Our beards are our best assets. They make us look good and give us that masculine, pirate-y charm we crave. (Also, the lassies love stroking those beards.) Of course we are always looking for ways to support beard growth. So let’s talk about how our hormones can support us in our quest for the perfect beard.
One word, swashbucklers, and one word only is the answer: testosterone. The more testosterone your body produces, the easier it’ll be for ye to grow yer beard.
Ye may have first become aware of the superpowers testosterone can bestow when ye were a wee lad going through puberty. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for all of those interesting changes: increased muscle mass, deeper voice, and, yes, growth of facial hair. So, here are some scientifically tested and proven ways to increase yer testosterone levels:
Exercise (and in particular weight lifting) will do wonders not only for your overall health and physical fitness, but also for your testosterone levels. A large study conducted on people who exercise regularly found that their testosterone levels were a lot higher than those of sedentary fellas. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22234399, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15204068)
All exercise is beneficial for ye, matey, but to boost your testosterone levels, weight lifting (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9660159) is the gold standard followed by what’s known as “high intensity interval training,” which essentially means brief intervals of lower intensity exercise combined with all-out high intensity. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23310924)
If you’re a coffee drinker like the Cap’n here, then yer caffeine intake (or, if ye don’t like the taste, yer caffeine supplement) combined with yer exercise will even further increase yer testosterone levels. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22349085)
Let’s talk about our collective diets, mateys! (And I’m not talkin’ about our rum intake.) What ye put in yer body affects yer hormone levels in many ways. If yer goal is to increase yer testosterone, then a balanced diet is key. Ye don’t want to overeat and ye also don’t want to undereat (yeah, it exists). And ye also don’t want to yo-yo anything. So, no overeating, feeling guilty, and then starving yerself. Think of yer body like ye think of yer ship – namely, steady as she goes. Ye also want to make sure that ye get enough protein, which aids in the creation of testosterone. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14988451)
Next, ye want to minimize yer stress and make sure ye get enough shut-eye. If yer a stressed swashbuckler, ye will have high levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol always reduces testosterone. Those two hormones are tied together. As one goes up, the other one comes down. Essentially that means that stress is bad for beard growth. So, pirates, don’t get stressed and make sure ye get a sufficient amount of sleep every night. If ye sleep only five hours, yer testosterone level will be 15% lower than it normally is. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/)
And then there is… sunshine. Mateys, unlike landlubbers, us pirates usually get plenty of the good stuff. But if yer a pirate who spends a lot of time below deck, ye wanna supplement with Vitamin D to keep yer testosterone levels up. In fact, ye can increase yer testosterone levels by about 25% if ye take yer supplements. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195)
There are also studies out about the effect of certain herbs on yer testosterone levels. There is Ashwagandha, which has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. (Remember the relation between cortisol and testosterone? Just checkin’ if yer payin’ attention.) Ashwangandha is supposed to increase yer testosterone levels up to 17% (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24371462). Horny Goat Weed supplements have also shown an increase in testosterone levels. Mateys, if something is called “horny goat weed” it must be good and I’m takin’ it. 🙂
Swashbucklers, let’s boost those testosterone levels and enjoy our best assets – our beards!