Many men suffer from low testosterone, particularly as they age, but few recognize that it impacts more than just libido and erectile function. Other side effects, according to the American Urological Association, include fatigue, memory loss, depression and mood swings, changes in body composition, difficulty sleeping, and reduction in bone density. It even can lead to higher rates of mortality and diabetes, according to a 2006 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers who studied a large sample of men in the U.S. have confirmed that average testosterone levels are dropping across the board by up to 1% annually, clear evidence that there’s a problem.
With June being Men’s Health Month, it’s an ideal time for men of all ages in Southwest Florida to think about the one hormone that affects them in so many ways.
A simple blood test can confirm testosterone levels, and for those with low numbers, urologists often provide treatment through prescription drugs or injections. Older men may pop a Viagra to fix erectile disfunction, a side effect of low testosterone, but it doesn’t actually resolve the overall issue of low testosterone. As is the case with many medications, prescriptions for low testosterone also come with potential side effects: headache, upset stomach, muscle pain, nausea, abnormal vision, skin rashes, acne and even heart attack and stroke.
When prescribing medication, many urologists aren’t looking at the patient as a whole – their course of treatment is isolated to treating a specific symptom. The manner in which many urologists treat patients is a core methodology that differentiates traditional medicine from functional medicine. In functional medicine, physicians determine how and why disease, illness and pain are occurring, then restore health by optimizing a patient’s body and organs through an evidence-based, holistic approach to medical care.
Naples Center for Functional Medicine’s Dr. Eduardo Maristany is a board-certified internal medicine physician who also is trained by the Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Maristany helps male patients with low testosterone, starting with a thorough physical examination and completing a detailed health history analysis. He also recommends additional testing to measure many different hormone levels, glucose metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, inflammatory markers, toxin levels and more, with a primary goal of developing a scientifically and genetically complete profile of a patient, which often points to factors that interrupt or inhibit the development of testosterone.
Many patients can experience immediate improvements in their testosterone levels by implementing hormone replacement therapy. It is also possible to make improvements through diet and lifestyle. Here are some natural solutions Dr. Maristany often suggests:
- Diet: Cut out sugar and junk food like french fries, cheeseburgers, potato chips, soda, candy bars and pastries. Increase your intake of lean protein and healthy fats from natural foods like fish, nuts, and avocados.
- Intermittent fasting: Eat healthy, well-balanced meals in a condensed period of time, ideally over eight to 10 hours, to allow your organs to rest and balance hormones.
- Exercise: Intense or moderate training with weights and resistance machines is a natural remedy for hormone production and is good for your overall health.
- Stress reduction: Overcome work-related stress by taking a brisk walk, making time for family activities and hobbies, and taking a minute or two for deep breathing.
- Sleep: An ample amount of sleep each night – at least seven hours for most people – helps the body recharge naturally.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is readily available by stepping outside, and it’s also one of the most popular supplements on the market.
- Zinc: Meats like beef, chicken and pork, as well as nuts and beans, help replenish zinc and boost testosterone production.
Patients who seemingly do it all right – eat healthy, exercise and generally take good care of their bodies – still can experience declines in their testosterone levels because they are constantly bombarded by environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors.
Dr. Maristany’s goal is to help patients optimize their testosterone levels. It’s a powerful brain stimulant, but also is a powerful body regulator. Every individual is different, which is why he spends hours delving into patients’ medical histories and concerns before drafting a to-do list that, if followed, can reduce or eliminate many of their health concerns.
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