When it comes to men’s health, it can often take a back seat compared to women, and you men deserve a look in! Us ladies are far better at discussing our issues openly compared to men and according to data, men generally avoid going to the doctors, skip more recommended screenings, and are more likely to practise riskier behaviour! Men are more likely to die sooner, live with more years of bad health, and have higher suicide rates. Of course, you cannot completely generalise, as all men and women are different, and things are slowly beginning to shift. Increasingly there is more growing recognition that treating preventable causes of death and disability could close the medical gender gap, and we all need to do our bit to push our men to get healthier, keep up with regular health checks and screening, and live happier healthier lives wherever possible.
The most common conditions affecting men’s health are heart disease, prostate, testicular and colon cancer, and in later life osteoporosis. Chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke are also on the radar, as are mental health issues. I cannot emphasise enough how keeping the body in balance is vital. If you are an excessive drinker, smoker, and zero exercise person, and live on fish and chips every day, your risks are going to increase. Mindful meditation and exercises such as yoga are ridiculously good for you guys, as its more common for you to hide your stresses and emotions, causing internal turmoil on your body, contributing to more risk of mental health issues. I know some of you may be thinking “I’m not going to Yoga! NO way!” But it’s meant to be a man’s sport! And the physical body you can also gain from regular yoga practise is extremely powerful and defined! Think Greek God! So, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
Exercise is key, enough rest and sleep time is important, spending time in the fresh air is essential, drinking enough water and eating nutritious foods daily to keep your heart, hormones, digestion, muscles, bones and brain in tip top condition will all contribute to a more balanced you. There are so many common everyday foods that you can also be eating to help more than you may realise.
- Leeks – They can support sexual functioning and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Chop the green part of a medium leek into thin ribbons and add it to soups, sautés, and salads as often as possible. These cousins of garlic and onions are also packed with bone-bolstering thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium, and they're also rich in folic acid, a B vitamin that studies have shown to lower levels of the artery-damaging amino acid homocystein in the blood.
- Artichokes – Lauded for centuries as an aphrodisiac, this fibre-rich plant contains more bone-building magnesium and potassium than any other vegetable. Its leaves are also rich in flavonoids and polyphenol, antioxidants that can cut the risk of stroke. They are also high in vitamin C, which helps maintain the immune system. Basically, eat them as often as you can! Ripe ones feel heavy for their size and squeak when squeezed.
- Ginger - Contrary to popular belief, ginger, which is a piquant addition to so many Asian dishes, is not a root, it's a stem, which means it contains living compounds that improve your health. Chief among them is gingerol, a cancer suppressor that studies have shown to be particularly effective against that of the colon. Chop ginger or grind it fresh and add to all your dishes, smoothies and juices daily!
- Figs - Packed with potassium, manganese, and antioxidants, this fruit also helps support proper pH levels in the body, making it more difficult for pathogens to invade. The fibre in figs can lower insulin and blood-sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Select figs with dark skins (they contain more nutrients) and have them as a snack or add to your breakfast foods.
It’s the simple things that make the difference! Small changes!