Testosterone is a hormone that acts as a molecular messenger that travels through your bloodstream and plays a role in the biochemical responses to your organs and the tissues in your body. Testosterone represents part of a class of male hormones called androgens, which also include DHT, DHEA, androstenedione, and androstenediol. Including the androgens, there are six other classes of steroid hormones; these include estrogen, progestins, mineral corticoids, glucocorticoids, vitamin D, and bile acids. Testosterone is mainly produced in the testes and in small amounts in the adrenal glands. The production of testosterone is actually controlled by your brain’s hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.
Testosterone plays an important role in your overall health!
The hormone testosterone plays an important factor in sperm production, fat distribution, the creation of red blood cells, building and sustaining muscle, burning fat, increased sex drive, mental state of well-being, energy levels, bone health, and your sexual organs.
Testosterone also plays a role in:
Blood: It plays a key role in erythropoiesis, which is the production of red blood cells. When you start producing low testosterone levels, cell production overall can decrease, and cause a significant drop in energy.
Bones: Testosterone helps to maintain your bone density. When your testosterone levels decrease, your bones can become more fragile and have less bone density. This can ultimately lead to osteoporosis down the road.
Mental health: Testosterone helps to maintain energy and keep you in an overall sense of well-being. When you have low testosterone, you often will experience a decreased sense of well-being, a depressed mood, and low energy.
When do you start seeing declines in your testosterone production?
Testosterone production will begin to decline around the average age of 30 but can fluctuate depending on your genetics and your lifestyle habits.
According to the National Institute of Health, “approximately 5 million men have low testosterone.” Low testosterone levels are described as anyone with less than 300 nanograms/deciliter of testosterone in the body.
As you get older, your levels of testosterone will continue to decline. Overall, as men age they produce less and less testosterone. Certain diseases, medical treatments, genetic conditions, and lifestyle choices can also incite decline in testosterone production.
There have been many speculations made as to why so many men have low testosterone. Some scientists have contributed it to the chemically laced foods we eat and the chemicals we run into on a daily basis. These chemicals can include plastics, soap, hair gel, deodorant, and shampoo, to name a few. You will begin to notice many changes if indeed your testosterone is low. People experiencing a decline of testosterone will be subject to symptoms that include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed moods, and some conflicts with memory and concentration. People that have low testosterone will have symptoms that include weight gain, breast enlargement, loss of bone density, and problems urinating.
How is testosterone produced in the body?
Testosterone production is a very complex molecular biological process that will be explained briefly here.
The process starts with our brain (go figure!). When our hypothalamus detects that we need more testosterone, it secretes a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This hormone, once secreted, makes its way to the pituitary gland in the back of our brain. Next, the pituitary gland produces two hormones called follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, and once they are produced, they are carried through our bloodstream into our testicles. The follicle-stimulating hormone will start sperm production and the luteinizing hormone will begin to stimulate the Leydig cells to create more testosterone.
After that process, a molecular biological process takes place where our testicles’ Leydig cells convert cholesterol into testosterone. So, cholesterol is actually the starting point to creating testosterone. The testosterone is then released into the blood and is actually bounded by albumin and SHBG proteins that make them unusable to the body. The little remaining testosterone that gets by is the “free,” unbound testosterone that circulates in the blood flow and is actually used by the body. So, overall, you want more free testosterone and less of the bound testosterone that is useless to the body.
Free testosterone vs. irrelevant testosterone
Free testosterone is the purest form of testosterone in the body and is not attached to proteins or enzymes that inhibit it. By being “free,” it can circulate through the bloodstream and do what it does best. Even though this is the best form of testosterone in the body, it is also the least amount in your body; anywhere from 3-5 percent of total testosterone created.
• 94-95% of testosterone created gets bounded (ouch) • This type of testosterone can’t be used by the body and is irrelevant
SHBG-bound testosterone is a protein that is bound to free testosterone. SHBG is produced in our liver and plays an important role in regulating the free testosterone in our bodies.SHBG-bound testosterone is biologically inactive and can’t be used by our bodies. Too much SHBG can have a detrimental effect on our testosterone. Research shows that diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically affect the amount of this protein created in our bodies.
Albumin-bound testosterone is the remaining testosterone that is bounded by a protein called albumin. It is produced in the liver and it stabilizes extracellular fluid volumes. This protein also makes our testosterone inactive. The biological bind between albumin and testosterone is not as strong as the SHBG-bound testosterone. Therefore, if the body essentially needs more testosterone, this bounded protein can be separated potentially and used as free testosterone. In most cases, it is unusable for benefits.
What low testosterone means for you?
If you start experiencing symptoms associated with low testosterone, your first step is to get tested. You may want to get a second opinion or even test your blood a number of times because your testosterone levels can fall periodically throughout the day. There are many companies and medical institutions that are marketing hormone replacement therapy that is said to make you feel younger, give you more energy, and increase your sex drive. In truth, if your testosterone levels are below 300 nanograms, or if you have hypogonadism, you will benefit from hormone replacement. In regard to actual low levels of testosterone, it is very alarming to see so many men in their 30s and 40s getting hormone replacement therapy, when they don’t need it.
It has come down to an abusive system where men are not even getting tested to find out if their levels are indeed low before being submitted to testosterone therapy. This can cause adverse effects on the body by giving it more testosterone than it needs. These testosterone therapy companies are selling and marketing based on the ideology that low testosterone is a disease, but in reality, it’s a natural process of getting older and genetics.
According to Gorden Schnell of Whistleblower Insider:
“This has prompted several doctors recently to question whether low testosterone is really a treatable condition, or simply a marketing campaign to sell a disease that does not really exist.”
This situation is very alarming and needs to be brought to your attention. Along with the hormone replacement therapy, there are many risks associated with this that can cause serious health problems, including a potential increased risk of heart disease. Here is a recent study on the link between hormone replacement therapy and risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction in younger adults under age of 65. It’s followed by the endocrine’s response.
Closely related to this situation, The Endocrine Society, which is in charge of setting clinical guidelines for testosterone replacement therapy, advises that hormone treatments should only be given to men with common and persistent symptoms of or related to hypogonadism.
This is a medical term that relates to the non-functioning of the gonads, the testes, or ovaries, in both males and females. Also to consider, when you get on hormone replacement therapy, you will not be able to get off it.Once you start treatment you will be on it for the rest of your life. Now, with that being said, here are potential side effects of taking a testosterone therapy, for a person who doesn’t have testosterone levels below 300 nanograms or hypogonadism.
Testosterone replacement therapy risks
Blood clots, acne, male infertility, male breast growth, increased risk of heart disease, and liver malfunction
High testosterone (above levels 1,200 nanograms/deciliters)
• Androgen resistance: a condition in which genetically male persons develop female sex characteristics
• Increased risk of testicular cancer
Other options: Naturally increasing testosterone through nutrition, exercise and supplementation
There are many factors that contribute to low testosterone, and at what age you experience your largest drop in testosterone levels. Three of the biggest factors are your lifestyle choices, genetics and nutrition.
Before you get on testosterone therapy, and continue to do so for the rest of your life, you really need to take a step back and see if this is actually right for you.Make sure you weigh all your options, so you will not regret your decision down the road. There are alternatives such as increasing testosterone naturally, without some of the side effects and risks you will be taking with hormone replacement therapy. Also, increasing testosterone naturally, can be less expensive than treatments. Make sure you talk to your physician before you take any supplements for testosterone gain.
Here are some great ways to boost testosterone naturally!
Naturally increase testosterone
• Increasing and maintaining muscle mass keeps testosterone levels high
• Testosterone levels can be raised depending on your workout and the type of training you do. There are two main types of programs that will help boost your testosterone naturally. These are:
1. High intensity interval training
HIIT training is one of the best ways to get in shape and burn fat.High-intensity interval training is defined as your maximum effort to achieve muscle fatigue and maximum oxygen use in a quick burst of exercise followed by low-intensity exercise. The idea is to achieve an “after burn” effect where your body is burning calories for up to 48 hours after your workout. We do this by attempting to reach our vo2 max, which is the highest amount of oxygen consumed by your body during exercise.It will also help boost metabolism for a longer duration and build lean muscle faster.When incorporating HIIT into your workouts, you will be able to increase metabolic rate, increase muscle building and muscle retention during fat loss, increase calorie burn during/after workout, and boost testosterone in the process.
Training 3-5 days a week (if combined with strength training, 2 days will be fine) Complete each exercise as hard as you can until you cannot do any more reps in that amount of time, then take a 1-minute jog in place that is moderate or low intensity.
Front lunges/ hamstrings, quads, glutes / 1 min
Side lunges/ hamstrings, quads, glutes / 1 min
Sprints (25-yards)/ full body/ 5 sprints
Two-leg squats /hamstrings, quads, glutes/ 1 min
One-leg calf raise /calves, hamstrings/ 1 min
Two-leg calf raise/ calves, hamstrings/ 1 min
Squat jumps (in place)/ total body /1 min
Wide out push-ups/ chest, shoulders, triceps /1 min
Clapping push-ups/ chest, shoulders, triceps/ 1 min
Right oblique crunches/ core /1 min
Left oblique crunches/ core/ 1 min
Supermans (alternating) /core/ 1 min
Jumping jacks/ cardio/ 1min
High knees in place core/cardio 1 min
Sprints/ full body/ 5 sprints
Time: You will be exercising for 15 minutes and then low-intensity jogging for 15 minutes in total.You want to build up to this type of workout. You can start with 30-second intervals and then build up to 1 minute. This is a full body workout that will target all areas of the body. You can also add a resistance band and include some bicep-targeted exercises. This type of training will help to increase cardiovascular health, fat loss, and potentially boost your testosterone.
2. Heavy weight training with compound multi-joint exercises
* This has a similar concept to the HIIT training and combines the highest exertion of force for a short duration, with a 1-minute rest between sets. This is going to provide you maximum benefits for producing testosterone and gaining maximal muscle. You will be adding more weight to your lifts, it will also help burn more calories and create a lasting effect on muscle gains. Heavy weight training will also help boost testosterone levels and build lean muscle.
• Keep sessions to 3-4 days (You do not want to get burned out, or cause stress on the body, which increases cortisol levels) • 1-hour workout maximum • 3-4 sets for each exercise • 5-8 reps • 1-2-minute rest between sets
* You want to lift around 70% of your 1-rep max. When you incorporate this type of training into your workouts, it will help boost muscle growth, fat loss, and promote the production of testosterone.
You want to keep cardio in your program because of the benefits it has on your cardiovascular health and to help you control body fat. You don’t want to counteract muscle gains and lean muscle growth. Overtraining cardio can reduce muscle mass and potentially reduce your testosterone levels, so, stay focused on the training aspect and use cardio moderately, 2-3 times per week.
• Jog or walk • 30 minutes, 2-3 times a week
Nutrition is one of the most important factors in regulating normal hormone functions.When you are not taking care of your body and supplying it with healthy nutrition, there are adverse effects.By making micro-commitments, you can foster the process of change. If you have the ability to totally change your eating habits right now, then that’s great, but most people cannot do this. By overcommitting, they set themselves up for failure. Instead, take a step back and analyze some of your worst eating habits, and then change them, slowly and gradually. In a couple of weeks, you will hardly notice when that bad eating habit is gone. So, analyze your commitment to changing your diet, and make small changes over a longer period of time, that will ultimately lead you to healthier eating habits overall.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower contain a chemical called DIM which actually helps to metabolize and flush out excess estrogen so that it is not stored in the body. Estrogen is a hormone that tends to accumulate as men get older and it’s a good idea to diminish estrogen because high estrogen levels can have adverse effects on testosterone. Supplementation of DIM can be beneficial as well because it contains the chemical compound indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which helps metabolize the estrogen.
Research has shown that men who have diets rich in polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fats, had the highest levels of testosterone.So, make sure to eat your nuts, eggs, salmon, tilapia, cod, avocados, and olive oils. Also, make sure you’re eating your eggs because cholesterol is an important factor in the production of testosterone. Make sure to talk to your physician before you change your current diet.
• Sugar • Processed foods • Sugary drinks
This is an important factor when it comes to boosting your testosterone naturally. When it comes to excess body fat, it puts a real damper on testosterone and its production.When you are overweight you tend to have a higher body fat percentage, which leads to excess fat storage and an increase in estrogen.Your body fat has an enzyme called aromatase and it actually converts your testosterone into estrogen. This is the exact opposite of what we want to happen, so it is crucial that you start burning that excess body fat. You do not want to go into a crazy starvation stage or diet, you want to get all the nutrients that are going to help boost testosterone, but you need to try and lose 2-4 lbs. a week. That is where exercise and eating healthy comes into effect.
Men with diabetes are particularly prone to low testosterone, according to the American Diabetes Association. A man with type 2 Diabetes is twice as likely to have low testosterone as a man without diabetes. Low testosterone is often associated with a type of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is where your body uses insulin less effectively; this causes blood sugar to rise, which causes diabetes.
Fenugreek is a spice used widely around the world and has been around for centuries. It is very nutritional and has many benefits to stabilizing glucose and metabolizing sugar. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals—these are the nutrients you need to help boost testosterone.
This spice is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering action on sodium/salt. Iron is essential for red blood cell production as is testosterone and as a cofactor for cytochrome-oxidases enzymes. It has been shown in studies that amino-acid 4-hydroxy isoleucine present in the fenugreek seeds has facilitating action on insulin secretion. In addition, fiber in the seeds helps lower the rate of glucose absorption in the intestines, thus controlling blood sugar levels. It also helps to remove excess amounts of estrogen, so fenugreek seeds are therefore recommended in the diabetic diet.
As mentioned earlier DIM is produced from a chemical compound in cruciferous vegetables known as indole-3-carbinol. It’s chemically structured like estrogen and carries some of its properties. It ultimately acts as an estrogen metabolizer and breaks it down into a form that can not be used by the body. So DIM ultimately inhibits estrogen and makes it unavailable.In relation to this there has been numerous studies on the benefits of these metabolites and the reduction of risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer. Eating more vegetables can help to reduce the risk of these types of cancers.
Research has shown that an increases zinc intake will help boost testosterone. Zinc is an important mineral that most people do not get enough of and plays a vital role in testosterone production. Without an adequate amount of zinc your brain cannot properly signal to the testes that it needs to produce more testosterone. Low testosterone makes it difficult for the body to maintain proper zinc levels in body tissues. Zinc also blocks the enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for turning testosterone into estrogen.This mineral also plays a vital role in regulating the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is a hormone linked to prostate enlargement and balding in men.There has been research shown that one month of inadequate zinc intake could affect testosterone by causing a 20 percent decline. So, it’s imperative that you supply the body with enough zinc, which most people do not get through their diets.
Rhodiola Rosea is a traditional Chinese medicine and Scandinavian herb that is touted to promote physical and cognitive vitality. It is proven to reduce fatigue and exhaustion in stressful situations. This is an ingredient that can be very beneficial to your overall mental health. Rhodiola actually increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells, making it effective for increasing energy, vitality, and stamina in times of stress. Along with providing a boost of energy, it also helps to reduce and regulate your cortisol levels.Having high cortisol levels can really put a damper on your overall health and cause many problems like weight gain, lowered blood sugar response, decreased memory, and reduced cellular production.
This herb can be a great benefit to regulating the hormone cortisol and actually reducing the secretion of it. Along with these benefits it also can help burn belly fat.We know that belly fat is one of the main effects of un-functional hormones and can cause health problems with your major organs. Rhodiola has the ability to actually turn on an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase, which is a substance that allows the body to access and utilize the fat stored in abdominal cells. The last thing that has shown promise for this amazing herb is its ability to increase the sensitivity of your neurons to the presence of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are involved with mood, pleasure, excitement, memory, and focus, to name a few.
Tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia)
Tongkat Ali is a natural herb that is grown in southeast Asia and is a natural testosterone booster that has shown great promise in the health field. It has been proven to enhance the body’s adaptive response to exercise. When supplemented during exercise in a study in 2003 by S. Hamzah and A. Yusof published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2003, it caused an increase in lean body mass and a loss of fat tissue, relative to placebo.
It also has been shown to have the ability to enhance male libido and increase sexual pleasure.Not only may it help promote testosterone and male libido, it also has the ability to reduce stress levels and give you that athletic edge in the gym. Along with those benefits, it also has shown promise as an anti-cancer agent. It has several chemical constituents that exert anti-cancer effects in certain studies.In a study conducted by Tee TT and Azimahtol HL in 2005, published in the journal “Anticancer Research,” it showed that it had effects on human breast cancer cells. In another study in 2003, conducted at National Cheng Kung University and published in “The Journal of Natural Products,” an extract of Tongkat Ali actually killed lung cancer cells.
Piper nigrum (black pepper extract)
This is an extract from the Piper nigrum plant that is cultivated in India. One of the biggest benefits of this spice is its ability to increase the bioavailability of other nutrients. It actually helps to absorb nutrients and make them more effective. It also has been linked to inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase, which was shown in recent studies. This is a great thing because just like aromatase, 5-alpha-reductase actually inhibits free testosterone and metabolizes it. We want more free testosterone, so this ingredient can be beneficial in inhibiting the enzyme that makes free testosterone useless.
Magnesium is a super essential mineral that supports normal heart functions, and normal muscle contractions. It also helps with mood regulation, which is a big factor in testosterone decline. It also helps regulate sodium and potassium within our cells, which is extremely important for overall health. In studies, it has been shown that men with higher concentrations of magnesium in their blood will also have more “free” testosterone. It also has been shown to reduce the effects of the protein SHBG that attaches to free testosterone. If there is a reduction of SHBG proteins, then there will be more bio-available testosterone for the body to use. Magnesium has also shown benefits in aiding with stress and aging. This includes helping with healthy sleeping habits, reducing muscle tension, and addressing neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Pyridoxine is a B vitamin that has numerous benefits to the body. It is required and essential for proper assimilation of sugar, fats, and proteins in the body. It is also essential for the proper growth and development of the brain, nerves, skin, and other parts of the body. Most people do not obtain enough B vitamins from food, and the higher your protein consumption is, the more B6 is needed to break it down and digest it.
This vitamin also helps to maximize absorption of zinc and magnesium in the body. This also helps produce testosterone because you’re getting the maximum absorption for these minerals, which in turn, kick starts testosterone production.
Key benefits of B6: helps maintain healthy brain functions, plays a key role in synthesizing antibodies that aid in fighting diseases, helps form red blood cells, helps to synthesize neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, and it helps break down and digest proteins.
Testosterone production is a very complex molecular, biochemical reaction that depends on many factors. There has been a lot of misconceptions evolving around testosterone therapy and some of the natural ways of obtaining higher testosterone levels. Companies and medical institutions are marketing “Low T” as a disease, but in reality, it’s a natural part of life that is accelerated by your genetics and lifestyle choices.In reality, most people should not take testosterone therapy unless they are below 300 nanograms/deciliters of testosterone, and have been diagnosed with hypogonadism, according to The Endocrine Society. If you feel you are suffering from “Low T,” then you have to make sure you get your blood work done a number of times because of the rise and fall of testosterone throughout the day.
In reality, you really need to take a step back and really ask yourself, “What is best for me and my situation?” You really need to weigh all your options when it comes to choosing what type of treatment you want to go with. After all, there are always natural alternatives and supplementation that can help boost testosterone. If you focus on healthy eating habits, testosterone boosting exercise, and all-natural testosterone supplementation, it may help promote healthy levels of testosterone in your body.