Lactose intolerance causes bloated tummy during middle age

This is a long blog post about my experience and I encourage you to read the whole story if you have desperately tried to lose the fat on your belly as a middle aged male.  To fully understand my case, let us go back to my mid-40s, approximately 5 years ago (I wish I had kept notes on my weight, waist size, etc.), when I noticed that I no longer had the flat tummy of my youth.  It was a minor change and since my wife made fun of my belly, I completely freaked out.  I did not want to end up being yet another middle aged dude with a potbelly.  I doubled up on my workout and radically changed my diet to eliminate almost all fat.  For a 5'8" man, I dropped my weight from about 132 pounds to 120 pounds.  I was at the very low end of my BMI and started wearing 28" pants but the saddest part is that my tummy stayed.  It protruded out as if it was another part of my body.  In retrospect I suspect that being almost underweight and eating a very low fat diet contributed to my low-T.

Mission to raise Testosterone level:  As I have been documenting here, for about 2 years, I thought that my abdomen had fat on it because of the drop in Testosterone, a scientific fact.  I am happy to say that my Testosterone levels are back to above normal and I am in my best health ever.  The problem is that my abdomen still stood out and I wear 30" pants.  All this time, I kept telling myself not to give up and just keep working hard on strength training, martial arts, and healthy diet with minimal alcohol.

How wrong I was about my pot belly?  Well, about 6 months ago, I went to Berlin and Prague on a 10-day vacation.  One thing that I clearly noticed when I returned home was how light I fell and I attributed it to lots of walking as a tourist.  I even told myself that I should walk even more whenever I can.  After that I got so busy and did not get a chance to take a vacation until earlier this month.  This time I went to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and had a rental car, so a lot less walking.  However, I felt exactly the same, very light.  After thinking about it, my wife and I nailed it down to our diets and concluded that I had very little milk.  When I am at home and eat my large bowl of oatmeal at breakfast after a solid workout, I put a lot of whole milk in it and for a while I was even adding scoops of milk whey protein to it.  And because I am mostly a vegetarian, I rely on milk, yogurt and cheeses for my protein intake.  In other words, throughout my whole life, I have consumed a lot of milk without any problem.

So could it be that -- like so many folks who have given up dairy and found health Nirvana -- I had become intolerant to lactose and that was causing bloating and distention of the abdomen?  Well, I decided to find out and gave up all milk and its derivatives.  Within 24 hours, I felt light and my abdomen started to shrink.  In 3 days, I felt I was a different person.  While I used to think of those dairy-free types as a cult, I acquired a new appreciation for their views.  It seems that over the years, as happens with age to a lot of people, I had developed intolerance to lactose, the sugar found in milk.  This was causing gas in my abdomen and giving me the appearance of a tummy when I am still at the very low end of my acceptable weight.  I also learned that extended bloating in abdomen can also lead to water retention, which I noticed on my legs, hands, and even face.  Within a week, my bloating disappeared completely, my body was no longer retaining water, I felt extremely light, and waist shrank by almost 2 inches.  It has been one of the most remarkable experiences of my life healthwise.

Living with Lactose Intolerance:  I am still new to this and I will need to make extra effort to get my protein and calcium, but right now I have switched to home-made almond milk (soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water overnight and next morning add 3 cups of water and blend them in a blender; I do not filter and just add some to my oatmeal -- do not recommend buying packaged almond milk since they have other ingredients and it is so easy to make your own at home).  I also advise against switching to soy milk since soybeans can lower Testosterone.  You may also need to make sure that you get enough vitamin D, calcium and protein. 

Weight training must for eliminating middle aged belly

As I have written on many occasions, I have always enjoyed running. I found that I could run almost anywhere (when I spent a month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I planned to join a gym, but when we checked into our apartment in Palermo Hollywood, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Argentinians ran on their sidewalks and next day I started doing the same). Considering the extreme weather in New England, I own a treadmill (which I consider to be the best investment I ever made -- a $700 Sears machine has been with me for some 18 years and still runs fine with just one repair) and put it to good use. However, when I noticed my Testosterone levels falling and discovering that a middle aged man must lift weights to raise his Testosterone levels, I have significantly cut back on running and start my workout routine with strength training and conclude it with about 20 minutes of running.

Looks like science is on my side for one more objective of mine: get rid of the middle aged belly. Doctors at the Harvard School of Public Health found that those guys who spent an extra 20 minutes a day weight training gained less abdominal weight than those who spent it on aerobics. Researcher Frank Hu suggests that older men should do both weight training and aerobics to keep their tummies small. I have noticed significant reduction in my waist due to my routine that incorporates both and I am hoping that eventually I will have a totally flat tummy.

Benefits of drinking red wine

I used to be the type who believes that a responsible hardworking man with no bad habits deserves to have a drink at the end of the day, and though, I did not always followed this principle of mine, I did occasionally poured myself a glass of wine at dinner several times a week....until, my low-T problems started and I cut back significantly on alcohol.  As I like to emphasize that since I am making so many changes in my lifestyle to get back to my alpha male status, it is hard to pinpoint my success to lower alcohol consumption, but it is scientifically established that excessive alcohol increases the level of estrogen in both men and women.  Since I still have that boarding school habits, rather than drinking only just a little bit daily, I find it easier to drink only during the weekend, and that too, in smaller amounts.

Now red wine is in a class of its own.  There is overwhelming research that shows that drinking moderate amounts of red wine is good, but men with low-Testosterone have another reason to drink it.  According to scientists at London's Kingston's University, red wine has a chemical called quercetin which blocks an enzyme called UGT2B17 (this enzyme actively looks for testosterone molecules in the body and if it finds them, it tells the kidneys to excrete it).  This is normal functioning of the body during youth and there is nothing to worry, but as we get older, we can try to slow down the action of this enzyme by increasing the levels of quercetin in the body.  This can be accomplished by simply drinking more of red wine (I am not planning to actually increase my consumption of alcohol by resuming drinking on weekdays; I will just choose a glass of wine more often than beer when drinking). 

Other sources of quercetin:  For those of you who are teetotalers or limit your alcohol consumption, there are other food sources that contain this chemical.  These include green/white tea, citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, olive oil, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries.  In other words, whether you drink alcohol or not or drink only a little, make sure to include these foods in your diet.

Hot and spicy food

A new study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior has concluded that men with high Testosterone, among other things, also prefer spicy food.  Interestingly enough, it is not known why these guys like hot sauces and peppers.  The researchers speculate that it could be a combination of things.  While I was wondering if the converse is true as well -- a man could raise his Testosterone by consuming more spicy foods -- it turns out that may not be the case.  While some chemicals found in hot peppers have health benefits and we should eat some hot chillies from time to time, there is no reason to believe that this will raise the Testosterone levels.  But ladies, if you see a man on your date pouring a lot of Sriracha sauce or asking the waiter for jalapeno peppers, it is safe to assume that he will definitely take you to bed.

New body at 50

As the year is ending, I have been thinking about what I accomplished, and wow, my body is different.  In fact, I say this with embarrassment that I have a body at 50 that I did not even have as a 18-year old.  While pretty much my whole life I have been fairly slim and healthy, this is the first time that I have muscles everywhere.  It actually feels weird to even touch my body.  When I asked a personal trainer friend of mine to make sure that I was not just gaining weight, he showed me how rock solid my body was and that was a sign it was all muscle.  Fat is flabby, he said.

So how did I do it?  Well, since the big aha moment of having low-T, I improved my nutrition since I realized that as a vegetarian who exercised a lot, I was not eating enough protein and fat.  I also included multivitamins, zinc, iron, and desiccated liver in my daily regimen.  More importantly, I started to shift gradually from just running for one hour to doing weights, yoga, and other flexibility and strength training exercises.  I feel very strong and I look the part.  That is because I also have been doing karate for a year now and as you may know, martial arts is not just about self defense, but also you have to be really fit, strong, and flexible to kick and punch.  So my sensei has been helping me as well because each week in three hours of practice, I do a full body workout along with lots of karate kata and kihon.  My tummy is not as flat as I would like but I plan to keep living my new lifestyle and hopefully, all will be well.

Iron supplements for erectile dysfunction

If you are a regular meat eater, particularly red meat like beef, you don't have to read this.  If a man like you is suffering from erectile dysfunction, it is probably because of your sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, and being in poor health.  This post is more for (mostly) vegetarian folks like me who are in middle age and experiencing a combination of low libido and erectile dysfunction.  In addition, you should be engaging in intense physical activity, particularly strength training and weightlifting to naturally raise your Testosterone levels.

What happens is that if you eat a low-fat, fiber-rich diet like me, you simply cannot get enough iron.  I have crunched the numbers and there is no way I can get the recommended daily allowance of iron through my meals.  In addition to that, as a (mostly) vegetarian, I need to take additional iron.  I have also learned that if you reach the level of exercise that compares to an athlete (that is where I am with almost 8 hours of exercise each week along with occasional yard-work or outdoor activities in the weekends), you need extra iron.

So why is iron so important?  Well, not only is iron needed for overall endurance and stamina, because an erection is all about oxygen-rich blood flow to the organ, you need to have enough iron in your blood.  I am taking a supplement right now and have seen minor improvement (unfortunately, supplemental iron simply does not get absorbed very well by the body) and am considering if I should take dessicated cow liver (an excellent source of heme iron, vitamins, and proteins).  In addition, I am making a more conscious effort to include iron-rich sources of food in my diet.  Some are easy to do, like, dark chocolate, but I need to plan better with other dishes like eggs, beans, and green leafy vegetables.

No, oats do not magically raise Testosterone and libido

I was eating steel-cut organic oatmeal long before I experienced lower libido due to malnutrition.  Now, eating oat-meal is a great dietary choice for anyone at any age, there is some misinformation that consuming oats will boost Testosterone, raise libido, and/or cure erectile dysfunction.  You see, in addition to being a rich source of fiber and nutrients (there is nothing exceptional about oats; lots of other fruits and vegetables can do the same), what is great and unique about them is that they absorb a lot of cholesterol.  So when you are consuming oats regularly, you are able to lower your cholesterol in the most natural way possible.  And that's it. 

So if you are an overweight or obese dude who still eats a fat rich diet (it is a given that you will experience poor erections and lower libido even in your youth), including oats in your diet will lower your cholesterol (and raise your Testosterone indirectly because the higher the cholesterol the lower the Testosterone).  What will work even better is if you also reduce your fat consumption, start eating a healthy diet, and exercise.  I guess, if you make no change at all in your lifestyle but just starting eating oats, you will see a tiny improvement in your overall health (lower cholesterol, maybe some weight loss, and these things will also raise your Testosterone), but guys, if you really want to be in bed like you used to, you will have to make radical changes, including super-healthy diet, vitamins and mineral supplements particularly zinc, strength training/weightlifting, plenty of sleep, lower stress, and doing manly things.

Husband's Testosterone is too high after TRT and wife cannot handle it

One of my readers writes, "I am 62 and my husband of 35 years is 63. He has be on testosterone therapy since 2011. I think it was around 197 when he started. Today, it was 1099. It has been as high as 1397. I don't like the person that he has become. He has thoughts about doing things that he never expressed, even in his 30s. He is always suggesting things that he thinks will improve my libido, which I admit is not what it used to be. I resent him putting this emphasis on sex this late in our marriage. We have two grandchildren whom he shows no interest in. His doctor suggested today that he reduce his Androgel to get down to 600-800. I think 450 to 500 would be more in line with his age. It is a constant source of stress for me. He is definitely a "dirty old man" and a turn-off to me. Maybe he SHOULD get a younger babe! How do I handle this situation without pushing him to do just that."

The problem that you are experiencing is very common these days when men are able to go on Testosterone replacement therapy but there really is no equivalent treatment option for women.

The only good news is that your husband loves and as high as his sex drive is, he wants to satisfy it with you and not some younger babe.  Obviously, I am not his doctor to comment on how much medication is appropriate, but this issue has brought you two to a turning point in your marriage.  The question that you have to ask is if you wish to be with a man who is taking Testosterone to maintain his youth and doing whatever it takes to keep his libido high.

You have several options.  If you feel that you would rater live peacefully in retirement and do things that grandmas do rather than dress up in sexy lingerie so that you can make passionate love several nights a week, then, it is fine to just separate from him (there is no need for even a divorce, if that is not something that you want or makes no sense for other legal reasons).

On the other hand, the second option would be to try to change your attitude.  Being 62 is not old any more.  I hear from women who are older than you and still sexually active.  Yes, sex is a bit uncomfortable (it is so even for my wife at 50 who often mentions lack of desire and vaginal dryness) but it is what keep the marriage strong and is a great way to relax.  If you have been able to be with this man for 35 years, I am sure that if you two talk about it in a collaborative manner, you can figure out a way to still have frequent sex and explore new ways of pleasing each other.

And you mention the part about the younger babe.  I know it happens because it is the easy solution without having to change anything, but I would not recommend it. It will not please you to know that he is with other women.

Your husband does not want to make love to you because he loves you too much

This makes no sense.  Imagine that your husband or boyfriend is so deeply in love with you that he does not lust for you.  And as he approaches you less frequently for sex, you are start to worry that he is tired of you, or is interested in other (probably younger) women, or you worry about your fat or wrinkles or gray hair or cellulite.  What is happening is that as his relationship with you becomes stronger and he is totally in love with you, Nature has created systems in place so that his Testosterone goes down and that way his eyes do not wander and he does not cheat.

Image of a guy looking at busty girl on beach in swimsuit

This is similar to what happens when guys become dads.  Their Testosterone drops naturally so they become kinder, gentler to a baby and also do not make the mother pregnant right away (so that she can raise the newborn with full attention rather than get distracted).  So ladies, if there is otherwise no problem that you can see in your relationship or marriage (like fights, bickering, whining, arguments, or abuse) and you just feel that the man simply does not lust for you as before, it is not that he is bored with you or desires other chicks or is already having an extramarital affair; it is just that his body is preparing him to be faithful to you.  By the way, just because a man is working to improve his Testosterone does not mean that he will cheat, though, you might want to prepare for more action in bed as that happens.

Get in the sun for Vitamin D

It looks as if the fact that I am not getting as much sun as I should may have been a factor in my falling Testosterone.  You see, there are two things working against me.  One, I live in New England, where it is cold for so long that we don't get out as much (the sunlight has to come directly on your skin for it to make vitamin D -- light coming through glass does not work).  Secondly, I work from home, so the few minutes that other people are exposed to sun as they get in and out of cars or just end up directly in the sun does not happen for me.

Image of a man on a yacht enjoying bright sun

I am now finding out that vitamin D is critical to Testosterone production.  Yes, I take multivitamins and then consume foods that contain D but there really is no substitute for naturally getting it from the sun.  The trick is to expose your skin directly to sun (without applying sunscreen) for at least 10 minutes.  20 min is even better.  I guess it is the cheapest way to influence Testosterone but for many of us that is hard to do in winter when temperatures and wind chills can easily drop below zero.  On those days I just don't like to even entertain the idea of dressing up and getting out from my 72F home, but I must do it.

Efforts to make Testosterone cases as class action lawsuits

In case you did not know the difference, in a normal lawsuit, your case will be decided on its individual merits.  However, when a product like Androgel injures lots of guys with similar outcomes, what the courts do to make things easier for both plaintiffs and defendants is to combine them all in a class action lawsuit and have one massive trial.  If AbbVie loses because it is proven that Androgel is a defective drug and the manufacturer failed to identify all the risks before launching it or deliberately hid the dangers, then, anyone who can prove that they took the medication is entitled to compensation.  You typically don't have to do anything except doing the paperwork with the help of an attorney by providing evidence of your prescriptions and health risks you experienced.  Since so many cases have already been filed, the lawyers are requesting that they should all be combined into an MDL (multi district litigation, meaning all the cases filed in any district court in the United States be heard by just one judge) to provide quick relief to victims.

White men may become dumb with TRT

It looks like bad news about TRT keeps piling on.  Pharmacology and Neuroscience professor at University of North Texas, Rebecca Cunningham has found an interesting side effect of Testosterone Replacement Therapy on only Caucasian men.  She has found that white males with high oxidative stress (don't freak out with this term; in simple words, it simply means that you are producing far more free radicals than antioxidants) can lose their brain function when taking drugs like Androgel.

So how do you fine if you have high oxidative stress?  I am glad that you asked because you are not going to experience insomnia or high blood pressure.  If you want to find out if you are suffering from this type of condition, ask your family physician to conduct a blood test to find out.  Make sure that if your levels are too high then your doctor has a chance to speak to the physician who prescribes you the Testosterone gel.

Guys, keep taking those statins

Chances are very high that if you are reading this, you have high cholesterol and are taking the so-called statins with brand names like Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor.  These drugs are very effective in lowering cholesterol (while you will see better results with diet and exercise, most men don't -- that is how they got fat in the first place and continue to be so) but a lot of us know the secret that simply eating steel cut oats cooked in water, and then all you add is organic milk, resins, and almonds soaked overnight does wonders without any of the side effects.  But this does not excite guys looking for a quick fix and that is why this dude below is dancing like a teenager after watching a report on Crestor (you really have to doubt the intelligence of a middle aged man dancing with joy after listening to a report on a prescription drug), but he maybe dancing for yet another reason and if you have watched this commercial on television, even his wife seems to be happy with the whole thing.  His erectile function maybe slightly better with Crestor.

Image of a middle aged man excited to hear about crestor trial as his wife is embarrassed by his reaction

Dr. John Kostis of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has found that these drugs improved erectile function by about 25%, which is more than the benefit seen from diet and exercise, and of course, testosterone replacement therapy.  The word of caution here is that the improvement is really small that you would hardly notice it.  The second point to remember is that production of testosterone requires cholesterol so if you have high cholesterol and you are taking statins to reduce that, eventually you might have better erections but will not have the libido.  The net conclusion of this research is that if you are obese or overweight with high cholesterol, despite the nasty side effects, you maybe able to have better erections.  Having said that, guys, cut back on that fast food and sign up with a gym that focuses on strength training.  Not only will your body look better, you will have more energy, better erections, and greater desire for that wonderful lady in your life.

TRT drug shills claim no risks

Since billions of dollars are at stake after it was concluded that Testosterone replacement drugs like Androgel are killing men, the same media machine that made an imaginary disease called low-T into a word as popular as selfie or sexting, is now being put into action to attack science that proves that hormone replacement drugs are not only outright deadly, they do nothing to help men (it turns out that there is a huge placebo effect because men who are on TRT are also more likely to eat healthier, exercise, and feel better about themselves -- things that naturally raise Testosterone).

To fight back, an (Androgel maker) AbbVie funded group known by Androgen Study Group (the tactic sounds so similar to all those 501(c)(4) that engage in outright political activity but pretend to be social-welfare groups and typically have harmless names like Americans for Prosperity or Priorities USA Action) is in business.  Harvard Medical School professor Abraham Morgentaler, who is paid by the drugmaker, along with other physicians who are on the payroll of companies that profit from Testosterone therapy, is attacking the methodology (hmmm....sounds similar to all those who attack evolution of climate change by screaming that the methodology was wrong or the data is wrong).  We know how this works: attack science to confuse Americans so that they will revert to the default position (which would be that TRT is awesome, or evolution is only a theory or global warming is a liberal plot to hurt profits of oil companies).

Guys, Phthalates are turning you into a woman

Remember how I warned you about the dangers of BPA and its impact on Testosterone?  While it seems like in order to become manly men we might all have to go back to living in caves, but since that is not possible, at least we need to watch out for dangerous chemicals that are present in products that we use everyday without thinking about.  So phthalates are these chemicals that are added to anything made from plastics and when they enter a man's body, they rewire our reproductive system so that it makes less Testosterone and lowers sperm count (even leading to infertility in men so that they can never become fathers).  I cannot imagine how we can eliminate plastic materials from our lives, but we sure can cut down their use, for example, by storing food in metal and glass containers.  Another thing to never do is to either store hot food in a plastic container or put a plastic container with food in the microwave oven.

The other major source of phthalates is personal care products, so think things like body lotion, lip cream, face moisturizer and shaving gel (four products that I definitely use and use them a lot since here in New England, the skin is drying up so fast).  Remember parabens and phthalates are different chemicals, so you really have to look for products that do not contain both chemicals.  I am yet to find anything that is easily available and affordable, but what I try to do is to use less of them both in amount and frequency.

Alcohol is the enemy

There is a lot of evidence that consuming excessive alcohol can be a contributing factor to low-T and that is why I have been preaching that middle aged and older males significantly lower their alcohol intake.  While I was never an excessive drinker but did enjoy my glass of red wine with dinner and an occasional beer during the (very few) hot summer days here in New England.  As I have written before, I drink only during the weekend and a lot less than I used to.  On other days, I drink plain water.  In fact, the more I read about the dangers of alcohol for older guys, the less excited I am to to drink it, so now even during the weekend, I pour myself smaller drinks and if I really don't feel like, I don't even drink.  To make my life a bit more exciting, I have been drinking a lot of freshly squeezed fruit juices or turning papaya, pineapple, and watermelons into juices.

Image of a male pouring himself jack daniels whiskey in a glass

So how does alcohol harm older men?  You see, for us dudes it is all about getting Junior erect more often.  When alcohol enters the blood stream, it causes dehydration (we all know the symptoms: thirst and frequent trips to the bathroom), and there is a short term drop in blood volume.  Since erection is all about pumping plenty of blood to Junior, with less of it, all you get a lousy, weak, pathetic looking shape that is no good for anything.  Alcohol also boosts production of angiotensin, a hormone responsible for erectile dysfunction.  This discussion applies primarily for men who either have low-T or are simply aging.  Younger men with normal hormones and with less experience in bed may actually benefit from a drink because it helps them to relax and overcome their performance anxiety particularly if they are intimidated by an attractive woman or if she has more experience than them.

Make those erections happen at least daily

It is a vicious cycle.  Your Testosterone falls, the libido drops, you don't feel like making love, so you don't have sex, and the next thing you know you are in a sexless marriage.  What is worrisome here is that the less sex you have, the faster and steeper the drop in Testosterone and this sets downward spiral from which it maybe impossible to recover unless you engage in a full-scale Libido Recovery Program like the one I followed and documented in my ebook.  Among many changes that you will see during middle age and later (or earlier if your Testosterone drop is a result of hormonal imbalance or obesity) is the lack or complete disappearance of night time erections and/or morning wood (the doctors use a more fancy term called nocturnal penile tumescence).  Now, I laugh about it but when I was younger I always thought of this as a nuisance but now I have learned that they are essential for male sexual health.

The reason these happen regularly is that an erection is critical for proper functioning of the male organ (in fact, forget about children getting them, scientists have found that when a baby boy is still in the womb, he will have them).  During the erect position, the body supplies plenty of blood and oxygen to the organ keeping it in shape, literally.  So if you stop having them at night naturally and then you don't have them otherwise because you are sexless, due to disuse, the muscles start to gradually become weak.  The muscle tissue eventually becomes less elastic and starts to shrink (imagine what happens to old people as they age -- the reason they are less flexible and experience pain is because their muscles are in decline due to disuse) and some men will notice that their organ will actually shrink.  So guys, as much as I encourage you to not give up getting active in bed, if for some reason you experience performance anxiety and are staying away from it, don't give up on having regular erections.  If your wife or girlfriend does not want to participate in the act, there is a lot of ways to make Junior wake up by watching something on premium cable or online.

Gradually increasing workout duration

As you have learned from my journey from low-T to normal Testosterone, two things have mattered the most: dietary changes and workouts.  As I told you, I exercise pretty much every day.  That means five days a week I workout in a disciplined manner using a routine, and then during the weekends, I remain active and burn calories in doing chores either inside the house or in my yard.  Not only this has raised my Testosterone levels as documented in my ebook that is available for purchase, I now look a lot more muscular, I have more energy, and I am hoping that in the long run I can live disease free, and probably longer.

Now, I might have mentioned this before, that about 15 years ago in my 30s when I first started an exercise regimen, I could barely run for 10 minutes on a treadmill and that is when I was skinny and had no illnesses.  It is just that if you do not use your muscles they have no strength.  Over the years, I pushed myself to the standard recommendation of 30 minutes of workout five days a week.  However, as you know once you enter middle age that is not enough.  In order to undo the effect of aging, build lost muscles and increase Testosterone, you need to push yourself, and I did.  Gradually, by merely extending the routine by 5 minutes each month, I was able to do it for an hour.  Can you imagine what an improvement?

Well, then came this moment that I decided to learn martial arts and started taking karate lessons at a dojo in Milford, MA.  The classes are 90 minutes each in the night twice a week.  Initially, I thought that I will skip my morning workout (which is such a nice part of my daily routine) but then I noticed that I just did not feel right the whole day.  I missed the workout, the energy I get, the endorphins circulating in my body.  So I decided to workout for at least 20 minutes.  Hmmm.....the feeling was not the same.  In the end, I concluded that I should simply not disturb my daily workout routine no matter what else I do during the day.  I have now observed that despite working out for two and a half hours on a day twice a week does not feel particularly strenuous.  So there it is.  I am now working out following a regular gym routine at least 8 hours a week, not counting the 15 minute walk I always take after lunch and dinner and the physical activity that I undertake during the weekends.  It is three times the recommended exercise but I feel good, my body is not complaining, and I have no pain of any kind.  Is this for you?  Always consult your physician and listen to your body, but what I want you to take from this blog post is that you can train your body to do more, exert it, push it harder, and then enjoy the results.

Aveed available as injectable Testosterone

While the United States FDA considers banning Androgel and Axiron type drugs, and men whose health has been harmed by Testosterone replacement medication are suing AbbVie, Endo International is now authorized to sell Aveed, yet another medication for an imaginary illness called low-T (though the medical term is a lot fancier: hypogonadism).  In FDA's defense, though, well it took Endo three tries to get the approval.  Obviously, it means that the data supporting Aveed was never really convincing and I will take the approval with a bit of skepticism.  Maybe FDA just was under too much pressure from the lobbyists for big pharma and eventually gave in.

Side effects and health risks:  Like many Testosterone replacement therapy drugs, Aveed is a highly dangerous drug.  In the words of the drugmaker itself, Aveed can literally destroy your lungs through a condition called POME.  It gets worse.  Aveed can cause life threatening allergic reactions.  In other words, when you are getting this injection, you want to make sure that you are under the supervision of an excellent physician at a top of the line hospital and the doctor knows how to deal with severe allergic reaction.  So if you are nearing death, someone knows how to fight the reaction.  DO NOT take Aveed outside of a top medical facility equipped with modern equipment and staffed by experts.

In addition the above dangers, Aveed can cause prostate cancer or make it worse.  Liver problems, sleep apnea, acne, swelling, mood swings, insomnia, irritability, acne, more erections or they last a lot longer, and chest pain.  The company goes on to remind us that these are not all the risks.  There could be others that they do not know about and might happen only to you because of your specific health condition.  In light of these dangers, you better consult a highly qualified physician and hope that he knows what he is doing and can give you unbiased advice, because the risks of Aveed clearly outweigh the benefits.  If you ask me, I would rather live without sex the rest of my life than live with so many risks.

Raise testosterone by becoming entrepreneurial

A study conducted at three universities in Australia had an interesting finding.  The researchers concluded that self employed men had higher Testosterone levels.  It is understandable while unemployed guys will have low-T; we all know how low we feel without a job and how or self esteem takes a dive (there is a direct correlation between emotions like self worth and Testosterone).  However, Professors Francis Greene, Gary Wittert, and Liang Han found that men who had regular jobs did not as high levels as those of entrepreneurs.  Since I have been in all three stages, I know how this works.

Unemployment lowers morale:  Well, like any other middle aged male, I too have suffered my fair share of layoffs.  So I have been unemployed at times and I would not be exaggerating if I say that being without a job is such a low point in a man's life. One day, you are sitting in this awesome office on the 33rd floor of a skyscraper managing things that people had to go through a secretary to get to me, but the next day after the layoff, you are at home with a cup of coffee trying to find a copy of your resume so that you could upload it to  Ouch!  You have no office to go to, everyone stops calling, and even friends who were so warm to you, stop treating you with respect once you have been out of work for a few months.

Image of a confident businessman in a power suit working on a pc in a taxi

Working for someone is an endless story of being put down:  Yes, I was an executive with a six-figure paycheck, but I was still working for bosses, colleagues, and clients.  It did not take long to face humiliation or rebuke or taunts from someone.  In the dog-eat-dog world of corporate America, it is all about destroying everyone else around you to go ahead at any cost.  No surprise then that even with a great job, you can still feel like a loser because someone is always bossing around.

Self employment frees your soul:  After being laid off, I started to work full time to what used to be a hobby in the past and a source of pocket money.  I soon found out that I could actually make a living off that.  It was only after doing that I wondered why I did not think of it before.  I still beat myself for not quitting a job earlier and becoming an entrepreneur.  Why?  When you work for yourself, you are constantly taking big risks, competing with others in the marketplace, and when success comes, you get to take all the credit.  Yes, there are moments of failure and lots of sleepless nights, but in general, as a man you feel strong and empowered.  I am sure that being an entrepreneur must be helping me keep my Testosterone levels high.  Remember that it is all in our heads.  Just sitting like a boss in your own humble chair can make your Testosterone level go up.  Or even watching a competitive sport in which your team wins can boost your Testosterone level.

Are Testosterone injections safer than Androgel and Axiron?

While the FDA is considering banning Testosterone drugs and men who took Androgel and had heart attacks are suing Abbvie, the folks at Low T Center are arguing that all is well and there is nothing to fear.  In case you did not know, Low T Center is a chain of clinics that does nothing else but administer Testosterone Replacement Therapy.  They remind me of Sleek Medspa that brought plastic surgery all over the country and right into the mall.  So while makers of Androgel and Axiron are lawyering up and figuring out how will they pay billions of dollars in compensation to all those men who have been harmed by these drugs, Dr. William Reilly, M.D., Executive Director of the physician practice group treating patients in Low T Centers actually implies that nothing could be better than a FDA investigation into a treatment.  So either he knows something that the rest of the world does not know, or he is delusional.  "We are excited about the FDA's inquiry into alternative testosterone delivery models," he says.

Are low-T doctors careless in treating patients?  In a statement, Dr. Reilly seems to suggest that while gels are dangerous, they inject Testosterone directly into the body, so that is safe.  He also seems to imply that doctors at other clinics simply wrote a prescription for gels without testing and don't care what happens later, but they do a lot of testing before prescribing and really care about their patients.  Now, it is indeed true that some Androgel prescriptions were written without a proper blood test and there are a lot of doctors who maybe less than careful about their patients (I am one of those individuals who does not trust a physician blindly), but generally speaking, doctors do not mean harm and do the best they can, if for no other good reason than the fear of being sued for medical malpractice.  So I would be surprised that all doctors treating men with low-T are dispensing drugs like free candy while Low T Centers are super-careful.

Shouldn't all forms of Testosterone have the same outcome?  Dr. Reilly makes another distinction: between applying a gel on the skin versus injecting it directly.  "Gels and topical treatments rely on the patient to treat themselves, and rest on the concept of theoretical absorption rates, which may or may not play out in real life practice," warns Reilly.  Hmm...I am not so sure.  The drug is essentially identical -- artificially created Testosterone hormone that mimics the natural chemical.  Whether it is directly injected or topically applied or taken orally or sprayed into your nose should not matter because it is Testosterone and eventually it ends up in our bodies.  The company is making another distinction saying that they only treat men up their late fifties.  It could very well be that this pool of men has less likelihood of cardiovascular troubles that could trigger a heart attack once Testosterone is taken.

Finally, Dr. Reilly also takes delight in the fact that the attorneys and the plaintiffs are suing the makers of AndroGel, rather than the doctor.  In other words, you are on your own when you get treated by a Low T Center because while a cute nurse comes to you to initial and sign that stash of papers, and you do that fantasizing about becoming a real man again, you have most likely waived all your rights to sue Dr. William Reilly.  So if you get hurt, you will need to figure out who to file a personal injury claim against.

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Testosterone personal injury lawsuit against Androgel maker

While the FDA takes its own sweet time to evaluate the safety of Testosterone gels, and try to keep its corporate overlords happy, American men who have been hurt by Testosterone drugs are not waiting for government action.  There are several reasons why FDA maybe too slow to act.  The Republicans constantly attack the agency for trying to enforce drug safety.  The agency's budget is so small that it can barely function and has to rely on fees from pharmaceutical companies for survival (imagine cops being paid their salaries by drug dealers?), and therefore, cannot really afford to upset them.  It is also hard to find a lawmaker who has not accepted money from the pharma industry, which employs at least two lobbyists for each lawmaker in Washington.

So Kenneth Aurecchia, Stephen Benn, Michael Gallagher, Steve Marino, and Steven Myers have sued Androgel manufacturer AbbVie Inc. (and its parent company Abbott Laboratories Inc.) in the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois.  The cases are being handled by two reputed personal injury law firms, namely Morelli Alters Ratner and Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd.  The lawsuit claims that the companies deliberately hid and downplayed the risks of taking Androgel.  They accuse the company of failing to disclose the risks of heart attacks and death, along with risks to family members who may come into contact with the dangerous drug.  Such fights are never pretty and I expect AbbVie to dig up all the dirt on these five guys, like how they did not workout or ate burgers and fries their whole lives, which should be blamed for their ill health, rather than their wonderful drug which can turn tired, old dudes into studs within weeks.

FDA considering banning Testosterone drugs

After it was conclusively proven that older men with heart trouble taking prescription Testosterone drugs like Androgel and Axiron were dying from heart attacks, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is taking note.  It has finally started to act on a concerns that have been raised for years after these drugs were aggressively marketed to middle aged males supposedly with an imaginary illness called low-T.  Most of these medications were dispensed without proper medical tests and some clinics now specialize in merely serving guys who want nothing more than a false sense of manhood that is derived from muscular appearance and ability to perform in bed.

What does the FDA review mean?  We know very well that in front of giant corporations with politicians at their service, government agencies have no real power.  There are a lot of stories related to the close relationship between the industry and FDA.  So I would not be surprised that the FDA simply regurgitated the industry talking points and declared the drugs to be harmless.  However, it could very well be that the FDA has no choice but to ask the manufacturers to voluntarily recall the drugs from the market.  It may also force them to do so.  At that point if you have had a dangerous side effect (a personal injury) like a heart attack or your loved ones died from the attack, you will be able to sue the companies for compensation, but the process is not going to be easy.  Unless you have a good attorney, the lawyers working for the giant companies will find out about each French fry you ever ate in your whole life and blame the heart attack on your lifestyle rather than their defective product. 

What to do during the review process?  Now, the FDA review can take years or we might never even hear about it again, so their standard advice is not stopping your medication and talk to your doctor, but if your doctor either pushed you into TRT or is careless enough to not even bother to find out if you need any drugs, I would say you might need a new doctor.  I cannot tell you to stop taking these drugs, but in the meantime I am sticking to my lifestyle approach to high Testosterone, which seems to be working pretty well for me. 

Garlic for middle aged men

Image of garlic

Many Hindu women are not permitted to eat garlic because apparently in their male dominated society they do not want their women to have a libido, because God forbid, what will they do if their women want to make love when they feel the desire (though, no such restrictions exist for guys).  Like celery, avocado, nuts, or lavender, this is one more food item that we need to eat more of everyday.  I am also insisting that my wife consume more of it as well.  In addition, benefits of garlic can be seen in form of better heart health.  It seems to jump-start libido, though, no one knows exactly how.  Hey, it sure makes the food taste better, so no reason not to give this a shot.

Lavender for men

Image of lavender flowers blooming

I cannot think of something else that is more feminine and most of us dudes are reluctant to be smelling of lavender or implying that we like the color (by the way it is a wonderful smell and I will never forget my trip to lavender farms during a trip to Napa and Sonoma Valley almost a decade ago), but like celery in the sense that they affect our libido indirectly, it is one of the smells we should inhale more of.  Apparently, it really gets the blood flowing in our bodies and we need more of that as we age.

How does celery help middle aged men?

Image of celery sticks

Now as far as my research shows, celery does not necessarily lead to a direct increase in the amount of testosterone in the body, but in addition to avocado, pistachios, pomegranate, walnuts, etc., it is a vegetable that we all men must eat regularly.  Some research shows that it is a aphrodisiac because it contains androgen like chemicals.  Now, I typically include a few stalks in a juice cocktail that I make at home and that may include other veggies like kale, Swiss chard, carrots, oranges, lemon, beets, etch.  While preparing the vegetables for pasta or Asian noodles, along with mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, peppers, etc, I also add pieces of zucchini.  However, if you want to keep things simple, just eat a stalk everyday.  Oh, you don't like the taste.  How about dipping it in almond butter?

Testosterone Therapy causing heart attacks in older men

When I will be 70 years old and if I will need to make a choice between having great sex and higher probability of death from a heart attack, I will most likely choose sex, and thus, TRT, but in my middle age, as much as I want to be awesome in bed, I would still like to not die prematurely from cardiovascular complications.  Unfortunately, drugs like Axiron and Androgel are doing exactly that to middle aged and older guys.  If you are a young man suffering from low T, you can continue.

So what is going on?  The study published in PLoS One does not have all the answers yet, because could it be that men who take prescription Testosterone medication might very well engage in more aggressive sex or physical activity (at least that is how the television commercials make it appear with guys literally chopping wood in the wild now that their T-level is up) and worsen their heart health.  The other theory is that high levels of Testosterone in the body increase the number of red blood cells (RBC), the ones that absorb all the oxygen and enable us to conduct aggressive physical activity, and that can make the blood thicker, and thus more likely to block the blood vessels.

So should you abandon your TRT?  Not so fast.  If you got your Testosterone prescription at one of those low-T clinics that are driven by profits and they put up a little dog and pony show, even supposedly testing your blood, you need to consult an ethical doctor to find out for sure if you genuinely have such low levels of the hormone that you need prescription strength medication, instead of simply making lifestyle changes to raise Testosterone the way I have done.  On the other hand, if you have a team of ethical doctors advising you and have done all the tests needed to assess your condition (blood tests for Testosterone are practically worthless and tell us nothing) and are convinced that TRT is the only option, then, you are fine, but you might still want to improve your diet and start working out more regularly.

Impact of martial arts on Testosterone

When I wrote about engaging in aggressive physical activity to raise Testosterone, I had just signed up for karate classes.  Well, I have now completed classes for a month and wanted to provide an update.  You see, even without disclosing this to my instructor, he commented to me in the third class, "Looks like you have never even hit a bug!"  And he was right.  I am the Zen type of guy, so engaging in training for hitting someone is new for me.  However, I have noticed that after just one month of training, I am feeling the aggression inside me.  While I am still mostly punching and kicking in the air (or a cushion), I am being told to imagine a target (an euphemism for the opponent, or in a real world situation, a bad guy I must prepare to beat up in a self defense situation).  This raises my Testosterone and I can feel it inside me, because I scream (and occasionally, just in my head, use foul language).  Guys, if you are in relatively good health (yes, karate is not for those who are out of shape or just starting their fitness routine), martial arts maybe a great way to raise Testosterone.

Hit something and raise your Testosterone

Image of a man during a boxing practice

As you might already know, Testosterone is the hormone responsible for aggression in men.  In addition to eating a testosterone and libido diet, you may want to engage in physical activity like strength training and hard work to force the body to work like a man.  Dr. Stephen Durant of the Mass General Hospital's Sport Psychology Department has another recommendation: kick something.  Well, he recommends activities like boxing, kickboxing, American football, wrestling, rugby, etc.  The idea is that when you are hitting something with all your force, your body is producing a lot of Testosterone.  I am currently taking karate classes to become more aggressive.