While testosterone is mostly known as the male sex hormone, it impacts overall health in a number of ways, including fertility, bone health, fat distribution, muscle mass, and strength.
As men age, the amount of testosterone they produce naturally decreases by about one to two percent each year. While there is no way to completely stop the decline, there are several simple ways to maintain testosterone levels naturally.
Get fit. Regular exercise is essential to a healthy life and can keep testosterone levels up as well. Activities including resistance training, weight lifting, and cardio-driven exercises can help you lose weight, feel better, and build strength. Don’t feel motivated by individual workouts? Try competing in a team sport, like kickball, football, or basketball.
Pick protein. A nutritious, balanced diet with appropriate levels of protein, fat, and whole-grain carbs is key to keeping your hormones balanced, including testosterone. Try adding lean protein to daily meals by swapping breakfast cereal for scrambled eggs or adding pecans to your lunchtime salad. Snacks like cheese, hardboiled eggs, avocados, and nuts are a good way to sneak protein and healthy fat into meals.
Stay away from canned, packaged foods, and alcohol as these are known to drop testosterone. Processed foods are often high in sodium, calories, added sugar, and trans fat, which may lower testosterone and negatively impact testicular function.
Soak up sun. Vitamin D is important for strong bones, immune health, and the nervous system. Proper levels of this vitamin have also been found to boost testosterone. As little as 15 minutes of sunshine every day can keep your vitamin D at the right level. You can also add more of this vitamin to your daily meals by drinking fortified orange juice or milk in the morning or grilling fresh salmon for dinner.
Minimize stress. No surprise here: high stress over a long period of time can have a negative impact on your mind and body, including elevated levels of cortisol which results in a direct drop in testosterone. Knowing how to manage your stress is vital to your physical, mental, and hormonal health. Taking deep breaths, listening to music, meditating, or getting some high-impact exercise can help you gain calmness and manage stress, thus regulating testosterone.
Sleep soundly. Testosterone can drop dramatically if you don’t get enough rest each night. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago, one week of limited sleep is enough to lower average testosterone levels by 15 percent. Getting some decent shut eye could be as easy as lowering the temperature in your bedroom, minimizing light, or using a fan or white noise machine to block out external sounds.
Do you snore during the night or feel tired when you wake up? You may have sleep apnea, which can also be to blame for falling testosterone. Testosterone has been found to return to normal if sleep apnea is treated appropriately. Talk to your primary care provider if you think you might be affected by low levels of testosterone, especially if you believe it is related to sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
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