Testosterone is a crucial metabolic hormone for men's health at any age. While testosterone is mostly recognized in men for its role in muscle mass and sexual function, men need testosterone to balance blood sugar, maintain blood pressure, and prevent chronic diseases.
Testosterone deficiency has been shown in the literature to contribute to an increase in all-cause mortality for men . This may help to explain why men tend to develop cardiovascular diseases earlier in life than most women. Besides the negative impacts on the heart, low testosterone may contribute to the development of insulin resistance by decreasing lean muscle mass. If left untreated, insulin resistance can progress to Type II Diabetes.
While Testosterone Replacement Therapy may be warranted in true cases of testosterone deficiency, the development of a chronic disease alone may cause a decrease in levels of testosterone. In fact, men who are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes are likely to be deficient in testosterone . It is hard to say with certainty if testosterone deficiency is contributing to more chronic disease or if lifestyle choices contribute to a majority of chronic diseases and hence testosterone deficiency. It might be both!
For example, consider the consequences of consuming a high protein diet. A meta-analysis by Whittaker and Harris found that a high protein diet may contribute to a significant decrease in testosterone in men . The study defined a high protein diet as a diet where 35% of the total daily calories came from protein. The biochemical reasoning behind high protein and a decrease in testosterone may have to do with the body's inability to break down a large amount of nitrogen from protein into urea, leading to a buildup of metabolic ammonia.
As with all chronic diseases, it is important to get to the root cause. If testosterone deficiency is contributing to chronic illness such as insulin resistance, then testosterone levels need to be addressed, whether through lifestyle factors or a referral for testosterone replacement. However, it is also important to optimize diet and lifestyle factors to prevent chronic diseases and concurrently keep hormones in balance.
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Author: Dr. Kellyann Tomko, ND
FOR MORE RESOURCES ON WOMEN'S HEALTH, CHECK OUT:
Traish AM, Saad F, Guay A. The dark side of testosterone deficiency: II. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. J Androl. 2009 Jan-Feb;30(1):23-32. doi: 10.2164/jandrol.108.005751. Epub 2008 Sep 4. PMID: 18772488.
Kelly DM, Jones TH. Testosterone: a metabolic hormone in health and disease. J Endocrinol. 2013 Apr 29;217(3):R25-45. doi: 10.1530/JOE-12-0455. PMID: 23378050.
Whittaker J, Harris M. Low-carbohydrate diets and men's cortisol and testosterone: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Health. 2022 Dec;28(4):543-554. doi: 10.1177/02601060221083079. Epub 2022 Mar 7. Erratum in: Nutr Health. 2022 Dec;28(4):783. PMID: 35254136; PMCID: PMC9716400.
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.