The Weekly Thread: why hormone levels should peak in summer, why this matters, the Turkish get up, and welcoming your bad fortune with a smile.

Last week I discussed the science of why metabolism slows with age, citing research stating two key factors causing fat cells to become dysfunctional, and as a result, misbehave in a way that causes them to become more stubborn, and more likely to accumulate. 

The first key factor is the accumulation of senescent, or “zombie cells” as we age that no longer have purpose and need to be killed off by the body through a process known as apoptosis, as they can become cancerous, autoimmune, or in the case of fat cells, can recruit healthy, functional fat cells to act like dysfunctional, purpose-less “zombie cells”. 

The second key factor is that as we age, key hormones decline. In men, it’s testosterone that starts a perpetual decline around the age of 25, and for women, it’s a pretty sharp decline in estrogen & progesterone as the body begins to go through menopause. 

Many of you probably assume that hormones play a role in the slowing of metabolism, as it’s fairly easy to draw the correlations, however, the science is really pointing to hormones being THE MAIN reason your metabolism slows with age. With all the positive research coming out on berberine, we’re realizing how influential insulin sensitivity and maintaining proper blood glucose levels are to metabolism, it’s also your thyroid, and yes, most definitely the hormones most closely associated with sex: testosterone in men, and estrogen/progesterone in women. 

This week, we’re going to peel back the layers more on hormones, and unpack more research that shows how closely natural sunlight exposure is correlated to higher, healthier hormone levels, and thus, a better metabolism. 

Why Hormone Levels Should Peak in the Summer 

In a paper titled, “Seasonal  Variation of Testosterone Levels in a Large Cohort of Men” researchers show that testosterone levels in men peak during August, maybe a bit into September, and then are at their lowest point in February, when the sun is at the lowest points for an extended period of time over winter, alluding to a strong correlation between sunlight exposure and testosterone. 

In this segment, we’re just citing the above paper, however, a similar correlation can be drawn for women, and a simple query in the search engine of your choice for “seasonal variation of estrogen in women” or anything along those lines will display ample results backing this up. 

The authors of the paper state:

“In the current study that included a large cohort of men with a wide range of age groups, body mass index, and comorbidities, we found a significant association between the time of year in which blood test was performed, and both total, and bioavailable testosterone levels.

In short, it didn’t matter how old or young you were, or your body mass index, the association was pretty clear and evident. 

Now, a healthy 30 y/o male most certainly has higher overall testosterone levels than a 60 y/o unhealthy male, however, this study shows that regardless of what those levels are, across the board, in men, they seem to peak towards the end of summer, and are at their lowest at the end of winter. 

Again, the same correlation can be drawn for women and estrogen/progesterone. Furthermore, women do keep in mind that you do produce testosterone, and for good reason, and you can also benefit from a natural bump in it. 

The authors go on to state, “due to the large size of our cohort, this study provides strong supporting evidence to the notion that there is seasonal variation in testosterone levels.”

Get more sunlight exposure! 

In the summer, the days are longer, the sunlight is more direct, and the weather is warmer, so it’s natural that everyone will get more sunlight exposure than in the winter months. 

That said, I’d argue the point that we should make a concerted effort to soak up even more sunlight, or as much as possible. 

Keep in mind, if you block the sun in various ways, you are NOT receiving these benefits. 

In a past issue, I discussed why you should ditch the sunglasses (for the most part) as they block natural sunlight waves from the eyes that then cannot transmit to the brain that there is natural light exposure. When this happens, you actually are MORE likely to get a sunburn, and your brain also doesn’t know to send the proper signals to boost many beneficial endogenous hormones like serotonin, oxytocin, and yes, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. 

Layer on some sunblock proactively before you even step foot outside for fear of a burn, and well, you may be outside, but you’re not reaping any of the benefits of the natural sunlight exposure. 

Natural sunlight is a necessary part of total health and wellness from physical, to mental, to emotional (how much better do you feel when it’s warm and sunny, versus cold and dreary?). Trying to all out block the sun with sunglasses and sunblock is the equivalent of drinking water to hydrate, and then taking a pill that blocks any of its hydrating effects. 

And please, if/when you wear sunblock, make it natural, ideally zinc oxide based, as traditional sunblocks not only block the health benefits from the sun, but they are also highly toxic and have been found to potentially be carcinogenic (cancer causing). 

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “But I have to wear sunblock or I’ll burn right away”. 

My response would be, quite frankly, “you burn right away because you wear sunblock right away”. How do you expect your skin to ever respond positively to the sun if you don’t give it a chance?

So before you apply the sunblock, start small and slow. On a hot, sunny day, get 15-20 minutes of unadulterated sun before applying sunblock. Start to condition and retrain your skin to have a better relationship with the sun. It’s good for us. 

If you never run and decide one day you’re going to run a marathon a year from now, you don’t go run 26 miles do you?

Heck no! You start by running a half mile, and then a mile, and as you condition more and better, you work your way up. 

To yield the benefits of sunlight exposure, you must be receiving it unadulterated. 

This research shows that regardless of who you are, your hormone levels will decrease and then bottom out at the end of winter, most likely as a result of the shorter days, less direct sun, and colder temps. So, it would make sense that if you want to keep hormone and Vitamin D3 (let’s not forget about how beneficial higher, therapeutic D3 levels are) levels higher, later into the winter, that you’d want to soak up as much unadulterated sun as possible in the summer, so those hormone and D3 levels are much higher heading into the inevitable winter. 

Do you suffer from seasonal depression? Do you get sick often in the colder winter months? Low energy? More stress and anxiety? And yes, a slower metabolism when we’re also less active. 

Try making more of a concerted effort to soak up as much natural sunlight as possible during these longer, warmer summer days. 

MOVEMENT #7: The "Get-Up"

This week’s (and final) “Movement for Life” is a “get-up”. Namely, the “Turkish Get-up”. 

Everything I outline in this segment (with video tutorial links) are movements that require no more than a single kettlebell, and can be done anywhere, and don’t need to be part of an actual exercise regimen. 

If not part of an exercise regimen, just work these movements into your life and day throughout the week, as when put together over time, will build functional strength, increase mobility, and boost your metabolism. All things that will benefit you tremendously as you age. 

These movements are ideal for kids and young teens to work on specific mobility and reduce risk of injury in sports, all the way up to the eldest of adults, and everyone in between.

A Quick Primer on the “Get-Up”

The Turkish get-up is a functional exercise that involves transitioning from a lying position to a standing position while holding a weight overhead. It is a full-body exercise that challenges strength, stability, and coordination. The movement is performed by sequentially rolling, kneeling, and standing up, and then reversing the steps to return to the starting position. The Turkish get-up is a popular exercise in kettlebell training and is known for its ability to improve core strength, shoulder stability, and overall body control. 

I would probably rank the Turkish Get-up as the single most effective, and most important functional movement for life. 

DO 3-4 sets, at 2-3 reps per hand. 

CLICK HERE to watch a tutorial.

To check out prior week’s “Movements for Life”, CLICK HERE.

And why should we feel anger at the world? As if the world would notice.”

Things go wrong in life. 

It doesn’t always go our way. 

This is certain, and inevitable. 

So when things don’t go as planned, or in our favor, why be surprised?

Or worse, get angry with the world, when anger is such an unproductive emotion. 

 Bad beats happen. 

When they do, welcome them.

Absorb them. 

Don’t waste time being angry at the world for your bad fortune. The world doesn’t care. 

Just take those bad beats as part of life, smile at the humor in the human condition, and keep moving forward.