Derived from cholesterol, it is produced in the testes and ovaries, as well as in the adrenal glands, playing a big role in producing LH and FSH hormones (which we’ll get to later). In females, testosterone plays a role in fertility, libido, menstruation and bone mass, including the stimulation of new red blood cells, hence why it’s often associated with our sex drive (and aggressive behaviour). We often see that long-term use of Oral Contractive Pills (OCPs) can attribute to low testosterone levels.
When we think of testosterone we think of the more masculine attributes, i.e. body hair, deep voice, muscle mass and growth spurts. Since testosterone is present in both men and women, we need to be mindful of deficiencies (and excess!) of this hormone, as it can alter tissue growth, increase stomach fat, decrease libido and cause erectile dysfunction in men as well as amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) in women. Psychologically low testosterone can decrease our overall mood, including low concentration, poor memory, insomnia and depression, so it’s important that this hormone is balanced.
How can we increase testosterone levels? Simple weight bearing or cardio exercises are an easy lifestyle method (obese men tend to have lower testosterone). But why? Research shows that as obesity, or fat cells, increase inflammation in the body and this inflammation is associated with supressing testosterone synthesis. Along with exercise it’s important to combined good quality sleep, getting some sunshine (daily vitamin D), eating the 3 macro foods (daily intake of protein, good fats and carbs) and try to minimise your stress levels (stress is always a culprit).
One study has shown that women newly in love have higher testosterone levels than a single or long-term relationship woman, meanwhile the opposite was shown with men. Let’s keep our passion burning bright we say! So, what about testosterone-boosting foods you might ask? We suggest consuming more ginger, oysters (high zinc dose), high magnesium foods like leafy greens and legumes, fatty fish, pomegranates, EVOO and onions. Avoiding alcohol, BPA, packaged and processed foods have been reported to assist in maintaining testosterone levels.