Warning to men living in areas with fracking

Fracking (a process in which water and chemicals under high pressure are injected deep into the ground to fracture the rocks to release oil and gas) has been a blessing to many areas in the United States (and elsewhere) by creating jobs and lowering the price of oil and natural gas.  While the environmentalists have been opposed to fracking for many reasons, the powerful oil companies have been able to bribe politicians in Washington DC so that not only they are free to use hydraulic fracturing wherever they want but also to do it with total disregard to water quality (they can thank former Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton for the so-called Halliburton loophole that allows pollution of ground water with no penalties).

If contaminated water was the only problem and that would bring about early death, I would not worry as much (I do not regret dying early but cannot imagine not having sex the time that I do have).  The problem is that the dangerous chemicals used during fracking are contaminating the water to a point that this is causing hormonal changes in men by attacking their hormones.  Ouch!  While I suggest that if you are a resident in one of these areas to use high quality water filters for drinking and cooking purposes, you will still consume some chemicals because the vegetables/fruits will be grown in the contaminated water and animals will drink the contaminated water.  If you would like to continue to be a man, you may want to consider relocating to an area where fracking is not happening.

Pistachios to counter erectile dysfunction

There is so much evidence that nuts are good for everyone that I have been eating nuts regularly for almost 20 years now.  And as a vegetarian on a low fat, high fiber diet, I have been advised to consume even more nuts to get healthy fats into my diet.  I like several types of nuts, but almonds and sunflower seeds are the ones that I eat everyday.  I also love cashew, pecan, and walnuts, but they can be expensive, so other than eating about 20 almonds with my oatmeal, I try to eat mostly sun flower seeds that are healthier and much cheaper.  BTW, almonds should always be soaked overnight before eating and it is better to eat the skin (if you are unable to chew, you can make almond milk, which is not as good as eating nuts but still better than not eating them).  And all nuts should be eaten raw (that means untoasted) and without salt (why would you want to add more sodium?).

Image of raw pistachios

It turns out that one study has concluded that pistachios are also beneficial for those of us who suffer some erectile dysfunction because they are rich in arginine, the chemical that I talked about previously and one that helps in generating nitric oxide in the body improving blood flow to Little Johnny down there. 

Inspirational story about raising Testosterone level

If you recall I had commented on the story of Scotsman Brian Cunningham who underwent TRT to deal with low-T.  In that blog post I had suggested that unless your physician insists that you genuinely need to undertake Testosterone replacement therapy, the first thing you need to do is to lose weight because nothing destroys Testosterone faster than being overweight.  Well, I heard from the gentleman directly and I must admit that he understands what he has to do and has no plans to spend the rest of him applying a gel in his underarms.

In a note he tells me, "Yes I am obese, and yes, if I lost weight my normal T-levels would possibly return. That is what I am currently attempting to do. My weight became an issue as suddenly from being an active person I had to lie in a bed for three months. I was in hospital and being fed by them. I asked if I could restrict my diet by missing a meal here and there but was not allowed to do so. When I purposely didn't eat a meal I was then put on a watch list and was told any further refusal of food would result in me being referred to a Psychiatrist. As I wished to spend the minimum of time in hospital I complied with their requests.  When I eventually left hospital I had put on a good amount of weight. My movement was still restricted and it took about another 6 months to be able to literally stand on my own two feet. Several months after that I could walk unaided.  I was running my own business and working full time as well. I became depressed about my weight as it was continuing to pile on. I am normally a resilient person, I was in the Navy for 15 years. It was a perfect storm in a way: low-T (for whatever reason), business going down the tubes, very little in the way of mobility and weight gain, lack of strength and libido. I was hopeless.  Bringing my Testosterone back to normal has helped me gain a more positive outlook, gives me hope for the future in that I am strong enough to go to the gym and swim and be more mobile. I have the hope that I can get off the gel and back on to my own T, you never know it may be that it wasn't me being fat at all but some other reason that I have low-T but until then everyone will just have to assume that my T-levels are low because of my obesity, which clearly to most people is due to overindulgence, laziness and bad character."

Well, as I keep emphasizing on my blog, our body is extremely complex and the way our hormones work is really complicated.  Each case is unique because we all eat and live our lives differently.  What is great about Mr Cunningham is that he recognizes that he can be his old self again by losing weight through diet and exercise, but before he gets there, if medication can help him get there faster, so be it.  For those of you who are not in a situation as complex as his and have merely piled on pounds due to your carelessness about diet and reluctance to workout, TRT should not be the first line of defense.

Vegetarian, high fiber, low fat diet detrimental for Testosterone

You guys know that in a month almost 98% of calories come from plant based dishes (only occasionally I might consume seafood or chicken and I have not consumed beef, pork, rabbit, etc. for many many years).  I also happen to consume an extremely low fat diet (while I have always been a healthy eater, I am also not a big fan of dishes cooked with a lot of fat).  And because I like oats, fruits, beans, and vegetables, I consume as much as 50 grams of dietary fiber daily (men should typically consume around 38 gm and men over 50 should eat about 30).

So what happens if you eat like me?  Well, when you eat a low fat diet and that too with fibers, particularly soluble fiber that comes from oatmeal, whatever little fat you ate is not absorbed by the body and is eliminated with the fiber.  Eating a lot of fiber is an excellent choice for overweight/obese men who need to lose weight but for skinny guys like me, fat is essential since it is the building block for Testosterone.  So for men like me oatmeal is not a blessing nor are vegetables and beans.  A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that a low fat, high fiber diet can lower Testosterone by as much as 12% in just two months.  While I have been trying to eat more fat, this week I have cut back on my oatmeal consumption by half and replaced it with one scrambled egg.  I am hoping that this will help me.  So for those of you who are vegans or vegetarians and limit your consumption of fat (and end up eating a fiber rich diet because otherwise there is nothing else to eat), this is a warning that you may have low-T and you need to very carefully watch how much fat you eat.  My hypothesis is that this was not a problem in my youth when the body was already producing tons of Testosterone but now that I am approaching 50, this has become an issue.

Just enough Testosterone is all we need

Since we know that excess of anything is bad, the same seems to apply to level of Testosterone in the body.  I would have thought that if Testosterone is so essential for men, the more the better.  After all, I would desire women all the time and be able to have sex often and with enthusiasm, but we also know that men with high Testosterone are not pleasant to be around.  They are angry, unpleasant, aggressive, annoying, or basically jerks.  Women tell me that they are just good enough for a quickie in the car outside a bar and too risky to bring home for even a one night stand because you never know if they have a gun and will kill you.

It turns out that among older men, excessive Testosterone can kill them.  The researchers found that a normal level is the most desirable for older men because high levels cause premature death.  There is no clear answer yet why this happens but scientists are clear about one thing: unless you have a genuine androgen deficiency there is no need for Testosterone replacement therapy or TRT.  Usage of Testosterone gels like Axiron merely to be able to maintain muscle or have more energy or to feel youthful can do more harm than good.  For that, try strength training instead.

Do I need to worry about my prolactin?

A new European study has concluded that lack of prolactin in men maybe responsible for fall in libido.  The research concluded that if a man had below average levels of this hormone, he was likely to be depressed, feel an overall sense of not being on top of the world, have poor health indicated by obesity, high blood sugar levels, and feeling lethargic more often than others.  These men are also less likely to enjoy having sex.

But wait, didn't they say that higher levels of prolactin were bad for men because after all this is a female hormone found in large amounts in new moms?  A Swedish study also found that high amounts of prolactin in the body can reduce its ability to metabolize fat.  So are we supposed to have high or low prolactin?  No consensus among the doctors based on my research.  Some data suggests that prolactin and dopamine (the pleasure hormone) are inversely related. 

So what should you do, raise or lower it?  Guess what, no one seems to have a clue.  In other words, the research is not conclusive, though, one study I came across said that having estrogen containing foods like soy may help in raising the prolactin levels in men.  The net conclusion of my research is that if I were you, I would not worry about this hormone until a solid study is presented that tells us what to do.  In the meantime, enjoy a variety of foods to enhance your Testosterone but from time to time it is okay to eat tofu.

Ladies do not embarrass your man in bed

So this is what happened.  Looks like Friday night wife wanted to make love but I did not get the hint and went to sleep.  She teased me in the morning that she tried to hint to be me but I did not respond, and I told her that I was confused because she was also popping Tums complaining of bloating.  As the morning went on, while we were cleaning the house, at one point we were talking about another couple who seem to have a somewhat unorthodox relationship and conversation turned to sex.  Then, right out of the blue, she suggested that we make love, and I immediately agreed and jumped into bed.  At that point, she seemed to have changed her mind and I should have got the hint, but guys are bad at that.  Within a minute, we were doing foreplay, but less than a minute had passed, and I was already starting to get a normal erection, that she complained that I was not responding.  Mind you, she knows what has been going on and has generally been very supportive but somehow she said it in a tone as if she expects me to have an erection on demand within seconds.  Now, despite getting most of my libido back and my ED almost a non issue, I am still slightly nervous every time we make love because it is like driving an old car, you are not 100% sure that it will start as easily as a new car.  As I tried to absorb her critical and taunting remark, I lost all desire to make love and the erection disappeared.  Eventually, we did not make love and it sort of spoiled the day, but before that, I told her a few things and I am hoping that women who are married to middle aged men with low-T or erectile dysfunction issues will know.

Image of wife in pink polka dot bra and panty making love to cute husband in bed

Things not to do and say by women while making love to older men
  1. Never criticize a man or his assets (that includes his whole body, so you do not want to criticize that he has gained weight) or his performance before and during lovemaking.  This is much more true as men get older, but in all honesty, it is true if you are teenage couple.  If you want to make things better or try new positions or if something is not working out, the time to discuss this is much later.  It is a discussion you should have in the same manner you will talk about personal finances or planning a trip.  Just sit down and talk about it.  While some things can be changed/improved, others come with a guy so either change your man or accept it.  In other words, if you think your man is smaller down there, NEVER mention it.  If you don't like this, move on.
  2. A man is not a machine, at any age, but definitely not after 40 or so.  Even a machine is not 100% reliable.  So do not expect that a man can produce a rock solid erection 100% of the time just because you want it.  There are times that we do not want it, do not feel like it, might not be feeling too well (there are times that I might just be tired or have a slight headache, not enough for me to take a pill or even mention it to anyone but I might not want to do something fun and am just looking to get some rest), or the body may simply not respond.
  3. For a man being able to produce an erection and make love is all in his head.  It is wrong to think that it is in his organ.  Little Johnny down there cannot respond if he does not feel it in his brain.  So by criticizing a man just around the time that he is trying to get into the mood, you are attacking his self esteem and not helping him.
  4. The great thing about being a woman is that since there are no visible signs of arousal and there is nothing to indicate whether a woman desires sex or not, she can have it almost any time.  Yes, I know that it is a lot of pleasure when she really wants it and can even be painful when she does not, a man may not even know it.  On the other hand, for a man, his erection is not only such a visible sign of his arousal, without it he cannot make love, and an erection is such an important symbol of his manhood that not being able to produce one is hugely embarrassing.  That is why even a teenager is just a bit nervous every single time.  So treat him kindly.

Choosing between good sex and death

On one hand, having low-Testosterone can do havoc to our cardiovascular health (while one causes the other, guys with low Testosterone have higher weight, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure resulting in a weak heart), but as I have been saying repeatedly, Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) in form of Axiron, Androgel, and other gels is not the answer.  In a study that should make all of us men rethink how we maintain our libido, how we keep our metabolism good in middle age, and how we maintain our overall health, it has been found (the research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association or JAMA) that TRT can cause heart attacks, strokes, and even death. 

Now, before you conclude that merely applying a Testosterone gel will stop your heart and make you drop dead, try to analyze how you reached a point that you needed TRT.  Unless you are like me (a nice, sweet guy who thrives primarily on an extremely low-fat, low calorie diet and does not consume enough zinc, and loved to run rather than lift weights), chances are that you are a middle aged dude who has dozens of pounds of extra weight, more likely around the tummy, someone too busy/lazy to exercise, has high level of stress due to work/family matters, consumes a lot of processed foods and beverages, and does not get enough sleep.  When some or all of these conditions exist, it is very likely that you also have a heart with problems and low-T.

So how do Testosterone gels kill?  It is no secret that enough research was never done to study the side effects and dangers of Testosterone therapy.  At this no one knows what are the risks and no one cares as long as drug manufacturers can get their money (the way pharmaceutical companies work is to get a drug to the market as quickly as possible, bombard the consumers with commercials creating a false impression that they are sick and need a prescription drug so that they should ask their doctor about it, sell as much as possible, and if people start to drop dead, then, fight a few patients as hard as possible in court, and settle with the rest) and patients can feel good about whatever imaginary illness they have.  From this study, it can be concluded that artificially introduced Testosterone hormone in the body increases the risk of clotting leading to strokes and heart attacks.  Death is also an outcome in some cases.

Can you sue the Testosterone gel manufacturers to get compensation?  If you have suffered a stroke or heart attack since starting Testosterone therapy, it is time to meet with a lawyer to discuss if there is enough cause for a product liability lawsuit for personal injury or death (in case your loved one died).  Expect a long and painful battle because for the pharma companies billions of dollars are at stake.  Expect them to take every single data on your (and those of your family members) health since you were born to prove that the fault is entirely yours and they did nothing wrong, but your attorney will tell you what to do and how to go about it.  The best time to sue, of course, will be when and if the FDA forces a recall of the product or bans it or issues a black box warning.

Watch that neck size in addition to waist

Image of a neck of a man from the back

When I keep beating a drum about watching your tummy, I am telling you that by monitoring your waist circumference you are indirectly monitoring your Testosterone level, because fat deposition on the tummy is a clear indicator of falling levels of Testosterone.  Now, scientists at a university in Turkey have concluded that the neck circumference can tell them without even asking any questions whether a man suffers from erectile dysfunction.  Their research shows that if your neck size is higher than 16 inches, you are definitely going to have trouble getting or sustaining a proper erection.  The right way to lower your neck size is to lose weight through diet and exercise.

Time to start drinking just water

For many months I have been telling guys who want to raise their Testosterone level to stop drinking anything but plain water from a faucet (bottled water is dangerous due to presence of BPA).  I am also not a big fan of drinking even freshly squeezed juice from organic fruits (eat the fruit instead) and I have given up alcohol except a little bit during the weekend.  Now, I almost never drank bottled beverages (doctors cannot find a single good thing to say about them) but it turns out that for those of us who are Testosterone challenged, a chemical found in such drinks as Gatorade can disrupt our hormonal balance.  This chemical is called Brominated Vegetable Oil or BVO (banned in Europe and Japan but no restrictions on its use in America) and is -- get this one -- a flame retardant, but is used in drinks with citrus flavors to stabilize them when they sit on shelves for months and years.  Oh, the sacrifices I am asking you to make just so that you can have good sex, but it is worth it.

Sugar and salt are destroying your marriage

Previously, I gave you a list of libido killing foods and since then I have talking about other things that are killing your sex life like fried foods, canned foods, insomnia, and stress.  In this blog post, I want to share what I have learned about consumption of excessive salt and sugar, both so fundamental to our diets that we cannot imagine eating less of them.

How is salt bad for middle aged men?  You see there is clear evidence between eating a salt rich diet and higher blood pressure (the process is simple: salt retains water and that is why when we get more water in our blood, the heart has to pump a lot harder and that raises the blood pressure).  Unfortunately, high blood pressure weakens the heart eventually and then it cannot pump enough blood to Little Johnny down between your legs, thereby, causing erectile dysfunction

How is sugar bad for middle aged guys?  What sugar does is to cause imbalance in the insulin level in the body and excess sugar lowers blood Testosterone levels.  Also, excessive sugar is stored as fat in the body and that is too bad for Testosterone.  So, ideally, you should just eat no sugar or very little of it, and be very watchful of sugar in supposedly non-sweet products like bread, but if you are willing to give good sex to eat sugar, at least avoid eating sugar a day or so before you think you are likely to get some action in the bedroom.

French fries are killing your sex drive

If you are one of those men who enjoy eating fast food that often includes deep fried dishes like fried chicken or French fries or baked foods like donuts and have noticed that the only craving you have is to eat even more junk food rather than make love to a woman, it is not that you are becoming asexual.  Blame the food instead.  And ladies, if you are reading this, put a wireless tag on your man and do not let him go to eat junk food or any types of dishes made from trans fats (it is the worst and cheapest type of food, and thus, a favorite of food processing companies and junk food restaurants that use it in dishes to make them stay on shelves for months without going bad and to enhance flavor).

Image of a guy eating a high trans fat containing english muffin

How could eating trans fat cause me erectile dysfunction or destroy my libido?  Aha, I am glad that you asked.  First, let us discuss how do you get an erection.  In the simplest term, an erection happens when blood rushes to Little Johnny between your legs and that happens when we feel desire for a woman.  Now, if you are overweight or obese from eating a lot of sweet baked goodies and fried dishes, your blood starts to have more of cholesterol.  Imagine this cholesterol as a deposit on the walls of your blood vessels.  The more cholesterol you have, the more it attaches itself to the walls, thus, narrowing the passage for blood.  In short, enough blood simply does not reach Little Johnny and it fails to get solidly erect or the erection disappears before you can even act.  Also at the same time, your heart is pumping too fast, you might even be sweating, you are nervous because things are not going too well and you have an eagerly waiting woman in front of you to impress (yes, that is what causes many men to have heart attacks during sex).

Eating too many trans fats also raises estrogen (the female hormone) levels in the male body and reduces the male hormone Testosterone, which is what produces desire for making love in the first place.  In other words, eating a fat rich diet attacks us guys on two fronts, both fundamental to performing in bed.  It attacks libido by lowering it and then whatever libido we can manage is useless because we are unable to perform in bed due to ED.  Ouch!

How canned food is destroying your relationship?

It maybe difficult to understand the link between how consuming food stored in a metal containers can do so much damage to a man's sexual health that he can lose all his desire to make love, but bear with me to understand how this works.  Each and every single can out there contains a nasty and dangerous chemical called BPA (bisphenol-A) and so when you drink a can of beer or soda or any other beverage or eat food that was packed in a metal can, you are consuming this chemical.  Unfortunately, this chemical does havoc in the human body but let us limit this discussion to what it does to Testosterone, the male hormone that gives them vitality, vigor, youth, and libido.  Guys who always seem to be holding a can (or cheap plastic bottles, which too contain BPA) or are too lazy to buy fresh meats and vegetables are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues.

So what can a man do avoid exposure to BPA?  I can understand that it is nearly impossible to get rid of cans and PET bottles from our lives but it is definitely possible to reduce them.  Now, as I have written before, there really is no good reason for men with low-T to drink alcohol, but if you insist on hurting your sex life, maybe you want to buy beer in glass bottles or switch to wine.  I have never heard anyone tell me a single good reason to drink any thing other than plain water (and an occasional glass of fruit juice, only if it is freshly squeezed by you at home from a real fruit  -- it is better to eat the fruit instead) but there is definitely no reason to drink your water out of a plastic bottle.  Instead, you should simply drink your water from a faucet poured directly into a glass.  You can also carry your own water wherever you go in a BPA-free bottle, that are widely available these days.

Similarly, who told you to ever eat food from a can?  Don't you know that the food inside a can was harvested months/years ago, highly processed, and pumped with tons of preservatives and high levels of salt, that it is really no longer fit for consumption by living beings.  It is much cheaper than buying fresh meats and vegetables but this is an area not fit for cost cutting.  So think again before using a can opener.  Instead, consider using frozen options since they are typically untreated and do not come in a can.

How your insomnia is killing your sex life?

Chances are that insomnia has made your cranky and unproductive and it is affecting your performance at work and maybe your family is unhappy with you, I found out today that lack of sleep is equally detrimental to libido.  This is how it works.  The hormone Testosterone which creates desire in men for having sex is primarily made by the body during sleep.  That is why Testosterone levels are highest first thing in the morning and couples who make love in the morning report better sex but also lasting a lot longer compared to doing it before going to bed when Testosterone levels are low and both partners are tired.

Image of a man sleeping on the beach with his mouth open and eyes covered with a towel

The highest level of Testosterone is produced during what scientists refer to as rapid eye movement or REM sleep.  I do not want you to bore with the details of different phases of sleeping but if you are not getting uninterrupted, peaceful 7-9 hours of sleep every single day, you are not getting enough REM sleep.  The result will be lower levels of Testosterone as well.  In fact, this link is so well known that law enforcement authorities use sleep deprivation as a very effective technique to force criminals and terrorists to talk.  One study was conducted on military trainees and it was found that with sleep deprivation, their Testosterone dropped by as much as 70%.  With a man with such low levels of Testosterone, his self esteem is gone, he is irritable, he has no aspirations or ambitions, and he can be manipulated to do anything.  It is during this phase that interrogators play mind games with a criminal or terrorist and get a confession.

Can healthy diet prevent low-T?

You know this has been a very important question since despite being at a very healthy weight, committed to working out five days a week, and having no other bad habits like excessive drinking, smoking, high levels of stress, using recreational drugs, or taking any type of prescription drugs, I still experienced a phase in my life of low libido and poor erections, which thankfully, I fixed with my lifestyle changes and supplementation, as I documented in my book The Testosterone Challenge.

So I had always wondered if I could have prevented a year or so of poor sex and anxiety caused by not being able to get an erection on demand and the answer has come from Dr. Michael O’Leary, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  According to him, "We don’t know if a healthy diet prevents low testosterone, but a healthy lifestyle will make it less likely to occur.”  Obviously, I might think that I was on a healthy diet but as I discovered later on, as someone on an extremely low-fat, mostly plants based diet, I was not getting enough zinc, a fundamentally important mineral for formation of Testosterone by the body.  However, if I am reading the comments of the professor right, even a perfect diet would not have been so helpful if I was a living a life that was not optimal.  Dr. O'Leary adds that "People are working long hours and have stressful lives. Certainly, obesity doesn’t help — that much we do know. Men who eat a fatty diet have more estrogen, which lowers testosterone."

What does stress have to do with low-T?

For all we know low T may not even be a medical condition, but I do recall going through a phase with way too low libido and some degree of erectile dysfunction.  Contrary to what the Testosterone gel manufacturers will make you believe, the unbiased doctors do not believe that there is such a thing as low Testosterone and that low-T causes poor erections.  Based on my experience, all I can say is that low libido can happen if the Testosterone goes down, which it does with age and other lifestyle choices.  I also learned that when your libido is high you are more likely to have a decent erection and be able to make love normally.  Being a vegetarian and becoming deficient in zinc, I noticed a drop in libido and after making such changes as reducing alcohol, moving from cardio to strength training, taking zinc supplements, and consuming more fats, I got my libido back and magically my ED was gone as well, as I have documented in my Kindle ebook The Testosterone Challenge.

At the same time, I have been grappling with stress, which I think is minimal, but is there due to some work related issues.  Scientists say that it is true that stress can produce more cortisol in the body and that destroys Testosterone but there is no evidence that men with high Testosterone are less stressed or TRT will lower your stress, which by the way is a choice that we make, rather than it being a hormonal condition.  In that context, I liked a remark by Cleveland Clinic urologist Daniel Shoskes, who said, "The idea that you can reduce stress, increase your testosterone, and become a beast in bed is probably nonsense, but it is still good for you to reduce stress. My first advice for reducing stress is to stop worrying about your testosterone."  Exactly, I must confess that after I had issues performing in bed, I have been so stressed out by the whole thing.  I have been afraid of getting old, often wondered if my wife would leave me or have an affair, and get quite terrified if my wife initiates sex and I am not in the mood.  I guess I should follow the advice from Dr. Shoskes and just relax.

Does low-T even exist?

As you know what I have experienced is natural decline in Testosterone level with age and my condition was somewhat exacerbated because of my diet that was extremely deficient in zinc, an essential mineral for sexual health.  Once I started on zinc supplementation, made small changes in my diet to include foods that impact libido, and altered my workout regimen from cardio to strength training, my libido returned and my erectile dysfunction disappeared.  No, I am not like I used to be when I was 20, but that is not I should be in any case, considering I am counting my time to touch 50.

Still, I have read a lot about low-T and definitely watched way too many commercials on television about low-Testosterone but I am also reading in The Times that, according to Harvard Medical School's Dr. Joel Finkelstein, who specializes in studying impact on older men from hormonal changes, there is no such disease as low-T and that it is a buzzword cooked up by pharma companies to drum up sales for their Testosterone gels.  He goes on to say that despite the FDA approval, there is no evidence that TRT works and we definitely do not yet know the risks and side effects completely.

Let me also add that because Republicans hate taxes so much, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is no longer funded by tax dollars.  Instead, the drugmakers pay fees to the agency to approve drugs.  In other words, it is in the best interest of FDA bureaucrats to keep their drug lords happy in order to keep their jobs and that is why they pretty much approve all drugs.  And the way the pharmaceutical business model works is that you get a drug approved and then spend the hell out of marketing that drug to make your profit as soon as possible (eventually they are replaced by cheap generics made in India) and if at any point you get sued for death or personal injury, you hire a powerful law firm, harass the victims or their families till they give up, and finally just settle.  Then, you move on to the next drug.

Best protein powder for men with low-T

As a (mostly) vegetarian and someone who is seriously engaging in strength training and weightlifting, I need to make sure that I get enough protein.   I have discussed previously that without frequent consumption of meat, I end up eating a lot of carbs and that is why in my oatmeal for breakfast I add protein powder.  If you have tried buying protein mix in a store, you will notice that they are derived either from soy or milk.  If you are wondering which one is good for you, here is the answer.

Dr. William J. Kraemer has published a paper ("The Effects of Soy and Whey Protein Supplementation on Acute Hormonal Reponses to Resistance Exercise in Men") in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and he concluded that with just two weeks of consuming soy protein powder the Testosterone level went down.  In other words, for those of us with low-T, despite being able to consume tiny amounts of soybeans occasionally, soy protein can do more harm.  Dr, Kraemer also found that when men consumed whey protein they noticed that lower amounts of cortisol was produced after strength training.  If you remember my past discussion of cortisol (the stress hormone) you do not want any of it (except when you are being chased by a panther in the jungle) and the lower you keep its amount in the body, the higher is the Testosterone level is going to be because they hate each other.

Is pomegranate good for raising Testosterone?

A lot of you have written to me asking if you should start drinking POM juice to naturally raise your Testosterone.  Readers have mentioned a Queen Margaret University which concluded that men experienced a boost in their Testosterone after drinking a glass of juice daily for two weeks.  Look, I am mostly a vegetarian and I consume a lot of fruits and vegetables, so by all means, pomegranates are good.  I want to remind you, though, that the best way to consume fruits is to eat them rather than drink the juice.  Eating a fruit gives you the fiber in its undamaged form and the sugar level does not spike immediately because it takes a while for the body to get that sugar out of the fruit bites.  However, if you insist that you want to drink the juice (maybe you cannot find fruits in your area -- I know here in New England the fruits are expensive), then, make sure that the juice is 100% natural, has no additives, and definitely has no added sugar.

Image of pomegranate fruit split into pieces

Now does it really raise the T level?  Granted that most fruits and vegetables have low zinc and can actually impede absorption of zinc by the body, this fruit has some.  Actually, just 0.2 mg per cup of juice (the amount in the fruit will be a lot less).  Even though my Testosterone level is now normal, I still take 40 mg of zinc daily in supplements and I get a few mg daily from my diet.  In other words, if your level is only slightly lower, you might feel a bit more desire to make love, but most likely it is only the placebo effect.

Hormone therapy after 70s

Image of Suzanne Sommers with her husband Alan Hamel

I was quite impressed with how Rod Stewart keeps his wife happy in bed and it is all due to the set of medicines that are now available (I could not find if he is on TRT and/or ED pills like Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis).  But I do know now that Suzanne Somers (who is 66) and married to 77-year old Alan Hamel is having sex twice a day every day.  And she has gone public with the fact that both she and her hubby are on hormones.  She also gave away another important secret that anyone suffering from low libido must remember: morning sex when Testosterone levels are naturally high.

Occasionally your body will still fail you

Since I started my project to raise my Testosterone level naturally through diet, exercise, and supplements, I was successfully able to achieve the same level of sexual health that I had in my early 40s, as I documented in my Kindle ebook Testosterone Challenge.  While saying this gives me an ego boost, something that helps any man struggling with low self esteem due to aging related symptoms, I also keep repeating this to remind my readers that they can also achieve the same results.  I am not someone special or unique; I am just like anyone else who was committed to bringing my sex life back to normal level without suffering from side effects associated with Testosterone gels.

Well, not that I was becoming arrogant or super-confident -- in fact, I have been quite apprehensive of my bedroom performance during the last few months and always have some level of anxiety -- but after months of reliable performance, it happened.  I failed miserably to have an erection.  I was terrified.  Granted that I had just returned from a trip to Asia, I was jetlagged, tired, my stomach was upset, etc., but I thought that being separated from my wife for over a week would produce enough desire to not have this, but I did.  Thankfully, within a matter of days, I resumed my normal diet, caught up on sleep, and resumed my normal workout routine (staying with other folks in a warm location and not having access to gym was a barrier to continue my exercise regimen, though, I still managed to do several exercises that can be done even in a small room without any equipment).  I was pleasantly surprised that things started working normally the next time after a few days.  I guess the big lesson of aging is that you can never take things for granted and keeping my Testosterone level normal is going to be a lifelong challenge, and the older I get, the harder I will need to work.

Losing weight alone raises Testosterone

You have probably read a lot of stories these days in the media how a man had low libido and his life was on a downward spiral.  Then, he visits a doctor who prescribes him one of the many low-T prescription medications and the next thing you know he feels like a man again, his wife is jumping with joy, and his doctor is telling the reporter how every man who is suffering from such symptoms should consider TRT.  In case, you did not know, these are stories that are planted by public relations (PR) agencies that work with pharma companies and physicians who provide them with real people and their stories.  Generally speaking, this can be a good thing because we can learn something new with a real person's face on it even though we know it is an infomercial.

The sad thing is that in some cases they pick a really bad example.  Like that of Brian Cunningham of Edinburgh, Scotland.  A lot of men who take prescription medication to cure an illness can often experience brief periods of low levels of Testosterone but the level returns to normal once you discontinue the drug (if you are taking a medication for a chronic illness and your libido drops, you should speak to your doctor about it because it is possible that the medicine maybe changed or that you might need Testosterone Replacement Therapy).  The problem with Mr. Cunningham is that he is clearly morbidly obese.  Granted that his situation got worse after an injury and treatment, but the reality is that his weight is so high that it is the primary cause of his low Testosterone and resulting erectile dysfunction and diminished libido.

I am happy for Mr. Cunningham that he got his life back and that the Testosterone gel is working for him but men like him will be much better off losing as much weight as possible.  As I have written previously, being overweight and having a huge tummy alone will destroy your Testosterone.  Obviously, you can rely on gels for the rest of your life or make an improvement naturally by losing weight.  That is a healthier alternative, has no side effects, and not only costs nothing but also has other health benefits.

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.

Foods to avoid

As you might have read, in order to raise Testosterone naturally, I have been suggesting multivitamins, zinc, avocado, oatmeal, honey, bananas, watermelon (often called the natural Viagra because it opens up blood vessels and improves flow), green leafy vegetables (clean blood and open capillaries), carrots (if the shape is not a giveaway, LOL, well, remember that they have a lot of vitamin E), figs, omega 3 fatty acids, L-arginine, selenium, walnuts, and pumpkin/sunflower seeds, though, the best improvement you will get is not from some libido diet but from weight lifting and strength training.  I have concluded that if you are looking for a shortcut to being a real man again, it ain't some superfood that you can eat; you will have to do the hard work at the gym.

But are there any foods that I should avoid?  Well, after a bodybuilder friend of mine convinced me, I have cut back my alcohol to a point that I might drink just a bit during the weekend.  I now treat alcohol as a treat and not something that should accompany my meal.  For me, being able to have good sex is a higher priority than enjoying my meal.  And just as a healthy habit, while I rarely drank any carbonated beverages, I have banned them completely from my diet.  Apparently, I have recently learned that even drinking diet versions (that is what I always drank anyway) is harmful because they make the body constitution more acidic causing all sorts of health problems.  In addition, you should also cut back or eliminate following foods:

  • Chocolate; apparently despite its romantic image, it is not something for us dudes; leave it to the ladies to enjoy it.
  • Meats, particularly those that have high fat content.  Since I am practically a vegetarian, I need not worry about my occasional indulgences with sushi or grilled salmon, but if you are a regular meat eater, get rid of bacon, sausage, etc.
  • Dairy.  This is a tricky one for me as someone who rarely consumes animal proteins, but assuming that you are consuming excess milk or cheeses, time to cut back.
  • Processed foods.  This is a hard one to give up, though, you should make an effort to cut back as much as possible.  My wife and I work from home in our own business and cook our meals from scratch but there are times that we are just lazy or busy or need some variety in our meals.  So even we might consume frozen foods occasionally, but what we try to do is to choose the item by reading the label carefully, trying to pick organic options, without trans fats, low sodium, and with minimal additives.
  • Soy products.  Because I am practically a vegetarian, when I need to satisfy my Thai food cravings, I end up picking tofu, but since I do it only once or twice a month, it is okay.  Anything more, then, you need to cut back.