There are lots of messages in the mass media regarding the absence of Mr. T. And no, it’s not a lamentation for the return to glory of the former star of The A-Team. We’re talking about testosterone, a new national obsession for men seeking the ever-elusive fountain of youth.
Testosterone is a hormone, produced by men in the testes and adrenal glands. It peaks in men around age 40 (although some claim it begins declining earlier), and gradually ebbs in small increments.
While there is much locker-room joking about the signs of low T (including getting excited about watching the red carpet at the Oscars and knowing too many show tunes), there are some diagnosed signs of its diminishment. These can include fatigue, irritability, loss of body mass, increased lack of muscle and an inability to build muscle through exercise, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory, weight gain, breast enlargement, and problems urinating.
Playing upon your nagging fears is a cottage industry, with marketing pitches that question your manhood.
In short, just about any condition that affects someone working long hours, eating badly, and not getting enough sleep can be a sign of low testosterone. It’s no wonder that prescriptions for low T have tripled in the last ten years.
Officially, low T is clinically diagnosed when your levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter, as measured by a blood test. Unlike women, who hit a brick wall with menopause, the decline (termed andropause) is a subtle and gradual process, giving you enough time to worry and perhaps shrug it off, rub some dirt on it, and continue on with life.
But playing upon your nagging fears is a cottage industry, with marketing pitches that question your manhood. Much as the famous Charles Atlas ads touted the miracles of working out as a sure-fire cure for beach bullies, so too do the testosterone sellers talk of the changes that you can create in your life if only you can get your T-levels up to snuff. This is usually delivered by having a Zooey Deschanel look-alike draped upon the guy in the ad. The implication is that you, who does not have a Zooey Deschanel draped upon you, have somehow failed.
It’s obviously working. The New York Times reports that prescription skin gels made more than $2 billion in sales in 2012, heading toward an anticipated $4 billion in five years on the Zooey meter.
The problem is that it takes a visit to the doctor to actually get a confirmed diagnosis of low T, which is considered a relatively rare malady (as even those with one testicle can produce enough testosterone). And there are some potential side effects to boosting your testosterone beyond normal levels, which paradoxically can include lowering your fertility.
But if you want to avoid sitting in a small office and reading People magazine, there are a few natural solutions out there to boost your testosterone. Coincidentally, these are also just good old tips for living well — so even if you remain at your lowly levels of T, you’ll get an A for an improved lifestyle.
Alter your eating habits — The manly T-boosting diet features a healthy mix of green leafy vegetables, protein, and cholesterol. Low-fat diets and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage work to lower the levels of estrogen (a female hormone) in your body, thus boosting testosterone levels. So get thee to the steak house, stat!
Think Zinc — Minerals such as zinc and magnesium are good testosterone kick starters. Also recommended are Vitamin D3 supplements Omega-3 fish oil (cod-liver oil or flax seed oil).
Exercise — Allegedly a natural testosterone booster, although it’s probably because woman will take more notice of a harder body.
Nuts to You — After your workout, there’s a stop at the 19th hole. Have the bartender put out some Blue Diamond almonds. Yeah, unsalted are better but, like Gatorade, your drained body craves the salt.
So don’t be the fool they pity. Get to a doctor or start living your life larger and more robustly by following the natural path to increased vigor. Mr. T is waiting for you.