Cause & Effect: What’s Behind This Low-T Wave?
Unfortunately, the answer here isn’t so easy to triangulate. It would be easy to have a black and white answer, but the reality is that there’s no, “there’s something in the water!” answer here. Like most modern disease states, low testosterone is multifactorial in the nature of its cause.
The primary drivers of this male menopause movement are poor nutrition, poor sleep, unmanaged stress and trauma, inadequate light exposure, technology abuse, lack of exercise, environmental toxins, and even lifestyle complacency. All of these serve as epigenetic inputs, interventions to your physical body that trigger gene switches that “flip” on or off, for better or worse. In a nutshell, everything you expose your body to is going to alter your genome positively or negatively. The same way you train to gain muscle mass to bypass (or harness) your genetic predispositions.
Let’s unpack this a bit more. The following is a dive into each causal mechanism and how to course correct for optimal health, fitness, performance, and quality of life.
What you put in your mouth is going to affect your health, performance, fitness, how clearly you think, your emotions, etc. It’s no wonder that dialing in the diet piece is often the biggest mover of progress in individuals and athletes. So how about hormones?
The reality is that if you aren’t getting in the right nutrient spectrum, your hormones may have less ‘fertilizer’ to run off of to operate at optimal levels. This can be simply not eating the right varieties or amounts of quality foods, or it could mean not considering food sourcing. That means that you’re not paying attention to how what you’re eating was raised or what the conditions of its life were. For example, non-organic beef is sourced from cows who regularly are fed poor diets, including infusions of negative hormone drivers. So what’s the solution? When considering food, think, “you are what you eat, ate.”
This can impact entire hormonal sets, as well. Biohacker and human performance engineer, Tone Floreal, 40, of San Francisco, CA, has this to say about his own experience: “The real issue was that my other hormones and micronutrients, like pregnenolone and vitamin D, were not in balance relative to my T levels, according to labs evaluated by neuroendocrinologist, Dr. Mark Gordon.” Tone also adds the impact this had on his quality of life: “My morning depression, anxiety, and brain fog symptoms all disappeared following a nutritional regimen that allowed my brain to be placed in a state to thrive!”
The takeaway should be that it’s key to get a variety of quality foods from the right sources, in the right amounts. Don’t forget that supplementation can play a critical role here, too. Supplementing with things like vitamin D, or anabolic optimizers like Max Muscle Nutrition’s My-T or 2TX can all play major roles in promoting optimal hormone function. In other words, feed the need.
Sleep, Light, & Technology
Sleep cycles, or circadian biology, is a main tree to bark up if you’re experiencing symptoms of low testosterone. The truth is that our propensity to extend the day, let bluelight from technology disrupt our sleep, allow EMFs into our sleeping area, and experience inadequate sunlight exposures all disrupt our hormonal equilibrium.
Getting adequate sunlight during the day will stimulate a multitude of hormones. On the flip-side, getting excess blue light exposure from our devices in the evening and night-time hours can actually dampen our sleep quality, which negatively impacts hormones. Furthermore, not sleeping in blacked out room-conditions is another probable culprit for most. Lastly, sleeping with devices plugged in too close to sleeping quarters needs to be addressed.
Start by getting enough sleep and sleeping in a blacked out room to set yourself up for success. You can get blackout curtains and/or sleep with a sleeping mask on. The next step should be to address light. If you use devices later than ideal, at least try getting a cheap pair of blue blocker glasses for night-time (and screen stress shielders for during the day). Try incorporating a, ‘no shadows after evening’ rule in your household, and only use lamps without overhead lighting. A step beyond that would be to change out your bulbs for amber lights to provide sleep-friendly light. Unplug electrical devices emitting health-disrupting electromagnetic frequencies near your bed. Last but not least, unplug from your WiFi and put your phone on airplane mode without cell data – or better yet, turn it off.
This may seem like a lot, but the reality is that these are simple implementations that you do once and are more or less, “set and forget” in nature. Your sleep will thank you.
Stress and Lifestyle
In Eastern Medicine, the idea of thoughts and emotions affecting the physical body is nothing new. Us here out West, however, are just now coming up with some of the mechanistic understandings for this phenomena. The gist of it is that emotions and physiology is a feedback loop: your thoughts and emotions affect your body, and the inputs you give your body affects your quality of life. Pretty simple to grasp.
Hormones are no exception. A large body of research has demonstrated individuals who subjectively identify as stressed or anxious, as stifling their truths, and/or are dealing with large amounts of trauma generally have less than ideal hormonal balance. Getting a hold on stress management then becomes critical to address testosterone.
There are a myriad of methods, including meditation, presence awareness, walking, breath-work, and beyond. Don’t forget that because of the aforementioned emotions/physiology feedback loop, better hormones means better quality of life. Dr. Paul Ofili, 29, of Mill Valley, CA had this to say about the concept: “Optimal testosterone levels has amazing benefits, including promoting happiness, forging a sharper mind, and confidence-boosting the main ingredients for success.”
Your surroundings can impact your hormones, as well. This can mean toxins in your household, surrounding area, and beyond. Addressing your environment and toxic load can be a simple way to set yourself up for success.
Aluminum and toxins in common deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes, personal care items, cleaning supplies, etc. all build up to your toxic load accumulation. Swapping these out for natural alternatives is a simple solution to jump start your hormonal recovery and optimization process.
One of the best methods for improving testosterone and enhancing quality of life is to take up a training regimen. If you’re an athlete, you already have this covered. For everyone else, this means regular movement and daily activity incorporation. The absolute best is to integrate resistance training, which has repeatedly been demonstrated to enhance testosterone release.
On the flip-side, athletes should be sure they aren’t over-training. A dialed up training regimen combined with inadequate recovery time, tools, and lifestyle can have the opposite effect of shooting your hormones in the wrong direction. Strike a balance and maintain it over the long haul.
How To Tell If Your Have Low T
While there are many telltale signs of low testosterone and/or hormone imbalance, it’s important to inspect what you expect. This means getting some official self-quantification done in the form of lab work. Although blood panels are important to do periodically, the following are signs that you may be due to expedite the process: low libido, depression, anxiety, poor sleep, erectile dysfunction, fat gain, chronic inflammation, decreased muscle mass, lower bone density, and decreased drive in life all are associated with andropause. If you’re experiencing a constellation of them, it may be time to do something about it.
The best lens from which to view andropause comes from Chris Albert, 39, hormone specialist, nutritionist, and trainer out of Southern California. Albert says, “the biggest thing to remember about low T is that it goes far beyond something that will be fixed by a simple injection. If you have low T, it means that you either have uncontrolled inflammation or something is broken in your body. Regardless of how you choose to treat the symptoms, the underlying cause should be addressed for the good of your overall health.”
By Matt Cooper