- What is Testosterone?
- Why Testosterone Matters for Men and Women
- Trouble for Testosterone Levels: The Dirty Dozen
- Natural Solutions to Protect Your Testosterone Levels
- Resources to Help You Get Tested
- You Can Leave Low T in the Rearview Mirror
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
If you consistently watch TV, you’ll likely see a commercial or two on low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and similar challenges.
While testosterone levels gradually decrease with age, general trends for decreasing testosterone levels are concerning.
We’re seeing levels decline significantly in adolescents, young adults, and older adults (1, 2). In one study, an estimated 20% of adolescents and young males were deficient in testosterone. 20-40% of older men may also be dealing with hypogonadism, where the testes fail to produce enough testosterone. Unsurprisingly, sex drive and fertility are also being impacted.
Are these trends taking shape because people aren’t getting enough little blue pills? Probably not!
A picture is beginning to emerge as to why these trends are advancing. In this article, we’ll explore how low testosterone levels can result from various diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors and share 10 tips on how to increase testosterone naturally.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone primarily synthesized in the testes (ovaries for women). It is then transferred through the bloodstream to various tissues.
To name a few benefits, testosterone is crucial for bone density, libido, muscle development, energy levels, and sexual development (3).
Those with low testosterone may experience fatigue, low sex drive, poor concentration, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, reduced muscle tone, and mood changes.
Excess testosterone can also be an issue that results in symptoms like low sperm count, insomnia, acne, or fluid retention.
Why Testosterone Matters for Men and Women
Testosterone is generally associated with males, and estrogen tends to be associated with females. While there’s some truth to this, each plays a crucial role for both men and women (4).
Women produce far less testosterone than men, but testosterone is responsible for creating estradiol (the most abundant form of estrogen). Females also tend to be more sensitive to changes in testosterone levels (5). Following menopause, it’s common for women to have a decrease in testosterone, leading to fatigue and low libido. Men can also experience a decline in testosterone of around 1% per year.
Negative Impacts on Testosterone Levels: The Dirty Dozen
Testosterone levels can be impacted by age, certain medications, direct injury to the testes, or autoimmune diseases (6). But, there are some additional factors to consider as each may impact testosterone levels:
- Diet Quality
- Sleep Quality
- Sleep Disorders
- Sedentary Lifestyles
- Exposure to Environmental Toxins
- EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields)
- Drugs, Alcohol, and Vaping
- Chronic Cardiovascular Exercise
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Being Overweight or Obese
- Metabolic Disorders (diabetes, insulin resistance, etc.)
As you can see, diet and lifestyle factors must be considered when it comes to maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Testosterone replacement therapy is a common tool, but there are ways to boost testosterone naturally (7).
10 Tips for How to Increase Testosterone
Try these 10 tips on how to increase your testosterone naturally. Many of these might seem self-explanatory based on the challenges outlined above. Regardless, addressing these steps can work wonders for your testosterone levels (and overall health).
1. Dial in Your Diet
Constructing a proper animal-based diet can largely impact the natural synthesis and balance of hormones. Consuming well-raised animals nose-to-tail provides our bodies with an array of bioavailable nutrients to signal we are in a state of abundance and good health. Animal foods offer each of the micronutrients that are commonly deficient in human diets (8).
The animal-based diet consists of high-quality meat, organs, dairy, eggs, and various carb sources. Check out this article for more details on constructing an animal-based diet!
To go along with these nutrient-dense foods, we suggest eliminating processed foods. In particular, we suggest removing seed oils, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, and potentially certain plant foods (see this video for more details).
Another critical aspect of the animal-based diet is the inclusion of organ meats. Organs like liver and heart include key nutrients that can be tough to obtain from other foods. Vitamins A, B, and K and minerals like zinc and iron are all found in bioavailable form.
Zinc, in particular, is essential for the reproductive and endocrine systems. It helps balance hormones and is crucial for the production and secretion of testosterone from Leydig cells (9).
We always suggest consuming fresh organs if possible. If you don’t have access or can’t stand the taste, Whole Package is our primary suggestion for those looking to improve their hormonal health (women can take it too). Whole Package contains testicles, liver, and whole blood extract to support optimal reproductive health and performance. It even has a small amount of naturally occurring testosterone!
We constantly receive reviews similar to this one from Manas:
2. Stay Active
If optimal health is what you are after, then challenging your body physically is an absolute must. It is essential to complete some level of physical activity daily.
As seen above, being overweight or obese can negatively impact your hormone levels. So, maintaining an exercise routine can help you maintain a healthy weight.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress can come from seemingly all angles and contribute to low testosterone levels (13). Stressors can come from your diet, lifestyle choices, and your environment.
We challenge everyone to engage in stress management activities. Meditation, prayer, sitting outside and connecting with nature, or even learning a new skill can all be enjoyable ways to reduce stress (14, 15, 16).
4. Focus on Toxin Reduction
It’s essential to be aware of your exposures and do your best to mitigate them. Toxin reduction is a loaded topic nowadays, but there are a few areas to hone in on.
For women especially, personal care products are a daily fixture, whether it be makeup, perfumes, soaps, or feminine hygiene products. Even for men, deodorants and other personal care products may contain various endocrine-disrupting chemicals (17).
We suggest using personal care products made with tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, or other natural ingredients. Limiting fragrances as much as possible can also decrease exposure to chemical inputs. This website is an excellent resource for finding cleaner personal care products. Chem Trust also has helpful insight on this topic.
Another challenge is exposure to xenoestrogens. These synthetic, industrial chemicals can mimic endogenous hormones. Xenoestrogens are found in plastics, pesticides, tap water, cleaning products, sunscreen, and other products. Exposure to xenoestrogens may disrupt thyroid function, especially during pregnancy, childhood, and other critical periods (18).
You’ve likely seen labels that say “BPA-Free.” Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical commonly used in toys, cosmetics, receipts, and food can lining. It’s a xenoestrogen that’s easily transferred to food and water. Unsurprisingly, BPA can have adverse effects on hormones (19).
Cutting down on BPA and other xenoestrogens can be as simple as using stainless steel water bottles, minimizing canned food intake, avoiding plastic containers, avoiding non-stick pans, and using glass for food storage.
Even synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon can contain BPA and other chemicals. Choosing organic cotton (or other natural materials) clothing can reduce exposure. In particular, look to find safer options for underwear, given the constant contact in intimate areas.
Other simple implementations for toxin reduction include:
- Eliminating alcohol and tobacco products (20)
- Water filtration
- Choosing organic fruits (glyphosate, which is commonly found with conventional produce, has been shown to inhibit testosterone synthesis in animals (21))
- Sauna Usage
This topic can seem daunting, but you can take plenty of steps to reduce exposure!
5. Cut Out Drugs and Alcohol
Drug and alcohol usage is widespread (especially among males of reproductive age). Some even advocate for clinicians to examine marijuana usage as a potential contributor to infertility (22).
Alcohol can negatively impact Leydig cells which are essential for testosterone production and secretion. Alcohol consumption can impair hormone production in the hypothalamus (part of the reproductive system)(23).
Additionally, electronic cigarettes may have consequences for the reproductive system (24). When heated, the liquids in these devices can lead to the inhalation of harmful vapors from formaldehyde, acetone, aluminum, lead, and mercury.
6. Use Technology Wisely
Technology is a fixture in our modern environment. While phones, computers, and other devices are helpful, they may have unintended consequences for your health. Testicles, in particular, appear to be sensitive to device exposures (25, 26).
Avoid storing your devices in pockets, bras, or other areas with close bodily contact. Utilize the ‘airplane mode’ function and turn off Bluetooth when possible. As silly as this sounds, try not to place your laptop directly on your lap.
Feel free to check out this article for more tips on reducing EMF exposure!
7. Prioritize Sleep & Address Sleep Disorders
Both the quantity and quality of sleep are deciding factors for testosterone levels! Sleep also significantly impacts other components of hormonal health. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
Testosterone is primarily released during sleep (27)
Growth hormone secretion increases during deep sleep (28)
Cortisol (the primary stress hormone) release decreases during sleep
So, a (short or long-term) reduction in sleep may have adverse effects on testosterone levels (29).
If you think you can improve the quality of your sleep, try these 15 tips to improve your sleep naturally.
For those struggling with or suspect the presence of a sleep disorder, we suggest working with a medical professional, given how indispensable sleep is to your overall health. Individuals with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may be dealing with a cascade of events that can result in lowered testosterone (30).
8. If Needed, Focus on Weight Loss
Weight loss can be achieved by combining the steps above, as diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices are crucial. For our complete guide to fat loss, please head over to this article!
9. Get Some Sunlight
Exposure to sunlight helps regulate hormones, decrease blood pressure (33), and improve blood flow. It can also help your body enter its natural circadian rhythm cycle, which promotes sleep (34), recovery, and muscle growth. On top of this, sun exposure can improve the alpha diversity of the gut (35).
10. Work With a Medical Professional
We already discussed how environmental exposures like EMFs, pesticides, and xenoestrogens may impact testosterone levels. Other exposures, such as mold, can also have a dramatic impact on hormonal health. Mycotoxins (toxins found in mold spores) can even act directly on Leydig cells (37).
How to Get Tested: Resources We Recommend
While tab testing isn’t perfect, it’s generally best to test instead of guess. Here are some great resources to help you better understand the state of your hormonal health:
Marek Health is a telehealth services platform with self-service options or the ability to have an expert interpret your results (for US residents only).
The Institute for Functional Medicine is a referral network focusing on functional medicine. Practitioners from all over the globe can help you obtain and interpret lab testing.
The Society of Metabolic Health Practitioners is a resource to find practitioners who understand the importance of diet and lifestyle decisions. Many providers will be familiar with the carnivore, ketogenic, or animal-based diet.
Let’s Get Checked offers a variety of at-home tests for men and women. Tests are available for thyroid health, testosterone levels, fertility tests, and dozens of others.
You Can Leave ‘Low T’ in the Rearview Mirror
Hormonal health extends far beyond testosterone, but it’s a focal point for many individuals, given its impact on libido, energy levels, and a multitude of other areas.
Struggles with testosterone levels can also be indicative of more profound challenges. It’s often connected to obesity, infertility, and even sleep disorders. Age, injuries, or medications can negatively impact testosterone. Diet and lifestyle decisions play a crucial role as well.
Thankfully, it’s possible to correct testosterone levels without needing something like testosterone replacement therapy!
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