Signs Of Low Testosterone In Young Men And Natural Ways To Increase It
Did you know that premature hair loss, low libido and reduced muscle mass are all possible signs of low testosterone, even in young men? Pick up these all-natural habits to improve stamina, reproductive health as well as overall quality of life.
The male sex hormone testosterone, produced by the Leydig cells of the testes, is essential for many physical functions and sexual development. Not only is it responsible for changes during puberty (like deepening of voice, growth of body hair, sperm development etc), testosterone also improves muscle mass, bone strength, hair growth, and sexual function, as per a 2019 JAMA Network paper.
The reduction or absence of testosterone is termed as hypogonadism. The American Urological Association states that 2 out of 10 men older than 60 years deal with blood testosterone deficiency (low-T), which is less than 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) and only decreases further after your thirties. However, excessive drugs or alcohol, certain steroids or medication, chemotherapy etc. can cause low-T in men in their 20s as well. Further factors include injuries, infections, autoimmune diseases, unhealthy metabolism (high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol etc). A large number of people with HIV may also report low-T.
While there are clinical methods of testosterone therapy, including oral (by mouth), transdermal (through skin transfer), injection etc, it is important that you always check in with your doctor and get a proper diagnosis before going on any sort of treatment or medication. According to a study in PLoS One, testosterone therapy can increase the risk of heart attack, especially if you have a history of cardiovascular illness. The professional help will thus facilitate a plan that is tailored to your personal health and fitness history and prevent unwanted side effects.
Recent research has found that a healthy diet, rest and exercise can naturally result in increased testosterone in males. A 2021 paper in the Journal of Men’s Health states that healthy diets can increase testosterone by “1) regulating luteinizing hormone, the hormone that stimulates testosterone production, 2) regulating testosterone synthase in the testis, and 3) regulating testosterone-degrading enzymes”.
Signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels
1. Low sex drive: Though you can naturally experience decreased libido, men with hypogonadism are likely to have additional symptoms like “impotence, small testicles, reduced sperm count and infertility”, according to Harvard Health Publishing. According to a paper in Reviews in Urology, it can also lead to erectile dysfunction at times.
2. Reduced muscle mass: According to a 2016 review in PLoS One, testosterone is involved in a lot of physical processes, including the growth of muscle mass. Therefore, deficiency in the same (along with high body fat percentage) can have a negative impact.
3. Fatigue and depression: Impact of hormonal fluctuations on mood and mental health is not just limited to women. Akira Tsujimura reveals in his 2013 paper for the World Journal of Men’s Health that low-T can cause depression, lack of focus, irritation as well as fatigue.
4. Premature loss of body hair: Though hair loss with age is not something unusual, increasing loss of body hair as well as less beard growth in young men are specific signs of testosterone deficiency, as revealed by The American Urology Association.
5. Poor bone health: Not just reduced muscle mass, a 2011 paper by the Journal of Osteoporosis has concluded that hypogonadism can result in low bone density and increased risk of bone-related injuries.
Natural ways to promote high testosterone in men
1.Exercising and maintaining a balanced diet: According to a 2014 report in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, obesity and low-T can lead to many inflammatory conditions and impaired neurological function. Thus a holistic diet rich in protein, carbs and fats is prudent for not just testosterone improvement but long-term health.
Additional to a well-rounded diet is, of course, physical activity. David R. Hooper et al suggest in their 2017 paper for the European Journal of Applied Physiology that exercising is better than opting for extreme or sudden weight loss. However, it is also important to not go overboard because inadequate energy may actually decrease testosterone levels, as seen in the study of 9 long-distance runners in this study.
2. Sleeping and reducing stress: High levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and lack of sleep go hand in hand when it comes to a variety of physical and mental obstacles, and reduced testosterone is no exception. A sleep study of ten healthy, young men by the University of Chicago revealed that while normal ageing reduces blood testosterone by 1 or 2 percent annually, just one week of sleep deprivation reduced up to 15 percent of testosterone for the participants.
Moreover, a 2016 study in the Psychiatry Investigation journal of 58 male and female students before their exams revealed a drop in testosterone for the females while the males exhibited erratic changes, including emotional inhibition and aggression.
3. Eating foods rich in zinc and magnesium: Zinc and magnesium deficiencies play an important role in hypogonadism in men, as per a 2011 paper by Chung Soo Chang et al for Biological Trace Element Research. Adult males require 11 mg of zinc everyday and though you can get zinc in foods like beans, red meat, nuts, seafood etc, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, says that oysters contain more zinc preserving than any of them. For magnesium, lentils, whole grains, nuts and a healthy dose of leafy greens are your best dietary sources.
4. Avoiding substance abuse: The fact that addiction to narcotics or alcohol is injurious to health is a statement that needs to be reiterated. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, USA, alcohol can not only harm male reproductive health, but also causes hormonal disruption and cell damage.
5. Increasing protein and Omega-3 intake: Instead of fluctuating diets, it is smarter to indulge in nutritious eating patterns—rich in protein and healthy fatty acids. This will not only aid fat loss, but also help in preserving and boosting testosterone. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the recommended daily protein intake for men is sixty grams or 0.8 to 1 grams per kilogram of body weight. Natural sources of protein are of course meats, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds etc.
In a 2020 JAMA Network study, it was also found that consumption of fatty fish and fish oil supplements were “associated with higher semen volume, total sperm count, and testis size”. Fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, rohu, hilsa, prawn etc, nuts and seeds as well as extra-virgin olive oil are amazing sources of Omega-3.
6. Consuming honey: A natural sweetener with an eternal shelf life, collective evidence has revealed that honey can increase serum testosterone levels in males “by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone, enhancing the viability of Leydig cells, reducing oxidative damage in Leydig cells,” as concluded by Salim Ali Banihani’s 2019 research for the journal Heliyon.
7. Getting some Vitamin D: A study published in the Journal of Hormone and Metabolic Research found that Vitamin D is significant in the mitigation of low-T as well as increase of testosterone. Good sources of Vitamin D include daily exposure to direct sunlight or foods like fatty fish, and fortified dairy, eggs, mushrooms and cod liver oil.
8. Eating pomegranates: Foods rich in antioxidants are great for cardiovascular health and combating stress, thereby leading to improved sexual function and fertility. Not only are berries, dark chocolate, cabbage, onion etc good sources, a 2012 study for Endocrine Abstracts of 60 healthy men and women revealed an average of 24 percent increase in testosterone in their saliva after drinking pomegranate juice for two weeks.
9. Consuming herbs like ashwagandha: Though an area with further scope for research, natural boosters of testosterone include herbs and roots like ashwagandha and ginger. In fact, a 2013 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine says that there was a whopping 17 percent increase in testosterone and 167 percent increase in sperm count in infertile men after the consumption of ashwagandha. Ginger is also a flavourful and versatile plant that can increase testosterone and other key sex hormones by 17 percent, say lead authors Amr Amin and Alaaeldin A. Hamza in their 2006 study for the Asian Journal of Andrology.
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