Time To Man Up?

April 19, 2012

Male menopause or otherwise known as andropause or hypogonadism affects nearly 6 million men each year. Symptoms include:

» Low sex drive and infertility
» Development of “moobs” or male breasts, sometimes with painful swelling
» Shrunken testicles
» Erectile dysfunction
» Hot flashes
» Osteopenia\osis
» Anemia
» Depression\anger\foggy thinking

By the way, balding is NOT one of the symptoms of a low testosterone level – more often than not, you can chalk that male pesky problem up to genetics though the loss of hair on other parts of the body can be a sign of low testosterone.

Treatment: Injections, pellets, pills, creams, and patches are typical treatment options for those who have been diagnosed with low testosterone, but surprisingly most men who suffer from andropause don’t know they have it or think about seeking medical advice because they attribute their symptoms to the aging process. There are some potential concerns about testosterone replacement surgery, especially for men who have a history of breast or prostate cancer.

Diet and lifestyle tips:

Diet can affect testosterone levels to a certain extent, but most men who meet the criteria of low testosterone will most likely require more reliable medical treatment. Still, these tips could prove helpful:

1. Don’t drink too much! Alcohol helps in the conversion of testosterone to estrogen so it’s best to heed the American Heart Association recommendations of no more than two alcoholic beverages a day — unless you want to sport male breasts.

2. Watch the belly fat. Men with type II diabetes and those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (a combination of risk factors such as larger waists, elevated blood glucose, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides) are much more likely to have low testosterone levels. It’s a vicious cycle – low testosterone increases belly fat and belly fat drives down testosterone production.

3. Lean on protein: Include adequate quantities of high-quality protein from dairy and lean meat, which can also help increase testosterone. Ranges of 1.0-1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight may be more appropriate.

4. Go “mono y mono”: Include more monounsaturated fat sources like avocado, canola and olive oil, and almonds, which have been shown to boost resting levels of testosterone.

5. Eat Zinc and copper-rich foods. Zinc and copper boost testosterone levels and also help in increasing the quality and quantity of sperm. Foods like oysters, beef, crab, pork, turkey, mushrooms, and chocolate are great sources of zinc and copper.

So guys, if any of those signs of low testosterone pop up in your life, be sure to have a talk with your doctor. In the meantime, include those manly foods I mentioned…yes, that’s right, chocolate is a man’s food, too!

By David Grotto, RD, LDN