01.08.2007

Got Your Mojo Working?

As males age, their hormonal profiles begin to shift,testosterone levels begin to drop and many develop somevery unwanted changes including muscle loss, fat gain,depression, moodiness, erectile dysfunction (ED, orimpotence), and a low libido, causing a significantamount of further emotional and physical distress. WhileED and a lowered libido are two separate conditionswith different causes, they can both play havoc witha good sex life. That's pretty important stuff, butthe implications for health go much further.

There can be several reasons behind the developmentof ED and low libido. But one commonality they shareis that they are rarely mentioned by sufferers, insteadbeing quietly accepted as normal ageing. Here's thenews flash - it doesn't happen to everyone, and it needn'thappen to you.

A common thread that often tends to run through thesetwo conditions is low levels of bio-available testosterone.While ED is more of a circulatory problem, (diabeticsmokers are in real trouble), or due to mental or emotionalissues, a low testosterone level is often an accompanyingcomplication, rather than being the primary cause. Onthe other hand, a flagging libido has a higher incidenceof low testosterone levels being involved.

Lowered testosterone is also known as ADAM (androgendeficiency in the ageing male), or male menopause (althoughprogression is far slower and less dramatic than inthe female menopause).

While some researchers have concluded that testosteronelevels decline naturally with age, others have foundthat in fit and healthy men, testosterone levels canbe maintained naturally. Take note, however, that simplybeing of normal weight and disease-free does not necessarilygrant you the title of fit and healthy... although itis a good start.

Carrying excess weight, especially around your midline,will lower a male's testosterone, with the aromataseenzymes in the fat cells transforming testosterone intothe feminising oestrogen - a double whammy!!
Excessive alcohol, stress and late nights will alsodrop testosterone levels.

Researchers have found that a low testosterone levelwill impair memory by inducing an increased LH productionwhich elevates blood levels of the beta amyloid proteinsassociated with Alzheimer's disease. This effect isnoticed quickly by prostate cancer sufferers who areput on androgen blocking drugs and notice poorer memorywithin weeks of starting treatment.

Males maintaining a good level of testosterone throughoutlife can even reduce their chances of developing heartdisease and diabetes, with testosterone helping to reduceblood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels. Combined withthe added muscle and bone strength, there is real potentialhere to assist males in maintaining a better qualityof life on several levels as they age.

Testosterone production relies upon several stepsand multiple nutrients for its production. This includesmaintaining healthy feedback and response from the hypothalamusand pituitary gland, responsible for producing the gonadotropin-releasinghormone (GRH) and luteinising hormone (LH), along withthe hormone DHEA produced by the adrenal gland, whichis finally converted in the testes into testosterone.Stress, inactivity, inadequate sleep, poor diet, illness,cigarettes and other factors can cause the message toget lost along the way.

Add to this scenario the fact that ageing raises yourblood level of a protein called sex hormone bindingglobulin (SHBG) by around one per cent annually, whichbinds to most of the testosterone in the blood makingit unavailable for use. Another protein, albumin, alsobinds to testosterone; thus these two proteins leavebehind a very small and progressively reducing amountknown as "free testosterone". Free testosteroneis the testosterone of importance.
Blood and saliva tests can tell us your free testosteronelevel, but before the guys all start getting out theirtest results so that they can compare measurements,it is worth noting that testosterone requirements seemto vary according to the individual


Comfortingly, elevation of sub-optimal testosteronelevels can generally be easily achieved naturally inmost men through simple attention to some basic healthyliving guidelines. These include not smoking, minimisingalcohol intake, getting plenty of quality sleep, achievinga healthy weight, not stressing, doing regular exercise(particularly resistance exercise which induces an adaptiveresponse sending the message that more testosteroneis needed to boost muscle development) and eating ahealthy diet.

The addition of specific nutritional or herbal supplementsis often necessary to achieve the desired results inmany males, with numerous studies validating the effectivenessof such supportive approaches.

A helpful, although slightly ironic, complementarytreatment found to raise testosterone production isto simply have more sex. If you have a low testosteronelevel to begin with, this may indeed prove to be anobstacle, but perhaps it might be a genuine case offake it till you (start to) make it?

Good Health,
Jeremy Hill.

Jeremy Hill (Diploma of Natural Therapy)is a qualified naturopath.

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