Eventually I want to post one-page “action plans” for things like improving blood cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, or normalizing hormone levels. But, before I can do that, it’s necessary to discuss these topics to learn the terms and find out what healthy numbers or ranges are.
We’ve already talked about cholesterol, so, today let’s talk about the hormone, testosterone.
Whenever I cite “maintaining healthy testosterone levels” as a reason for eating more of one type of food, or less of another, a woman within earshot will always proclaim that, as a female, they don’t care about testosterone levels.
One thing I’m realizing more and more is the power of certain words and the emotional response they elicit.
For example, “gluten” has started to develop a negative reaction from the general public. Alternatively, “low-calorie” is a very popular marketing label that makes people feel like they are making a healthy food choice.
The irony is that people aren’t sure what gluten is or that caloric content is dependent upon the amount of food consumed. “Gluten-free” does not make a food healthy and “low-calorie” foods are only low in calories if you eat a small portion.
How does this apply to testosterone?
My best guess is that when professional athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters started taking drugs to boost their testosterone levels to super-physiological levels, the general public’s perception of testosterone changed. Suddenly, testosterone was not a necessary hormone for life, found in every living creature, but merely a means to achieving unnatural levels of muscle and strength or boosting athletic performance.
So, what is testosterone really?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone but, more importantly, it is the most prevalent “anabolic steroid” produced within the body. Again, some words that may scare the general public…
Anabolic is simply the process of smaller units coming together to make larger units.
In the human body, this translates to muscles, bones, and all cells in the body rebuilding or becoming stronger.
Testosterone certainly helps with increasing muscle mass, but it is also necessary for maintaining any lean muscle mass, reducing body fat, and increasing bone density. In fact, low testosterone levels are a leading cause of osteoporosis amongst women and the aging population.
Testosterone production naturally decreases with age, and low testosterone levels become rather cyclical. This is because fat cells in the body convert testosterone into the female sex hormone, estradiol, thereby lowering testosterone levels further and creating a more favorable environment for fat to thrive and lean muscle to break down.
In addition, the interplay between different hormone levels in the body plays an important role in the development and growth of multiple forms of cancer. Simply put, high estrogen levels and low testosterone levels will stimulate the growth of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.
For these reasons, I find it very odd when women in a gym tell me they are not concerned with their testosterone levels. In my mind, the point of the gym is to provide your body with a stimulus that it will recover from; making it stronger and better in the process. And, without testosterone, the body cannot recover adequately.
I’ll wrap up my post there but be on the lookout in the coming weeks for a short and simple action plan to maintain healthy hormone levels in the body.
For now, try to differentiate the concept of athletes raising their testosterone to unnatural levels through the use of drugs and the importance of naturally-occurring testosterone in your body.