Extracts from Patrick Holford's new book Good Medicine:
Others have no problem with sexual performance but produce dysfunctional sperm, making conception unlikely for partners.
There are a number of good medicine solutions out there to help solve these issues.
1. Check your testosterone levels
Men as well as women can suffer from menopausal symptoms later in life. In men, these are called the andropause. Symptoms include decreased sexual performance, loss of morning erections and decreased potency, as well as fatigue, depression, irritability, rapid ageing, aches and pains, sweating and flushing. The cause of the male menopause is liekly to be declining levels of what is known as 'fee (unbound)' circulating testosterone.
There's a good online test for factors that predict testosterone deficiency. If your score says you are at risk, it is worth seeing a health-care practitioner experienced in the andropause and also having your testosterone levels measured. A doctor should measure both your testosterone level and the level of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which binds to, and hence inactivates, testosterone. By knowing these two figures you can work out the level of 'free' testosterone.
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2. Reduce stress and alcohol
Stress is a major factor is testosterone decline, so it makes sense to look at ways to reduce it in your life.
When you are stressed, you produce cortisol, which is needed for a normal response to stress, giving you more energy and alertness when needed, and it has an anti-inflammatory effect. Too much stress means too much cortisol, which then tends to lower testosterone levels and DHEA levels.
High alcohol consumption is another risk factor for low levels of testosterone. If a man has had a period of heavy drinking in his lifetime, his liver may be able to recover but the testes may be less able to.
3. Reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are chemicals in the environment with actions similar to the female hormone oestrogen. They have recently been found to be anti-androgenic, blocking the action of testosterone. They are found in pesticides, plastic wrapping and plastic bags, so choose organic vegetables and meat wherever possible to reduce pesticide and hormone exposure, and don't eat fatty foods wrapped in non-PVC clingfilm.
4. Increase protein intake and lose weight
A higher-protein diet tends to increase testosterone, and bring down SHBG, which reduces available testosterone, so it's important to eat enough good-quality protein, such as fish and lean meats. A strict vegetarian or vegan diet with a lot of fibre tends to increase SHBG and so is more likely to be associated with lower testosterone levels. A low-GL diet is good for your sex drive, because it includes healthy levels of protein.
If you are overweight or have insulin resistance or diabtes, this wil increase oestrogen dominance, which inhibits testosterone. The basic principles of a low-GL diet are: (a) eat foods that release their sugar content slowly, such as whole grains, oats, lentils, beans, apples, berries and raw or lightly cooked vegetables; (b) eat protein with every meal or snack; for example, chicken or fish with brown rice, fruit with nuts or seeds, outcakes with hummus; and (c) limit refined or processed carbo-hydrates found in cakes. white bread and biscuits.
5. Think zinc
A high degree of impotence and infertility is found in men who suffer from zinc deficiency. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the male sex glands and in the sperm itself, where it is needed to make the outer layer and the tail. The average dietary intake of zinc is half the recommended daily allowance (RDA), so include more high-zinc foods in your diet, including oysters, lamb, nuts, egg yolks, rye and oats, and take zinc supplement.
6. Protect you cholesterol
Testosterone is made in the body from cholesterol. Very low-cholesterol diets, as well as cholesterol-lowering medication, can therefore lower testosterone levels. but antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E help to protect valuable cholesterol from being damaged. Seeds and nuts are rich sources of vitamin E.
- Egg yolks
- Rye and oats
- Organic vegetables and fruit
- Seeds and nuts
- Fish, prawns
- Refined foods (anything made with white flour or sugar)
Also, limit exposure to, or use of, industrial chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs.
This extract is from Patrick Holford's Good Medicine, get the book to find more safe and natural ways to solve over 75 common health problems.