Testosterone, the male sex hormone, is arguably the most discussed when it comes to fitness, aging, and late-night infomercials. Testosterone is highest when men are younger, and starts to decline typically around age 30. Dr. Alan Christianson offers some great ways to optimize testosterone and other key hormones for men’s health.
1. Trim That Belly Fat
The size of your waist is the number one predictor of your testosterone levels. The larger your waist circumference, the lower your testosterone levels will be.
So trade those fries for a salad, lay off the processed foods, and reacquaint yourself with adequate amounts of daily exercise. You’ll be well on your way to reducing belly fat.
2. Boost Vitamin D Levels
Men with healthy vitamin D levels have more testosterone. It’s really that simple.
One particular study showed that men who took a vitamin D supplement had 25% higher testosterone levels than men who took a placebo.
Catching some sunlight in the middle of the day, or in some cases supplementation, are both options worth exploring. Just make sure that if you’re supplementing, you have your vitamin D levels checked first.
3. Increase Zinc Levels
Low zinc = low testosterone.
Adding certain foods to your diet can help you to avoid this.
According to Dr. Christianson, spinach, cashews, oysters, and pumpkin seeds are all great choices to keep your zinc and testosterone levels on the up and up.
4. Get Some Sleep!
DHEA only recently started to gain attention as an anti-aging hormone, but it’s actually also important because it’s what’s broken down to create testosterone and estrogen in your body.
Like testosterone, DHEA declines with age, so one of the best ways to fight that decline is by getting some sleep. Which brings us to our next point…
Sleep deprivation taxes the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing DHEA.
Some people need more sleep than others (6-9 hours), but as long as you maintain your natural sleep pattern, you should be able to maintain healthy DHEA levels.
If you’re really committed to getting good sleep, aim for at least 8 hours per night and practice good sleep hygiene. This means keeping your room at a cool temperature and steering clear of all blue light for a few hours prior to going to bed.
What did the Buddhist ask the hot dog vendor?- “Can I have one with everything?” You’re welcome for the extra DHEA.
Laughing decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the rest/digest mode in your autonomic nervous system. Cortisol often gets a bad rap for being the stress hormone, but it’s vital to your energy levels and sleep cycles. Too much or too little of it can cause problems.
To the point however, the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system leads to more DHEA and indeed, higher levels of happiness.
6. Monitor Caffeine Intake
If you’re one of the millions of people who need to start their morning with a piping cup of Joe, you’re possibly also one of the millions of people who needs a few more cups throughout the day just to keep going.
Caffeine increases cortisol production, which is far more acceptable in the morning when our cortisol levels are already naturally high (usually before 10-11 a.m.). But consuming caffeine too late in the day can prolong elevated cortisol levels which, as it turns out, lowers testosterone levels. So be selective about when you drink your coffee, and remember that earlier in the day is better.
7. Balance Blood Sugars
The name of the game is preventing large spikes or drops from occurring. The best way to do that is by consuming small but frequent meals throughout the day, made up of protein and complex carbohydrates.
Skipping meals or allowing too much time between meals can cause a drop in blood sugar, leading to elevated cortisol levels. So keep those Tupperware containers of brown rice, broccoli and chicken breasts handy!