Did you know that men go through menopause? It’s called andropause and I know a lot of women reading this are smiling right now, so let me explain. Andropause is caused by low testosterone and high levels of estrogen, insulin and cortisol (our stress hormone).
We all know that hormonal changes are a natural part of aging. With men these changes can include decreased sexual function, increased belly fat, decreased energy levels and mood swings, but because they happen slowly over time, they often go unnoticed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, men tend to be less aware of their subtle body changes, because hormones tend to decline slower for men. Also men don’t talk about what they are experiencing, or at least not as freely as most women do, they just learn to live with mood changes and weight gain.
Stress elevates cortisol levels and disrupts the overall balance in your system, signalling your body to store fat. The danger comes when the fat tends to accumulate in your belly. This is called visceral fat and is found behind your abdominal muscles, keeping you chronically inflamed. This eventually leads to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
There is a natural decline of the male hormones testosterone, DHEA, androstenedione and human growth hormone. With some men it may start to happen around age 55 and gets worse in their 60s or 70s. With the onslaught of hormone disrupting chemicals in our environment, younger men in their 30s are now experiencing symptoms. Unfortunately, a lot of older men are on statins (cholesterol lowering medication), which tend to lower testosterone levels. And while it may be lowering cholesterol, it’s also causing memory loss, muscle weakness and chronic fatigue.
Some of the symptoms of Andropause include:
- memory loss
- muscle loss/weakness
- irritability/mood swings
- loss of libido
- weight gain
- urinary problems
- hot flashes
What can men do?
First of all, avoid grapefruit and cut down on your alcohol consumption, if you are suffering from low testosterone. The body’s aromatase enzyme turns testosterone into the female hormone estrogen when certain substances are ingested, and grapefruit and alcohol are two of those substances.
Focus on a healthy diet and active lifestyle. If you are overweight or have low energy, look at your diet and reduce the amount of stimulants, such as coffee and sugar, you are ingesting daily. If you smoke, now is a perfect time to quit. If you are overweight, lose those extra pounds. Exercise will help you both physically and emotionally, and is great for stress reduction.
To help increase testosterone production, take zinc and vitamins C and E. Start eating more celery. YES, you heard that correctly, celery! It contains l-arginine and is a vasodilator, increasing blood flow to the areas in your body that need it. It works like viagra. You can have a glass of fresh celery juice every morning. Beets are also great for endurance and vasodilation.
Start to think about your adrenals and liver. Both need nourishment and get exhausted, affecting the hormonal balance in your body. Indole-3-carbinol(13C) helps maintain hormonal balance. Getting an adequate intake of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), either through vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage or from supplements, will help keep estrogen levels in check while decreasing the risk of prostate cancer. Rhodiola, ginseng, ashwagandha and cordyceps are just a few of the herbs that are nourishing for your adrenals. Dandelion root and milk thistle are helpful for the liver and are great as teas. Add some bitter greens, such as arugula, endive, radicchio, escarole, dandelion greens, rapini, watercress to your salads. They are full of nutrients, aid digestion, balance your taste buds, act as a gentle diuretic and are nourishing for your liver by helping to flush out toxins.
Avoid ingesting chemicals, pesticides and hormones. I would highly recommend cutting out all meat, fish, dairy and eggs completely and switching to a whole foods plant based diet. Your body will thank you!
Take a deep breath and find time in your day to feel gratitude for everything you have. Life changes so quickly and we all get caught up in the day-to-day nonsense. Take a step back and if things are feeling stressful, change the channel to something you enjoy listening to!
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