Oxytocin Enhances Spirituality, New Study Says

Leave a comment

Oxytocin has been dubbed the “love hormone” for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research from Duke University suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.

In the study, men reported a greater sense of spirituality shortly after taking oxytocin and a week later. Participants who took oxytocin also experienced more positive emotions during meditation, said lead author Patty Van Cappellen, a social psychologist at Duke.

“Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research,” Van Cappellen said. “We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences.

“Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs.”

Study participants were all male, and the findings apply only to men, said Van Cappellen, associate director of the Interdisciplinary and Behavioral Research Center at Duke’s Social Science Research Institute. In general, oxytocin operates somewhat differently in men and women, Van Cappellen added. Oxytocin’s effects on women’s spirituality still needs to be investigated.

The results appears online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience .

Oxytocin occurs naturally in the body. Produced by the hypothalamus, it acts as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter, affecting many regions of the brain. It is stimulated during sex, childbirth and breastfeeding. Recent research has highlighted oxytocin’s possible role in promoting empathy, trust, social bonding and altruism.

To test how oxytocin might influence spirituality, researchers administered the hormone to one group and a placebo to another. Those who received oxytocin were more likely to say afterwards that spirituality was important in their lives and that life has meaning and purpose. This was true after taking into account whether the participant reported belonging to an organized religion or not.

Participants who received oxytocin were also more inclined to view themselves as interconnected with other people and living things, giving higher ratings to statements such as “All life is interconnected” and “There is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people.”

Study subjects also participated in a guided meditation. Those who received oxytocin reported experiencing more positive emotions during meditation, including awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, interest, love and serenity.

Oxytocin did not affect all participants equally, though. Its effect on spirituality was stronger among people with a particular variant of the CD38 gene, a gene that regulates the release of oxytocin from hypothalamic neurons in the brain.

Van Cappellen cautioned that the findings should not be over-generalized. First of all, there are many definitions of spirituality, she noted.

“Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors,” Van Cappellen said. “However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe.”

Explore further: Oxytocin helps people feel more extraverted

More information: Patty Van Cappellen et al. Effects of oxytocin administration on spirituality and emotional responses to meditation, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (2016). DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsw078

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-09-oxytocin-spirituality.html

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Advertisements

Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link

Leave a comment

The long-standing prohibition against testosterone therapy in men with untreated or low-risk prostate cancer merits reevaluation, according to a new study published in The Journal of Urology.

“For many decades it had been believed that a history of prostate cancer, even if treated and cured, was an absolute contraindication to testosterone therapy, due to the belief that testosterone activated prostate cancer growth, and could potentially cause dormant cancer cells to grow rapidly,” says Abraham Morgentaler, MD of Men’s Health Boston. “Generations of medical students and residents were taught that providing testosterone to a man with prostate cancer was like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

This study, involving 13 symptomatic testosterone deficient men who also had untreated prostate cancer, suggests this traditional view is incorrect, and that testosterone treatment in men does not cause rapid growth of prostate cancer. It is the first to directly and rigorously assess changes in the prostate among men with prostate cancer who received testosterone therapy.

The men received testosterone therapy while undergoing active surveillance for prostate cancer for a median of 2.5 years. Median age was 58.8 years. The initial biopsy Gleason score was 6/10 for 12 of the men, 7/10 for the other (Gleason score grades the aggressiveness of prostate cancer by its microscopic appearance on a scale of 2-10. Gleason 6 is generally considered low to moderately aggressive, and Gleason 7 moderately aggressive).

Mean testosterone concentration increased from 238 to 664 ng/dl with treatment, yet neither prostate specific antigen (PSA) concentrations nor prostate volume showed any change. Follow-up biopsies of the prostate were performed in all men at approximately yearly intervals, and none developed cancer progression. In fact, 54 percent of the follow-up biopsies revealed no cancer at all.

Although the number of men in the study was small, and none had aggressive or advanced prostate cancer, Morgentaler observed, “These men were rigorously followed. The cancers in these men were typical of the prostate cancers for which men have undergone invasive treatment with surgery or radiation for 25 years. Clearly, the traditional belief that higher testosterone necessarily leads to rapid prostate cancer growth is incorrect.”

In a Journal of Urology editorial comment, Martin M. Miner, MD, of the Miriam Hospital and Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University notes the conclusions represent “a remarkable shift in thinking from only five years ago. … If testosterone therapy was not associated with disease progression in men with untreated prostate cancer, how concerned must we be about testosterone therapy in men with treated prostate cancer?”

“An increasing number of newly diagnosed men with prostate cancer opting for active surveillance, and with many of them also desiring treatment for their signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency, the results suggest a reevaluation of the long standing prohibition against offering testosterone therapy to men with prostate cancer,” says Morgentaler.

Refraining from testosterone therapy due to unmerited prostate cancer fears may have adverse lifestyle and health consequences, since testosterone therapy in testosterone deficient men has been shown to improve symptoms of fatigue, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction. Testosterone therapy may also improve mood, blood sugar control, increase muscle, decrease fat, and improve bone density. Four recent studies have shown that men with high testosterone levels appear to live longer than men with low levels, although it has not yet been shown that treating men with testosterone increases longevity.

Morgentaler commented on an Italian study that showed that low levels of testosterone were associated with aggressive prostate cancer. The risk of aggressive cancer was reduced for men with normal testosterone compared with men with low testosterone.

In an editorial in the journal Cancer, “Turning Conventional Wisdom Upside Down: Low Serum Testosterone and High-Risk Prostate Cancer Morgentaler wrote, “After seven decades of circumstantial evidence pointing us in the wrong direction, perhaps it is time to consider the once unthinkable – conducting a testosterone therapy trial of sufficient size and duration to determine whether normalization of serum testosterone in older men many reduce the risk of prostate cancer, particularly high-risk prostate cancer.”

Article Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-04/bidm-ssa041911.php

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Do Men Need More Protein Than Women?

Leave a comment

It’s often assumed that the nutritional requirements of men and women are almost identical. Women lose iron through menstrual bleeding and therefore may require somewhat more iron than men. Some might also argue that women need more calcium and/or vitamin D, since they have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Finally, women may require more of certain nutrients during pregnancy. But other than that, not much attention is given to gender-related differences in nutritional needs. This may be an oversight, as there is some evidence to suggest that men and women have different requirements when it comes to the intake of several important nutrients, one of which is protein.

Five pieces of evidence support the hypothesis that men require more protein per kilogram of body weight than women

Before we begin, let’s point out the obvious so there’s no confusion: Women need to consume fewer grams of protein per day than men to stay in nitrogen balance, because they tend to have a lower body weight. This is not controversial, and not what this article is about. Rather, the hypothesis of this article is that women require less protein per kilogram of body weight than men. In other words, even if you have a man and a woman who weigh exactly the same and have similar physical activity habits, the woman will still require somewhat less protein.

Five different pieces of evidence support this theory…

1. The evolutionary evidence

Throughout the evolution of our genus, Homo, males probably ate more protein than females (on average). Hunter-gatherer societies are characterized by a division of labour: the men go out hunting and scavenging, while the women dig for tubers, collect berries, and take care of children. This is not to say that the men never participate in the latter activities, or that it’s unheard of for forager women to go out on a hunt; but in general, it’s safe to say that there is a marked gender-related difference in terms of the type of labour performed. This is likely how it’s been for millions of years, and it’s still the way things are done today. The Hadza, for example, are known to adhere to this practice.

The men of these types of forager communities will certainly bring back meat – acquired during a hunt – to the camp, where the women and children await; however, they also tend to consume some of it by themselves. And even if they bring it back to camp, they may end up eating more of it than the women, particularly if the women have been out gathering and eating tubers and other plant foods all day.

It’s obviously difficult to say anything with certainty regarding exactly what our primal ancestors ate. That said, there is a lot we do know. My belief, based on everything I’ve read and seen, is that Paleolithic men probably ate more meat, and hence more protein, than women. Perhaps needless to say, these are average values. There would have been variations between different hunter-gatherer bands, depending on location, climate, etc.

What this means is that the diets that conditioned the genome of the male members of our genusHomo likely contained somewhat more protein than the diets that conditioned the genetic make-up of the female members of our genus. Hence, men may have evolved to require somewhat more protein than women.

2. Differences in body composition between men and women

Women have (on average) less lean body mass than men, in proportion to total body weight, and therefore require less protein to maintain a stable level of muscle mass. This point is a continuation from the last section, in the sense that the male members of our genus developed more muscular bodies than the females, in part because they were more physically active, engaging in activities (e.g., running) that require muscular strength.

In a Paleolithic environment, being physically fit was a definite advantage in terms of survival and reproduction, particularly for the males, who were involved in strenuous activities such as hunting. Hence, natural selection would have favored individuals that were strong and physically fit.

3. Gender-related differences in protein metabolism during and after exercise

There are differences between the genders in the metabolic response to exercise. Both male and female athletes require more protein than sedentary people; however, the increase in protein requirement may not be identical between the two sexes. A 2000 paper indicates that the maximal increase (above the level needed by a sedentary person) is approximately 100% for elite male athletes and approximately 50-60% for elite female athletes (1).

Furthermore, females show a smaller increase in lean body mass following acute creatine loading as compared to males (1), and may catabolize less protein than men consequent to endurance exercise (2). Also, perhaps needless to say, men build muscle at a faster rate than women and therefore require more protein to recover optimally from resistance training.

4. Nitrogen balance studies

Nitrogen balance studies indicate that women might have a lower protein requirement than men (3, 4, 5). For example, a 2014 meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies found that “there was significant difference in the natural logarithm of protein requirement when comparing data from males and females, with resulting values of 108.85 mg N/kg·d and 97.51 mg N/kg·d, respectively” (4).

It should be noted that nitrogen balance studies may underestimate human protein requirements (5). Nevertheless, nitrogen balance analyses do give us some insights into what constitutes the minimal level of protein intake needed to avoid a deficiency. Also, they can be useful for determining differences in protein turnover between men and women.

Since men tend to carry more muscle mass than females, in proportion to total body weight, and have a somewhat different metabolic machinery, it’s not really a surprise that nitrogen balance studies suggest that men require slightly more protein per kilogram of body weight than women to avoid a negative nitrogen balance. The 2014 paper quoted above indicates that the difference isn’t huge, but it’s definitely there.

5. Observations and anecdotal reports

My experience and observations suggest that men crave and need more meat and protein than women. I’m sure others have observed the same. Observational studies and anecdotal reports are not the strongest form of evidence, but they certainly shouldn’t be dismissed as insignificant. I don’t think it’s just a cultural thing that we look upon a steak of meat as “man food”, whereas salads and other plant-based dishes are often associated with the opposite sex.

One of the things I’ve noticed when living with women is that they don’t seem to have the same craving for meat as men do. Whereas some men, including myself, seem to deteriorate, both physically and mentally, on a low-protein diet, women seem to have fewer problems with eating a mostly plant-based diet. This is not to say that men need huge amounts of meat every day to function optimally, or that women barely need any protein at all. All I’m saying is that men in general seem to have a stronger craving for meat than women do.

What does this mean for you?

In my mind, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people will benefit from eating more protein than what the dietary guidelines, which are based on nitrogen balance studies, recommend. This goes for both men and women. Protein can help you lose weight, build lean muscle, curb undesirable food cravings, and combat chronic disease.

For optimal results, include moderate amounts of high-quality protein in every meal and derive at least 20% of your total calories from this macronutrient. The exact intake level that is perfect for you depends on several factors, such as your gender and physical activity level and the inflammatory status of your body. If you’re a female, you may require somewhat less protein than if you are a male.

If you are healthy and know how to listen to the signals your body is sending you, the best tip may simply be to listen to your body, and let your appetite guide you towards an appropriate intake of protein.

Written By: Eirik  Article Source: http://darwinian-medicine.com/do-men-need-more-protein-than-women/

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Testosterone Deficiency in Men

Leave a comment

It is not normal to wake up feeling tired all of the time, nor is it written in stone that the body has to break down as you age. Do not let any person or doctor tell you that lack of energy, weight gain, decreased sex drive, and loss of muscle are a fact of life. They are not! Why is it that some people manage to stay looking young and fit throughout their lives when others show the signs of aging in their early years? Testosterone deficiency may be to blame.

If the only thing you have ever thought testosterone was good for was building muscles, or increasing a man’s love drive, you are very mistaken. These are only two of the many functions testosterone has in the body. While often referred to as the male sex hormone, testosterone is beneficial to everyone, male and female, alike.

Yes, you are getting older – we all are! That does not mean that you have to hang up your running shoes, put away your golf clubs, or cancel your gym membership. Once you understand the signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency in men, you will be able to determine if the time has come to reach out to a specialist for help.

Testosterone Deficiency in Men

Here are the top warning signs that you might have testosterone deficiency:

  • You are always tired – in the morning when you wake up, in the afternoon after eating lunch, at night after work
  • You have gained weight – unless you have changed your eating habits and are now consuming mass quantities of food or alcohol beverages, abdominal weight gain is often a sign of hormonal imbalance
  • Your sex drive is missing from action – there is no action here when your libido has disappeared, and you find it takes a long time to feel even the slightest bit aroused
  • You can no longer achieve or maintain a powerful erection – erectile dysfunction is an immediate sign that something is wrong, and this can be as simple as fewer morning erections all the way to not being able to achieve an erection or orgasm
  • You are shrinking – loss of height has everything to do with decreased bone density – a serious issue when Low T is present
  • Your muscle size has decreased – testosterone helps to maintain muscle structure and strength, and if your workouts are no longer producing the desired effect, testosterone deficiency could be the problem
  • You are feeling depressed – depression, mood changes, anxiety, aggression, lack of motivation, decreased drive, frustration – these are all signs of testosterone deficiency
  • You forget things – memory failure, trouble with mental calculations, difficulty learning new things or committing new facts to memory, and poor focus are all associated with Low T
  • Hair loss – balding or thinning hair on the head, and excess hair growth on the body may all signal low testosterone
  • You have other health problems – if you have any of the following conditions you may also have testosterone deficiency: heart disease, diabetes, obesity, thyroid issues, osteoporosis, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, or prostate problems

It is also not uncommon for a man with Low T to experience hot flashes and night sweats much the same way as a woman dealing with menopause. In fact, the term applied to Low T is andropause. The good news is that there is a way to improve these symptoms, you just need to know where to look and who to turn to for help.

Which Doctor Will Help to Reveal Testosterone Deficiency

The right doctor will help you determine if your symptoms are associated with testosterone deficiency. Blood testing will reveal if testosterone or any other hormone levels are below their normal range. Some of these hormones impact one another, causing a spiraling effect of deficiencies. The doctor that you want to contact at this time is a hormone replacement therapy specialist – HRT for short. These practitioners work with men and women over the age of thirty who are experiencing changes in their bodies due to hormonal imbalances.

An HRT specialist will not brush off your symptoms as signs of aging. These doctors know that testosterone deficiency can create havoc in the body, and lead to serious illness if not caught and treated. A proper diagnosis will provide patient-targeted treatment that will bring stellar results.

You do not need to live with the symptoms outlined above. There is help, and a hormone replacement specialist can provide what you need to feel like yourself again. Vitality, libido, passion, and excitement can and should be a part of your life. Testosterone therapy can make it happen.

Article Source: http://positivemed.com/2016/06/21/testosterone-deficiency/

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Leafy Greens Could Enhance Sports Endurance

Leave a comment

Recent study has found that nitrate supplementation combined with sprint interval training in low oxygen conditions could enhance sport performance.

Nitrate supplements have ignited a new conversation about nitrate-rich foods like spinach, arugula, and other vegetables, as being important for muscle endurance during exercising. A previous study has suggested that beetroot juice, an abundant dietary source of nitrate, increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise by 38%. In a recent sports performance study, it was found that athletes who took nitrate supplementation before undergoing endurance training experienced improved muscle performance.

These tests were done on stationary bicycles, and the participants were placed in a low oxygen (hypoxic) environment. Biopsies of muscle tissue were taken and the results showed a growth in muscle fibers. This would suggest that nitrate is a key nutrient for the muscles during exercise.

In Belgium at the University of Leuven, researchers recruited 30 healthy men from university students. All participants were selected for being physically active, but were not engaged in any physical training program. The participants were divided into three groups and took either a placebo, or nitrate pills three hours prior to exercising. Then, over a five-week period, participants undertook an intense exercise program on stationary bikes. Each trial would last for 30 minutes, three times per week. The groups were categorized as seen below:

  • Group one took placebos and exercised in normal oxygen conditions
  • Group two took placebos and exercised under low oxygen conditions
  • Group three took nitrate supplements and exercised under low oxygen conditions

The researchers took muscle biopsies to measure certain fibers in the muscle tissue, specifically the ones thought to be associated with increasing endurance. In the final analysis, the group of athletes who took nitrate supplements before exercising in a low oxygen environment had a measured increase in these muscle fibers. This suggests that ingesting nitrate-rich foods or supplements combined with endurance type exercise regimes will grow those muscles needed for high-performance sports.

According to co-author Professor Peter Hespel, this may be the first study that shows changes inside muscle fibers after nitrate supplementation with exercise. The study was first considered after examining athletes who train at high elevations under conditions of low oxygen to improve their performance. Under these conditions, intense workouts put extra demands on the muscles as they quickly undergo oxidative stress due to the low oxygen.

It was believed that muscle fibers would respond to nitrate intake and boost overall performance. As the study discovered, nitrate supplements did increase muscle performance under extreme conditions, but it remains to be seen if this success can be implemented under normal oxygen conditions. Hespel also cautioned that long-term nitrate supplementation with exercise is not yet recommended, until a safe dosage of nitrate has clearly been demonstrated.

This experiment demonstrated nitrate supplementation and vigorous training under hypoxic conditions proportionally increased muscle fiber associated with endurance. Today, athletes are pushing themselves to their physical limits. Future research in dietary supplements could give them a competitive edge. However, Professor Hespel suspects further investigation into nitrate-rich foods could be a safe alternative for athletes wanting to improve their performance.

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/leafy-greens-could-enhance-sports-endurance/

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Older men with higher testosterone levels lose less muscle mass as they age

Leave a comment

A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that higher levels of testosterone were associated with reduced loss of lean muscle mass in older men, especially in those who were losing weight. In these men, higher testosterone levels were also associated with less loss of lower body strength.

Loss of muscle mass and strength contribute to frailty and are associated with falls, mobility limitations and fractures. Men lose more muscle mass and strength than women as they age, suggesting that sex steroids, and testosterone in particular, may contribute to body composition and physical function changes. This study sought to better understand the relationship between testosterone levels and healthy aging in older men and found that higher testosterone levels may help older men preserve muscle mass and delay frailty as they age.

“Our study finds that men, aged 65 years and older, with higher testosterone levels lost less muscle mass, especially in their arms and legs, than men this age who had lower testosterone levels,” said Erin LeBlanc, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, OR and lead author of the study. “Men who had higher testosterone levels before they lost weight also lost less leg function and could stand up more easily from a chair than men who had lower testosterone levels before they lost weight.”

In this study, researchers used data from 1,183 men aged 65 years or older and tested the hypothesis that higher baseline measures of sex steroids are associated with lesser declines in lean mass and maintenance of physical performance over an average follow-up of 4.5 years. Body composition was measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans and physical performance was measured through a series of exercises that assessed grip strength, lower extremity power, walking speed and the ability to rise from a chair without the use of arms.

“The amount of testosterone men have in their bodies may contribute to how much muscle and strength they lose as they get older,” said LeBlanc. “Our study adds evidence to the growing body of literature that suggest higher levels of endogenous testosterone may be favorably associated with some key components of healthy aging in men.”

Other researchers working on the study include: Patty Wang, Christine Lee, Lynn Marshall and Eric Orwoll of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland; Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and Gail Laughlin of the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA; Jane Cauley of the University of Pittsburgh in PA; and Andrew Hoffman of Stanford University in CA.

The article, “Higher testosterone levels are associated with less loss of lean body mass in older men,” appears in the December 2011 issue of JCEM.

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/older-men-with-higher-testosterone-levels-lose-less-muscle-mass-as-they-age/elder-care/

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Vitamin D3 supplementation helps women build muscle, avoid falls even after menopause

Leave a comment

The benefits of vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women have been widely debated. But a new study from Sao Paulo, Brazil, now documents that vitamin D supplementation can significantly increase muscle strength and reduce the loss of body muscle mass in women as late as 12+ years after menopause. The study results will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which begins September 30 in Las Vegas.

Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in postmenopausal women worldwide, creating muscle weakness and a greater tendency for falling. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted over a nine-month period. Muscle mass was estimated by total-body DXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), as well as by handgrip strength and through a chair-rising test.

At the end of the trial, the women receiving the supplements demonstrated a significant increase (+25.3%) in muscle strength, while those receiving the placebo actually lost an average of 6.8% of muscle mass. Women not receiving Vitamin D supplements were also nearly two times as likely to fall.

“We concluded that the supplementation of Vitamin D alone provided significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle, says Dr. L.M. Cangussu, one of the lead authors of the study from the Botucatu Medical School at Sao Paulo State University.

“While this study is unlikely to decide the debate over Vitamin D, it provides further evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements by postmenopausal women in an effort to reduce frailty and an increased risk of falling,” says NAMS Executive Director Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, DSc(Med).

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/vitamin-d3-supplementation-helps-women-build-muscle-avoid-falls-even-after-menopause/menopause/

“The Greatest Health of Your Life”℠

Boston Testosterone Partners
National Testosterone Restoration for Men
Wellness & Preventative Medicine

Older Entries