Are you lacking in testosterone?
Discussion about testosterone appears to be everywhere in the news these days. Some of the information suggesting the benefits of testosterone while other reports vilifies the same substance. The data can be conflicting depending on the reports you read. How can this be? Is testosterone good or bad? Testosterone has come to light for a reason. The fact is that many individuals are low in testosterone. Typically the conversation is directed towards men. However, I often see women low in testosterone also. We will revisit this point later. Low testosterone tends to affect men more significantly and thus most of the attention is placed on them. However, with such varying opinions about the use of testosterone and what levels are adequate, we must ask, what do we really know about testosterone?
Why do we need testosterone?
Testosterone is a needed hormone in the body. It is important for both sexes for normal physical and mental health. Males tend to receive more attention where testosterone is concerned simply because much of the male anatomy, and not just the sex organs, are dependent on testosterone. Testosterone is what is considered an anabolic hormone. This simply fact makes it important for both sexes. When we think about anabolic, we think about growth and recovery. This means that when the body is in a state of anabolism, it is recovering at a faster rate. Injuries heal quicker. Likewise, it also means that the body is more prone to building lean muscle and concurrently burning fat. This is a desirable state for nearly anyone. Build muscle, loss fat, and heal faster! Who is not up for that? That is exactly the effect that testosterone has on our body physically. Mentally is helps keep us motivated and focused.
It’s not just testosterone we have to think of
So if there is so much benefit to be gained from testosterone, why is there controversy? The controversy lies in the replacement of testosterone. Over the last few years a trend has been noted that men are seeing a decline in testosterone levels at younger ages. This has even been given the name andropause, a play on female menopause where a decline in hormone levels is noticed. This is indeed happening, but little inquiry was made as to why it is happening. Testosterone is part of a number of hormones that have to act in balance with each other. Simply replacing testosterone ignores this balance. Moreover, there is the possibility of over-utilizing testosterone in the repletion process when other hormones are not considered. This is where much of the negative publicity has stemmed from. Testosterone repletion is a necessary process for many individuals, but only when you take into consideration the entire hormonal cascade.
What you eat matters
Balance is the key to all hormones, not just testosterone. Testosterone is only one hormone many. Hormones need to be in an ideal range. Too much is a problem as equally as too little is a problem. The answer to supporting hormones is to put the body in a state where they are better balanced. This comes back to the Paleo Diet. If this seems like too simple of an answer, you are right, it is. Once you are depleted of your hormones, they need to be replaced, but not with individual hormones most of the time. However, trying to fix your hormonal imbalances without considering the food you eat is a recipe for hormonal imbalances. Food makes a difference.
Here are just a few examples of the importance that food has on hormone function, especially testosterone. Let me start with the consumption of refined foods. Refined, starchy foods have the negative effect of creating insulin resistance. In short, a male consuming these forms of foods has a higher propensity to convert testosterone to estrogen. Not only is this likely to happen when replacement is given, but it might also be part of the reason for developing low levels of testosterone in the first place. I don’t know any man that wants to see his estrogen levels increasing. Another common example is the consumption of inflammatory foods. These often increase cell damage in the body and long term result in the release of more cortisol / cortisone because of its anti-inflammatory actions. Overtime, these effects drain the levels of testosterone and the anabolic effect mentioned earlier is lost making the body more susceptible to aging and inflammation. Other effects such as hormone metabolism and clearance are also affected by diet.
The Paleo Diet
Clearly diet makes a difference in the balance of all hormones, but especially testosterone. Taking in food that is nutrient dense that stabilizes blood sugar levels goes a long way to balancing hormones. When you consume a Paleo Diet, this is the effect that you are having. The Paleo Diet normalizes blood sugar levels. It also provides adequate amounts of plants that are high in antioxidants which serve to control inflammation. Therefore, if you or someone you know is considering testosterone replacement therapy, consideration should be given to the food being consumed. As in most cases, you will not go wrong consuming real, unrefined, unadulterated food as found in its purest form in nature. This is the Paleo Diet.