Paul Jenkins considers the pros and cons of increasing your levels of Testosterone.
It would seem that fundamentally, the very essence of sporting performance is due to our hormones, more specifically; the male sex hormone Testosterone. This androgenic hormone is what gives us all our manly assets, such as, muscular size and strength, facial hair, deepening of the voice, aggression, and the list goes on. As we age and grow older, our testosterone levels decline, and thus so do our strength, muscle mass, virility and other athletic and male assets.
At the core of being manly, we find Testosterone. As such men, young and old alike, regularly endeavour to increase their Testosterone. Being such a huge factor in athletic performance, optimising natural endogenous testosterone levels has become common practice since the history of man has been recorded. It is even purported that the ancient Greek's used to ingest sheep testes to increase Testosterone levels before competing in the first Olympic Games.
In our modern-day quest for high Testosterone, we may find ourselves eating certain foodstuffs that are high in minerals and other micronutrients that benefit Testosterone production or supplementing with natural Testosterone boosting supplements. By doing so we may achieve our short-term goal - high Testosterone; however, are we looking at the bigger picture? Although the androgenic sex hormone - Testosterone is great for our virility working wonders for the art of being manly, having a high Testosterone level can harm the prostate gland.
The prostate is a small male gland, around the size of a walnut, located directly below the bladder, intertwined with the urethra. The prostate gland forms an integral component of the male reproductive system. Its function is to protect sperm by way of an alkaline fluid. During ejaculation, alkaline prostatic fluid is excreted into the urethra, where it is mixed with sperm, and then released as semen. The alkaline ph of the prostatic fluid helps to protect the sperm from the acidity of the female vagina; the fluid also increases the mobility of sperm.
Effects of High Testosterone on the Prostate
Why is this relevant to having a high Testosterone level? The prostate contains high levels of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The more testosterone your testes produce, the more DHT the prostate will provide, via the conversion pathway of 5-alpha-reductase. DHT is more commonly known for its cause of male pattern baldness; however, DHT also harms the prostate gland, making it grow like a weed.
This condition, the enlargement of the prostate, is called benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH). BPH has many a poor symptom, not limited to, but including; urinary pain, frequent urination at night, reduced sexual potency and painful sexual activity. While there are pharmaceutical treatments available for this condition, these prescription medicines generally only seem to offer symptomatic relief, leaving the prostate in turmoil with the increased risk of prostate cancer.
Prevention is Better than Cure
If you are a powerlifter, bodybuilder, athlete, a regular gym-goer, participate in any resistance training, and use any kind of testosterone boosting supplements, then you are more at risk from BPH than your average Joe. The best way to prevent the degenerative condition BPH is to catch it early. For this reason, I would strongly suggest supplementing with Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto is an extract from the berries of two varieties of fan palm; Sabal serrulta and Serenoa repens.
These low growing palm trees are native to the southern United States; commonly in Florida, and also in certain parts of Europe. Their berries, saw palmetto, contain fruitful amounts of fatty oils, fatty acids and phytosterols (plant-based steroid compounds). These extracts work by way of inhibiting the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which in turn leads to a reduction in the androgen DHT. Having stood the test of time, these wonder berries have been used for thousands of years.
In ancient times the Mayans used saw palmetto berries to make a tonic they drank to improve health and vitality. I would suggest taking 200 mg of Saw Palmetto once to twice daily, with food, depending on whether using as "prevention or cure".
Evidence vs Ancient Myth
While the ancient Mayan civilisation may have consumed Saw palmetto berries to better their health, does this quantify its benefits? Is this just an ancient myth? Is there any evidence at all to suggest that Saw palmetto has any positive effects what so ever on the prostate? The Mayan civilisation had incredibly advanced knowledge of mathematics, the solar system and the universe.
They could construct architectural wonders, such as immense stone pyramids, aligning them with perfect precision to the celestial bodies of our night sky. Encode advanced mathematical formulas and other such calendars into their buildings. Hence it is of no surprise that they also possessed advanced knowledge of nature's plants, their chemical components, and knew how to harness the power of plants for their nutritional and biological properties. Our modern-day science also confirms what the Mayan's knew; Saw palmetto is of significant benefit to prostate health.
Studies show Saw palmetto has a positive effect on the prostate and can be used as an effective treatment against BPH. So much so, in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Association (MHRA), a section of the government that deals with the classification of medicines and healthcare products have now classified Saw palmetto extract as being "medicinal" due to its pharmacological effects on human physiology.
Elevating Testosterone, by any means, whether it be lifting weights, taking supplements, making dietary changes, or using synthetic testosterone, increases the risk of BPH and prostate-related health issues. With that thought in mind, I would like to advise - If you are actively trying to improve your Testosterone, adding Saw palmetto into your nutritional regime will be highly beneficial.
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About the Author
Paul Jenkins is a competitive British bodybuilder, nutritional coach, and CEO of DNA® Lean sports supplements.