As part of the natural ageing process, it is not uncommon for a man to feel like they’re slowing down; losing that vitality and vigour they once experienced in their teens and twenties.
This article looks to provide you with some of the tell-tale symptoms of testosterone deficiency and how it can affect you, mentally and physically.
We shall cover the following points:
- What is testosterone?
- Importance of testosterone
- Testosterone deficiency
- Natural ways to prevent a hormonal decline
- The takeaway
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary male hormone that is produced in the testes. Prior to puberty there’s little difference, if any at all, between the concentrations of this hormone within both genders. However, once puberty starts, males produce around 15 times more testosterone than females. 
The testosterone hormone provides the characteristics synonymous with men, these are outlined as being :
- Male hair patterns
- Deeper voice
- Muscle development
- Broader shoulders
- Narrower waist
- Fat distribution
Importance of Testosterone
Apart from the physical changes that testosterone is responsible for, this hormone has an import physiological role within the body.
The Chief of the Science Communications branch within the National Institute of Health states that testosterone can help regulate sex-drive (libido), sperm production, bone density and even red blood cells which carry oxygen to the organs.
Furthermore, research published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has found a link between circulating testosterone levels and mood changes. 
Clearly, testosterone has an important role in the overall health of men.
Sometimes referred to as an androgen deficiency or the andropause. Throughout their lifetime a man’s testosterone levels will fluctuate with age. This does mean that as men get older, they often experience a decline of natural testosterone production.
This hormonal change is completely normal with the rate of decline being 1.2% on average per year between the age of 30 and 70. However, it is often overlooked because its symptoms and effects tend to be gradual, therefore can go unnoticed, and un-treated. Data identifies normal testosterone levels ranging from 300-1200ng/dl and statistics show that around 20% of men over the age of 50 have levels beneath this healthy range.
Low levels of circulating testosterone have been identified as being responsible for the following problems:
- Cognitive decline
- Erectile dysfunction
- Premature mortality
- Cardiovascular risk
What causes a deficiency?
Apart from age, the Journal of Urology cites lifestyle factors being able to accelerate the process of andropause such alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drug use, anabolic steroid misuse, poor nutrition, stress, and even a lack of sleep can also have a negative effect. 
There’s also a close link between chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, chronic liver disease, sleep apnea syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, whereas other factors can merely be hereditary or the result of prescribed medications.
What are the symptoms?
The UK andropause society recommends that all men over the age of 30 should monitor their health to treat any undesirable changes that they may face.
So, what should you look out for?
- A decreased libido and/or reduced performance
- Reduced strength and muscle mass
- ‘Brain fog’ – difficulty concentrating
- Negative thoughts – feeling down
- Cranky and irritable mood – lack of patience
- Always tired and fatigued
- Increased belly fat
- Hot flushes
- Changes to hair growth
If you are over the age of 30 and recognise these symptoms it may be beneficial to seek professional advice. The most common first port of call is to answer a questionnaire which looks deeper into these symptoms. This is called the ‘Aging Male Symptoms’ (AMS) questionnaire which looks to establish the severity of how a male patient feels.
Upon evaluation, a laboratory measurement may be required to formally understand a person’s condition.
Natural ways to prevent a hormonal decline
There are a number of measures that can be put in place to help prevent the decline of testosterone production or help raise circulating testosterone. While it has been identified that some causes for testosterone deficiency are the result of medications, diseases or even hereditary, some are merely lifestyle choices, and these can be easily changed to have a positive impact which will help you lead a healthier life.
Let us take a brief look at what you can do to ensure your testosterone levels are optimal.
If you eat lots of junk food which is high in salt, saturated fats and sugar you will likely not be secreting levels of testosterone. Research published in the Nutrients Journal found that a diet high in these typically unhealthy and high calorie foods were a marker for low testosterone. 
In response, you should typically eat nutritious foods high in micronutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin A.
Some great t-boosting foods to add in to your diet are eggs, nuts, shellfish, beans, beef, porridge oats and leafy greens such as spinach.
All exercise is good, and way better than none, findings published in the World Journal of Men’s Health found that working on your cardiorespiratory fitness with the use of cycling machine had a positive effect on erectile dysfunction and testosterone decline. 
A further study published in the Mechanisms of Ageing and Development Journal found that testosterone and growth hormone was increased after a 12-week resistance strength training programme. 
Conversely it has been identified that excessive training, particularly in endurance events or weight restricted sports (boxing, wrestling) can have the opposite effect and reduce testosterone which can lead to a reduced performance. 
If you are one of those existing on 4 hours of sleep per night and lots of black coffee or energy drinks, you may wish to prioritize more rest.
A study conducted by the Sleep Research Laboratory at the University of Chicago found that after just one-week, healthy male volunteers who restricted sleep to just 5 hours per night suffered a decrease in testosterone by 10-15%. 
Research has found that plant extracts from Ashwagandha, Fenugreek plus others can have a positive impact on testosterone production in men. 
You can buy supplements that include a variety of micronutrients and plant extracts to help naturally stimulate more testosterone secretion, these are particularly useful for men who are ageing or those who are involved in arduous training regimes such as competitive sport or the military.
If you are going to buy a supplement, always check the company website and ensure that they uphold high manufacturing standards as well as listing every individual ingredient, its dose and any clinical proof for its inclusion and benefit.
We all know we should stay properly hydrated, much of our body is made up of water and being dehydrated can affect not just physical performance but also mental performance.
While the thought of drinking 2 litres of water a day can seem a bit daunting, many fruits and vegetables are high in water content which all contributes towards staying hydrated.
If you exercise a lot, you will require more fluid as we lose water through sweat to help maintain a steady core temperature. Furthermore, research published by The American Journal of the Medical Sciences have found a strong correlation between hydration status and testosterone concentrations. 
As part of the natural ageing process, lots of men will suffer from a steady decline in their production and concentration of testosterone levels.
Some key symptoms relate to the way we start to feel, and changes in our appearance. In some cases, low testosterone can be the result of disease, medications, and hereditary conditions, but for others, simple lifestyle changes can make a positive difference.
Many of these changes are not new, nor are they a ‘secret’, most will appreciate the benefits of eating a balanced diet, getting a suitable duration of sleep, and keeping hydrated. You should also aim to stay active and incorporate an exercise regime into your life as well as utilise the power of natural plant extracts for best results.