Men's Best Health Practices - Part 2
Men’s health is a very important topic these days given the increasing number of deaths associated with chronic disease and poor health practices. More men than women are susceptible to health-related challenges and even early death, making education and guidance essential to supporting men to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. Even though it’s not as natural for a man to seek out assistance as it is for a woman, most will tell you that they are appreciative when their unique needs as men are addressed by health professionals. In part 1, I recommended the first four important health practices for optimal health and wellbeing; 1) don’t smoke, 2) eat a healthy diet and avoid carrying excess weight, 3) keep the prostate gland healthy, and 4) exercise. I will now cover the four remaining best health practices for men.
5. Balance Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is important for men for many reasons. It provides strength and muscle mass, improves bone density, stimulates sex drive and erections, improves memory and concentration, enhances mood and motivation and more.  However, too much testosterone can be a problem as well if/once converted into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which prevents hair growth leading to hair thinning/balding and also increases one’s risk for prostate cancer. Getting your testosterone levels at the right balance (not too much or too little) is extremely important for men’s health. As mentioned in part 1, saw palmetto is a natural herb that can be used to increase testosterone, reduce the conversion to DHT and improve the functioning of the prostate gland.
6. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption is anything over 2 drinks for men (1 drink for women).  Although there are some health benefits to consuming a glass or two of wine on a daily basis due to the antioxidant content, anything beyond that can contribute to hormonal imbalances (impacting testosterone levels and sexual performance), cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and heart, stomach inflammation and a compromised digestive system, dehydration and weight gain. Beyond the health repercussions, many men take more risks while under the influence of alcohol contributing to a high number of unintentional injuries (primarily motor vehicle accidents), the third leading cause of death in men. 
7. Take Care of Your Mental Health
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many men don’t seek outside help when it comes to their mental wellbeing. They are also much less likely to feel standard symptoms of depression such as sadness, crying, yelling, etc. Instead they may display fatigue, irritability, insomnia, loss of interest in work and hobbies, etc. Sadly, men represent 79% of all U.S. suicides.  Many sexual disorders are also related to psychological imbalances. For example, premature ejaculation is usually connected to anxiety, fear and guilt. And, even though erectile dysfunction and inhibited sexual desire can be caused by physical symptoms, more often than not, psychological factors are at the root.  It’s important that men recognize when it’s necessary to seek out emotional support from a therapist, coach or doctor. Meditation and yoga are also becoming more popular among men as a means of relaxation and self-reflection. Regular exercise is also an effective mood booster.
8. Get Regular Health Exams
One of the reasons men’s death rates are higher for many diseases is due to the fact that they are much less likely to seek out medical or healing intervention from health professionals.  It would be wise for men to find someone that they feel comfortable with who is familiar with their health history and can work with them over the years if health issues arise. When symptoms appear, it’s a good idea for men to seek out a diagnosis even if they choose a more alternative route to healing or future health care. Men may also find it beneficial to obtain a basic knowledge in diet, nutrition, exercise and conventional and alternative health solutions as a step towards prevention.
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.realage.com/mens-health-guide/how-testosterone-affects-mens-health
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 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.PDF
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Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.