Movember Charity – Men’s Health Awareness

When it comes to prevention and early detection, men’s health often takes a back seat to women’s health. Research, however, shows that, compared to women, men are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol and generally lead less healthy lifestyles. In addition, men are more likely to put off routine checkups and also delay seeing a healthcare provider for symptoms of a health problem. Compared to working-aged women, working-aged men are less likely to have a regular doctor and health insurance.

Fortunately, many of the health conditions and diseases that men face can be prevented or treated – if found early. In order to start taking better care of their health, it is important for men to understand their risk factors and how they can improve their overall health. The most common conditions affecting men – heart disease, prostate, testicular, and colon cancer, and osteoporosis later in life – have important nutritional implications.

Heart Disease

Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • Family history of early onset of heart disease

Dietary implications for reducing your risk:

  • Reduce the amounts of saturated fat (found in animal products such as meat and high-fat dairy products) and trans fat (found in products such as margarine, baked goods, and some snack foods).
  • Increase high fiber foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds).
  • Limit alcohol intake. Dietary recommendations define moderate drinking as no more than 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Increase intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Research has shown that they are associated with keeping blood vessels healthy and keeping blood pressure down.

Cancer

Risk factors for cancer can include:

  • Overweight/obesity
  • High-fat diet
  • Low fiber diet
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Physical inactivity

Dietary implications for reducing your risk:

  • Lycopene is a caretenoid found in fruits and vegetables. It gives tomatoes their red coloration. Research has shown that lycopene can help with the prevention of prostate cancer. The best sources of lycopene are tomatoes, guava, rosehip, watermelon, and pink grapefruit.
  • Although research is still somewhat inconclusive, selenium is thought to be a mineral and antioxidant associated with cancer prevention. Good sources of selenium are nuts (especially Brazil nuts) and fish (especially orange roughy and tuna).
  • There is limited research on the connection of boron and prostate health although some studies indicate that boron can reduce the risk of men developing prostate cancer. Rich sources of boron include raisins and almonds.
  • While a high-fiber diet is important for heart health, it is just as important for reducing the risk of colon cancer.

Osteoporosis

Many people think of osteoporosis as a disease associated with women. However, men are at risk too.

Risk factors for osteoporosis:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history
  • Tobacco use
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid use
  • Excessive soda consumption
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Low calcium intake
  • Physical inactivity

Dietary implications for reducing your risk:

  • Men should get around 1000 mg of calcium every day. The best sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Be sure to look for the low-fat and fat-free dairy products for heart heath.
  • Avoid heavy drinking. Alcohol reduces bone formation and interferes with your body’s ability to absorb calcium. For men, heavy drinking is one of the most common risk factors for osteoporosis.

*Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any vitamins or minerals in supplement form.
Data from National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)