We are going to look at several hormones that are important to male health and what you can do to optimize them.
This hormone has always gotten a lot of attention regarding men. When you are young, your levels are high, yet as you age, this hormone will take a steady decline, starting around age 30. So, how can you keep these levels elevated?
One of the first things you can do is lose weight, in particular, belly fat. The New England Research Institute confirmed that your waist circumference is the single, strongest predictor of low testosterone levels. This should be your number one focus. Getting active and adopting a healthy diet will help you trim up that belly fat.
The second important factor is to raise your Vitamin D level. Research is showing that men with normal Vitamin D levels also have higher levels of testosterone. Another study showed that men who took Vitamin D (versus a placebo) for a year had 25% higher amounts of testosterone. The best time of day to get your Vitamin D exposure from the sun is around noon on most of the body’s skin. Supplementation may also be the answer for you – just make sure to have your levels checked first.
The third factor that can really influence your testosterone levels is Zinc. Research shows that low levels of zinc correlate with low levels of testosterone. By adding certain foods into your diet, you can increase your zinc levels and have a direct impact on your testosterone levels. Some examples of food with good amounts of Zinc are oysters, cashews, spinach and pumpkin seeds.
This hormone came into the limelight in 1996 and is being touted as an anti-aging hormone. More importantly, this hormone is produced from your adrenal glands, and the ratio to cortisol has big impacts on your body. DHEA is the hormone that turns into testosterone and estrogen in our bodies. This hormone can also decline with aging. So, what are ways to stabilize this hormone in your body?
One of the first things that can help with DHEA is sleep. Sleep deprivation takes a toll on the adrenal glands, leading to a decline in the production of DHEA. Focusing on achieving organic-induced sleep is really important. This means getting anywhere from 6-9 hours of sleep at night. Everyone requires different amounts, but you must make sure you get sufficient hours of sleep for you.
Another great therapy to help with DHEA is laughing. You might be laughing at this, but then you just got a good dose of medicine. Laughing increases your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the rest and digest part of the autonomic nervous system. It helps to pull you out of states of stress and decreases the level of cortisol in your blood. By simply laughing for five minutes, three times per day, you will help yourself have better levels of DHEA.
This is also known as the stress hormone. Certain amounts of cortisol are important to the function of our body. There is also a daily, cortisol rhythm that is vital for energy, sleep and numerous other functions in the body. Too much or too little cortisol can cause major problems, so how can we find that perfect balance?
Be careful with caffeine! Caffeine stimulates cortisol release from the adrenal glands. It is best to use caffeine in the morning when cortisol is supposed to be at its highest. After 10-11a.m., caffeine will increase your daily cortisol levels, causing an imbalance to your normal cycle of cortisol. Elevated cortisol leads to lower testosterone. So, creating states for the body with more cortisol, by the use of caffeine, will lead to having lower testosterone levels overall.
Another great way to help control your cortisol is to balance out the blood sugars. There are two ways you want to do this with your diet. First, use the macronutrients to your advantage. We are talking about consistent protein throughout the day and using increasing complex carbohydrates as the day goes on. This allows blood sugars to stay balanced and gives you your largest serving of complex carbohydrates later in the day. Eating your largest serving later in the day causes these complex carbohydrates to turn into glycogen at night. Second, make sure you are having consistent meals throughout the day. When you miss a meal, or there is too much time between meals, you have a drop in blood sugar, and this stress on the body leads to elevated cortisol. So, with consistent meals and appropriate proportions of proteins and complex carbohydrates, you can balance out cortisol.
For more information, check out Dr. Christianson’s book, The Adrenal Reset Diet.