How to Boost Testosterone Naturally
Testosterone is the main hormone, or androgen, that men are classically defined by. Testosterone is produced by the gonads (testes) in men and is responsible for increased body mass, muscle strength, altered body fat distribution and one could argue for the increased sex drive that men tend to have.
Testosterone levels are highest at puberty and are reported to fall about 1-2% every year after the age of 30. Even though it is natural for testosterone levels to decline with age (called Andropause in medical community), we are seeing a much more rapid decline in testosterone in men today than our grandparents generation.
Signs of low testosterone are fatigue, irritability, loss of sexual interest, erectile dysfunction (ED), weight gain, hot flashes, infertility, loss of muscle mass, and possibly depression. We also know that men with low T are not living as long as they could. (Laughlin, 2008) Low-T is becoming of increasing concern in today’s men, and with that has come a rise in many companies trying to profit from its decline. Be weary! Google advertisements are not the answer.
A naturopathic doctor can help you identify what your optimal range of testosterone is. This may differ from the normal age ranges, as a man might have appropriate levels for his age, but also be presenting with symptoms suggesting that he should be in a younger category (i.e. have higher T). If discover that you do need some support in this area, know that there are many things you can do to boost testosterone naturally!
What doesn’t this help? Truly, I can’t think of anything. There are not shortcuts in health and diet is a cornerstone. A healthy diet lowers risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease which are all associated with lower levels of T. (Svartberg, 2004; Traish, 2009; Esposito, 2004) The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce or restore ED in people with obesity or metabolic syndrome.(Esposito, 2010) The Mediterranean diet is high in fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish and low in processed meat and refined grains.
Zinc deficiency has is also associated with hypogonadism in men, which can result in low T. A study of 40 men found between 20-80 years old found than dietary zinc restriction in normal young men was associated with significant decrease in serum testosterone and that zinc supplementation for 6 months resulted in an increase in serum testosterone.(Prasad, 1996) Foods high in zinc include shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs and whole grains.
And if you need another reason to start loving nettles, here it is: nettle roots help the body maintain beneficial forms of testosterone because of their aromatase inhibiting effects, which means they block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This helps men (and women) maintain muscle, hair, energy and libido!
Weight loss can reverse ED by reducing inflammation and increasing T.(Glina, 2013) Studies show that physically active men are less likely to develop erectile dysfunction than sedentary men.(Esposito, 2004) And, of course, exercise helps with all chronic disease conditions mentioned above.
Smokers are 1.5x more likely to suffer from ED than non-smokers.(Dorey, 2001) Smoking affects blood vessels and results in poor arterial blood supply to the penis. The severity of ED is significantly associated with level of exposure to smoking and studies show that cessation of smoking for 1 year can improve ED by over 25%.(Pourmand, 2004)
Positivity & Stress Reduction
Studies show that men who are shown sad clips prior to exercising produce less testosterone than those shown uplifting clips.(Cook, 2012) So, think happy thoughts. Meditation is a known practice that can help reduce stress. One study looking at the practice of Transcendental Meditation showed a decline in the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in testosterone in just 4 months of practice.(MacLean, 1997)
Having more sex
Men who have sex more than once per week are less likely to experience symptoms of ED than those who do not.(Koskimäki, 2008) Regular sex may have impacts on general health and overall quality of life, which is a reason why many doctors support regular sexual activity. Not too shabby for a doctor’s order!
When evaluating overall health, testosterone is just one piece of the puzzle. If low-T is something you are concerned about, work with a naturopathic doctor to help establish if this truly should be a concern for you. And remember that the solution is NEVER to jump to a gimmicky product that a Google advertisement directs you to. Sometimes natural hormone replacement might be needed, but it’s never recommended to start there first. The right doctor will help you gain a deeper understanding of your whole health picture and should try to help with the most foundation and least invasive options first, before going to pharmaceuticals.
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Svartberg J, von Muhlen D, Sundsfjord J, et al.Waist circumference and testosterone levels in community dwelling men. The Tromso study. European Journal of Epidemiology 2004;19:657–663.
Traish AM, Saad F, Guay A. The Dark Side of Testosterone Review Deficiency: II. Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance. J Androl 2009;30:23–32.
Glina S, Sharlip ID, Hellstrom WJG. Modifying Risk Factors to Prevent and Treat Erectile Dysfunction. J Sex Med 2013;10:115–119.
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Prasad AS, Mantzoros CS, Beck FW, et al. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults. Nutrition 1996;12(5):344-8.
Esposito K, Giugliano F, Di Palo C, et al. Effect of lifestyle changes on erectile dysfunction in obese men: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2004;291:2978–84.
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Pourmand G, Alidaee MR, Rasuli S, et al. Do cigarette smokers with erectile dysfunction benefit from stopping?: A prospective study. BJU Int 2004;94:1310–3.
Cook CJ, Crewther BT. Changes in salivary testosterone concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance following the presentation of short video clips. Horm Behav. 2012;61(1):17-22.
MacLean CR1, Walton KG, Wenneberg SR, et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1997;22(4):277-95.
Koskimäki J, Shiri R, Tammela T, Häkkinen J, Hakama M, Auvinen A. Regular intercourse protects against erectile dysfunction: Tampere Aging Male Urologic Study. Am J Med. 2008;121(7):592-6.