Testosterone, the literal source of what makes men, well, men. It is classified as a steroidal hormone that stimulates male secondary sexual characteristics. Testosterone is associated with sex drive, motivation, bone health and muscle mass. It is a vital hormone that classifies a fetus as male in the womb in terms of the basic human blueprint.
According to a recent study, that vital hormone that makes men so characteristically themselves is on a shocking decline.
What are considered normal levels of testosterone?
Although its effects are vast and many times visible, testosterone populates a very small part of the body’s makeup. In men under 40, the average amount of testosterone in the blood is anywhere from 300 to 100 nanograms per deciliter of blood. A nanogram represents a billionth of a gram, and a deciliter equates to one-tenth of a liter. That isn’t very much compared to the body’s other chemical resources.
Abnormally low and/or high amounts of testosterone can cause a bevy of side effects. For low testosterone, symptoms can include:
· Decreased aggression
· Diminished energy
· Erectile dysfunction
· Increase in joint/muscular pain
· Less strength/stamina
· Weight gain
Conversely, here is a list of symptoms that occur from abnormally high levels of testosterone:
· High blood pressure
· Increased aggression
· Liver disease
· Skin infections
What did the findings of the study show?
Published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the U.S. study was conducted from 1987 to 2004 and showed that American men have been experiencing a steady decline in testosterone levels for over a decade. In fact, the study concluded that the testosterone levels of American men dropped twenty-two percent. The annual average for the decline was about 1.5 percent per year. This percentage has continued to be the average drop rate since the study was concluded.
Typically, men forty and over lose slightly less than one percent of their testosterone each year. Research has found that in conjunction with the decline in testosterone, men 40 and older had initial testosterone levels that were much lower than those of the same age from 20 years earlier.
It was first believed that men in the U.S. were isolated in experiencing lower testosterone levels, but research in other parts of the world has recently shown otherwise. A Danish study also concluded that testosterone counts have been dropping in their general male population for decades.
In addition to low testosterone, the studies also cast a spotlight on other concerns.
What other health issues are men experiencing?
According to other findings from the study, American men have seen twice the prevalence in hypospadias; a condition that causes openings to form on the urethra before reaching the tip of the penis. Meanwhile, the physical number of males being born diminishes each year, and there have also been recent studies suggesting a higher rate of autism in boys.
Why are men facing these issues?
There are multiple theories as to what is causing the phenomena that men around the world are facing. One of which is environmental.
Some studies attribute the potential cause of the aforementioned issues to more exposure to chemicals in the womb and throughout life. Many believe that one of the most common chemicals, phthalates, come from more exposure to plastic from a young age.
Phthalates are a chemical used to make plastic more flexible and difficult to break. They are used in everything from vinyl flooring to children’s toys. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research on the effects of phthalates is fairly limited, but the chemicals have been deemed safe.
Another major link to the downslope in men’s general health is obesity. The number of obese men (especially in the U.S.) has risen at an alarming rate. From 1988 to 2003, the average American man’s body mass index (BMI) rose from 25 to 30. The more body fat people gain, the less testosterone they will have, along with countless other health complications.
Further research is being done to find a definitive answer as to what is causing men to experience such a massively-scaled health scare. Current theories exist, but the true answers remain outside of scientific understanding.
What can be done to prevent low testosterone and poor health?
Men’s declining health in the general population could possibly be linked to some variables that can’t be controlled. However, there are ways for men to stay healthy on an individual level to reduce the risk of low testosterone and obesity:
1. Adapt a healthier diet
Eating healthy is the key to improving a vast majority of health issues. By keeping to a diet of healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and whey protein, a healthy weight can be maintained.
2. Get more Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a crucial source for healthy sperm cells and increasing testosterone production. For American men, vitamin D deficiencies are at an all-time high. By simply making the effort to spend more time in the sun (the best source for vitamin D), a healthier level of testosterone can be achieved.
3. Make sure to get enough zinc
Zinc is a mineral that has been shown to aid in producing testosterone. It can be consumed by eating foods like lean meats, fish, beans, raw dairy and kefir. Many men over 60 do not receive the recommended amount of zinc, so reading nutrition labels is a good way of adding zinc-rich foods to one’s diet.
4. Stay active
Exercising regularly (at least three times per week for 30 minutes) can actually allow for a boost in testosterone production. By keeping in shape, the body is able to maintain a healthy supply of testosterone, which in turn can help avoid depression, obesity and a weakened immune system. Exercise is one of the most viable ways to promote general health.
5. Try cutting out sugar
Sugars of all kinds lead to higher blood glucose levels and a natural use of more insulin. Overconsumption of processed sugars is also a leading cause of obesity and diabetes, which both cause lower testosterone levels. By limiting sugar intake, health will improve, and testosterone levels will likely maintain steady numbers.
Although it seems that testosterone levels are on an inevitable decline, research continues for answers and solutions.
Spreading awareness on a topic that is often not put at the forefront of news is the only way to make men aware of the dangers that they may face. By speaking to a doctor, eating a healthy diet and making choices to promote personal health, the risks of low testosterone and common health issues can be greatly reduced.