You may not constantly be thinking about the role testosterone plays in your body, especially considering the increasingly hectic lives that we seem to lead today.
Nonetheless, testosterone has a significant effect on everything that you do, and as such, it’s important to understand why it is so crucial to your health, and what can be done to increase its concentration within your body.
Somewhat disturbingly, testosterone levels in men have been falling over the last 20 or so years. While it’s already known that men tend to experience gradually lowering T levels after age 30 (usually at a rate of about one percent per year), 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.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at seven ways to increase testosterone naturally, but before that, 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 it has a wide variety of 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.
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. Another clinical study 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. Thus far, it’s been hypothesized that rising obesity rates are one contributing factor, seeing as clinical studies such as this one have shown a strong connection between obesity and low T counts, amongst other sexual health issues like erectile dysfunction.
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’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 Increase Testosterone Naturally
1. Get Plenty of Exercise
It’s no secret at this point that 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.
Key Takeaways: Exercise provides a slew of tangible benefits to both your physical and mental health, including helping to build your testosterone levels naturally.
See Also: Your Comprehensive Guide to CrossFit
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, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In general, reducing stress whenever and wherever you can in life will benefit you across the board in a variety of ways, 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
Like many other items in this list, 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, however, neglecting your sleep schedule and getting just five hours of shut-eye a night has been shown in one trial to be associated with a 15 percent reduction in testosterone count. Those who sleep only four hours have shown borderline-deficient levels in another study.
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, and 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, clinical studies have 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 clinical study showed that constant dieting and calorie-restricting activities can also have an adverse effect on your testosterone production.
Specifically, protein and carbs have been shown to improve and optimize levels, especially when paired with resistance training. Also, however, 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 in Your Diet
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 completely deficient in it, amidst an even larger segment that 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.
On the other hand, in what may come as no surprise to many, excessive alcohol consumption and the usage of certain drugs have also been linked to decreasing testosterone levels in otherwise healthy males.
By contrast, something as simple as laughter has been shown to have testosterone-boosting effects, amongst a wide array of other benefits.
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.
Final Thoughts on Natural Ways to Increase Your Testosterone Levels
To recap, there isn’t one single solution for falling T levels amongst men. By adhering to the recommendations listed above, not only will you put yourself in the best position to naturally increase your testosterone production, you’ll also be improving your overall health and well-being in significant, noticeable ways.
For more information, be sure to read our other consumer guides on the topic:
- Do Testosterone Boosters Really Work? Find Out What Science Says
- Natural Ways That Help Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer
- How Walking 30 Minutes a Day Can Benefit Your Health in a Big Way