It’s a touchy area, and one that can often be a little sensitive. There are those things that sometimes we just don’t want to talk about. For many of the guys that visit our clinic, hormones represent that area. While most guys are loathe to admit it, they are just as much at the mercy of their hormonal balance as women. Just like women, out of balance hormones in men can lead to symptoms like:
- lack of energy and constant fatigue;
- moodiness, depression and feelings of worthlessness;
- weight gain and exercise resistance weight loss;
- loss of good quality muscle tone;
- loss of libido;
So let’s take a minute or two to look at hormones from the male perspective. We’ll look at the major male hormones and more importantly, methods to preserve that hormonal balance as we age.
Oestrogen and Progesterone – Not Just Women’s Hormones!
The first two hormones we need to talk about are oestrogen and progesterone. Normally associated with women’s hormonal health, these two hormones are just as important for men’s health. If hubby keeps telling you that there is too much oestrogen in the house, just tell him that he is contributing to it as well!
In men, oestrogen is involved in a number of actions, but most importantly the maturation of sperm, fertility  and the maintenance of a healthy libido. All rather important actions to anyone looking to develop a family. Progesterone, is no less important. Progesterone is a crucial hormone in the maintenance of bone mass in both genders, particularly as we age, and serves the rather important role as a precursor to a number of other hormones, including testosterone.
Testosterone – Flagship Male Hormone
Normally the first hormone that springs to mind when talking about male hormones, testosterone is produced in the testes and to a certain extent the adrenal glands. Like other steroidal hormones i.e.. oestrogen and progesterone, testosterone is manufactured from our bodies cholesterol by way of pregnenolone and progesterone.
Testosterone has a number of important functions in the body including the development of primary male sex characteristics, stimulation of the production of sperm and maintenance of muscle mass.
Maintaining the Balancing Act
As with women, the difficulty with males hormones is in the maintenance of balance. Most guys would know that as we age, our natural production of testosterone diminishes and production of sex hormone binding globulin (a substance that locks available testosterone away where it can’t be used) increases. At the same time, our body is forced to deal with ever increasing quantities of external oestrogens, or oestrogen-like compounds known as xenoestrogens. The outcome is that we slowly find an increasing tendency toward oestrogen dominance in men, a situation that leads to fatigue, energy problems and lack of libido in the early stages, followed by osteoporosis and increased risk of prostate cancer.
Fortunately, maintaining our hormonal balance is relatively simple, and in fact, follows many of the same principles as maintenance of female hormonal balance.
Step 1 – Increase Intake of Good Fats
All our steroidal hormones, oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone are manufactured from our bodies cholesterol. Low cholesterol levels are increasingly being linked to low levels of these important hormones. To increase our bodies good cholesterol levels, increase your intake of good, healthy fats. Just like bad fats lead to bad cholesterol, good fats will increase good cholesterol, giving our body the raw materials it needs.
Good sources of good fats include: oily fish (or for those that don;t like fish, try fish oil capsules), olives, coconut and coconut oils, and nuts and seeds.
Step 2 – Ensure Optimum Mineral Intake
We talk regularly about the importance of particular minerals for optimal health and wellbeing. Our hormonal health is no exception! There are a number of minerals that have repeatedly been shown to be beneficial in the maintenance of good hormonal balance and particularly, testosterone levels as we age.
Magnesium: Typically associated with musculoskeletal health, magnesium is equally essential for hormonal health. A recent study of 30 adult males of varying activity levels found magnesium supplementation an effective way to boost free testosterone levels .
Selenium: Frequently recommended for it’s role in protecting the cells of the testes, it is this same function that makes it valuable in preserving optimal testosterone production as we age.
Zinc: While the direct studies linking zinc and male hormonal levels are varied, it is frequently found that men with reduced testosterone levels also have lowered levels of zinc.
While these minerals can all be added as individual dietary supplements, a good quality multi-mineral supplement will generally provide these in a single tablet.
Step 3 – Ensure Sufficient Intake of Protein
While high protein diets tend to come under a lot of fire, a properly structured, high protein diet is one of the most effective strategies we can implement for overall health.
Usually used for weight loss, muscle mass increase or blood sugar control, high protein diets have also shown an ability to reduce levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) . By reducing SHBG we increase the amount of available testosterone that can be utilised by the body.
In our clinic, we typically recommend a diet based on protein and fat as major sources of energy. While carbohydrates are required, we recommend the major carbohydrate source be vegetables containing large amounts of fibre, while minimising carbohydrates from grains, breads and pastas.
Step 4 – Consult with Our Naturopath
When it comes to hormones, maintaining balance is key. Choosing a treatment strategy purely from symptoms can be confusing, as the deficiency symptoms of each hormone tend to overlap in a lot of areas. We always recommend consulting with our Naturopath who can undertaken proper testing to determine the root cause of the problem.
If you, or someone you know is affected by hormonal imbalances, why not fill out this simple form and one of our Naturopathic staff will contact you.
-  Rex A. Hess., et al., A role for oestrogens in the male reproductive system.
-  Robertson, MK., Simpson, ER., Lacham-Kaplan, O., Jones EEM., Characterization of the Fertility of Male Aromatase Knockout Mice.
-  Cinar, V., et al., Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion.
-  C. Longcope, H. A. Feldman, J. B. McKinlay and A. B. Araujo, Diet and Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin.