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. This is often regarded as man’s worst nightmare. How many men over 30 haven’t worried about impotence at one time or another?  While there is certainly no shortage of drugs to take care of the problem, the pharmaceutical choice often comes with undesirable side effects.  The more appropriate solution is just to eat healthier.

As any good athlete knows, what you eat can hinder your performance. And bedroom performance is included as well!  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.

Heart attack.  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;  then you can control your blood pressure better.  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.

Senility. Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a natural part of growing old. Keep your mind sharp by learning something new everyday. Try learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument. 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.  Also, 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).

Getting fat. 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, and getting plenty of sleep. 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!

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