Testosterone - the principal male sex hormone that is produced by the Leydig cells of the testes in response to luteinizing hormone (LH) secreted by the pituitary gland. It is also produced by the adrenal cortex in both males and females. Its chief function is to stimulate the development of the male reproductive organs, including the prostate, and the secondary sex characters, such as the beard. It encourages growth of bone and muscle, and helps maintain muscle strength.
Normal testosterone production is about six milligrams per day. The normal level of testosterone in your bloodstream is between 350 and 1,000 nanograms per decilitre (ng/dl). Those quantities silently start to wane around age 40. You lose about 1 percent a year - a harmless decline in the short term, but a cause of obesity, brittle bones, muscle loss and impotence by the time you reach your 60s -- if you live that long. Testosterone levels in the low range (a blood serum score below 350 ng/dl) may increase your chances of dying of a heart attack.
It's not just an old man's problem, either. Men in their 30s and 40s also fall prey to low testosterone counts. It's a disorder called hypogonadism, and it can be caused by an undescended testicle, a testicular injury, a pituitary gland disorder or even prescription drugs. It usually goes undiagnosed until a man hits his doctor with a telltale complaint: "I can't get an erection."
"If you have reduced levels of sexual desire, have your testosterone level checked immediately," says Dr. Allen Seftel, a urologist at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals of Cleveland.
"For men with borderline testosterone scores, I advise them to try to raise their levels through exercise and weight loss before going on testosterone therapy," says Dr. Goldberg. And it might pay to start young. "Since your testosterone declines at a steady rate, it's conceivable that raising your hormone levels naturally in your 20s and 30s could help you maintain higher levels later on," he says. Either way, the reward can be a stronger physique and better bedroom sessions than you'd otherwise deserve.
Adrian Dobbs, M.D. of Johns Hopkins University stated clearly..."Having normal testosterone levels is critical for maintaining lean muscle mass, sexual potency and cognitive function". Ken Goldberg M.D. of the Male Health Center in Dallas states “between 8 and 12 million men have low or borderline low testosterone levels and 95% of them don't know it”.
Key symptoms of testosterone deficiency include:
Low sex drive
Loss of facial/body hair
Thinning and wrinkling of skin
Weakening of bone and muscle tissue.
Gradual decrease in the size of the testes.
Eventually, imbalances of testosterone can set the stage for the development of even more serious diseases. Low levels can disrupt the body's blood sugar metabolism, leading to obesity and diabetes. Chronic deficiencies may also promote the early onset of osteoporosis and heart disease.
Testosterone levels are at their highest normally during a man’s early twenties and naturally decline with age, gradually declining to about 20% of their maximum. While you are almost assured to have diminished testosterone at an advanced age, a number of other factors are now known to accelerate testosterone loss at early ages. Stress, physical inactivity, excessive training, illness, smoking, alcohol and the use of both prescription and "recreational" drugs, can contribute to less than ideal levels of testosterone. All of these things are pervasive in our society and have contributed to the onset of the low testosterone syndrome.
18 Ways to boost your testosterone levels
1.Get Rid of the Flopping Belly
Or you'll grow a pair of fetching breasts to complement it. Fat, it turns out, is not only ugly but also a threat to your manhood because it's rich in aromatase, an enzyme that turns testosterone into various estrogens.
Just to make it clear: estrogens = female hormone
To boost your masculinity and enhance your body's normal disease-fighting ability, eat more broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
A recent study showed these veggies to be rich in indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phyto-chemical known to turn "bad" estrogens (which shut down testosterone production) into good ones which help to restore its production. Fact: bad estrogens were cut in half when seven healthy men took 500 milligrams of I3C a day for a week.
As your testosterone levels increase you lose more fat: - Doctors have beaten the beer belly, with the help of testosterone. They doubled the blood level of the hormone in a group of patients and reduced their obesity by more than 15 per cent in just six months.
At the same time, cholesterol levels and blood pressure also dropped. The treatment could pave the way for new ways of tackling the fat concentrated around the male abdomen - popularly known as the beer belly or pot belly.
A London conference on the male menopause also heard how higher testosterone levels may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, as well as having beneficial effects on bone health, diabetes and depression.
Aim for two servings a day of the various cruciferous vegetables which include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, bak choy, radishes, turnip greens and watercress.
2. Lose Only One Pound a Week.
What you DON'T want to do is starve yourself while exercising like a madman. One of the many reasons this stops working in your 30s, when your natural testosterone levels start dropping, is pretty simple: Cutting your calorie intake by more than 15 percent makes your brain think you're starving, so it shuts down testosterone production to wait out the famine. "There's no need to reproduce if you're starving," explains Thomas Incledon of Human Performance Specialists in Plantation, Florida. Ironically, this dive in circulating testosterone stops you from burning body fat efficiently, so you're actually thwarting your hard efforts to melt that tire off your gut.
3. Skip the Atkins Fad
Research suggests that eating a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet can cramp your testosterone levels. High amounts of dietary protein in your blood can eventually lower the amount of testosterone produced in your testes.
Your protein intake should be about 16 percent of your daily calories. So, if you're the average 170-pound man who eats 2,900 calories a day, you should eat about 140 grams of protein daily, which is about the amount in two chicken breasts and a 6-ounce can of tuna.
4. Eat Meat.
Although science doesn't know why, evidence suggests that eating meat boosts testosterone levels. In one study, two groups of men pumped iron for 12 weeks; one group ate a vegetarian diet and the other a meat diet. Strength improved by the same amount in both groups, but only the meat eating group enjoyed marked fat loss and muscle gain. If you decide to eat meat to bulk up, avoid fatty red meat, pork and lamb which are loaded with saturated fat and instead choose fish, poultry or lean cuts of beef.
5. Eat Nuts.
Studies found that men who ate diets rich in monounsaturated fat - the kind found in peanuts - had the highest levels of testosterone. It's not really understood why this happens but some scientists believe that the monounsaturated fats have a direct effect on the testes. Nuts, olive oil, canola oil and peanut butter are all good sources.
6. Have a Sandwich at 3 p.m.
As any sensible woman knows, the way to put hair on a man's chest is to fill his stomach. Your body needs a ready supply of calories to make testosterone, so regularly skipping meals or going for long stretches without eating can cause your levels of the hormone to plummet.
7. Buy the Fried Tortilla Chips
If you want to raise your testosterone score, eat a diet that includes about 30 percent fat, and not much less. Your body needs dietary fat to produce testosterone, so eating like a vegetarian aerobics instructor will cause your testosterone levels to sink drastically. This is bad, unless you actually are a vegetarian aerobics instructor.
8. Avoid Soy.
While soy is a powerhouse in the fields of heart health and cancer fighting, boosting anabolic hormone levels isn't its forte. In fact, results of a recent report suggest that isoflavones found in soy, such as genistein may be indiscriminately targeting valuable testosterone while doing the work of eliminating bad estrogen.
A Japanese study found that men who ate the greatest amount of soy products not only had the lowest levels of oestrogen, they also had the lowest levels of testosterone. It seems that too much genistein and other soy flavones reduces testosterone production by the testes and increases its destruction by the liver. This is not to say you should avoid soy products, which have a number of healthy benefits. Just don't overdo it on edamame and avoid high-dose supplementation of isoflavones.
9. Avoid Alchohol.
To maintain a healthy testosterone count -- and titanium erections -- cut yourself off after three drinks. "Binge drinking will kill your testosterone levels," warns Incledon. Alcohol affects the endocrine system, causing your testes to stop producing the male hormone. That's one reason drinking often causes you to go limp at the moment of truth.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) the bitter herb used to flavour beer contains chemicals that are similar to oestrogen.
10. Avoid Caffeine.
Research has shown that excessive consumption of caffeine causes a significant loss of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Scientists say that when used in moderation (about 250 mg a day), consumption of caffeine poses no harm. Therefore, drinking a couple of cups of coffee or a few cans of cola a day poses no harm, as long as they're not ingested too close to bedtime and do not mask chronic sleepiness caused by too little sleep or poor sleep.
11. Smoking Lowers Testosterone
Actually most studies indicate that smoking temporarily raises testosterone levels, but the long term effect is negative. The Australian physician Dr. M.H. Briggs, says that cigarette smoking produces carbon monoxide in the blood, which in turn inhibits production of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Briggs, writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, cites a comparative study of smokers and non-smokers matched for height, weight, marital status, etc., which showed that the testosterone levels for non-smoking men averaged a healthy 747 nanograms per decilitre of blood, as opposed to 515 ng/dl for men who averaged a pack and a half or more a day. When the smokers abstained for only seven days, their testosterone count increased an average of 165 ng/dl, almost up to the level of non-smokers. Additional studies show that cigarettes in combination with alcohol lead to an even lower testosterone level. Smoking can also hasten the deterioration of Leydig cells, and cause testosterone levels to drastically decline even faster. The cadmium in smoke interferes with zinc metabolism and can accumulate in the testicles. Without enough zinc, testosterone levels are low.
Marijuana also decreases testosterone and libido
12. Don’t Have Morning Sex
German scientists found that simply having an erection causes your circulating testosterone to rise significantly.
The only study I could find about ejaculation and testosterone levels involve 10 males. Testosterone levels were still ok at 50 minutes but had dropped significantly after 80 minutes & 140 minutes. Unfortunately this study was on monkeys, but it fits the PE rule of no ejaculating 3-5 hours either side of a workout.
13. Stick With Tough Exercises
To beef up your testosterone levels, the bulk of your workout should involve "compound" weight-lifting exercises that train several large muscle groups, and not just one or two smaller muscles. For example, studies have shown that doing squats, bench presses or back rows increases testosterone more than doing biceps curls or triceps pushdowns, even though the effort may seem the same.
14. Squeeze Out Five Repetitions per Set.
Throwing around 5-pound dumbbells won't help you affect a rise in testosterone. Start off by using a heavy weight that you can lift only five times. That weight is about 85 percent of your one-repetition maximum. A Finnish study found that this workload produced the greatest boosts in testosterone.
15. Do at least Three Sets of Each Weight-Lifting Movement
Researchers at Penn State determined that this fosters greater increases in testosterone than just one or two sets. Rest a full minute between sets, so you can regain enough strength to continue lifting at least 70 percent of your one-rep maximum during the second and third sets.
16. Rest Harder Than You Work Out
If you overtrain -- meaning you don't allow your body to recuperate adequately between training sessions -- your circulating testosterone levels can plunge by as much as 40 percent, according to a study at the University of North Carolina. The symptoms of overtraining are hard to miss: irritability, insomnia & muscle shrinkage. To avoid overtraining, make sure you sleep a full eight hours at night, and never stress the same muscles with weight-lifting movements two days in a row.
17. Go To Sleep.
Sleeping less than seven to eight hours a night can screw up your circadian rhythm. That's why it's no wonder your testosterone levels are higher in the morning after a good night's sleep. So if your work or social schedule keeps you stooped in perpetual jet lag, don't be surprised if you stop craving sex.
Another study suggests that male patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea produce lower levels of testosterone, resulting in decreased libido and sexual activity. Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology found that nearly half of the subjects who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone throughout the night. Previous research had failed to establish a scientific link between decreased libido in men and OSA, because the studies only measured testosterone levels upon awakening.
There were only 2 I’ve found so far that did something positive:
Tribulus terrestris is a natural herb, which has been used for centuries in Europe as a treatment for impotence and as a stimulant to help enhance sexual drive and performance. This potent herb has been studied and observed to enhance LH (luteinizing hormone) production and boost testosterone levels and its effects have been coveted by Bulgarian athletes for decades.
Zinc - Another mineral essential to sexual function is zinc. The zinc content of the prostate gland and sperm is higher than in any other body tissues. A deficiency of zinc is associated with numerous sexual problems, including sperm abnormalities and prostate disease. Zinc is necessary for the production of testosterone, and also helps to maintain vaginal lubrication. Stress, caffeine, smoking, and alcohol consumption increase the need for zinc. Zinc-rich foods include nuts, eggs, beef, legumes, chicken, whole grains, and seafood -- especially oysters! This may explain the legendary effectiveness of oysters as an aphrodisiac.