8 Healthy Habits That Can Help Low Testosterone

In addition to testosterone replacement therapy that is prescribed by your doctor, you might be able to get your testosterone level back up to speed — or at least counter some of its symptoms — with healthy lifestyle choices. Here are eight easy ways to boost your testosterone and your overall health.

Maintain Good Heart Health
“Anything good for your heart health is good for your testosterone level,” Dr. Tamler says. Maintaining good cardiovascular health means reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and eating a heart-healthy diet. The best exercise for low testosterone is a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training. The best diet is one that’s low in red meat and animal fat and high in lean white meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fiber from whole grains.

Reduce Your Stress Level
Both physical and emotional stress can reduce testosterone. “When your body goes into survival mode, the last thing it worries about is sex,” says Ronald Tamler, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York and an associate professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. As the stress hormone cortisol goes up, the testosterone hormone goes down. Try natural stress relievers, such as exercise, to improve your mental health and keep your testosterone production up. Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week plus strength training two days a week.

Get Rid of Belly Fat
A spare tire around your waist can contribute to low testosterone. As belly fat increases, the activity of an enzyme called aromatase increases, too. Aromatase converts testosterone into the hormone estrogen. Less testosterone and more estrogen causes fat to build up in breasts and hips. To determine your healthy weight, learn how to calculate your body mass index (BMI). Every point you knock off your BMI can help your testosterone level improve.

Get Enough Sleep
Your body produces testosterone when you’re in the deep stages of sleep, so less sleep means lower testosterone. A study published in the journal JAMA in 2011 found that restricting sleep to five hours per night for just one week reduced testosterone levels by up to 15 percent in healthy young men. Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night. If you are skimping on your sleep time, your testosterone production could be affected.

Rule Out Sleep Apnea
“There’s a strong link between sleep apnea and low testosterone,” Tamler says. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes loud snoring with short periods when you stop breathing. Daytime sleepiness may be a sign that you might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is more common in men and people who are overweight. Ask your sleep partner if you have loud snoring and gaps in breathing. If the answer is “yes,” talk to your doctor.

Avoid Self-Treatment for Low Testosterone
If you suspect low testosterone, don’t try to treat yourself with an over-the-counter supplement. “The Food and Drug Administration has removed all supplements that might raise testosterone because they’ve been abused by bodybuilders. The only supplements left on the market won’t help,” Tamler says. Healthy lifestyle changes can be much more useful for managing low testosterone than anything you might buy over the counter. If you do need testosterone replacement therapy, only get it from your doctor and take it as directed.

Go Easy on the Alcohol
Like belly fat, too much alcohol causes testosterone to be converted into estrogen and could contribute to low testosterone. “High quantities of alcohol over a long period of time can be toxic to the testicles and decrease production of testosterone. Alcohol can also interfere with signals between the brain and the testicles needed for regulating testosterone production,” Tamler says. Stick to no more than two drinks per day.

Don’t Use Drugs
Both opiate drugs and marijuana have been linked to low sperm production and low testosterone. Opiates, or narcotics, are used to treat pain but are often abused. Long-term use of opiate drugs and marijuana interferes with brain signals that control testosterone production. “That cigarette after sex is another way to decrease sexual performance,” Tamler says. “Nicotine constricts small blood vessels that supply blood to the penis and testicles.”

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