Women get all the attention when it comes to hormonal cycles, but did you know men have cycles, too?
In fact, their cycles occur daily, with testosterone starting out strong each morning and gradually waning as the day wears on. An action movie, sports game, or even a little coffee can pump levels back up again, though.
There’s more to the testosterone story than a daily cycle with occasional spikes. After age 30, testosterone in men begins to decline by about 1 percent every year, and high-stress living and poor dietary habits can draw healthy levels down even further. Deficiencies can lead to lowered fertility, decreased libido and sexual function, weight gain, less energy and strength, bone mineral loss, depression, insomnia, and other health problems.
These measures can help men keep their hormones in tune.
See your doctor
You may want to start by getting an accurate read on your hormone levels. A blood or salivary test can reveal your body’s current state and arm your doctor with the information needed to help address the problem.
If low testosterone is indicated, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be an option, either through testosterone injections or with a daily patch or gel application. However, HRT is controversial for both men and women and does not come without undesirable side effects. What follows are natural ways to bring your hormones into balance while yielding greater health in the long run.
Keep your weight within normal range
Fat cells manufacture estrogen, and excess fat can cause an excess of estrogen in men. This can lead to a beer belly, breast buds, and increased risk of prostate cancer. If you’re overweight, losing excess pounds may lower these risks while also increasing your testosterone.
Get enough sleep and lighten up on stress
Too little sleep can lower testosterone levels, and stress causes cortisol levels to rise. High levels of cortisol are known to block the effects of testosterone and can lead to weight gain, increased risk of heart disease and other health concerns.
Exercise 3-4 times a week using a combination of weight training and aerobic exercise. Short bursts of intense exercise interspersed with resting periods of about the same duration can be especially effective for bumping up testosterone.
Watch what you eat
These foods are recommended for healthy hormone levels:
- Complex carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables)
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seed, walnuts, salmon, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower
- Foods high in zinc, such as oysters, wheat germ, sesame seeds, and peanuts
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts, avocados, and unheated organic nut oils
Avoid the following:
- Excessive sugar, simple carbs such as bread and pasta, and dairy products
- Caffeine and processed foods
- Tobacco products (which reduce testosterone)
- Excessive alcohol (which increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen)
Get your vitamin D
Vitamin D has been shown to increase testosterone levels. It’s best obtained from the sun but may also be taken in supplemental form.