To Increase your DHEA naturally there are a few fairly easy steps you can take that will have dramatic results. DHEA is one of the most important of the hormones produced by your body. It’s actually MORE important than either testosterone or estrogen. Why is that? Simple: DHEA is the precursor for both of the male and female sex hormones.
DHEA is a highly useful hormone:
- It’s needed in order to produce both estrogen and testosterone.
- It’s an androgen that promotes anabolic activity, meaning it encourages the synthesis of new tissue.
- It can help to reduce cortisol level, preventing the immune-suppressing effects of stress and increasing your resistance to disease.
- It will prevent osteoporosis by stimulating the growth of new bone tissue and reduce bone degradation.
- It speeds up recovery from acute stress (trauma, for example) and reduces the side effects (sleep problems, mental strain, etc.).
- It decreases body fat and increases muscle mass, leading to a stronger and fitter body.
- It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing both LDL and total cholesterol levels.
- It can reverse many of the effects of cortisol, improving PMS, energy levels, and mental function.
- It is needed for your thyroid gland to turn thyroid hormone T4 into the more useful T3.
As you can see, DHEA plays many important roles in the human body. If you want to be healthier, fight off aging, and increase your physical fitness overall, it’s important to have plenty of DHEA.
However, there’s just one small problem: DHEA levels start to decrease after you hit 30. Production of all your important male hormones actually begin to decrease in your 30s, but DHEA starts sooner than the rest. Your body has less and less DHEA with every passing year.
Unless, of course, you take a few steps to increase DHEA. There are a number of things you can do to boost DHEA levels, or at the very least slow down the decrease in the production of this precursor hormone. Here is how to naturally increase your DHEA:
Control Your Cholesterol
It’s no secret that cholesterol can be VERY harmful for your health. Not only will it clog up your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, but it can slow down all internal functions. If cholesterol prevents your arteries from sending enough oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your organs and tissues, your body can’t work properly.
But how is cholesterol related to DHEA? Simple: high cholesterol levels require you to take statins, which have been linked to reduced hormone levels. Specifically, statins can deplete DHEA content in your body, thereby decreasing the production of both estrogen and testosterone.
How do you get your cholesterol under control?
- Eat more raw, natural, fiber-rich foods
- Cut back on foods that contain a lot of trans fats and hydrogenated oils
- Spend more time engaged in aerobic exercise
- Quit smoking and drink less
These four changes to your lifestyle will be enough to raise good HDL cholesterol and get your bad LDL cholesterol low enough that you won’t need statins and other cholesterol medications for many, many years to come.
Control Your Blood Sugar
When you eat a lot of sugar and carb-heavy foods, your body produces a lot of energy (glucose) all at once. High levels of glucose in your bloodstream trigger the release of insulin from your pancreas. Insulin is intended to get your blood sugar levels under control, but it can cause a decrease in the production of DHEA. The imbalance in your blood glucose levels can also stress your adrenal glands and prevent them from producing sufficient DHEA to keep your body supplied with testosterone and estrogen.
It’s actually a lot easier to control your blood sugar than you’d think:
- Eat more high fiber foods. Fiber slows down the rate at which your body absorbs and utilizes sugar. Even if the food has a lot of sugar (like fruit), the high fiber content will ensure a slower, steadier supply of energy and reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes that lead to increased insulin production.
- Cut back on sugar. This may be easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort! Sugar-rich foods not only raise your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and low DHEA levels, but they also add to your waistline faster than any fatty foods.
Two simple actions, but they can have a HUGE effect on your blood glucose levels—in turn preventing insulin from decreasing DHEA production.
DHEA and magnesium are inextricably linked. When you are getting enough magnesium in your diet, your DHEA levels will reflect it. If you’re magnesium deficient, your DHEA levels will tank as well.
Note: Some experts believe that magnesium deficiency is a factor behind a vast majority of diseases.
Both white flour and processed junk foods deplete the magnesium content in your body. This depletion of magnesium can lead to a wide range of health problems—diabetes, heart disease, a higher risk of stroke, and the list goes on. Somewhere on that list is a decrease in your DHEA levels.
How can you get more magnesium in your day? Obviously, magnesium supplements are a good option to consider. You can get a hefty dose of the vital mineral in a simple capsule every day. However, if you’re looking for a more natural source of magnesium, you’d do well to try one of these foods:
- Dark, leafy greens
- Beans, lentils, and other legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
- Dried fruit
The above-mentioned foods are all excellent natural sources of magnesium. The mineral is also more bioavailable in its natural form, meaning it’s easier for your body to break down, digest, and utilize the mineral.
Note: Some studies have found magnesium effective for boosting DHEA, while others have shown little results. The general consensus is that it works for some men but may not be effective for others.
Take Tongkat Ali
Tongkat Ali is a supplement made from a flowering plant native to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. It has been used in herbal and folk medicine in Southeast Asia for centuries, but modern science has found it to be a highly useful supplement!
One 2013 study found that daily supplementation of Tongkat Ali led to a drastic reduction in stress hormones. Taking the supplement every day led to a decrease in tension, anger, and confusion—the three primary side effects of stress. Cortisol production also decreased by 16% as a result of the supplement, and testosterone production increased by 37%.
An unpublished dissertation from 1993 talked about eurypeptide, the active ingredient in Tongkat Ali, and how it helped to enhance the activity of certain enzymes that led to an increase in DHEA. Similar boosts in the production of pregnenolone (another precursor hormone) resulted from the use of the supplement.
Tongkat Ali is definitely a supplement worth trying if you want to raise DHEA levels the natural way. You should still do research into the pros and cons (side effects) of the supplement, but it’s an option to help you get your stress (cortisol) under control and increase DHEA.
Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is useful for SO MANY things! It’s good for your skin, increases your immunity to disease, fights off flus and colds, keeps your heart healthy, and the list of benefits just keeps going on. Few vitamins are as “vital” as ascorbic acid.
A study from the late 90s found that taking Vitamin C (just 4 grams per day) was enough to decrease cortisol levels. The Vitamin C not only prevent cortisol from decreasing DHEA production, but it actually increased DHEA on its own.
How can you get more Vitamin C in your life? Aside from taking supplements (which aren’t very bioavailable), there are a lot of foods you can eat to increase Vitamin C intake:
- Citrus fruits
- Chili peppers and bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale
All these foods will deliver a hefty dose of the Vitamin C your body needs to suppress cortisol production and increase DHEA levels the natural way.
Eat More Fat
Make that “eat more HEALTHY fat”!
Healthy saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat are used by your body to produce cholesterol. Before you get up in arms, remember that cholesterol is VITAL for the production of hormones. It’s only when your cholesterol levels get too high that you begin to have problems.
For healthy people, more fat = more cholesterol = more hormones. A higher intake of healthy fat (anything that’s not trans fats or hydrogenated oils) makes more cholesterol available to produce hormones like pregenenolone and DHEA.
What foods count as “good” fats?
- Fish, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and olive oil
- Eggs, yoghurt, and milk
- Grass-fed beef and pork
- Free-range chicken and turkey
- Wild game and fowl
- Fish oil supplements
These healthy fats can increase the amount of DHEA and other hormones produced by your body.
Spend More Time in the Sun
Here’s one more reason to get off your couch and spend more time outdoors: an increase in Vitamin D can help to increase DHEA production.
A 2002 study found a link between Vitamin D and DHEA—specifically, that the Vitamin D receptor genes are vital for the production of DHEA and new bone tissue. The same mechanisms that cause your body to increase bone mass using Vitamin D will also lead to higher DHEA levels.
But what does the sun have to do with Vitamin D? Well, that’s simple: your skin produces Vitamin D as a result of exposure to the UVB rays in sunlight. Spending more time in the sun will encourage an increase in Vitamin D production.
Warning: Spending too much time in the sun can lead to skin cancer. “Healthy” recommendations are 30-45 minutes of daily time in the sun without sunscreen.
Sleep is SO important for your hormone function. When you get a proper amount of sleep (between 6 ½ and 8 hours per night), your body is able to produce sufficient hormones (including DHEA) and neurochemicals. Sleep deprivation or deficiency (sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night, for the average person) can lead to drastic fluctuations in your hormone levels.
But here’s the real danger: a lack of sleep can increase stress and anxiety, which in turn leads to an increase in cortisol levels. As we’ve clearly established, higher cortisol = lower DHEA levels.
How can you sleep better at night?
- Set and follow a sleep schedule, even on the weekends
- Avoid eating late at night
- Engage in relaxing evening activities
- Try to avoid bringing your stress home with you
- Create a dark, quiet, and cool environment conducive to sleep
Exercise is ALWAYS good for your endocrine system!
Exercise does lead to a slight increase in adrenaline and cortisol production, but it only lasts for as long as you work out. It won’t suppress DHEA—on the contrary, studies have proven that it will actually INCREASE DHEA levels. Exercise can reduce the oxidative stress that breaks down DHEA, and prevent age-related disease.
What’s the best type of exercise? Both aerobic (running, jogging, cycling, spinning, aerobics, etc.) and anaerobic (resistance training, HIIT, spring training, CrossFit, etc.) are excellent for boosting all your hormone levels naturally, including DHEA.
DHEA is such an important hormone, as it’s needed to produce both male and female sex hormones. Just because your body’s production of DHEA decreases as you age, that doesn’t mean you have to be content with lower DHEA levels. The advice above will help you to naturally increase your DHEA, leading to a healthier, happier life overall!