The T-Connection Part 2: Crying the Blood Sugar Blues

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 21, 2013

  • Is diabetes in your future?
  • The scary truth about low T
  • 3 ways to kick testosterone production into gear

In the last issue, I talked about the effect low testosterone has on male libido and cardiovascular health. These are two very serious issues that affect both your quality of life and your quantity of life.

And let’s face it. When push comes to shove, we all want to live life to the max and make it last as long as possible. But if you have low T, chances are pretty slim you’ll be able to do either.

Worse, your heart health and bedroom performance aren’t the only things under fire here. Low testosterone is just as harmful to your glucose metabolism.

You see, there’s a direct link between blood sugar problems (type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and blood glucose abnormalities) and testosterone.

This connection is so strong the Endocrine Society has taken a stance. They recommend all men with type 2 diabetes have their testosterone levels measured regularly. Some experts even suggest low testosterone should be included in the metabolic syndrome profile.

If you’re not familiar with some of the terms associated with blood sugar problems, don’t worry. Here’s a quick primer…

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  • Pre-diabetes is almost always a precursor to the development of type 2 diabetes. It’s basically the presence of higher than normal blood glucose levels that haven’t yet reached diabetic level.
  • Metabolic syndrome is characterized by excess belly fat, glucose abnormalities and insulin resistance. Other factors include high levels of bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and increased blood pressure. If you have metabolic syndrome you’re three times more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than people without it. You’re also about twice as like to die from one of them.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the insulin your body produces is no longer effective in controlling your blood sugar. Having diabetes greatly increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve disorders, kidney disease, cancer and impotence.

Add low T into the equation, and it’s no wonder men have such high mortality rates. One study shows mortality risk is increased by an enormous 88 percent in men with low testosterone when compared with normal levels.

The question is what can you do to reclaim your right to be a healthy, aging male and rescue your testosterone?

Immediately!

Before we go any further, I should probably make one thing clear. Diabetes is a very serious problem for men.

About 13 million men in America have low testosterone. It also turns out around 13 million men have type 2 diabetes. I don’t think the fact these numbers match up is a coincidence.

Some people don’t realize how serious diabetes is. They think it’s just a matter of staying away from candy, cookies and other sweets. That’s not the case.

Did you know people with diabetes are three times more likely to report an inability to walk a quarter mile, climb stairs or do housework?

Or how about this. If you’re diabetic you have an 80 percent chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

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It’s also the leading cause of kidney failure and blindness in the U.S. And it’s responsible for about 60 percent of non-traumatic limb amputations.

Scary, isn’t it?

The problem is many doctors are still unaware of the connection between low testosterone and blood sugar. And if your physician is unable to make the connection, how are you supposed to figure it out?

I’ve see it more often than I’d like. Men come into the office with high cholesterol and triglycerides. They have excess belly fat. Some of them are obese. Their blood pressure is high.

Some of them have never been told these symptoms go hand-in hand with pre-diabetes, diabetes or metabolic syndrome. And they never suspect low testosterone could be the culprit.

But here are some facts you should be aware of…

  • About 57 percent of men with type 2 diabetes have reduced free testosterone levels.
  • Men with low testosterone levels are three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome.
  • Men with higher testosterone levels have better insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This suggests these hormones may protect against the development of metabolic syndrome.

It gets even more disturbing when you consider the role testosterone production plays in obesity, heart health, brain function and mortality.

I often suggest three important changes to help my patients pump up their testosterone levels and lower these risks…

 

Nobody wants to make a lot of big changes in their lifestyle overnight. But when you keep it simple and focus in on the most important elements, it can be pretty easy to do.

Here are three little changes that can quickly kick your testosterone production into gear…

1. Why real men need plenty of sleep. A recent study found that skipping sleep reduces testosterone levels by the same amount as aging 10 to 15 years. In the study ten men slept in a laboratory for up to ten hours a night for three nights. Next they spent eight nights sleeping for less than five hours.

Afterward researchers compared testosterone their “before and after” testosterone levels. Just eight nights of sleeping five hours per night lowered their testosterone by 10 to 15 percent.

This is just one of many good reasons to ensure a full night’s sleep. If you have a hard time getting to bed and staying asleep all night, check out these tips in my new years’ issue.

2. Boost your testosterone with the right exercise. These days aerobic exercise is a big thing. But people often forget about resistance training. Research shows resistance exercise is much better when it comes to your testosterone levels.

A study recruited 22 men between 18 and 55 years of age. Some of them did resistance training for 40 minutes. Others ran for 40 minutes. It turns out the resistance training was more effective in raising testosterone.

Exercises performed by the resistance training group included knee extension-flexion, chest press-pull, shoulder press-pull and biceps curls. They also did weighted abdominal crunches, dead-lift calf-raises, and triceps dumbbell presses.

3. Trim down that belly fat. If you’re struggling with weight or belly fat, here’s some news guaranteed to get you motivated. A recent study finds losing weight can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels by almost 50 percent.

891 middle-aged men were divided into three groups. One group exercised for 150 minutes a week and reduced their fat and calorie intake. The second group was given the diabetes drug metformin and the third received placebo.

The occurrence of low testosterone levels decreased from about 20 percent to 11 percent in men who lost an average of 17 pounds. There was no change in testosterone levels in the other groups.

Another thing you can do to get rid of that spare tire and boost testosterone is to stay away from high glycemic foods. These foods not only affect your blood sugar levels. They also pack on the pounds and interfere with testosterone production.

The single most common food to avoid and lose fat weight is gluten. Take the time to read “Wheat Belly” written by my friend William Davis, MD. It’s a fast and good read. The one thing that sticks in my mind from this book is that a single piece of whole grain bread has a higher glycemic index than a “snickers” candy bar… cut gluten from your diet and watch the fat disappear.

Get started on these simply lifestyle changes now. And don’t forget to watch for the next issue in this three-part series on testosterone. In it, you’ll discover some of the top supplements proven to boost your natural levels of testosterone.

Resources:
Isomaa B, Almgren P, Tuomi T et al. Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with the metabolic syndrome. DiabetesCare 2001;24(4):683-9

Shores MM, Matsumoto AM, Sloan KL, Kivlahan DR. Low serum testosterone and mortality in male veterans. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Aug 14-28;166(15):1660-5.

Grossmann M, Thomas MC, Panagiotopoulos S, Sharpe K, Macisaac RJ, Clarke S, Zajac JD, Jerums G. Low testosterone levels are common and associated with insulin resistance in men with diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 May;93(5):1834-40.

Pitteloud N, Mootha VK, Dwyer AA, Hardin M, Lee H, Eriksson KF, Tripathy D, Yialamas M, Groop L, Elahi D, Hayes FJ. Relationship between testosterone levels, insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial function in men. Diabetes Care. 2005 Jul;28(7):1636-42.

Muller M, Grobbee DE, den Tonkelaar I, Lamberts SW, van der Schouw YT. Endogenous sex hormones and metabolic syndrome in aging men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 May;90(5):2618-23.

R. Leproult, E. Van Cauter. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. JAMA, 2011; 305 (21): 2173

Tremblay MS, Copeland JL, Van Helder W. Effect of training status and exercise mode on endogenous steroid hormones in men. J Appl Physiol. 2004 Feb;96(2):531-9.

Endocrine Society (2012, June 25). Overweight men can boost low testosterone levels by losing weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2012/06/120625124914.htm

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