This blog is aimed at women. Women of ‘mid-life’ age who may struggle to knock some sense into their partners, friends and brothers about taking health seriously and getting even small symptoms checked out. I have friends who are married to men who are lovely, supportive husbands and fathers. But the head goes into the sand when it comes to their own health.
If YOU are armed with the facts, you can use whatever tactics work with your nearest and dearest to help them make changes, so they have a better chance of entering their later years without a debilitation illness and at least being able to see their children grow up.
“Oooh, brutal, Deadman”
Let’s call it no-nonsense.
This blog is PART ONE. It highlights some basic male-oriented health topics and what steps you can take to improve things. It’s to the point, much is in list format so don’t expect flannel. PART TWO of the blog will summarise and expand on the course of action.
Let’s kick off with:
The link between raised chances of heart diseases and high levels of cholesterol is strong.
What is it?: Cholesterol is important. It’s made in the liver and contributes to the making of hormones and strong cell walls. There is HDL (high density lipoproteins)..that’s the good stuff so levels of that need to be HIGH. There’s also LDL (low density lipoproteins)…and that’s the bad stuff. HDL helps clear the system of the LDL. If there’s too much LDL, then there’s a risk of arteries becoming damaged.
What to do:
1. Eat less saturated fat.
The recommended limit is 30g per day for men (20g for women).
- Sat fat raises the LDL so this means eating less red meat, cream, cheese, biscuits, cakes, pies. (A medium American Hot Domino’s pizza with a classic crust and regular mozzarella contains 30.4g sat fat)..
- Whereas, unsaturated fat helps raise the HDL (hooray), so eat more fish, seeds, nuts, avocados. Soya milk and soya products will also help.
2. Eat more fibre.
We need 30g per day.
- Soluble fibre is better than insoluble at decreasing the bad cholesterol. So pulses, beans, vegetables, oats, nuts…especially black beans and brussel sprouts (though that might put him right off).
THE PROSTATE GLAND
What is it? It’s about the size of a satsuma and sits under the bladder and around the urethra and is found only in men. Apparently half to one third of all men will have an enlarged prostate, but this may not necessarily signify problems or lead to prostate cancer. It is, however, the most common cancer in men. Symptoms are the urge to wee quite often, straining to wee and feeling the bladder is not quite empty.
What to do?
If you suspect something may be up, then encourage him to see the GP as soon as possible.
On top of that, these points of action will help:
- Stop eating too much saturated fat, swap for good fat in olive oil and avocados, nuts, seeds..
- Eat more brightly coloured fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant properties, such as blackcurrants, raspberries, blueberries, red peppers.
- Cooked tomatoes are especially good (cooking makes the beneficial lycopene more accessible). Add a drizzle of olive oil, even better!
- Less meat, more fish, especially salmon for its omega 3 fat (EPA and DHA). If he’s a vegan or a veggie, focus on nuts, oils, seeds.
- Broccoli – stuffed full of wondrous goodness. Think not only broccoli trees but broccoli and cauliflower rice is a good way to slide it into the diet.
- Take a Vitamin D supplement. There is some suggestion that this can help keep more serious prostate issues at bay. And, it will strengthen bones as well (vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium from foods). You can never get enough Vitamin D from food, so take a good supplement.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
If he is diagnosed with hypertension, then the GP may prescribe medication. There is much you can do to alleviate the issue through diet and exercise.
- Encourage exercise. Something which he will enjoy rather than tolerate.
- He should get his cholesterol checked by the GP (the narrower the arteries, the higher the risk of hypertension).
- Reduce salt intake.
- Eat POTASSIUM rich foods. This directly helps to relieve high blood pressure. Bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomato sauce (no salt or sugar obvs), fruit juices (home made preferably), tuna (not in brine), yogurt.
- Stacks of vegetables. Especially broccoli :).
The more overweight he is, the more sugar he eats, the worse his lifestyle, the higher the risk of developing type II diabetes. You can read more about the causes and complications of type II diabetes here.
What can be done?
- Less sugar in his diet, more protein at mealtimes, more vitamins and minerals (which means more fruit and veg).
- More daily exercise and most probably a good effort at losing some weight.
- Balanced meals throughout the day with adequate protein (pulses, eggs, fish, meat, soya products), adequate starchy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, whole grain rice, pasta, pulses, vegetables (not simple carbs which are sugary foods).
- Type II diabetes can be reversed through changes to food and activity, but he should of course see his GP.
“What you mean is avoiding bowel cancer?”
Yes. But not just him. You too. Detailed info is contained in this Blog: Looking After our Bowels.
But basically it means: More apples and oats, less beer, more exercise, less stress, more hugs, more happiness.
This obviously applies to everyone, but since we’re prodding our men in the ribs, we may as well tackle this issue too.
The physiological response to stress never fails to amaze me.
- The adrenal glands produce adrenaline, and the pancreas produces cortisol, both of which are hormones (chemical messengers) which signal to other bits and bobs in the body to get ready for action.
- The liver releases a dollop of glucose, just in case we need to take flight
- Our lungs take in more oxygen – helped by airways dilating.
- Blood thickens so that in the event of an accident, we’re not going to bleed to death
- The brain thinks quicker and clearer due to increased blood supply.
Amazing isn’t it? All that happens in the event of a stressful situation.
Trouble occurs when those stressful situations are every single day for years. The build up of cortisol and adrenaline in the blood can contribute to heart and prostate issues, never mind generally undermine the overall health of the body. On top of this, the excess glucose constantly produced isn’t getting used up (remember, neither you nor he are charging after a mammoth to kill for dinner, you’re sitting on a train getting stressed about a meeting and deadlines).
What to do?
- Reduce alcohol (14 units per week for men and women) and reduce caffeine. Boring, but true.
- More daily exercise (keeps cropping up). Yoga will promote a sense of well-being as well as challenge strength and coordination. And he might fancy the whole holistic thing.
- Suggest meditation (there are classes, groups, apps) but if that is met with a curled lip, then a walk in the park listening to a book will help relax the mind.
- Key nutrients which support the adrenal glands are: Vitamin C (most fruit and veg, but consider taking a supplement); Magnesium (dark green leafy veg, nuts, wholegrains) and B vitamins (wholegrains nuts and seeds).
- Less processed food, more proper food. Little and often, rather than three large meals per day.
- Increase intake of protein (a stressed person will have a big demand for this plus protein will help slow down the release of glucose ). A BBC good food article recommends 0.7g-1.8g per kg of bodyweight, but I would say more. Say your chap weighs 85kg. He should aim to have each day around 85-150g of protein. (200g of chicken has 54g).
Obese people are more likely to have strokes and heart disease than those who are taking responsibility for their health and managing to keep to a reasonable weight. Everything I’ve written so far will help heart function:
- lowering cholesterol
- eating more wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, good fats and minimising processed foods and sugar
- taking regular exercise
- keeping a check on alcohol intake.
I can hear him say this. “That’s nothing I don’t already know”.
It’s nothing none of us already know. We ALL know this stuff.
It just takes some small tweaks to make big changes which will reap even bigger rewards.