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"Optimizing Musculoskeletal Health: 3 Science-Backed Steps for Male Vitality"

Since June is men's health month, we thought it only fitting to spotlight testosterone, it's affects on men's health, and 3 simple ways to improve health and vitality. Let's first understand the role of testosterone on men's health. Testosterone is associated with memory, self-confidence, heart health, and even mortality (Low testosterone, increased mortality rate and vice versa). If testosterone is in the low-normal range, there is a higher instance of musculoskeletal pain. So it is easy to see why testosterone levels equate to higher quality of life for men, and is therefore important to monitor and improve.

What is normal? In a blood hormone test for testosterone levels, the range for normal is 250-1100. That is a HUGE range! Research has found that the optimal testosterone range is over 550 ng/dL. They have found that at this range, there's 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events, and it's deemed the minimal baseline to guard against heart attack or stroke. For our purposes, we will talk about "low" as "low-normal", which would be 251-549. Outside of normal range will need care from a medical doctor.

Now that we have defined normal vs. ideal, we can identify the pathways to help naturally boost testosterone levels. There are 4 main switches.

  1. Cortisol - stress hormone. When cortisol increases, it shuts of testosterone production. 75% of men in America are overly stressed.

  2. Insulin - another primary switch for testosterone. Hyperinsulinemia accelerates aging and increases chronic pain. Doesn't show up in blood glucose test, as 1/2 subjects in a recent study had hyperinsulinemia despite normal blood glucose levels. 100% of people with fibromyalgia are insulin resistant.

  3. HPA Axis - major pathway in the brain that controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, immune responses, mood and emotions, sexual activity, and energy storage and expenditure. It can be influenced by insulin and can produce more cortisol, which both switches off testosterone production. High cortisol + high insulin = metabolic syndrome. 93% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy.

  4. AMPK - 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase is an enzyme that plays a role in cellular energy. Increase in AMPK increases testosterone, basal metabolic rate, body fat burn, autophagy, mitochondrial activity and ATP, and is the master metabolic switch of the body. It also restores healthy muscle mass, decreases inflammatory pain, and reduces anxiety.

What to do

STEP 1 : Eat low glycemic, antioxidant rich diet. The idea is to decrease insulin sensitivity, decrease glucose, decrease insulin, and then restore the production of testosterone. Paleo diet is a fantastic start, but you need to look at the original work of Loren Cordain, not what the latest tiktok on paleo foods. Many of the people who have turned Paleo diet into a fad don't take into consideration things like organic sources, quality of meats, and ratio of 70% vegetation to 30% proteins. Additionally, supplements like quercetin, curcumin, berberine, and resveratrol all show benefits. There is also a microbiome influence, and b.plantarum has been shown to be a key strain.

STEP 2: Intense physical exercise. One of the best AMPK activators is high intensitiy exercise to failure. HIIT has shown to have optimal hormone response. A single bout performed to exhaustion has been shown to increase testosterone production and increases whole body insulin sensitivity. It must be maximum exertion and quick rest, then repeat 1 min on and 1 min off for the full 10 minutes DAILY. For reference, moderate is considered 65-75% max heart rate for your age and intense is 75-90% max heart rate for your age).

STEP 3: Get deep, restful sleep. Studies show that less than 5 hours of sleep per night for one week will decrease testosterone levels. In contrast, 7-8 hours of sleep nightly will decrease chronic pain. REM sleep is when the brain detoxes. Deep sleep is where repair and regeneration occur in the body. It is important to keep these in mind for tracking sleep, because there is a normal sleep/wake pattern, and disturbed sleep will have less time in the deep and REM stages.

BONUS: Other AMPK activators: ice baths/cold exposure, calorie restriction with intermittent fasting.

Phosphatidylserine is essential! It can help increase total testosterone in 30 days. However, the only thing that can get in it's way of working is insulin. Therefore, this has to be done in conjunction with STEP 1 in order to work.

These 3 steps to help these 3 pathways for increasing testosterone in men are SO simple... but simple does not equate to easy. For one thing, they have to be done daily and consistently. Although I don't often emphasize health habits specifically for men, I do thing that this is important information to share and this is the perfect time to share it. In doing research on men's health, an alarming statistic I found was that men make 1/2 as many preventative doctor's visits than women and because of this, men on average live 5 years less than women.

As a family wellness chiropractor, I am a preventative doctor, and my mission is to help families live longer happier lives together... Because it's no fun to live to 100 by yourself. Hopefully after reading this, you will take immediate action to care for yourself and consider incorporating preventative health options for your quality of life with your loved ones.

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