Lowering Your Risk of Low Testosterone
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Nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle are the biggest factors influencing our health. A growing concern among men is low testosterone levels, also known as low T. Testosterone is a hormone that plays an important role in both physical and mental well-being. In fact, research suggests that one in four men over the age of 30 have low blood testosterone.
While these hormones naturally decline with age, there are things men can do to help slow down the process. Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Nina Salhab breaks down what causes low T and how maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help.
Causes of Low Testosterone
Before talking about how to treat low testosterone in men, you first have to understand why it happens. Below are several common causes of low testosterone levels.
- Being overweight
- Poor insulin sensitivity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- High stress levels
- Inadequate sleep
- Nutrient deficiencies of zinc and vitamin D
- Lack of physical activity
The symptoms and side effects of low testosterone can include:
- Reduced sexual function, including erectile dysfunction
- Decreased strength and muscle mass
- Increased body fat
- Decreased bone density
- Elevated cholesterol
Because many of the symptoms of low T can be indicators of other serious conditions, Cooper Clinic physicians recommend men see their primary care doctor if they're experiencing one or more of the symptoms.
How to Reduce The Risk and Treat Low Testosterone
How can men reduce their chances of low testosterone levels? It comes down to living a healthy lifestyle. Many of the preventive steps are included in Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper’s 8 Steps to Get Cooperized™.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Make healthy food choices most of the time
- Exercise most days of the week
- Take the right supplements for you
- Control alcohol
- Manage stress
- Do not use tobacco
- Get a comprehensive physical exam
Good Nutrition for Men’s Health
Below are examples of foods that can help stave off low T levels.
- Fatty fish: Salmon, halibut, lake trout, tuna, sardines and herring are excellent sources of healthy fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat protects against heart disease, a leading cause of mortality in men in the United States. Aim for 7-12 oz. of fatty fish per week.
- Shellfish: Oysters and crab are rich in zinc, a critical mineral for the heart, muscles and male reproductive system. Zinc levels below normal are linked to male infertility.
- Lean red meat: Beef, pork and lamb are good sources of zinc and leucine, an amino acid that helps build muscle.
- Low-fat milk and yogurt: The whey in dairy foods contains leucine, a muscle-building amino acid. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, potassium and “friendly” bacteria that help keep the gut healthy.
- Soy foods: Soy foods can help protect against prostate cancer. Great sources include tofu, soybeans, miso soup and soymilk.
- Eggs: Eggs are rich in lutein and protein and also contain vitamin D.
Fruit and Vegetables:
- Cherries: Tart cherries contain a pigment that mimics the effect of some anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Bananas: Bananas are excellent sources of potassium and are critical for muscle contractions, bone health and reducing blood pressure
- Berries: Berries are loaded with antioxidants that can help lower cancer risk. Blueberries can also enhance memory and thinking.
- Ginger: Ginger helps calm inflammation in the body and can help reduce the pain of exercise-related muscle injuries.
- Tomato sauce: This popular pasta sauce is an excellent source of lycopene, a substance that may help protect against some cancers.
- Orange vegetables: Orange vegetables, including carrots and sweet potatoes, are an excellent source of beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin C. These nutrients may lower the risk of prostate cancer.
- Leafy green vegetables: Getting your leafy greens, such as spinach, collard greens and kale, can help the eyes as well as the prostate. The greens have lutein and zeanthinin, which help protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Avocados and olive oil: Both contain “good” monounsaturated fat, which reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. The trick is to eat more monounsaturated fats to replace saturated and trans-fats. Also, limit overall fat to no more than 20-35 percent of your total daily calories.
- Pistachios: These nuts aren’t only delicious, but a good source of protein, fiber and zinc. Pistachios can help satisfy the urge for a crunchy, salty snack and are high in plant sterols that can improve cholesterol levels.
- Brazil nuts: Just one ounce has seven times the daily value of selenium, which helps boost the immune system and helps the thyroid gland.
- Whole grain cereal: Many whole grain cereals contain fiber which can be a “performance enhancer.” Look for at least 5 g of fiber per serving on the cereal box label. Foods containing fiber keep you fuller longer and help your digestive system run more smoothly.
- Brown rice: Brown rice is a good source of fiber. It has also been shown to help people stay at a healthy weight and can help lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Chocolate may improve blood flow if you eat the right kind. The flavanols in dark chocolate can help curb levels of bad cholesterol, improve circulation and keep blood pressure in check. Men with poor blood flow are more likely to have erectile problems. Enjoy a small amount of dark chocolate instead of other sweets.
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Nina Salhab, MS, RDN, LD, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.