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Optimising testosterone levels in men

Written by Aphrodite Bogias | Monday, 12 June 2023

mens health testosterone

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. It’s responsible for competitiveness, energy, and drive, as well as increased libido, muscle mass, and body hair. Testosterone is also required for sufficient levels of red blood cells, regular sleep patterns, bone density, optimal energy levels, memory, and mood regulation.

From the age of 30, testosterone levels in men are expected to decline by 1% each year. However, alarming research has discovered that testosterone levels overall are on a greater decline regardless of age.

Comparative studies of men in their 40s from previous decades show that testosterone is currently at its lowest, with a decline of 20% compared to men in their 40s, 20 years ago. Other longitudinal studies showed that over a 12-year period, men with the lowest testosterone concentrations had a 40% increased risk of death.

This is a concern as lower testosterone concentration in men is associated with various morbidities, including major depressive disorder, metabolic disorders such as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance; as well as increased risk of degenerative disorders such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Furthermore, the incident of multiple morbidities, that is, two or more conditions, is even higher in men with sub-optimal testosterone levels.

What is the cause for this decline over the decades?

The biggest accelerator to the decline is the typical modern diet and lifestyle, with chronic stress levels, poor nutrition, low vitamin D levels, weight gain, and the increased use of the cholesterol medication statin.

All these factors reduce the immune response, lower libido, energy, and vitality, decrease muscle mass and reduce metabolic rate, and lead to obesity. The increase in adipose tissues (fat cells) result in higher levels of an enzyme called Aromatase.

Aromatisation is the process of the enzyme converting testosterone into estrogen, of which high levels are associated with prostate, colon, and breast cancer in men. High stress also reduces testosterone levels through aromatisation. An over production of the stress hormone cortisol increases aromatisation and converts testosterone into oestrogen.

So, how are testosterone levels optimised?

  1. Diet: An anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet is one of the greatest steps in supporting testosterone levels and improving overall health. This includes healthy fats of avocado, coconut oil and olive oil, good quality proteins including oily fish and an abundance of phytonutrient rich fruit and vegetables, as well as eliminating inflammatory foods such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, gluten, and refined oils and seed oils.
  2. Exercise: Heavy weight training and high intensity exercise has been shown to increase testosterone levels in men. A 10-week study of men performing regular weighted squats found a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in blood testosterone levels.
  3. Reduce stress and improve sleep: Managing stress levels is crucial in optimising testosterone levels as well as attaining good quality sleep. Prioritising a regular sleep schedule and winding down at 9pm can assist in reducing stress by regulating your body’s circadian rhythm and effectively processing cortisol.
  4. Magnesium: Optimal magnesium levels are linked to increased testosterone levels, particularly when combined with exercise. Magnesium is also required to synthesise Vitamin D, which is another essential nutrient required in testosterone production.
  5. Remove environmental toxins: Many household substances contain xenoestrogens, or oestrogen mimickers which enter your body and add to the oestrogen load. This includes plastics, deodorants, artificially scented body products and perfumes and cleaning agents. When these substances touch the skin, they enter the bloodstream in a matter of seconds, and can add to the oestrogen load. There are many effective low-tox swaps available.
  6. Avoid anti-testosterone foods: These include sugar, refined grains, and alcohol. Over consumption can stimulate higher levels of insulin and cortisol, driving insulin resistance and decreasing testosterone as a result. High intake of these foods can lead to an increase in body fat, which creates oestrogen production in men, decreasing libido and lowering muscle mass.

Can herbal medicine help?

Studies have indicated that herbs such as ashwagandha and fenugreek can improve testosterone levels.

The herbal actions are not adding the hormone into the body but rather play a supportive role in testosterone production. This is due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as effectively reducing cortisol levels, supporting relaxation and restful sleep. Consult a natural health professional before self-prescribing herbal medicines, to adequately suit your personal needs and requirements and ensure optimal results.

Applying these principles will assist in improving energy levels, mood, weight, and libido. A qualified natural health practitioner can work closely with you and provide individualised strategies designed specifically for you to support hormone production and improve your overall quality of life.


Hackney, A. C., Hosick, K. P., Myer, A., Rubin, D. A., & Battaglini, C. L. (2012). Testosterone responses to intensive interval versus steady-state endurance exercise. Journal of endocrinological investigation, 35(11), 947–950.

Matsumoto A. M. (2002). Andropause: clinical implications of the decline in serum testosterone levels with aging in men. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 57(2), M76–M99.

Peterson, M. D., Belakovskiy, A., McGrath, R., & Yarrow, J. F. (2018). Testosterone Deficiency, Weakness, and Multimorbidity in Men. Scientific reports, 8(1), 5897.

Smith, S. J., Lopresti, A. L., Teo, S. Y. M., & Fairchild, T. J. (2021). Examining the Effects of Herbs on Testosterone Concentrations in Men: A Systematic Review. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 12(3), 744–765.

Peterson, M. D., Belakovskiy, A., McGrath, R., & Yarrow, J. F. (2018). Testosterone Deficiency, Weakness, and Multimorbidity in Men. Scientific reports, 8(1), 5897.

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Aphrodite Bogias

An appreciation for the power and intelligence of the natural world sparked Aphrodite Bogias’ journey into the natural medicine world. She studied a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) at Endeavour and graduated with a deepened affinity for nature and plant medicine – something that would shape her future in more ways than one.

The practice of stimulating and restoring health through herbs, nutrition, and lifestyle choices has been a driving force for Aphrodite’s career. As a mother and Naturopath, she has firsthand experience with the benefits of complementary medicine.

In 2022, Aphrodite turned her passion into a bricks-and-mortar purpose with the opening of her clinic, Nature to Thrive – which encapsulates a return to nature in order to restore balance and harmony. She believes that the healthy condition of the mind, body and spirit is the cornerstone of our lives, enabling the freedom to reach our fullest potential and meaningful existence.

Today, Aphrodite is continuing her studies at Endeavour with

Continuously inspired by the powers of natural and traditional medicine, Aphrodite is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Chinese Medicine) at Endeavour.

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