New statistics show that Americans are living longer. The same, however, cannot be said about quality of life. Thinning hair, weight gain, muscle atrophy, memory problems, fatigue, and disease are just a few of the signs of aging and depending on severity can impact our quality of life. Many doctors prescribe medications that can help with these symptoms individually but neglect to look at the underline cause. What is the common denominator that both sexes share and can be linked to many of the symptoms of aging? The answer: hormones or rather declining hormone levels.
For men, testosterone is the culprit and it starts a slow decline after the age of 35. Testosterone is most commonly known for its role in building muscle, masculinizing men, and increasing libido. Testosterone, however, does so much more. It plays a role in cardiovascular health, bone health, and increases energy and drive. There are many ways that a man can increase testosterone naturally, here are a few:
Sugar and processed foods can all negatively impact testosterone levels. Limiting sugar and focusing on an organic whole foods diet, which limits our exposure to pesticides, has a positive impact on testosterone levels. Benefits are also seen when limiting alcohol consumption. Alcohol stimulates an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. Aromatase is found in fat tissue, so losing weight can positively affect testosterone levels.
Low testosterone increases weight gain and being overweight reduces testosterone. One answer, then, is to lose weight. Weight loss requires both a healthy diet and exercise program. In addition to aiding in weight loss, exercise helps build muscle, and muscle promotes testosterone. Try weight lifting 2-3 times per week. Studies also show that doing cardio exercise after lifting weights helps to distribute testosterone throughout the body.
Sleeping 7-8 hours a night has numerous health benefits. When it comes to testosterone it turns out sleep promotes testosterone. Ways to improve sleep and quality of sleep include: no screen time 1 hour before bed, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, avoid eating/drinking 3 hours before bedtime, and sleep in a dark, cool room.
Chronic stress opposes testosterone, and when testosterone is at an optimal level can oppose chronic stress. Cortisol is one hormone that is preferentially made at times of stress. It is made at the expense of testosterone, so finding effective ways of managing stress is crucial. Try new techniques for managing stress like diaphragmatic breathing, acupuncture, massage, or herbal supplements.
While the above strategies are helpful, sometimes men need more. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) offers another option for those who feel they need a little more or need a push. Women have long been enjoying the benefits of BHRT, but it is not just for women. Men too can see the affects of aging slowed by taking bio-identical hormones. Bio-identical hormones, unlike synthetic hormones, are made from precursors found in plants, typically soy or wild yam. They are identical to the ones made by the human body and are extremely safe to use. They effectively mitigate many of the symptoms of aging.
Optimizing hormone levels is an effective strategy for slowing the aging process. Whether it is through diet and lifestyle changes, through the use of bio-identical hormones, or a combination of both, optimal hormone levels may be the answer to bringing our health and wellbeing span more in line with our lifespan. For more information about optimizing hormone levels, schedule a free 30 minute consult with Drs. Tami Meraglia or Scott Moser.