Although the gap is closing, men still take less care of their health than women do. In fact it is said that men take better care of their cars than their own bodies!
Modern life can often exhaust our natural defences, leaving the body susceptible to stress leading to a number of related health problems.
So how can men help themselves?
The glow of good health comes from within: the best way to be healthy for life is to give your body the ingredients it needs to take care of itself. Regular exercise, good nutrition that includes plenty of whole, natural foods, and careful attention to the nutrients that men need more of – these are some of the keys to ongoing wellness.
A recent survey carried out by the Department of Health demonstrates the need to focus on male health. This National Diet & Nutritional Survey revealed that nearly 50% of English men are not getting their RNI (recommended nutrient intake) of magnesium, and 30% of men are not getting their RNI of zinc.
These are just two nutrients that have a large impact on male health issues, including fertility, resistance to stress, immunity and energy. Other male health problems can include weight gain, sexual issues as well as prostate problems.
As a result it’s more important than ever that men keep their health high on their priority list.
One of the biggest health risks that men face as they age involves problems with their prostate gland. In fact, approximately two thirds of men between the ages of 45 and 59 are affected by a complication of this gland.
The most common prostate complication is called Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which consists of the enlargement of the gland itself and is characterised by increased urinary frequency, night time awakening to empty the bladder, and reduced force and pressure of urination. This complication affects men differently.
It is common for the prostate gland to become enlarged as a man ages. The problems are not caused by the actual enlargement of the prostate gland, but rather the pressure that this places on other parts of the body. If the prostate grows large enough, it may choke the urethra and make urine flow more difficult.
While there are medications available for the treatment of BPH, they can often have undesirable side effects. The good news is that there are some natural ways to relieve this inconvenient and often embarrassing condition, with far fewer side-effects.
Nutrients that can help:
The prostate is one of the body’s major reservoirs for zinc. This important antioxidant mineral is essential for the proper functioning of the gland and, indeed, the entire process of reproductive health.
Zinc – helps to reduce the gland’s enlargement and therefore relieve the symptoms of BPH. Men can increase this nutrient by eating nuts, seeds and oily fish. It is also important to be aware of factors that rob the body of zinc such as alcohol and smoking.
Other nutrients that play an important role in helping to support prostate health include vitamin B6 (cod, turkey, beef, mangoes, green leafy vegetables), Vit C (fruit & vegetables) and magnesium (green leafy vegetables, nuts/seeds).
If you are concerned that you may be at risk of suffering from BPH, make sure you consult your doctor for a correct diagnosis, and remember that there is a natural approach available to you.
REMEMBER: Herbs can also help BPH. More recently, clinical studies have demonstrated the effective role that Saw Palmetto can play in treating BPH.
Reproductive health is a growing concern for men. It is not, however, something that is often talked about, and for many men, it is only too easy to keep their concerns to themselves. And it’s a great pity that so few men seek the advice of a healthcare professional when they are concerned about their reproductive health, because there are many approaches available that can help.
Not surprisingly, getting the right nutrition is important for long-term reproductive health, and in the case of men, the first nutrient to think of is zinc. Zinc is so important to male reproductive health that it’s often referred to as “the male mineral.” It helps maintain normal sexual function and supports sperm production and sperm motility.
Your sex drive directly correlates to your level of testosterone. If you are experiencing an all time low with regards to sex drive then it’s safe to say that your testosterone production may have also hit rock bottom.
TESTING: Male Hormone Panel, a saliva test, provides an accurate picture of how you sustain your testosterone production across the day. You may start the day with adequate levels, but the stresses and demands of your day may leave your bedtime levels a little flat and a low sex drive.
The mineral zinc improves sexual function by preventing testosterone being converted into a harmful substance called dihydrotestosterone – (DHT). For increased zinc levels swap red meat for fish or shellfish and snack on pumpkin seeds.
STRESS/ BURN OUT
Modern life can often exhaust your natural defences, leaving your body susceptible to stress. Long-term stress can be very damaging to men’s health, especially for their adrenal glands (situated above the kidneys). When these glands are overworked they are unable to produce the levels of stress hormones needed to help you through your taxing schedule. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue can literally make you feel completely ‘burnt out’, which affects your vitality, performance, ambition and achievement.
Keep stress in check by keeping to a varied diet with plenty of fruit & vegetables, eating regularly throughout the day, avoiding too much caffeine & alcohol, minimising ready made meals or processed foods. Adrenal support and balancing blood sugar levels through supplementation may help to regenerate adrenal function and lift you out of the ‘burn-out zone’.
Male Burn Out Symptoms:
Lack of energy
Loss of drive
STRESS is the number one reason behind higher and rising levels of absenteeism in the workplace.New research has revealed 96% of UK men experience stress at work and one in six (17%) have visited their GP about it.
Apart from diet there are a number of lifestyle actions you can take, including:
Recognising & identifying your stressors.
Planning and not overloading your day.
Avoiding racing and rushing.
Trying not to rely on stimulants.
Relaxing – practice techniques such as yoga or listening to soothing music.
Blood Sugar Balance
Not all carbohydrates (energy giving foods) are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in your bodies. The glycemic index (GI) describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on your blood glucose levels.
Many men feel that this approach is too complicated to follow, but it’s actually a very simple measure to help you balance the foods you eat – and feel better.
You need to reduce where possible high GI foods, which provide a sugar surge, but deplete the body’s energy reserves very rapidly, leaving you lacking energy and craving sugar. Examples of these foods are listed in table shown overleaf.
Choosing more of the low GI foods will help balance your blood sugar levels and control weight. However, this doesn’t mean that high GI foods are bad in themselves. A sensible balance of the two is the best way to lower GI overall.
Men’s health should always be an ongoing concern. Take steps to balance work, home, and play and make healthy living a part of YOUR everyday life.
Nutritional Therapist BSc (Hons); Dip Raw (Nutrition), MBANT