June is men’s health month and the goal is to bring awareness to men’s health and disease prevention. General health encompasses several lifestyle factors, including regular physical activity, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, stress management, and social interaction.
According to the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation report from 2018, “Canadian guys aren’t that healthy, and it’s not because of genetics; it’s a result of lifestyle.”
In 2014, the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation shared some surprising statistics about the state of men’s health in Canada.
Here’s a recap:
· 54% of Canadian men are unhealthy sleepers
· 59% of Canadian men don’t exercise enough
· 62% of Canadian men are unhealthy eaters
· 39% of Canadian men have unhealthy alcohol consumption
· 20% of Canadian men still smoke
· 72% of Canadian men are borderline unhealthy and/or unhealthy
· 25% of Canadian men are considered healthy/very healthy
The reports also showed that men were 40% more likely to die from cancer, 70% more likely to die from heart disease and live an average of nine years of their lives in extremely poor health.
The study concluded that “70% of men’s health problems can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles.” Some of the common health issues men encounter are cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) more commonly known as prostate gland enlargement.
I think efforts to raise awareness about men’s health are beginning to pay off. In my practice, I am seeing an increased number of male clients. As more and more men move toward healthier lifestyles, I’m also seeing an increase in couples’ consultations. It is so much easier to implement long-term healthy habits when two people are working toward the same goal.
Most studies conclude that a healthy lifestyle is the body’s best defense against illness and disease.
Factors to consider:
Improve your diet by eating less processed foods and more whole foods including vegetables and fruits.
Maintain a healthy weight to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic illness, and cancer.
Exercise or play sports at least three times per week.
Learn how to manage stress
Make time to relax and spend time doing activities that you enjoy
Men’s nutritional needs change throughout their lifespan. This means that certain key nutrients are more important based on different stages of life.
A diet based on whole natural foods, with the avoidance of processed foods, is recommended at any age. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and quality protein supply the body with the nutrients it requires for optimal health.
If poor diet is one reason for the unflattering statistics mentioned earlier, then let’s look at supporting nutrients important for men.
Lycopene is a plant pigment found in foods such as tomato, guava, pink grapefruit, apricots, and watermelon. Research suggests that an increased intake of foods rich in lycopene is associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer as well as an improvement of cardiovascular risk factors, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol or phytosterol. The FDA has stated that beta-sitosterol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by lowering blood cholesterol levels. It has also been shown to improve symptoms of BPH by increasing maximum urinary flow and decreasing residual urine volume.
Good sources include avocados, oranges, beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, bananas, apples, peaches and pears. Beta-sitosterol is also found in some nuts and seeds such as pistachios, macadamia nuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and sesame seeds.
Zinc is an essential mineral involved in numerous physiological processes, including immune health and hormone production. Foods that contain zinc include cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, spinach and mushrooms.
Zinc supplementation is used to treat infections, including the flu, common cold, urinary tract infections, and to lower respiratory tract infections. Zinc supplementation has also been found to benefit male fertility by increasing sperm count and testosterone levels. Zinc supplementation may show promise for male infertility treatment.
Korean or Panax ginseng is an adaptogenic herb that grows in Korea and northeastern China. Korean ginseng may help improve erectile dysfunction in men. There is also some clinical evidence that shows it enhances cognitive function, such as working memory and attention processes, in healthy adults.
Saw palmetto, also known as the American dwarf palm tree, is a perennial plant from the botanical family Arecaceae. The supplement form, saw palmetto extract, contains fatty acids that are extracted from the saw palmetto berry. Research has shown that saw palmetto may be effective in treating lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and sexual dysfunction associated with BPH.
If you are considering adding an adaptogenic herb or new supplement to your diet is advisable to first check with your healthcare provider.
As mentioned above a healthy lifestyle is the body’s best defense against illness and disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is a key factor in disease prevention and the body will find it’s ideal weight by following a diet of natural and whole foods.
Exercise also plays a large role in overall health. Finding an activity or sport that you enjoy and doing it at least 3-5 times per week is recommended.
There are many ways to reduce stress, and guided meditation, yoga, tai chi, are very beneficial. When stress is interfering with family, social, or work relationships, however, professional support is suggested.
We now know that adults who are more socially connected are healthier, deal with stress better and live longer than adults who live more secluded lives.
Several studies suggest that social ties influence healthy behavior. One study reported that those who were involved with formal (e.g., religious organizations) and informal (e.g., friends and relatives) social ties showed more positive health behaviors over a ten-year period. With studies on Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease surfacing almost daily, we now understand that social support benefits both mental and physical health by reducing the impact of stress, and by fostering a sense of meaning and purpose in life. The effects of healthy, supportive relationships have also shown benefits on the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.
The movements towards helping men improve their health is showing promising results and it’s wonderful that more men taking an active role in their health.
The shift is happening, and I’m thrilled to see it!
This is Janice, inspiring change