Testosterone Is Related More to Survival Than Competition
Testosterone, generally related to sporting events, has early roots in the human survival processes
Testosterone levels, according to the study results, are related to the availability of food energy. The stimulus that activates the enhancement of testosterone lies at the intersection of the environment, behavior and hormones. "With the Tsimane, we see an environment that is more like that in which humans evolved, and for which our systems are calibrated," Trumble said. Testosterone levels drop as much as 10 percent when men skip a single meal. They decrease to castrate levels after Fasting for two days. Trumble says, "The same is true for infection. An infection from a pathogen or parasite -- even injuries, burns or surgery -- all cause an immediate decrease in testosterone." Food energy is the underlying factor to any number of critical bodily processes.
Food energy maintains proper immune function and builds muscle mass; the body has to choose between them when food energy is limited. “For populations in industrialized countries like the United States, there isn't much of a trade off," Trumble says. "I can go to the grocery store and gather 20,000 calories in 10 minutes without breaking a sweat. I don't have to worry about a deficit." The trade off is much greater for a group such as the Tsimane. They use a lot more food energy and have to fish for, hunt or grow the calories they consume. They are also more exposed to pathogens and parasites that cause sickness and infection.
The research team collected saliva specimens from Tsimane men before and after both an hour of tree chopping and an hour of soccer. "With soccer, we saw a 30.1 percent increase in testosterone. With chopping, we saw a 46.8 percent increase. It was significantly greater," Trumble concluded.
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