Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and not having enough of it can cause negative health effects including low libido, increased body fat, erectile dysfunction, depression, low energy and weakened bones. Men with type II diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone as men who don’t suffer from this disease.
The Link Between Diabetes and Low Testosterone
Medical science has long known that there is a link between type II diabetes and low testosterone, but only recently have researchers discovered the inner workings of the relationship. A study done by Tulane University researchers, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that testosterone helps men regulate their blood sugar by triggering signals in pancreas cell clusters called islets. These cell clusters produce insulin.
The study was carried out by using specially bred mice whose pancreas cells didn’t have testosterone receptors. When fed a diet rich in fat and sugar, these mice all developed a lower level of insulin secretion, leading to glucose intolerance. Normal mice in the control group did not experience the same effects. Testing further, researchers also placed testosterone and glucose directly into human islet cells that were engineered to be unable to receive testosterone signals. These islet cells showed less insulin production than normal islet cells that had normal testosterone receptor abilities.
Researchers have found that the pituitary glands of men with diabetes don’t produce enough luteinizing hormone, a hormone that signals the testes to produce testosterone. Which way the relationship works seems unclear. Low testosterone may contribute to the development of diabetes, or diabetes may make men more likely to have low testosterone. Another possibility is that the two reinforce each other. Luckily, there are measures you can take to prevent both diabetes and low testosterone, stopping any vicious cycle from taking place.
Preventing and Treating Low Testosterone
You can find out if you have low testosterone with a simple blood test from your doctor. If you are diagnosed with low-T, you may be prescribed testosterone supplementation in the form of patches, gels and other methods of administration. Testosterone therapy is generally simple and safe.
There are also lifestyle choices you can make to prevent your risk of developing low testosterone in the future. These choices can also help reverse low testosterone levels if this is already the case. Suggestions to boost your testosterone include:
- Get enough sleep every night. The amount of sleep that you get is associated with your testosterone levels in the morning. Aim for at least seven hours.
- Get plenty of vitamin D. Blood levels of vitamin D and blood testosterone levels are heavily correlated.
- Zinc supplements can help many people, as even a mild zinc deficiency can cause suppressed testosterone levels.
- Take herbal supplements such as fenugreek, tribulus terrestris, maca, and ginseng to promote testosterone production.
- Take up weightlifting and other strength training. Higher muscle mass will increase your testosterone levels.
Some people have a higher risk than others of developing diabetes, including older people, non-caucasians, and the overweight and obese. Even if any of these describes you, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live with diabetes. The best way of preventing diabetes is to have good health habits throughout your life. However, even if you haven’t had very good health habits recently, it’s never too late to change your lifestyle and improve your health.
Eating a clean and healthy diet is crucial. Avoid overeating, junk food, processed food and added sugars. Sweetened beverages are a huge source of added sugar that you should consider reducing your intake of. Being active for 30 minutes a day will also lower your risk. These two things combined will help you to manage your weight, which is important because being overweight or obese dramatically increases your risk of developing diabetes.