There is no question that men’s specific health needs are often overlooked when compared to women. Yet, statistically men have a shorter life expectancy and are more likely to die from chronic disease than their female counterpart. Part of the reason for this might be attributed to gender characteristics that are predominant in many men such as a greater propensity to take risks, a more macho "can’t get hurt" attitude and the avoidance of responsibility when it comes to proactive health care. Although these are broad generalizations that certainly don’t apply to all men (and may also be traits held by women), it’s important that we support men in caring for their health and wellbeing in the best way possible. In order to do so, we must recognize the gender differences and distinct challenges that men face in order to provide them with the best information for living a long and healthy life. Below are 8 health practices to assist men in their journey.
1. Don’t Smoke
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 45.3 million people in the U.S. smoke. This means that 21.5% of men in the U.S. smoke compared to 17.3% of women. Smoking is also a causal factor in heart disease (the #1 cause of death in both men and women), lung cancer (the #1 cause of cancer deaths among men), strokes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smoking is also attributed to premature aging, especially noticeable in the skin, and also contributes to erectile dysfunction and infertility.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet and Avoid Carrying Excess Weight
Whether you are man or woman, eating a healthy diet is the most important practice for avoiding disease and maintaining the energy and vitality that makes life worth living. Because men are less likely to be overweight than women, this tends to cause many men to pay very little attention to what they put in their bodies, especially in their younger years. It’s important to consume primarily plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds), avoid refined carbohydrates and keep saturated fats from animal products to a minimum. Eliminate processed foods, soft drinks, cold cuts, excess sugar, aspartame and trans fats. Remember that belly weight and diabetes type II (which effects more men than women) can develop from a high sugar/carb diet and that high cholesterol and high blood pressure are common for those who eat a lot of meat. For prostate health, be sure to include tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and green tea in your diet.
3. Keep Prostate Gland Healthy
To keep the prostate healthy, make sure that you are getting sufficient levels of vitamin D3 from managed sun exposure or a supplement. Numerous studies have shown this vitamin to be effective at reducing the risk of all types of cancer, including prostate. You’ll also want to make sure that your diet is rich in zinc, as deficiency can lead to prostate enlargement. The herb saw palmetto is also great for preventative care as well as reducing the size of an enlarged prostate. A healthy sex life in addition to the other health practices listed will also help to keep your prostate gland healthy.
Exercise is extremely important for reducing the risk factors associated with many of the leading causes of death in men, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, etc. It’s also great for mental wellbeing, helping to reduce the stress and anxiety that is usually at the root of disease and also a contributor to sexual dysfunction. By exercising regularly, you will also give your immune system a boost and detoxify the body through urine and sweat.
In part 2, I will cover 4 additional best health practices for men.
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 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/saw-palmetto/NS_patient-sawpalmetto