By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
So-called “Low-T” treatments are the latest infomercial minefield on late night TV. According to those infomercials, you can also learn how to stop the aging process, melt pounds away, grow hair back where you want it and cure all your ills, but boosting “stamina,” is all the rage. And fixing your gosh darn Low-T can do all this for you and more! Sound too good to be true? As with most health hyperbole, buyer beware.
Before we jump into our list of sexy foods, let’s take a closer look at the root cause of the issue.
Low-T is a catchy and more marketable way to say low testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone produced by the sex glands, mainly the testes in men, credited with sex drive, aggression, metabolism, bone density, facial and body hair, muscle strength and muscle mass, red blood cell production and sperm production. It’s essentially an “anti-aging” hormone. Testosterone production in men also involves the pituitary gland in the brain, which directs the testes to make the hormone. Issues with low testosterone can be primary (a problem in the testes) or secondary (signaling issues involving the brain).
By the way: Testosterone isn’t just found in men. Women make some too; very small amounts are released into the bloodstream from adrenal glands and ovaries.
Signs of low testosterone:
Reduced levels of testosterone occur naturally with age but is now seen as a disorder in our perfection-focused, youth-driven culture.
These days however, Low-T doesn’t just happen with time in older men. There are legitimate concerns about premature reduction in testosterone in younger men, and our modern lifestyle is likely to blame for the rising prevalence in this age group.
In fact, fluctuations in testosterone are normal, and often part of a temporary condition.
Causes may include:
Low-T can be treatable and reversible in many cases, especially when the underlying cause can be remedied. For example, treating an infection, losing weight or working with a therapist on emotional stress.
To find out if you have “Low-T,” ask your doctor for a blood test (hey now I sound like that infomercial!) But seriously, ask your doctor for blood tests before popping supplements or other commercial products which can carry serious risks.
For example, DHEA and other dietary supplements sold as “natural” male hormones can carry serious risks although they may also offer benefits. Research remains inconclusive. Besides the unregulated supplement market in the US, which leaves the door wide-open for ineffective products, these pills may be risky in certain individuals with specific risk factors they may not be aware of. For example, cases of aggressive prostate cancer have been linked to “natural steroid” hormone use, as supplements purchased without a prescription, over the counter.
What are your favorite foods and tips for a happy and healthy sex life?