If it wasn’t such a serious matter, it would be easier to sigh and shrug your shoulders in a “guys will be guys” kind of way. Let’s face it; us men are known for delaying trips to the doctor or taking care of health issues. Even in this evolved day and age, maybe there are still bits and pieces of John Wayne’s DNA embedded deep within our genetic code. “I don’t have time to visit the doc, little lady. I’ve got to wrestle some villains, rustle up the cattle, and watch Sports Center.”  So why don’t men take better care of their health?

According to the CDC, women are 33% more likely than men to visit a doctor.  Considering that men die at higher rates than women from heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, diabetes, accidents, kidney disease, suicide, influenza, liver disease, and pneumonia, you would think we would consider even the seemingly small stuff much more seriously.

It’s easy to point a finger at society in general and say that we raised our men that way. Little boys are supposed to be tough and not to cry when it hurts.  Aside from the five biggest killers of men (prostate cancer, lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and suicide), there are more health concerns men struggle with … even though we don’t talk about it much.

And although this doesn’t make much sense, studies show that the 4 biggest worries that us men have about our health are:

Impotence. How many men over 30 haven’t worried about impotence at one time or another? This is often regarded as man’s worst nightmare. Erectile dysfunction and other sexual health issues can affect men’s quality of life. These problems could be symptoms of underlying health conditions like heart disease or diabetes.   While there is certainly no shortage of drugs to take care of the problem, the pharmaceutical choice often comes with undesirable side effects.

Making a healthy lifestyle choice significantly improves your chances for healthy erectile function. Regular exercise improves blood flow critical for healthy erections  A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can also help manage erectile dysfunction. Reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking are also crucial steps. (1,2)

There are also medications that can be prescribed like Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors) like (sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). These medications boost blood flow to the penis and facilitate an erection when sexually stimulated. It’s important to use these medications under the guidance of a healthcare provider. (3)

Heart attack. Including coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and heart failure. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can significantly help you maintain a healthy heart. It is important to try and limit saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol plus incorporate heart-healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial. (6,7)

What goes in your mouth is one of the strongest predictors of whether or not you’ll suffer from a heart attack. A healthy heart diet includes a good balance of grains, fruits and vegetables, and particularly healthy oils which keep your arteries lubricated. Stay away from processed foods loaded with salt. Keep your cholesterol in check by limiting saturated and trans fats. And if you smoke, quit. Those who smoke are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from heart disease. And, remember to take your heart-healthy supplements, especially vitamin D.

Brain Health Men often face mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and stress. However they are most worried about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Here are some important tips to keep in mind.Regular physical activity can help maintain healthy blood flow and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

Engage in aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling for at least 150 minutes per week… plus maintain your lean muscle mass with weights or resistence training (8)

Challenge your brain: Keep your mind sharp by learning something new everyday. Try learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument.Learn a new skill. Try something artistic. Take a course at the local school or university. Find out what your passion is and pursue it- it is never too late! (9)

Pay attention to your cholesterol levels since they play an important role in the formation of amyloid plaques, one of the trademarks of Alzheimer’s.

Eat omega-3 fats found in fish and nuts for more protection against dementia.  If your diet is lacking in Omega 3’s, consider a quality supplement…but find one that has a balance of DHA, EPA, and DPA (fatty acids that our diets typically lack).

Sleep longer and deeper: Good quality sleep is important for brain health. Stay off screens ( computer, phone) before bed. Do all you can to minimize disruptions and keep your room quiet and dark. If you have any sleep-related problems, such as sleep apnea, talk to a health care provider. (9)

Keep a healthy weight:  Obesity increases the risk of various health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is essential. Regular medical check-ups can help monitor and manage weight. There is no shortage of weight loss “how-to” products out there, but at the end of the day the way to avoid getting fat is by portion and calorie control, eating healthy foods almost all the time, strength and cardio training. One tip is to have walnuts and almonds around to restrain the chemical that notifies your body it’s time to eat.  Eating 5-6 smaller meals daily helps boost your metabolism instead of three large meals a day.

Guys! Taking note of your health doesn’t have to be scary – or a lot of work.  The quicker you acknowledge that nagging feeling, the healthier you’ll be!

Insiders Health Tip #1: In order to get your blood flowing where it needs to, men need to be sure to get lots of vegetables and whole grains and stay away from those animal fats and trans fats. It is important that we get plenty of sleep to keep our growth hormone levels strong and get plenty of exercise too. One study showed that men who exercise every day have a considerably lower risk of erectile dysfunction (up to 65% less!) than their slow-moving friends. (5)

Insiders Health Tip #2: Eat walnuts and almonds  to help control the chemical that notifies your body it’s time to eat.  Eating 5-6 smaller meals daily helps boost your metabolism instead of three large meals a day. A new endocannabinoid also shows a lot of promise for natural appetite control called THCV. (10)

References

(1)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776

(2)https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/5-natural-ways-to-overcome-erectile-dysfunction

(3)https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9121-sexual-dysfunction

(4)https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction

(5)https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/erectile-dysfunction-after-exercise#exercise-and-ed

(6)https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating

(7)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702

(8)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/alzheimers-prevention/faq-20058140

(9)https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/10-healthy-habits-for-your-brain

(10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33526143/

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