Have you been constantly tired in the morning, seeing no results at the gym and feeling your libido dipping low? That may be a sign of hormonal disbalance – mainly low testosterone. We associate this major male sex hormone with manliness and sex drive. But testosterone is responsible for many other functions in your body, including cognitive health and muscle development. Let's learn more about the importance of testosterone and ways to normalise it through lifestyle and diet.
The role of testosterone in your health
Testosterone is considered to be a major sex hormone in men that plays an essential role in the development and maintenance of masculine features, such as voice depth, muscles, hair growth and reproductive organs. As a well-known fact, testosterone is responsible for sex drive (both in men and women) and supporting your reproductive health.
But not only testosterone is there to fuel your libido. It plays a vital role in energy regulation and cognitive health as well. Simply speaking, it helps you get up in the morning and move towards your goals throughout the day, forming some of the strongest emotions, and your motivation, confidence, sense of competition and ability to overcome challenges.
So, what happens when your testosterone levels are abnormally low or high?
First, a decrease in testosterone levels can infamously lead to serious sexual health issues, like erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual desire and difficulties in conceiving. In addition, boys with low testosterone levels may experience poor muscle development, problems with hair growth and voice deepening.
Then lower testosterone can also affect your overall well-being and energy. You may feel chronically tired and have difficulty gaining body mass in the gym because the hormone is responsible for bone health and muscle development.
Importantly, there is also a strong link between testosterone and mental health. Because some cells in the brain were found to have testosterone receptors responsible for mood regulation, low testosterone levels have been associated with mental health issues. For example, a study conducted on 3413 men in Norway has revealed that men with testosterone deficiency experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression more than those with normal testosterone levels.
Why do I have low T?
First, it's natural for men's testosterone levels to drop as they get older – usually, it starts to decrease after age 40. However, hormonal imbalances among younger men have become more present in modern times due to a fast-paced lifestyle, followed by an unhealthy diet, chronic stress and lack of exercise. Consuming a diet rich in refined sugars and processed foods can cause insulin resistance and high cholesterol, affecting testosterone levels. In general, underlying health conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome or obstructive sleep apnea can become the reasons behind hormonal disbalance. That's why it's vital to diagnose and treat any revealed chronic conditions and, of course, to practice a healthy lifestyle and keep an eye on your micronutrient balance to prevent them!
Testosterone in women
It's well-known that men are driven by testosterone and women – by estrogen. However, women have a bit of testosterone, too, just like men have lower estrogen levels. Produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands, testosterone also plays an important role in female reproductive health.
The female body needs a small amount of testosterone for optimal energy levels and libido. A woman with normal testosterone levels successfully converts it into estrogen. Lower testosterone levels can contribute to symptoms of fatigue, irregular menstrual cycle and low sex drive. Meanwhile, if a woman has increased testosterone levels, her body cannot convert the excess into estrogen. In that case, hormonal disbalance can lead to PCOS, acne, insulin resistance or excessive hair growth.
Natural ways to improve testosterone levels
Normalise your sleep schedule
Getting enough sleep at night is essential for optimal testosterone production. Your body restores most of the testosterone in the second half of the day, mostly while you're sleeping. That means your sleep quality has a direct impact on your testosterone levels. Normalising your sleep schedule and getting at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep may help you improve your hormonal status.
Go for a healthy diet
According to studies, obesity and excess abdominal fat is responsible for higher production of aromatase – an enzyme which converts testosterone into oestradiol. For that matter, having higher oestradiol levels may lower a man's free testosterone levels. That's why it's essential to keep an eye on your weight. Lean meats and healthy fats diet may improve your body mass.
As mentioned above, obesity, insulin resistance and other metabolic issues may all contribute to a decrease in your testosterone levels. Exercising can help you improve your overall body mass and metabolism and help you optimise your testosterone levels. According to a 2016 study, men with obesity who started exercising saw a boost in their testosterone levels compared to those who were physically inactive.
Manage your stress
Studies show that chronic stress may affect your sex hormone levels because of cortisol, a hormone released as a stress response. When it's constantly elevated, it may prevent you from replenishing testosterone and even decrease your sex drive. That's why it's really important to make sure you take time for yourself and manage your schedule to avoid chronic stress. To learn more about the link between cortisol and sex hormones, check out our blog post.
Monitor your health
It's really important to know how your body works and address any health issues you may already have. A blood test will help you look into your hormonal status and make it easier to reveal any chronic health concerns that may be the reason behind a disbalance in your testosterone levels.
The bioniq LIFE health optimisation system can support male health through a personalised approach to your micronutrient balance and nutrition. First, you can look into your hormonal status and other vital body functions through our comprehensive 50-parameter blood test. To help optimise your male hormone levels, the bioniq clinical dietitian can recommend a proper nutrition plan and implement lifestyle changes.
Correcting your nutrient deficiencies, like zinc, magnesium and vitamin B1, will also support your hormonal balance, including testosterone. Based on your blood test results, we will customise your supplement formula for your body needs to help you optimise your overall health and body.