Last week, I talked about women’s health so it is only fair that I give equal airtime to the men in our community. You have also all heard the term men’s health but what does it really mean to be a healthy man in this day and age?
In midlife, it is generally less likely that men will be as healthy as women their age. This is because men are more likely to ignore the messages from their bodies, and don’t go to the doctor until their bodies are screaming at them (heart attacks, other severe pain…). By the time they seek the medical attention, their health may be severely compromised. The tougher the man, the more likely he is to drop dead from a heart attack as he has toughed out the symptoms and not sought medical attention when he should have. Nothing is more embarrassing than going to the doctor’s office only to be told there is nothing wrong, right guys?
Men and women are different and have different nutritional needs when it comes to health and prevention of disease. Women should eat foods to prevent inflammation, cancer, heart disease and bone loss. Men need to eat to prevent heart disease, prostate cancer and muscle loss.
Many food choices that men make regularly may not seem significant on a day-to-day basis but the effects accumulate in the body and wham – you find out you have heart disease or hyper tension or blood pressure issues or high cholesterol… And how did this happen? You are healthy, right? You can still kick some serious butt.
A diet of burgers, pizza & beer is going to catch up with you. Hate to be the reminder of this bad news but this food will eventually kill you. It has an accumulating effect, just like cigarettes do. And if you smoke, please switch to organic tobacco and roll your own. Get off the 4,000 chemicals added to cigarettes by the manufacturers who make a killing on your addiction.
I encourage you men to do your own research into best practice and best foods for men’s health. Here are a few diet suggestions:
Instead of that afternoon coffee, try eating a banana. They will give you the same energy boost as a cup of java but not the caffeine (so won’t be hard on the heart).
Try to have beans in your diet (you can pack lots in chili) and eat only red meat that is not finished in grain. Elk, buffalo and deer are great options as they are not packed with saturated fat. If you don’t hunt, there are plenty of farmers who raise beef on grass only. Eat fish! Not only is fish a great heart food but you get your important omega 3 fatty acids from fish.
Have fermented foods at least once a day to help with digestion and gut health (sauerkraut, kombucha..). Smoked oysters are a great form of zinc which helps prevent prostate cancer.
For breakfast, instead of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast – consider a morning smoothie. I have an excellent recipe that I will share with anyone who emails and asks for it. It is full of anti-oxidants, omega 3, protein and greens. It is delicious and doesn’t taste like it is good for you.
Oatmeal is also an excellent breakfast food as it is low on the glycemic index as long as it is the slow cook variety (takes only five minutes) instead of the instant oatmeal packed with sugar. Add some cinnamon and homemade apple sauce, walnuts, (and maybe some flax, hemp & chia), a bit of honey if needed, and you have a delicious breakfast without the artery clogging saturated fats.
Salads and greens are important so make friends with them. Our bodies need them and you won’t turn into a rabbit or a hippie. Nuts are great to include in your diet. A few walnuts at bedtime help with brain function and promotes sleep.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca