Living with Low Testosterone
With the growth of testosterone awareness recently, we see many patients for low testosterone treatment. Common symptoms of low testosterone, clinically known as hypogonadism, include fatigue, decreased motivation, low libido (sexual desire), difficulty sleeping, depressed mood, and erectile dysfunction.
If a patient has these symptoms, we typically conduct several lab tests including a low t test, estrogen, cholesterol, diabetes screening, thyroid hormone, and vitamins D and B12 tests. If sleep continues to be an issue, we may recommend a formal sleep evaluation as well. If testosterone is indeed “low” based on lab values, we will offer medical treatment. However, holistic methods are available, and we’d like to share them with you.
Low Testosterone Treatment – The Holistic Approach
In patients with either normal or low testosterone levels, we take a holistic approach. Certain lifestyle changes can positively impact these low t symptoms. Diet and exercise have long been known as cornerstones in battling many of the issues stated above. Proper sleep, as well as social, psychological and spiritual self-care, are equally as important in increasing overall quality of life.
Additionally, we recommend patients to continue to see their primary care doctor for annual labs and physical. Below are some helpful tips to get you started on a path to better health and well-being.
Central obesity (or belly fat) can be an indicator of several major medical conditions such as high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and low testosterone. The more belly fat you have, the higher the risk of these problems which can potentially lead to heart attack and stroke. Diet and exercise can help to reduce central obesity. It is important to remember to implement dietary changes and exercise together, rather than one or the other, to achieve best results. Here are some dietary suggestions to help prevent low T.
– Reduce simple carbohydrates: sugar, soda, white bread or pasta, white rice, candy, high sugar fruits, whole milk, beer, and processed snacks/items.
– Replace simple with complex carbohydrates: whole grains, beans, vegetables, peas, beans, oatmeal, lentils, brown rice, and quinoa are complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs take more energy to process and keep you full longer, while simple carbs are processed quicker and leave you feeling hungry soon after eating.
– Increase lean protein and decrease fatty meats:
– Lean protein – chicken, turkey breast, salmon, trout, albacore tuna, and lean red meats such as sirloin or round cuts.
– Fatty meats – bacon, ham, lamb, pork, ribs, dark chicken and poultry skin.
– Increase colorful vegetables: kale, spinach, carrots, zucchini, squash, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, bell pepper, brussell sprouts, and beets.
– Limit or eliminate trans and saturated fats, replace with unsaturated fats:
– Unsaturated fats – Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, flax seed, chia seed), almonds, walnuts, olive oil, canola oil, avocado.
– Trans and saturated fats – butter, vegetable oil, cream, lard/shortening, heavy/whole dairy products.
– Reduce processed food and lower sodium intake: check nutrition labels on processed and frozen foods. These tend to contain high amounts of sodium as well.
– Hydration: Drink more water! It is recommended that you try and drink close to 64 fl.oz of water daily (that’s half a gallon). Keep sugary drinks, juices, and sodas to a minimum.
But as we said, diet and exercise must both be employed for best results in increasing your testosterone and overall health.
Exercise provides benefits not only for weight loss and lowering the risk of major medical conditions, but it also allows for better sleep, improved mood and concentration, decreasing depression, and improving sexual function. While many people have physically demanding jobs, it is important to be physically active and exercise outside of manual labor. Listed below are some tips and recommendations.
– Exercise 3-5 times weekly for at least 30 minutes.
– Your regimen should include a balance of weight-bearing exercises and cardiovascular exercises. The muscle gain from strength training helps to burn fat, and the cardio helps to raise your heart rate which can help with weight loss, endurance, blood pressure, and heart disease.
– Set weight loss and/or fitness goals to achieve.
– Slowly increase the intensity of exercise. Your body will become stronger and you will need to “up your game” with increasing intensity as well as switch up your routine to challenge your body in different ways.
– Try different forms of exercise – gym circuits, classes, yoga, biking, swimming, dancing, whatever gets you moving!
What’s important to remember when you exercise this much, however, is that with all the energy you expend, you’ll need the sleep to replenish it
Lack of a good night’s sleep can affect your energy, daily mood, ability to concentrate, work performance, sexual desire, and erections. Sleeping problems can be caused by long work hours, depression, anxiety, stress, too much caffeine, or certain medical conditions like sleep apnea. Here are some tips to get a good night’s rest.
– Schedule yourself to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
– Ask yourself: “Do I feel rested when I wake up?” If not, talk to your doctor.
– If you have a snoring problem, you may need to be evaluated by a sleep or ENT doctor for sleep apnea. This can wake you up at night without you realizing it, causing unrestful sleep.
– Eliminate blue light 2 hours prior to bedtime. Blue light comes from cell phones, laptops, TVs, etc.
Use your bed only for sleeping and sex. Watching TV, working, or reading in bed trains your body to expect activities other than rest. Use a comfortable bed and pillow that does not cause neck or back pain.
– Keep the room cool and very dark during sleep. 68-70 degrees is optimal according to studies.
– Melatonin is a natural supplement you can ask your doctor about that helps to regulate the sleep cycle.
– “Sleepy-Time” Teas also have organic ingredients to help with sleep.
– If you believe you have sleep apnea, contact us for an evaluation.
– If the above measures don’t help, you may need to speak with your doctor.
Spiritual Social and Psychological Health
Modern science has many studies demonstrating the connection between the mind and the body. To approach men’s health and wellness from a truly holistic perspective, we need to consider spiritual, social, and psychological health as well as physical upkeep. While these are simple concepts, it takes discipline to implement them into daily life. But once you do, you will likely notice positive changes in your mood, energy, sleep, and sexual function.
– Recognize if stress is an issue. Stress can contribute to all the symptoms stated above. Reducing stress is not always easy or always under our control. Everyone has a different method of managing stress. Find out what works for you whether it is exercise, hobbies, yoga, socializing, etc. If stress continues to be an issue despite lifestyle interventions, check in with your doctor.
– Establish a relationship with a counselor. Having someone who is a professional to talk to can benefit everyone, even if they are not going through a crisis. Counselors are trained to listen and offer helpful outside perspectives. There are many types of counselors that specialize in marriage, family, and even sexual relations.
– Stay aware of your mental and emotional state, and recognize what factors impact your inner world the most. Counselors can help by providing mental exercises and tools to increase awareness.
– Cultivate self-esteem. Some ways to do this are setting attainable goals and recognizing yourself when you accomplish them. You can also examine how you are contributing to the world and appreciate your contribution.
– Find your “tribe”. Strive to make friends with people who have similar wellness goals. Plan activities with them like healthy dinners or group exercise, and decrease interactions with people who put pressure on you to do things that prevent you from getting well.
– Do not hesitate to seek evaluation by a physician for symptoms. Your doctor is an important part of your life and is here to help. If you notice something different about your health, reach out.
– Communicate with your partner, family, or a close friend about your goals and medical processes, and keep them involved. Remember, the more connected you are to loved ones, the better support you have and the easier it will be to make positive changes.
– Join a regular men’s social group.
– Healthy competition with friends may be a good way to motivate.
– Spirituality is a way of discovering purpose and meaning in our own existence.
– Identify what “spiritual” means for you. It could be religion, meditation, yoga, or just a walk.
– Plan out a regular time to meaningfully engage in spiritual health practices in personal and community settings like church, or a meditation group.
– Reflect on what you are thankful for, the good things in your life and how much you appreciate them.
Everyone walks a different path in life. Sometimes the bumps and bruises you get along that path need some medical help, whatever it might be. So if you’re struggling with anything we’ve mentioned, feel free to drop us a note or give us a call – 512-596-5057. We’ll get you back on track in no time.