Results from The Massachusetts Aging Study reveal that by age 40 a significant 40% of men will experience low libido and erectile dysfunction (ED) – one of the many ‘unspoken-about’ side effects of metabolic syndrome.
Dr Peter Hill of Met-S Care, a specialist in metabolic syndrome, says that although there are a number of differing causes for ED and low testosterone, there appears to be a common thread linking these two conditions and that thread is metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is not a single disease. Rather it is a cluster of conditions that includes, among others, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal HDL cholesterol and blood fat levels.
According to Dr Hill the basic metabolic dysfunction underpinning metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance, which in turn is often associated with high blood sugar levels. “It’s the high blood sugar level, hyperglycaemia, or diabetes, that is essentially responsible for the microvascular and nerve damage (neuropathy) that appears to be implicated in erectile dysfunction,” says Hill.
At around age 30 men’s testosterone levels begin to decline and continue to do so as they age. Reduced testosterone is often accompanied by decreased libido or sex-drive as well as by its twin brother ED. Research reveals that up to 40% of men may experience ED at least occasionally. “Certain medications, for example, may be associated with ED even where testosterone levels are normal but the problem is that many men never speak up and remain hidden sufferers. They are often reluctant or even ashamed to discuss these problems with their healthcare providers,” says Dr Hill.
Dr Hill says finding a solution relies less on medication and more on self-help following a regular healthy diet and exercise programme.
Five pointers for improving libido and ED:
- Lose weight by eliminating sugar and reduce refined carbohydrate consumption to near zero. Research shows that weight loss improves testosterone levels and improves ED.
- Consider intermittent fasting (eg not eating or drinking energy containing beverages from 7pm-11am) allowing insulin levels to remain lower for longer thus fostering weight loss and boosting testosterone levels and improving ED.
- Get moving. Short intense exercise has a positive effect on testosterone levels and a Harvard study showed that just 30 minutes of brisk walking every day was associated with a 41% reduction in ED.
- Ensure an adequate intake of zinc in the diet. Supplementing with zinc for just six weeks has been shown to significantly improve testosterone levels in men with low levels.
- Take a daily multivitamin and consider having a series of vitamin B12 injections as a chronic deficiency of this vitamin may contribute to ED.
“By implementing these five simple lifestyle modifications it is definitely possible to improve libido levels without having to resort to drugs or mechanical devices,” concludes Hill.
Author: Dr Peter Hill: specialist in metabolic syndrome