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Men's health...not just about testosterone.

Whilst women experience very real physical, emotional and psychological changes during the menopause, there is little discussion about male health and the effects of hormonal changes during their life-stages.

The appropriate balance and function of sex hormones - and their interaction with other hormones in the body - is a major determinant of of male physiological and psychological well-being.

Testosterone plays a key role not only in reproductive health but men's health in general. It helps to maintain healthy muscle and bone mass, supports mood and brain function, facilitates sleep and boosts libido and confidence [1].

Men's testosterone levels have decreased by 20% in the last 20 years [2]. Widening hips and 'man boobs' have become increasingly common as the ratio between male testosterone and oestrogen becomes imbalanced. Other symptoms include increased abdominal fat, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, difficulty sleeping, less energy, mood swings, poor memory and concentration, and loss of confidence [1].

A combination of factors can contribute to this sex hormone imbalance, including blood sugar dysregulation, increased body weight and body fat percentage; chronic stress; high toxic load; poor sleep patterns, under or over exercising, stimulants such as alcohol and poor dietary choices. As a result, other inter-related hormones, including as insulin and cortisol, become imbalanced and can lead to a high inflammatory state (see my free 'Lite Bites' webinar on how this affects both male and female health). This in turn increases the risk of metabolic syndrome or co-morbidities, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis (yes, men too), and prostate issues, including cancer.

Roughly 50% of men over the age of 50 have an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); by the age of 80, nearly 90% will live with BPH [3].

BPH is considered a non malignant growth of prostate tissue, as opposed to prostatitis, which is associated with significant localised inflammation. With both conditions, the prostate gland swells generating similar symptoms, including the frequent need to urinate especially at night (nocturia), restricted urinary flow, pain, and incontinence.

We all know that diet can significantly affect our health, and this includes the prostate. Some studies suggest that the high fat, high sugar Western diet may contribute to increased rates of prostate cancer. Being overweight is another risk factor for developing prostate issues. Excess adipose tissue, especially abdominal fat, releases inflammatory chemicals and increases the conversion of testosterone to oestrogen. So making healthy food choices can help reduce both weight and the risk of prostate issues, as well as other co-morbidities.

Foods to include in your diet are:

  • Lycopene, found in tomatoes, watermelon and papaya, has anti-proliferative and antioxidant effects in prostatic tissue [4]. Tomatoes contain the highest amount of lycopene; use cooked or