The hormone men need for everything

It's one of the most common misperceptions about aging -- that as men get older, they have to tolerate getting weaker, slower, fatter, and less able to have normal sexual function.

Nothing could be further from the truth -- because none of that has to be a part of the aging process. All of those problems and more can often be traced to a single cause: low testosterone.

The bad news is, low testosterone does tend to come with the aging territory. The older you get, the less your body makes -- ironically just as you need it most. And along with all those problems I just mentioned, low levels of the hormone can put you at risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

But there's good news here, too, because that means all of those problems can be cured or avoided by simply boosting your testosterone levels -- and the latest research backs what I see all the time in my own practice.

In one new study, German researchers gave testosterone injections to 115 obese men between the ages of 38 and 83 every 12 weeks for five years, slowly bringing their hormone levels back up to where they should be.

And over those five years, the men lost an average of 35 pounds and shaved an average of 4 inches off the waistline, going from 42 inches down to 38.

The benefits didn't end there. Researchers say the men had improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure levels, and more.

Naturally, when you lose weight, you also lower your risk of diabetes -- and testosterone is the stone that can kill both of those birds. The new study even shows how, since the men given testosterone also saw improvements in blood glucose levels.

This is no coincidence since testosterone plays a key role in insulin production -- and another new study confirms that link.

In this one, mice bred to have impaired testosterone function in their fat tissue were much more likely to be insulin-resistant -- and that was true whether the mice were fat or normal-sized.

If the study holds as true for men as it does the mice, it means low testosterone could boost your risk of diabetes even if you're not fat.

But while low levels can increase your diabetes risk, higher levels can help -- even if you already have, or are at risk for, the disease.

In a 2008 study of 220 men with either diabetes or metabolic syndrome (which is often a precursor to diabetes), men given a testosterone gel had improvements in both insulin resistance and glycated hemoglobin levels when compared to men given a placebo gel.

The men who got the gel also had improvements in body fat as well as cholesterol levels.

They also had a couple of very noticeable changes in that "other" area testosterone is famous for: They had improvements in both orgasm and erectile function.

And yes, testosterone is pretty good for that, too -- and that's true whether you have diabetes or not.

If you think you may need a hormone boost, visit a holistic doctor who can treat you with natural bioidentical hormones. I help men with this issue all the time at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.