Testosterone is a hormone mainly produced in the testes. As all hormones, testosterone plays a part in regulating the metabolic aspects in the body. As boys reach puberty, there is a surge in testosterone which leads to increased growth, in height, muscle mass and secondary sexual characteristics of facial hair and change in voice. This surge peaks by early adulthood and drops about 1-2% a year as you reach the 40’s. There is further decline by the 50's and beyond.
Its about the fat!
Body fat and muscle balance can influence testosterone levels in men. Fat cells also known as adipose tissue contain the fat components needed to create hormones. When there is too much fat in the body especially fat around the center of the body, combined with excess calorie intake and decreased exercise or sedentary lifestyle, the excess fat needs to go somewhere and it goes into the muscles and the liver. Its like going on spending sprees and buy a lot of stuff and you eventually run out of space and you look for other places to store your things. Over time, the liver and the muscles are so full that they cannot store anymore. This problem also continues with storage of fat in the blood vessels leading to arteriosclerosis causing blocked arteries and eventual heart disease. After all, it’s all got to go someplace.
And here comes the other problem!
The insulin which transports glucose into muscles and liver for use is not able to do its job, leading to insulin resistance and more fat accumulation and eventually hyperglycemia in the blood. This in turn tells the body to reduce the production of testosterone and it becomes a cycle in itself.
What if you have a few drinks?
Everyone knows the liver processes alcohol out of the blood. Its job is to detoxify the blood. Its other job is to make proteins that bind hormones to maintain hormonal balance. When alcohol enters the body, the liver prioritizes the clearance of alcohol over the conversion of fat and other functions of food processing and detoxification of other substances and helping in hormone production.
A few notes on Marijuana
Smokers associate their behavior to aid in stress reduction. Stress is associated with increased level of cortisol. Cannabis also has an impact on cortisol levels or stress hormones and elevated levels of cortisol over time can block the production of testosterone. Heavy users of cannabis were shown to have significantly higher levels of cortisol. The results are not conclusive as its not certain if its related to cannabis or the THC content.
Heart health and testosterone
Men with low testosterone level have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease shown in studies.
So what are some of the causes of a premature decline in T (testosterone) levels?
- Chronic illnesses
- Medications esp hormone and corticosteroid based
What are some symptoms that you can talk to your doctor about?
- Impotence and changes in sexual functioning or desire
- Depression or anxiety
- Inability to create/maintain muscle mass
- Loss of energy
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes (oh yes! Men have them too!)
So what should you do about it?
If you are experiencing the above symptoms or are not sure about it, reach out to your doctor and work with a natural health consultant to see how diet and natural balancing of health can benefit you. Increase your awareness about your past and present diet and exercise habits and recognize that health effects are accumulated over time. There is still hope, and changes in lifestyle and a holistic and natural approach can yield long term health benefits.
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