1. The hidden risks of fatherhood

    You make a lot of sacrifices when you become a parent -- but this is one I'm sure most men never see coming...

    It's the loss of their manhood.

    No, I'm not just talking about the fact that one-time tough guys will coo at a baby, or decorate a nursery in pink.

    I'm talking about real research that reveals a sharp dip in testosterone levels from the moment they hear the words, "It's a boy!"

    Fatherhood can literally cause testosterone levels to plummet by as much as half the moment a child is born. And while it recovers after that (a little bit, anyway), they never quite get their pre-parental mojo back.

    Researchers measured testosterone levels by taking saliva samples from 600 childless men in the Philippines, then repeated those tests for five years. The men who had kids during that time saw their levels plunge by 50 percent in the first month of fatherhood.

    Those who were most involved in physically caring for their child had the biggest drops. (If you ever needed an excuse to skip diaper-change, this is it!)

    Testosterone levels eventually recovered when the children reached toddlerhood — but not completely. Men with kids had 34 percent less testosterone by the end of the study, while men without had drops of just 14 percent (we all lose a little as we age).

    But you don't have to tolerate low testosterone levels, whether you're a dad or not. There are simple steps you can take right now to keep your hormone levels exactly where they need to be.

    First, be sure to get your rest. Testosterone levels can fall by 15 percent after just one week of sleepless nights, according to a recent study.

    Next, lose some weight: Studies have found that overweight and obese men have lower levels of the hormone -- and that those levels rise when the weight comes off.

    Finally, find a safe way to get off the drugs you don't need (and that's nearly all of them). Many come with side effects that are downright emasculating. One recent study found that men who take statins, for example, have double the risk of low testosterone.

    If none of these apply to you, and you're suffering from low testosterone, here's one for you: Emerging research has found that an extract of the spice fenugreek can actually cause free testosterone levels to surge by as much as 96 percent. Read more about it here.

    That's enough to turn you into the manliest dad -- or even granddad -- around.

  2. Asparagus beats bacteria in lab tests

    What's the quickest way to get a laugh out of your doctor? Mention herbal remedies.

    But while he's laughing and dismissing these centuries-old treatments as "folk medicine," researchers on the cutting-edge of modern science have found at least eight common plants that can kill infection-causing bacteria and fungus.

    And you might even have some of these living miracles growing in your own garden right now.

    Indian researchers set out to test these ancient folk remedies against tough bacteria and fungi by collecting samples from the mouths of 40 oral cancer patients.

    They chose cancer patients because these people often have compromised immune systems and are especially vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections -- and, sure enough, tests revealed that 35 of the 40 had low white blood cell counts.

    Then, the researchers let those samples grow in the lab and arranged individual battles: In one corner, brawny bacteria and frightening fungi... in the other, asparagus.

    Yes, asparagus. Wimpy, green, pee-stinking asparagus.

    And you're not going to believe what happened next: Asparagus won.

    In fact, the researchers say eight of the garden-variety extracts they tested worked as broad-spectrum antibiotics. They say extracts from wild asparagus, desert date, false daisy, castor oil, curry tree and fenugreek laid waste to bacteria such as E. coli and S. aureus and fungi like Candida and Aspergillus.

    What's more, the researchers wrote that two of these extracts -- desert date and castor oil -- were able to wipe out Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacteria that are notoriously tough to beat with regular antibiotics.

    And that gives scientists hope that plant extracts may turn out to be the answer for multidrug-resistant superbugs such as MRSA.

    Of course, the study in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials is just a lab-dish experiment and not a clinical trial -- no actual infections were treated or cured.

    But the researchers say they plan more tests -- including clinical ones.

    And if those pan out, maybe your doctor will stop laughing next time you mention herbal remedies.

    Maybe... but I doubt it.

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