Because metabolism slows as you age, it becomes harder to burn calories and maintain healthy weight. Your fat/muscle ratio also changes, increasing the percentage of body fat (even if you look thin). For example, I am a “skinny fat person.” I have a higher percentage of body fat than I did years ago although I am the same weight. A healthy testosterone level gives you the ability to make muscle and creates the ideal muscle/fat ratio and a lean body. Without adequate testosterone, your triceps curls at the gym will never get rid of “waddle arm.” More muscle also helps you lose weight and look healthier, because it burns calories—even when you’re at rest. It’s easier to walk and to climb stairs without huffing and puffing, too. Optimal testosterone levels in men and women are associated with increased energy.
There are many ways to increase testosterone naturally, here are a few of my recommendations:
Sugar and processed foods can all negatively impact testosterone levels. Limiting sugar and focusing on an organic whole foods diet, which limits our exposure to pesticides, has a positive impact on testosterone levels. Benefits are also seen when limiting alcohol consumption. Alcohol stimulates an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. Aromatase is found in fat tissue, so losing weight can positively affect testosterone levels.
Low testosterone increases weight gain and being overweight reduces testosterone. One answer, then, is to lose weight. Weight loss requires both a healthy diet and exercise program. In addition to aiding in weight loss, exercise helps build muscle, and muscle promotes testosterone. Try weight lifting 2-3 times per week. Studies also show that doing cardio exercise after lifting weights helps to distribute testosterone throughout the body.
Sleeping 7-8 hours a night has numerous health benefits. When it comes to testosterone it turns out sleep promotes testosterone. Ways to improve sleep and quality of sleep include: no screen time 1 hour before bed, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, avoid eating/drinking 3 hours before bedtime, and sleep in a dark, cool room.
Chronic stress opposes testosterone, and when testosterone is at an optimal level can oppose chronic stress. Cortisol is one hormone that is preferentially made at times of stress. It is made at the expense of testosterone; so finding effective ways of managing stress is crucial. Try new techniques for managing stress like diaphragmatic breathing, acupuncture, massage, or herbal supplements.
Women have long been enjoying the benefits of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, but it is not just for women. Men too can see the affects of aging slowed by taking bio-identical hormones. Bio-identical hormones, unlike synthetic hormones, are made from precursors found in plants, typically soy or wild yam. They are identical to the ones made by the human body and are extremely safe to use. They effectively mitigate many of the symptoms of aging.
Optimizing hormone levels is an effective strategy for slowing the aging process. Whether it is through diet and lifestyle changes, through the use of bio-identical hormones, or a combination of both, optimal hormone levels may be the answer to bringing our health and wellbeing span more in line with our lifespan.