Testosterone levels in men have been falling over the last 20 or so years.
Healthline reports that men’s testosterone levels start to decline at a rate of 1 percent per year once they hit 30. More recent research has now shown that total testosterone count in U.S. men of the same age has dropped about 22 percent between 1987 and 2004.
How to raise that falling testosterone is a question that many men are asking. Finding the right information is crucial, particularly because there are hundreds of supplements and websites claiming they’ve got the answers.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at seven ways to increase testosterone naturally, pointing to various reliable sources to back up our advice. Along the way, we’ll add some insight from Dr. Stephen Russell, a primary care physician and associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
But, before we get to our tips, let’s briefly take a look at what testosterone is, what its role in the body is, and why it should matter to you in the first place.
What Is Testosterone and Why Is It So Important?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and has multiple specific functions within the body, depending upon your stage of development.
The chemical is largely produced in the testes, though women’s ovaries also produce it, albeit in much smaller quantities.
In adolescence, testosterone production begins to ramp up, increasing dramatically when an individual enters puberty. The hormone is commonly associated with sex drive, and it also has a significant impact on sperm production.
Contrary to what some may think, however, testosterone plays a much more significant role than just regulating aspects of your sexual health; it also plays a role in determining your bone density, muscle mass, red blood cell production, how the body stores and uses fat, and even your overall mood.
“We know that testosterone has benefits for bone strength and muscle mass. Appropriate levels of testosterone help to maintain muscle mass,” Dr. Russell told us in our interview. “It also has benefits on red blood cells, making sure there’s an adequate amount present.”
Why Have Testosterone Levels Been Decreasing Lately?
As we mentioned above, testosterone levels have been dropping as a whole for men in the U.S. over the last few decades, but the issue isn’t just limited to those in America. A study from Copenhagen University Hospital also revealed that the same phenomenon is occurring in Danish men as well.
So, what exactly is causing this drop-off? As of right now, scientists aren’t entirely sure.
Like many complex issues relating to the body, the likely answer is that there isn’t any single cause that can be attributed to the decline.
Another possible cause currently being looked into is the marked decline of individuals smoking cigarettes in recent years. Cigarette use has a variety of adverse effects on the body, but ironically, it also seems to increase T levels. Still, these reasons can only account for a fraction of the larger issue.
In an interview with Reuters UK, Dr. Thomas Travison from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts stated that some form of environmental exposure was likely at play and contributing to the results, though trying to explain the root cause of the issue in greater detail would be nothing more than “pure conjecture” at this point.
What Are the Dangers of Having Low Testosterone Levels?
The optimal range for testosterone levels in the average adult male body is around 270-1,070 ng/dL, according to a report by the Mayo Clinic. Having T levels that measure below this threshold can contribute to a variety of adverse effects in men, including but not limited to the following:
- A decreased sex drive
- Weight gain
- Lowered energy levels
- Depression and moodiness
- Lower self-esteem
- Reduced body hair
- Thinner, weaker bones
“If you have an older male who’s been on a testosterone decrease for decades, it’s pretty normal to see all those things as related to the natural decrease and decline of their testosterone,” Russell said.
If you’re concerned you may be experiencing any of these symptoms, testing your T levels only requires a simple blood test. Ask your doctor about this test, as well as any other steps to take if you feel you are being negatively affected by a lowered T count.
Seven Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
1. Get Plenty of Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the foundational keys to leading a healthy lifestyle. Exercise improves both your physical and mental well-being, but it can also increase your testosterone levels as well.
Multiple different clinical studies have been carried out regarding exercise’s impact on T levels, and many seem to confirm that resistance training (such as lifting weights) is the best form of exercise when it comes to increasing your natural testosterone levels in both the short-term and long-term.
Also, exercise helps you to lose weight when combined with the proper diet, and as we’ve already covered above, obesity is linked to low T counts in otherwise healthy men.
Russell noted that the key to leveraging exercise for testosterone production is to do moderate exercise: 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Key Takeaways: Exercise provides a slew of tangible benefits to both your physical and mental health, including helping to build your testosterone levels naturally.
2. Watch Your Stress Levels
Over time, high-stress levels have been shown to wreak havoc on the human body, contributing to many different issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Stress also affects your testosterone levels. Russell pointed out that your brain and your body are in a constant conversation about your hormone levels. When you get stressed out, you release cortisol and it interrupts that brain-body dialogue.
“It seems to be that stress increases cortisol and that seems to be limiting the normal production the typical cycle of hormone production,” Russell said.
In general, reducing stress whenever and wherever you can, provides myriad health benefits, including keeping your testosterone levels in balance.
Focusing on maintaining a positive attitude, not dwelling on negative experiences and events, and living intentionally are all great ways to ensure that your stress levels remain manageable throughout the years.
Key Takeaways: Stress is harmful to your body and mind in more ways than one. Reducing stressful activities reduces cortisol production, which has been shown in studies to increase testosterone levels as a result.
» See Also: 6 Ways to Naturally Reduce Stress
3. Quit Neglecting Your Sleep Schedule
Achieving a healthy sleep schedule can have tangible benefits for your body that extend beyond your testosterone levels. Getting enough sleep ensures that you have enough energy to face the day, and many clinical studies have found it to be just as important for your health as diet and exercise.
Regarding T levels, a University of Chicago study showed that getting five hours of shut-eye a night resulted in a 15 percent reduction in testosterone count among the study’s participants.
Those who sleep only four hours have shown borderline-deficient levels in another study.
In our conversation with Dr. Russell, he explained why more sleep means more T.
“As you get adequate rest and your bodies get into the deepest levels of sleep, your body has a surge of normal hormones including growth hormone and that surge of normal hormones including testosterone can be released as you allow your body to rest,” he said.
In general, getting anywhere from seven to ten hours of sleep a night has shown to be the ideal range for most individuals, and long-term studies have illustrated 15 percent increases in T levels for each additional hour of sleep you get.
Key Takeaways: Sleep is foundational to your well-being; getting the proper amount will help you increase your available testosterone count.
» See Also: 9 Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep
4. Eat Plenty of Protein, Healthy Fats and Carbs
It’s no secret that what you eat matters in terms of your overall health, and when it comes to testosterone, a University of Utah study illustrated that diet has a major impact on its production, as well as on your T levels in general.
Interestingly, it isn’t just overeating or eating the wrong types of food that can contribute to lower T levels. One study from the University of Santiago de Compostela indicated that some protein-deficient hospital patients suffered from lower T production.
Also, getting the right amount of healthy fats has also been noted to improve T levels and optimize your health in more general terms.
Key Takeaways: The right amount of protein, carbs and healthy fats keeps your body in check and allows for optimal levels of testosterone.
5. Consume More Zinc
Zinc is known as an “essential trace element,” as small amounts of the metal are required for optimal human health.
In one particular study, a mix of zinc and vitamin B were shown to increase sperm quality by 74 percent. It’s also been shown to increase testosterone in athletes who are deficient in zinc to begin with.
Key Takeaways: Zinc and vitamin B have solid evidence supporting their ability to regulate and improve testosterone levels in males.
6. Get Outside (Or Take Vitamin D Supplements)
Vitamin D is one of the most popular vitamins taken in supplement form today, but despite this, more than half the US population has been found to be legitimately deficient in it and an even larger segment was found to consume it sub-optimally.
The vitamin itself has a host of benefits relating to general health and well-being, but more specifically, one clinical trial revealed that supplementing approximately 3000 IU of vitamin D daily increased testosterone levels by as much as 25 percent.
Key Takeaways: Getting outdoors frequently (or taking regular vitamin D supplements) can lead to a tangible increase in testosterone production within the body, amongst other health benefits.
7. Practice Other Healthy Lifestyle Habits
There are more individual factors contributing to our health than could be covered in one guide, but despite this, there are several specific behaviors that can influence your hormonal balance, leading to greater testosterone production in the body.
By contrast, something as simple as laughter has been shown to have testosterone-boosting effects.
Key Takeaways: Having regular, healthy sex and avoiding excessive use of drugs and alcohol can help to ensure your T levels remain optimal. Laughing, having fun and finding success are also beneficial.
To recap, there isn’t one single solution for falling T levels among men. By adhering to the recommendations listed above, you’ll put yourself in the position to earn the double benefit of increased testosterone production and an improvement in your overall health and well-being.
For more information, be sure to read our other consumer guides on the topic:
- Do Testosterone Booster Supplements Work?
- Natural Ways That Help Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer
- Guidelines for a Healthy Diet That Can Help Prevent Prostate Cancer