10 Tips to Boost DHEA Levels
It is commonly believed that our body withers and deteriorates with age. As we get older most of us struggle to maintain muscle mass, skin elasticity, & bone mass. We develop conditions such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, varicose veins, etc. New research has shown that our DHEA levels are the critical player in how successfully we age and by boosting DHEA naturally we can turn back the clock on the aging process.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is one of the critical hormones that scientists are calling the `fountain of youth.` This hormone is made from cholesterol by the adrenal glands and is a precursor to 18 steroid hormones including the commonly known sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Healthy DHEA production is critical for lean muscle development, fat burning, bone growth, skin health, and immunity (1, 2, 3).
Statin Drugs Deplete DHEA Content:
Cholesterol (statin) lowering medications reduce DHEA content and therefore accelerate the aging process. This is one of the reasons why cholesterol lowering medications have been linked to all-cause early mortality (4, 5, 6).
A DHEA deficiency significantly increases the risk of getting certain cancers (including breast, ovarian, prostate, and bladder), atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, nervous system degeneration, and other age-related conditions (7, 8).
Our DHEA production naturally peaks between 20-25 years of age and then steadily declines. Many in our society see a sharp decline due to overburdened adrenals that are unable to synthesize adequate DHEA. This adrenal insufficiency syndrome is becoming more and more common due to an overstressed and malnourished American lifestyle.
Elevated Insulin Blocks DHEA Production:
High sugar and carbohydrate consumption increases blood sugar and insulin levels. Elevated insulin causes a decreased production of DHEA in the adrenals. Blood sugar imbalances also create critical vitamin and mineral imbalances that stress the adrenals and reduce DHEA production (9).
High stress and poor sleeping habits also cause increased cortisol (stress hormone) levels. When these issues become chronic they cause a phenomenon called `pregnenolone steal.` Pregnenolone is a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism that is necessary to produce both cortisol and DHEA.
High stress causes this process to shift towards cortisol production. This shift essentially `steals` the necessary pregnenolone from the DHEA production pathway to produce more cortisol. This process depletes DHEA levels (10, 11).
Correct the Adrenal Stressors First:
Many people rush out and look for DHEA boosting supplements, however, lifestyle factors that deplete DHEA levels should be addressed first. The most important factor includes reducing/eliminating adrenal stressors such as medications, stress, leaky gut syndrome, parasites and other infectious agents, chronic inflammation, physical nerve stress, nutrient deficiencies, poor sleep, & blood sugar imbalances.
An anti-inflammatory diet is a critical part to de-stressing the body and boosting DHEA levels. This diet should be very low in sugar and carbohydrates and very rich in phytonutrients and trace minerals from fresh, raw or lightly steamed vegetables. Powerful anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, thyme, oregano, & cinnamon should be generously consumed on a regular basis.
Diet is Key to Producing Optimal DHEA:
Healthy fat consumption is an essential part of creating cholesterol which is needed to produce DHEA. Healthy fat sources include coconut products, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, & purified omega-3 fish oil supplements. Healthy protein sources to boost DHEA production include wild-caught fish, grass-fed red meat and free range chicken, turkey, and eggs.
Vitamin D plays a very important role in healthy DHEA levels (12). I recommend getting regular sun exposure and/or supplementation to maintain vitamin D (25-OH) levels between 60-100 ng/ml. Using supplemental vitamin D can be very helpful and is highly recommended.
10 Tips to Boost DHEA Levels:
1. Prioritize Sleep: You must focus on getting good sleep on a regular basis. If you are sleeping in late in the morning, try getting up early and allowing yourself to get real tired early the following evening and going to sleep around 9-10pm and waking around 6-7am. Use this as your regular schedule getting 8-9 hours of high quality sleep each night. If you are having trouble sleeping follow the strategies I discuss in these articles here
3. Get Outside on a Regular Basis: It is so important to get outside in nature. Go to a park everyday and take a long walk and do lots of deep breathing. Nature is its own healer and if you find ways to get out in nature, you will see huge improvements in mood and mental clarity.
4. Exercise Daily: Bike, walk, run, lift weights, dance, yoga, etc. Find something or multiple things you love that challenge your body and are enjoyable.
5. Breath Deeply: Take time to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing on a regular basis. This will help to relax the adrenals and teach your body that you are in a safe, low-stress environment.
6. Optimize Vitamin D: Boost your vitamin D3 levels by getting more whole body sun exposure and/or using a high quality supplement. I recommend a D3 with vitamin K2.
7. Thriving Under Stress: We cannot eliminate stress but we can find strategies to improve our ability to thrive, grow and adapt to stress. Read this article for more information.
8. Use Essential Oils: The aromatherapy of essential oils can help to reduce stress and improve neurotransmitter function. Additionally, they have a positive effect on anti-aging hormone production. Some of the best for this include lavendar, ylang-ylang, sandalwood and peppermint.
9. Eliminate Food Sensitivities: Food sensitivities can contribute to chronic stress in your life. Identify any major food sensitivities through either a lab test here or biofeedback test here and come off of these for 90 days.
10. Use Adaptogenic Herbs: Adaptogenic herbs such as rhodiola, cordyceps, ginseng, etc. have a positive effect on DHEA production. Vitamins B5 and B6 are also key for healthy adrenal function and sex hormone expression. I will often recommend the product Adapt-Strong to help people adapt to stress better and promote DHEA production.
Bone Broth Protein + Ashwaghanda
I also recommend using Bone Broth Fit and Muscular which is a combination of bone broth protein and ashwagandha. Bone broth is one of the best anti-aging foods as it provides key amino acids necessary for tissue repair such as collagen protein, gelatin, glycosaminoglycans, proline and glycine. Additionally, bone broth is dense in trace minerals that support energy and detoxification.
Bone broth protein is a concentrated form of bone broth, designed for easy usage and when flavored with low-glycemic sweeteners such as vanilla extract, monk fruit and stevia, it makes for a tasty and nutritious shake. On top of that, it has ashwagandha which is one of the best adaptogenic herbs for supporting DHEA levels.
In the largest study on humans using ashwagandha, the herb was shown to raise DHEA levels and reduce the stress hormone cortisol by up to 26% (13). Chronically elevated cortisol lowers DHEA levels, so stabilizing cortisol is critical for DHEA production.
This protein powder is designed to give your body the nutrients it needs to boost reduce the impact of aging, increase lean body tissue and burn fat. It’s all in a convenient, easy-to-mix and great-tasting Vanilla powder packed with 20g of protein per serving and only 1g of sugar.