Ladies, I’m not talking about how the man in your life responds to your menopause. This is about the “mid-life change” that occur for men. It’s often referred to as “Andropause”.
Male menopause may be a bit controversial medically, and certainly it isn’t the universal, predictable milestone that female menopause is, but truly, some guys do go through something similar at midlife, or even sooner. When testosterone takes a tumble, men can become as cranky, depressed and wiped out as women when estrogen bottoms out. In fact, it can wreak havoc on many areas of a man’s life, including his relationships. Since men aren’t usually prepared for this milestone in advance, they’re often not as prepared for it as women are.
In the hormonal sweepstakes, women have the edge. We’ve all known from an early age that someday menstruation and fertility will end. We’ve got a pretty good idea of when it will happen, and when it does, we know for sure what’s going on.
With men, it’s different. Their testosterone may begin edging down as early as age 30. The first hint that something’s wrong may be a loss of interest in sex. Testosterone fuels the sex drive in both men and women. (Men have lots more than women — in addition to sex drive, in men testosterone is responsible for bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, red blood cell production, and sperm production). It’s also a major player in the brain game of memory, mental clarity, ambition, drive and emotional well-being.
Testosterone peaks during teenage years and remains high until a guy is between age 30 and 40 when it begins a slow decline at a rate of about one percent per year. This may not be noticeable for years, unless a man has been gaining weight — that will accelerate the drop (although low testosterone can lead to weight gain). The good news here is that the weight/testosterone equation seems to work the other way around — lose weight, and testosterone levels can go up, according to a study presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.
You Can Avoid Andropause!
Believe it or not, there are things to increase testosterone today! Obesity and belly fat is one of the worst things for a man. It radically decreases testosterone and increases unhealthy estrogen. Increasing muscle mass increases testosterone, while high carbohydrate diets (high in sugar) are testosterone killers. Another tip is to sleep your way manly! Your body produces growth hormone when you sleep. Growth hormone is associated with youth, strength and vitality.
Here’s a summary of testosterone boosting tips:
- Soy foods contain compounds similar to human estrogen and bind to estrogen receptor sites (yes, men have them) and may be associated with decreased testosterone.
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates are testosterone troublemakers since they’re the foods most responsible for weight gain in both sexes. Testosterone levels actually drop right after you’ve eaten sugar. Think vegetables for carbs.
- Radical caloric restriction — cutting calories by 30 to 40 percent — can reduce testosterone levels, lower libido and reduce muscle and bone mass (both of which are testosterone dependent). Don’t be afraid of protein and healthy fat.
- Drinking too much alcohol, especially beer.
- Exercise. Testosterone levels can definitely be affected by exercise. Most men get a temporary hormonal boost after a workout, and new research suggests that exercise can bolster testosterone production in the brain. The question of whether you can permanently restore low testosterone levels with exercise alone hasn’t been settled. But that may not matter if you’re exercising regularly.
- Get tested. The only way to learn whether a man’s testosterone level is too low is with a blood test (this should be done in the morning when levels are at their highest). If weight is the problem, diet and exercise may be the solution (hint: weight related to low testosterone levels tends to be located in the abdomen). If the test shows that testosterone is low, you might want to discuss testosterone replacement with your physician.
And stick with my Omni Diet* or the Brain Warrior’s Way* mealplan. I can assure you that you’ll get plenty of really good, healthy food. Take a look at the recipe for my Free-Range Bison Meatloaf. How can you feel deprived when that’s on the dinner table?
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