What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and acts as a natural anabolic steroid in men. It’s responsible for normal growth, development of the male sexual organs and much more.
In this article I’m going to be taking a deeper look at the role of testosterone in the body and the various factors that can increase or decrease your testosterone levels.
What Does Testosterone Do?
Testosterone is responsible for the development of many male characteristics. It is produced in the testes and the amount produced is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The list below highlights its main roles in the body:
– Maintaining energy levels.
– Maintaining a healthy sex drive.
– Promoting the development of male sexual characteristics such as a deep voice and facial hair.
– Regulating mood levels.
– Supporting healthy sexual function.
– Supporting and maintaining your bones.
– Supporting and maintaining your muscles.
– Supporting and maintaining your prostate gland.
– Supporting and maintaining your reproductive system.
– Supporting sperm production.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
Testosterone levels are considered low when blood levels of this hormone drop below 300ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). There are three main causes behind low testosterone which are highlighted below:
1. Problems with the testes (which can inhibit your body’s ability to produce testosterone).
2. Problems with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland (which can inhibit your body’s ability to regulate testosterone levels).
3. External factors that interfere with testosterone production and regulation.
Problems with the testes can be caused by:
– Anabolic Steroids: One negative side effect of anabolic steroids is that they reduce the size of the testes and therefore limit the amount of testosterone they can produce.
– Chemotherapy & Radiotherapy: Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause temporary or permanent damage to the testes and inhibit the amount of testosterone they produce.
– Damaged Testes: If the testes become damaged for any reason (for example, as the result of a heavy blow), this can reduce the amount of testosterone they produce.
– Undescended Testes: If the testes fail to drop from inside the abdomen into the scrotum within the first two years of life, this can cause permanent damage and limit the amount of testosterone they produce.
Problems with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland can be caused by:
– Head Injuries: Certain head injuries can damage the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and affect their ability to regulate testosterone levels.
– Inflammation: Diseases such as hisiocytosis, sarcoidosis and tuberculosis can cause the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to become inflamed and limit their ability to regulate testosterone levels.
– Reduced Blood Flow: If the flow of blood to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland becomes restricted in any way, this can interfere with their ability to regulate testosterone.
In addition to the above, low testosterone can also be caused by the external factors listed below:
– Aging: Testosterone levels naturally decline with age. In most men, this natural decline does not result in low testosterone but in some men this drop is enough to cause low testosterone.
– Medications: Certain medications can interfere with testosterone production and cause low testosterone.
– Obesity: In men, the fat cells naturally convert some testosterone into estrogen. A certain level of estrogen is beneficial to men and can boost bone density, increase energy levels and more. However, in obese men (who have a lot more fat cells), this process can lower testosterone levels to below 300ng/dL.
How Can You Maintain Normal Testosterone Levels In Your Body?
While many of the causes of low testosterone are beyond your control, there are still things you can do to naturally to maintain your testosterone levels and keep them high. The list below outlines four top tips to help you naturally avoid low testosterone:
1) Avoid Processed Foods: Processed foods don’t directly affect your testosterone levels but by avoiding them you reduce your chances of becoming obese which as discussed above, can cause low testosterone.
2) Increase Your Intake Of B Vitamins & Zinc: The B vitamins and zinc are two of the
main nutrients used during testosterone production and being deficient in any one can cause low testosterone. Green leafy vegetables, eggs and seafood (particularly oysters) are three excellent food sources of these nutrients.
3) Reduce Your Intake Of Carbohydrates & Soy: Carbohydrates and soy have numerous health benefits. However, consuming too much of either one can lower the amount of testosterone in your blood. While you don’t need to avoid them completely, reducing your intake can raise the amount of testosterone in your blood back up to normal levels.
4) Perform Intense Workouts: Intense workouts that involve fast paced cardio or lifting heavy weights have been shown to boost testosterone levels. Therefore, if you’re suffering from low testosterone, increasing the intensity of your workout program can help increase your blood levels of testosterone back up to normal.
I hope this article has helped you learn more about the importance of testosterone. While low testosterone isn’t pleasant, it can be avoided and by following the healthy lifestyle tips listed above, you can keep your testosterone levels normal, healthy and stable.