I’d like to share with you the results of recent research linking pain and inflammation with a problem that’s all too common these days – low levels of the hormone testosterone. The study, which reviewed the results of nearly 100 previous clinical trials, found that lack of testosterone is linked to chronic pain and inflammation.
In other words, too little testosterone leaves you vulnerable to developing chronic health problems, ranging from erectile dysfunction to heart disease, diabetes, and accelerated aging. At the same time, plummeting levels of testosterone rob you of the protection the hormone provides against pain that often accompanies these conditions. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to restore healthy testosterone levels. And ladies, please remember – in small doses, testosterone is just as important for you.
There are many common symptoms of low testosterone, or low T, as it’s sometimes called. Those include:
- Lack of energy
- Irritability, impatience, bad mood
- Muscle loss
- Lack of strength
- Unexplained weight gain
- Depression or feelings of worthlessness
- Mid-afternoon energy slump
- Lack of ambition or drive
- Less interest in sex and problems with performance
- Sleep problems
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis
With such a wide range of symptoms, you can see why lack of testosterone might not be the first problem that comes to mind. How many people, for example, connect feeling blue or moody behavior with hormones? In my experience, not very many. But I’ve worked with thousands of individuals – men and women – who reported that their enthusiasm and interest in life returned once their hormones were in proper balance. Even better, many of these patients discovered that they no longer needed libido-wilting anti-depressants after correcting hormone imbalances.
Of course, these same symptoms could be caused by several different health conditions, including adrenal fatigue or a thyroid problem. The best way to determine if you actually have low T or another condition is with a simple blood test. Levels below 400 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) usually qualify as low for men. For adult women, levels below 70 ng/dL are consider low, with this number dropping to 40 ng/dL for post-menopausal women. If you suspect you may be suffering from low testosterone, please ask your physician for a confirming blood test.
Why Testosterone Alone is Not Enough
With the graying of the Baby Boomers, testosterone levels are clearly becoming a more widespread issue. As you would expect, pharmaceutical companies saw an opportunity to gain millions of new customers, so they have targeted low T with assorted testosterone gels, patches, injections, and other options.
While these solutions may work at first, they are not sustainable in the long run. In fact, this is the kind of remedy that often backfires, leaving a patient worse off than they were before starting the medication. In this case, for example, taking testosterone without other, related hormones sends a signal to the testes that they no longer need to make testosterone. The result: shrunken testes – exactly what most men do not want! This is not a joke – I have seen lots of patients who have made this mistake before they came to see me.
How did Big Pharma get it so wrong? Once again, they’re seeing dollar signs and ignoring the fact that using a “one size fits all” approach to hormone care does not work. Testosterone is just one of a number of hormones that needs to be balanced with others for best results. So simply taking testosterone by itself adds to the imbalance your body is already dealing with. If your physician does not prescribe bio-identical hormones, I strongly urge you to find one who does. A prescription for a custom blend of balanced hormones, based on your individual needs (usually delivered in a cream or lotion form), is the first step in correcting the situation. In addition, here are three lifestyle changes that can help boost hormone production.
1.) Watch Your Waist
Gaining weight doesn’t just make your pants too tight; it also robs you of testosterone. There are a lot of ways to lose weight. Remember, focusing on nutritious whole foods – vegetables, fruits, lean protein, good fats, beans, legumes, and herbs – is the way to go. That means avoiding processed or fast foods, with high levels of sugar, fat, and salt. As my patient, Rick, found, even confirmed “burger-holics” can change – and get their lives back at the same time.
2.) Get the Right Nutrients
If you’re suffering from low T, start with vitamin D3. Several recent studies have confirmed vitamin D3’s ability to raise testosterone levels. At the same time, vitamin D3 also helps with fatigue, depression, and muscle loss that could contribute to the aches and pains often associated with aging.
Younger people can normally manufacture vitamin D internally after spending a short amount of time (20 minutes or so) in the sun without sunblock. Older people, however, tend to lose that ability, so supplements are definitely in order. Here again, you may want to have your vitamin D levels tested to determine the correct dosage. I recommend at least 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily, unless testing shows you need more. For your convenience, I’ve formulated an omega-3 EFA (essential fatty acids) marine oil product that includes an appropriate dosage of vitamin D3.
Of course, you can purchase vitamin D3 supplements without the marine oil. But research shows that the good fats in marine oil can help your body absorb the vitamin D and also reduce body fat while increasing lean muscle.
You should also know that a recent animal study found that consuming more omega-3 EFAs and fewer omega-6s (found primarily in vegetable oils used to make fast and prepared foods) slowed the growth of prostate tumors.
3.) Stress Less
Most male patients are surprised when I tell them that chronic stress is one of the biggest testosterone thieves around. Here’s another surprising fact – a poor, low-nutrition diet can be as stressful for your body as emotional ups and downs, financial problems, job insecurity, and other situations that we usually consider to be responsible for stress.
Fortunately, there are remedies for both poor diet and situational stress. For the first point, I suggest reviewing my earlier newsletter on healthy food choices. For help combatting chronic stress, I urge you to look into tried-and-true solutions like mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or regular, moderate exercise. Many patients tell me they turn to favorite hobbies as a way of reducing stress, too. The key is finding a stress reduction method that works for you and then using it regularly.
Testosterone is essential for good health and stamina. In addition to its important role in sexual health, testosterone also helps maintain muscle and bone, manage cholesterol, and ward off diabetes and depression. In addition, we now know that testosterone helps reduce inflammation and soothes pain, two vitally important benefits that can make a huge difference to your health. Taking steps to maintain sufficient levels of the hormone – whether you’re a man or woman – has very real pay-offs for your health and happiness.