that if you feel tired that you need to buy their product.  I had a relative ask me about that and I asked him “how much sleep are you getting at night?” he said about 5 hours.  I said “that is why you are tired.  Get more sleep and you’ll feel better.”  Amazingly it worked! Most Americans do not get the amount of sleep that they need…still fatigue can be an indicator that your T isn’t where it ought to be.

One other really simple test you can do on your own is this (I’m not trying to be graphic here) if you regularly wake up in a ‘state of arousal’ then you are probably fine.  This should be happening naturally a few times a week.  If it isn’t then you might be low.

If you think you might be on the Low T scale, there is a blood test that your doctor can perform to determine if you are in need of some remedy.  Which leads to the next question:

#2 Why should I avoid supplements?

There are a few reasons for this:
a)    There has been very little studying done on long term to determine side effects.  There have been a few reported but extensive research is still not conclusive.  That makes me leery. Some reported side effects are: acne, heart problems and difficulty sleeping.
b)    Once you start taking a supplement, your body will stop making it on its own.  So you can’t go off without experiencing some BAD side effects.
c)    Lastly, there are really good ways to increase your natural testosterone production all on your own without spending a lot of money and taking artificial substances. Which leads us to #3

#3 How do I raise my T levels naturally?

I already talked about the first one…GET MORE SLEEP.  The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep.  Some of us need less, some need more.  I’ve found that my magic number is about 6-7.  So get the rest you need for starters.

Second, get in shape.  Being overweight has VERY negative effects on T production and actually increases the amount of estrogen in our bodies (estrogen is the ‘woman’ hormone that women want more of and men don’t).  So get exercising on a regular basis.  If you need ideas see my posts on fitness.  The other benefit of regular exercise is that you will sleep better at night. 

You also need to eat right.  This is key not only to lose weight, but also to help in testosterone production.  Men need protein and fat.  Both of these things are key to your body’s ability to produce testosterone on its own.  By FAT I mean natural fats and oils, and animal fats.  Not the artificial fats.  Cut as much sugar out of your diet as possible…you will be a happier/healthier person if you can do this.

Cut down on stress.  Stressing out produces CORTISOL.  Cortisol is the sworn enemy of testosterone and has many harmful effects on your body.   Cortisol can increase the production of estrogen.  So learn to NOT WORRY so much, don’t stress so much.  Learn to accept outcomes of your efforts and have some faith.  God does not give us fear, or stress.  He gives us faith and hope.  Accept that gift from Him.

Avoid plastics with BPA in them.  It’s another estrogen producer.

Have a healthy sex life (for married men).  Avoid Porn.  Some interesting studies have linked excessive porn use with decreased T levels and even infertility.

Take COLD showers.  I think this idea terrifies more men than anything else on my list.  I am here to tell you it works!  Besides it REALLY wakes you up in the morning!  I LOVE taking a freezing cold shower!

Lastly, think manly thoughts.  Guys who foster cowardly, discouraging thoughts actually produce less T than guys who think more manly things.

I did an experiment on myself with these things.  I wasn’t necessarily LOW…but wondered if I’d notice a difference in how I felt if I tried to increase my T.  After making some changes in my life I noticed BIG differences in how I felt, how strong I was, my energy levels and how I healed from injuries.  I’ve never had my levels tested (mostly because I don’t want to pay for it), but feel pretty confident that they are much higher than previously. 

Bottom line, these remedies work!  If we all were just healthier this probably wouldn’t be a problem. Of course, that could probably be said for many aliments that plague our age…if we just were more fit, ate better and generally took better care of our bodies…we’d be a healthier people in general. 

So get off the couch, turn off the TV and get moving.  The time to get fit is NOW!