Is it safe to eat soy if Testosterone is low?

The conventional wisdom is that soy increases the level of estrogen in the body and that is why men should avoid it.  As a (mostly) vegetarian, I might occasionally choose tofu in place of chicken in a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant, but after my low-T scare, I stopped doing that.  Looks like my fears were misplaced because it turns out that we guys also need some estrogen for our sexual health.  In any case, I was never convinced that soy was so dangerous, because so many of my Japanese and Chinese friends eat lots of soy products regularly, and from what I can tell, there does not appear to be a Testosterone deficiency crisis in the Far East.


Turns out that there is some misinformation about the dangers of eating soy by middle aged men.  It is true that phytoestrogens found in soy do mimic human estrogens but scientists at the St. Catherine University concluded that soy foods do not alter by a measurable amount the level of Testosterone in males.  Since I am conservative in my approach to altering my eating habits, my recommendation would be not to overindulge in soy derived foods, but if you occasionally enjoy Thai curries with tofu or Japanese miso soup, no harm will be done as long as you are disciplined about your strength training and zinc.

Should we exercise daily?

In order to raise or maintain Testosterone level during middle age, I have found that nothing is more impacting than strength training (probably 80%).  Libido boosting diets and lifestyle changes have the remaining 20% of the impact.  Following the advice of fitness experts, I exercise five days a week for one hour, first thing in the morning.  It has served me extremely well, not only bringing my Testosterone level up, but also helping me sleep better, keeping my weight in check, and improving my mood.  I have been told that by not working out for two days a week, we give our bodies time to relax and rebuild the muscles.  It is not as if I do not move a finger during the weekends; since I do not work on a computer all day on these two days, I go on with my life, including doing a lot more chores, or working in the yard, or just going somewhere and that means there might be some walking involved as well.



The question in my mind is if I should work out seven days a week.  A Harvard School of Public Health study has found that when men exercise every single day of the week for about half hour, they are less likely to have erectile dysfunction compared to their couch potato buddies.  Mind you, they are talking overall less time exercising per week, but it is daily.  What I intend to do going forward is to workout during the weekend as well, but only for 20-30 minutes, maybe not weight lifting, but just get on my treadmill at home.  I will have an update about a month or so later on how that helps.

Waist size and Testosterone level

It is debatable whether you need a test to find out if you have low-T.  The blood test that is fairly standard at the doctor's office is highly unreliable and does not tell you much but your doctor might do it just to impress you, bill the insurance company, or simply to get started.  If you find out if your Testosterone level is below the normal for your age, experts recommend a simple at home test.  More importantly, though, if you have lower desire to have sex, feel somewhat in low in spirits overall, lack enthusiasm for life in general, and also have problem getting and/or holding an erection, it is fair to conclude that you have a problem.



You must have noted that I keep mentioning waist size and why it is important for us guys to reduce our waists.  I like to believe that there is no one size that is ideal for everyone because it will vary depending on your height, weight, and body type, but in general, if your belly sticks out, it is not good.  For me, at 5'8", 140 lbs, a 29" waist sticks out and I have been trying to eliminate it.  But is there an absolute waist circumference that is bad no matter what the height or weight are?  Yes.  New England Research Institutes has concluded that not only found that Testosterone levels correlate perfectly with tummy size and at 41 inches, it does not matter what other metrics are, your Testosterone level will be low.

Low self esteem and confidence lowers Testosterone

I might not have mentioned it elsewhere but I am an small business owner.  Not that employed people do not have challenges (layoffs are a way of life these days), but in early 2011, our business suffered a setback.  Guess what?  It was exactly around the same time that I suffered my first instance of erectile dysfunction.  At that time I did not make the connection.  The business has continued to decline every month since then and while I have done my very best to slow down the decline (we have launched some new product lines but they have not brought us yet to the same level of income as before), the failures and setbacks have lowered my self worth.  When I am approaching 50 and should have had a huge safety net and must have working less (rather than more) to enjoy finer things in life, my wife and I manage our budget very carefully and have cut back on luxuries.  Thankfully, we are still able to enjoy the lifestyle that we were used but had to cut back only on indulgences, emotionally it has been extremely painful.  I don't feel the same way as many of peers who are buying homes in exotic destinations or driving expensive cars or boasting of their achievements in social media.  I feel like a loser sometimes and wonder if I will ever be able to be a man with solid finances and steady income that can ensure a comfortable middle class lifestyle.



My research shows that feeling bad about oneself can also lower level of Testosterone in the body.  Granted that I am in the age bracket when Testosterone declines naturally and as a 99% vegetarian, I was not getting enough zinc.  In addition, I was not focusing on strength training and was happy simply with cardio routine.

Naturally, there is not much I can do improve our financial health magically, but I try to remind myself of all my accomplishments.  I also boost my morale by telling myself that entrepreneurs go through these challenges all the time and they need to be resilient so that they can bounce back every single time they fall.  I also remind myself of all my blessings like excellent marriage, loving family, generally good health, and all the comforts that one can hope for.  In addition to libido boosting diet, strength training regimen, alcohol reduction, and supplements, I am also trying simple things like better posture, wearing red color, aggression, flirting, competitive activities,

Middle aged guys need estrogen too

If low levels of Testosterone were not enough to make me lose sleep, new research is out that proves that while Testosterone is the ultimate male hormone, we need to worry about estrogen, the female hormone, as well.  As you might know, both men and women have the two hormones, and it is just that men have more of Testosterone and women have more of estrogen.  Dr. Abraham Morgentaler of Harvard Medical School has concluded in his research that we need a good balance of both hormones in our bodies and with age estrogen declines as well, causing most of the symptoms typically associated with low-T.



So should we try HRT in addition to TRT?  Just kidding.  The beauty of the male body is that estrogen is produced from the same precursors as Testosterone so if you make an effort to raise your Testosterone, your estrogen will go up automatically.  Maybe it was a bad idea for me to completely give up tofu in my Japanese and Thai dishes.  While no effort need be made to increase estrogen, it is probably too extreme a measure to eliminate tofu, which can boost estrogen.

Low-T may cause heart disease

Since I am still fairly young (late 40s) and in otherwise excellent health (no other known illness, less than my ideal weight, all vital signs normal), I do not worry about anything other than what I can accomplish in the bedroom, but looks like things may not stay that way for too long for me, and definitely not for those of you who are at risk of cardiovascular diseases due to other factors like high stress, overweight/obese, poor diet, etc.  A paper published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) has concluded that there is a slightly higher risk of dying from heart complications that arise due to lower levels of Testosterone. The sad news is that TRT makes no difference.  So you have no choice but to keep your Testosterone level as high as possible through diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Erectile dysfunction without low-T

So if you are a young man with average or even above-normal levels of Testosterone (you can find that out from a blood test, though, they are not all that reliable), are not overweight (no middle age belly for you), and are not on any medications, but still having difficulty becoming erect or being able to have normal sex that would please both you and your partner, then, you need to meet with a doctor to understand other factors that maybe causing your bedroom problems.  I have discussed the opposite condition: low-T but normal libido and decent erections, and this is more complicated problem to deal with.


 

So what could be wrong?  I asked around a few of my physician friends and according to them, smoking, recreational drugs, excessive stress, depression, undiagnosed diabetes, etc. maybe to blame.  They suggest that if you have a problem getting or holding an erection occasionally, then, simply working less or trying to control your stress may do the trick.  However, if you are below 40 and often have challenges erecting and sustaining, see a urologist right away.

Lowered immunity with high Testosterone

Obviously, you do not want to have so much Testosterone that you start to suffer from the Charlie Sheen Syndrome, but it is important to understand the risks, like higher probability of prostate cancer or infertility.  Another less known and one that does not affect as many men is somewhat lower immunity.  Scientists believe that men in general have weaker immune systems compared to women and Testosterone is to blame.  So as a man with low-T if you enjoyed a period of higher immunity (resulting in fewer colds, flu, seasonal allergies, etc.), be prepared for more infections.  As far as I am concerned, I am ready to battle any infections (I used to be bothered a lot by seasonal allergies but in recent years I have been allergy free and I wonder if there is a relationship, though, I won't know until spring when I will have my higher levels of Testosterone, so I will let you know). 

Perfect time to take zinc

In my quest to find the best time to pop my zinc supplement pill after I found out that zinc was enabling me to sleep so well (that by the way is a great side effect because good sleep also helps in Testosterone production) was to figure out that precise moment at which I will be able to get the maximum benefit and sleep the most.  So for several weeks, after concluding that zinc before bed was the best option, everything was going perfect.  I slept so well and always woke up refreshed.  I slept so well that after going downstairs to the kitchen and making my coffee and oatmeal, I was psyched up to start my strength training regimen.  What bothered me was that I had difficulty getting up in the first place.  The sweet morning sleep was so delicious that I did not want the day to break.



To deal with this dilemma, I wondered if taking the zinc with my dinner was a better choice.  That way I would have the effect somewhat diminished by the next morning and since the metal would have had some time to act, I would also fall asleep faster.  Now don't ask me for the scientific explanation, but this did not work so well.  I did not feel drowsy or uncomfortable in any way, but had trouble going to sleep, and I am a guy who had never had trouble falling asleep.  I also noticed that the next morning, I still felt the same.

So my conclusion is that you should pop the pill some time before going to bed.  For me, the best time is to take it when I wind up things on the first floor of our house where our living and dining space is.  Typically, I turn off the lights, check all the doors, soak the almonds for the next morning, and grab a glass of water before going to the second floor bedroom.  Now I take the pill at this time.  Upstairs, I spend some time getting ready for bed by brushing my teeth and undressing, and occasionally I might take a quick shower.  A few nights a week I will have sex, but even if not, my wife and I will chat briefly.  So in all it is about 30-45 minutes and that is enough time for me to feel that I am sleepy.