Testosterone. The T stands for testosterone, yes. November 19 is celebrated as International Men’s Day. Hence, let’s talk men.
What makes a man a man, physiologically? When an individual attains puberty, particular hormones come into action which is responsible to give a man its male characteristics and a woman its female characteristics namely testosterone in males and estrogen & progesterone in females. However, there is a presence of estrogen in males in very small quantities and vice versa. Good testosterone levels signify better health in males which includes quality muscle mass, dense bones, quality body and facial hair, fat control, good sex drive and spermatogenesis (sperm production).
Now, the hormonal balance of these sex hormones is so important to men that an imbalance in the same or simply low production of the testosterone may lead to various health issues.
Effects of Low T-levels
Physical impacts-Sex hormones are a great deal when it comes to appearance. Testosterone has the ultimate power to decide the details of a male’s body. A person may find it hard to put on some muscle mass and bone density or control deposition of excessive adipose tissues in the body in the absence of appropriate levels of this particular hormone. Hair loss or inadequate facial/body hair is another outcome of this condition. In some studies, Insomnia (lack of sleep) and low testosterone has been correlated with one another which either way leads to another side effect which is increased fatigue. Added to it, loss of libido and sperm count eventually heading towards Infertility. So much for a single hormone right? But, that’s how it is.
Emotional impressions– According to some researches, low testosterone has also been linked to depression in males. It is said that men with low T levels have higher chances of developing depression. Now, although these researches have evidences to prove their statement, I haven’t personally looked deep into it but observing the whole scenario discussed above, it is only acceptable.
Causes and Prevention
I would like to simplify the causes in two categories for better understandability:
- Non-lifestyle factors– Apart from the cell degeneration factor due to ageing, clinical conditions like an infection or an injury to the testicles, hormonal imbalance, Diabetes, certain medicinal side effects are considered to be possible reasons for Low T. But, I’m not qualified to discuss or make a statement on them which is why I’ll avoid it. Genetic factors, on the other hand could be a reason but again, this is something we have zero control over.
- Lifestyle factors– So, unless one is dealing with a clinical or a genetic condition, there is a 100 percent chance that a person’s lifestyle and dietary habits have a major contribution towards his low T condition. Behavioural patterns include indulging oneself into prolonged stress, inappropriate sleep and sedentary lifestyle whereas nutritional patterns include Smoking, consumption of alcohol and other toxic substances and deficiency of appropriate nutrients in food consumed on a daily basis.
A non-lifestyle factor would require immediate medical attention and diagnosis. However, the lifestyle factors are totally in one’s control and controlling them for our benefits are the best and probably the only preventive measures that one can opt for which we are going to discuss next.
Exercise & Nutrition
In my previous articles, I have written about how a physical activity helps with stress and fat loss. Several studies have also shown that strength training as well as endurance training increases the Testosterone levels in men. So if you look closely, you will find that stress, depressed mood, insomnia, fat gain, physical activity and testosterone, all are linked to one another. Stress produces stress hormones that mess with the T levels leading to physical deterioration leading back to stress forming a toxic chain. Exercise boosts T levels along with the happy hormones smashing the toxic chain for all good!
“You are what you eat”, just in case you haven’t heard that before. But do you eat what you are? I’m talking about the macronutrients. Our body cells are composed of proteins and fat, right from the hairs to toe-nails. Somehow we have evolved to carbohydrate eating animals. I don’t mean vegetarian food but carbs. We have ignored proteins; we have completely ignored fats. Somehow we have managed to give a bad name to proteins and have turned fats into a complete antagonist. And that’s not at all helping. Being a little aware about food choices and including sufficient fats and proteins in the diet can prove to be a boon, especially when we are talking about hormones. In micronutrients, Zinc and Vitamin D3 are proven to boost the T levels, according to studies, and deficiency of the same is said to have acted against it dropping the levels. So keeping a check on these guys in the body may only prove fruitful.
The writer is a certified fitness expert. Having worked with brands like Talwalkers and Golds Gym, at present he is the Strength and Conditioning Coach & Nutrition Consultant of Guwahati City Football Club.