Not to sound cliche, but androgens rule. From helping you build muscle to increasing libido, these hormones are what make a man… a man. But, despite boosting your manhood in various ways, there is one androgen which has stirred up quite a controversy over the years, and that’s dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This testosterone metabolite is often touted as a “bad male hormone” as it’s linked to premature male-pattern baldness and prostate enlargement. At the same time, though, many experts disagree and designate DHT as the ultimate male hormone since it’s even more potent than testosterone. But, if this is the case, how can you increase DHT levels naturally and reap all the health benefits? Read on and find out everything you need to know about this often-neglected androgen.
Dihydrotestosterone – The Need-to-Know
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone with potent androgenic properties which naturally forms inside your body. More specifically, DHT occurs in certain parts of the male body such as the prostate (almost 95% of the action takes place here), skin, liver, and brain after an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone into the androgen.
However, testosterone is not the only precursor of DHT. According to one study, dihydrotestosterone is also formed after 5-alpha reductase converts androstenedione into the discussed androgen. That mainly occurs in women who (of course!) don’t have genitals that are chockful of testosterone.
Some of the most common biological functions of DHT include the growth of facial and body hair, the development, and maintenance of the prostate gland and the regulation of the sebaceous gland. That’s why dihydrotestosterone is often associated with acne.
DHT and Testosterone
Despite being directly related to testosterone, DHT is significantly more potent that the famous sex hormone. In fact, one study shows that not only is DHT more likely to attach to androgen receptors than its not-so-distant “cousin,” but the androgen is also five times more active while on the receptors than testosterone. As a result, DHT has a higher androgenic activity than T.
However, testosterone is a more potent anabolic factor than DHT. So, even though DHT in conjunction with endurance training increases muscle mass, testosterone is a safe bet when it comes to triggering muscle anabolism.
Is DHT Really the “Bad Hormone” Every Claims It Is?
Dissed as nothing but the reason behind a man’s bald scalp, DHT has been getting a bad rap for many years now. Even research suggests that this androgen is indeed associated with premature hair loss in men. However, there is one fact we often neglect to remember.
Factors such as high estrogen levels and the male pattern baldness gene also play a significant role in hair loss. So, blaming DHT for this side effect is entirely false. In fact, one study suggests that men with high DHT levels have a lower risk of developing baldness than those with normal or low DHT levels. The bottom line? Dihydrotestosterone is not as bad as some people think.
10 Natural Ways to Boost Your DHT Levels
Now that you know everything about dihydrotestosterone and its value to the male body, how about you find out how to increase DHT concentrations in the most natural way possible?
Drink More Coffee
If you’re anything like us, then you know that that morning cup of Joe is the best part of waking up. Luckily, we got some great news to match those energy-boosting sips of brewed coffee. According to research, consuming a caffeine-packed snack or drink before you hit the gym increases your testosterone by 15-21%. Why’s that perfect for your DHT levels? As mentioned earlier, testosterone is the primary precursor of DHT. So, the higher the testosterone levels, the higher your DHT levels.
Not only that, but one rodent study shows that so much as a single administration of coffee can enhance the activity of 5-alpha reductase approximately by 30%, which is the enzyme that makes the conversion possible. So, if more of the enzyme is available, your body is likely to produce more DHT. Like we need another reason to drink more coffee!
Word of advice: Don’t switch coffee for tea. While this popular beverage contains a decent amount of caffeine, it is also rich in catechins which serve as a top-drawer 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, reducing the enzyme‘s concentrations by 89% and overall DHT by 72%.
Increase “Healthy” Fat Intake
Even though it’s been demonized for years, dietary fat plays a huge role in a man’s androgen levels. In fact, experts claim that reducing the amount of fat consumption from 40% (which is the average value) to 25% has a direct effect on your testosterone and androstenedione levels, both of which are the precursors of DHT.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should scarf down anything fatty that crosses your path. Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are the two types of dietary fats which are linked to high testosterone and DHT levels, according to one study. However, things are not that dandy when it comes to polyunsaturated fatty acids. More specifically, this type of dietary fat reduces the activity of 5-alpha reductase, resulting in low DHT levels.
Long story short, you should avoid foods which contain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as junk food, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, margarine, etc. Instead, opt for healthy sources of fat like avocados, olive oil, eggs, etc.
Up Your Creatine Intake
Contrary to popular belief, creatine is not a steroid. This natural compound is mostly found in muscles and the brain and is considered one of the most efficient ways to boost athletic performance and muscle mass. Besides helping you push harder at the gym, creatine may also be the answer to your low or moderate DHT levels.
In one recent study, scientists investigated whether the DHT to testosterone ratio would change after three weeks of creatine supplementation. So, some of the participants of this study consumed 25 grams of creatine daily for one week straight and switched to 5 grams for the remaining 14 days for maintenance purposes.
The results? Seven days in and DHT levels already increased by 56%. Not to mention that during this time the DHT to testosterone ratio also rose by 36 %, meaning more T was converted into dihydrotestosterone. So, if you want to increase your DHT levels naturally, all you got to do is stock your kitchen cabinets with creatine-packed foods such as wild-caught fish and free-range meats.
Eat Zinc-Rich Foods
Fun fact: Zinc is second most abundant mineral in the human body right after iron. Despite that, many people are often diagnosed with zinc deficiency. And while this is as bad as it sounds, you may get even more disappointed to hear that zinc and DHT levels go hand in hand. So, talking about zinc deficiency is the same as referring to low androgen levels, even to the point of a pathogenesis of the male reproductive system.
More specifically, research proves that consuming enough zinc on a daily basis significantly raises both testosterone and DHT levels. So, keep your zinc levels in check, and your DHT levels are bound to increase down the line. Chickpeas, oysters, cashews, and chicken are a great place to start.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
By now, you’ve probably figured out that carrying some extra weight and high testosterone levels (and thus DHT) just don’t match. In fact, research suggests that moderate obesity decreases total testosterone while low testosterone causes increasing adiposity, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of metabolic issues.
What’s more, those extra pounds usually promote the metabolization of DHT, converting into a weaker metabolite known as 3α-diol. So, even if you had high DHT levels, the extra body fat would decrease them significantly down the line.
So, to optimize your DHT levels, you need to maintain a healthy weight and allow your gonads to produce as much testosterone as possible. That’s why you should get at around 8-14% body fat where not only can your body produce enough T, but also 5-alpha reductase can optimally convert the hormone into DHT.
Tweak Your Boron Consumption
When you think of minerals, zinc, iron, copper, etc. are usually the first to cross your mind. But, you’d be happy to hear that one not-so-famous mineral “sees” the benefits of the rest and “raises” you some DHT levels. We’re talking about boron.
According to experts, so much as 10mg of boron daily for at least one week can increase your testosterone levels by 28% and your DHT levels by 10%. Not to mention that it may also decrease your estrogen levels by 39%, increasing your chances of testosterone-to-DHT conversion. So, do you want to increase your DHT levels naturally? Start munching on boron-rich foods such as Brazil nuts, avocados, prunes, and raisins.
Switch to Organics
The truth is that organic foods look, taste and even nourish your body in the same way as their conventional counterparts. However, there is one significant difference between these two, and it has to do with your testosterone and DHT levels.
By now you probably know that conventional foods contain traces of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and various other synthetic substances, all of which are obtained during the growth process.
And while these chemicals may ensure the livelihood of the crops, research shows that they are not that friendly to your androgens (DHT included) as they lower their proliferation rate as well as the expression of androgen receptors. At the same time, one study suggests that pesticides in conventional foods also serve as potent 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, decreasing the conversion rate of testosterone to DHT.
8. Incorporate Tribulus Terrestris in Your Everyday Life
Mostly known for boosting your lean muscle gains, Tribulus Terrestris is one herb you shouldn’t miss out on. Why? This exotic plant is actually a potent testosterone booster. In fact, one study suggests that just 30 mg/k of Tribulus Terrestris can increase your T levels by 52% and your DHT levels by 31%.
Add Aerobic Training to the Mix
While weight lifting is a killer way to build lean muscle mass and increase your strength, there’s a big case for aerobic training these days, whether that’s running, cycling or boxing. Contrary to popular belief, this type of exercise is not just good for losing weight and increasing your endurance.
In fact, some experts suggest that moderate intensity aerobic training can significantly affect your androgen levels, DHT in particular. So, according to the study’s findings, DHT levels are likely to increase by 14.5% if you pound the pavement for more than a year straight. However, don’t expect your T levels to go up as well since this exercise approach doesn’t have a direct effect on the male hormone.
Avoid Natural 5-a Reductase Inhibitors
Much like every change that has to do with your body, trying to increase your DHT levels naturally is a non-stop effort which takes time and requires consistency. However, so much as minor slip ups can set back what you’ve accomplished so far. What’s really concerning, though, is the fact that some of your lifestyle choices may harm your efforts without you even knowing it.
Anything from natural foods and herbs to prescription drugs and supplements may contain substances which inhibit the activity of 5-a reductase. So, you basically sneak DHT-lowering substances into your body while waiting for the androgen to spike.
To reverse that effect, avoid any substances that serve as 5-a reductase inhibitors such as bottled water (the stuff is packed with phthalates and bisphenol A which increase estrogen), lycopene-rich foods as well as foods which contain polyunsaturated fats.
In their non-stop attempt to keep their testosterone levels high, men often neglect to watch out for their DHT levels. The good news is that minor lifestyle tweaks are enough to increase your DHT levels naturally, no hassle whatsoever. And if you don’t know where to start, these ten easy approaches are a great place to start.