Great tips for keeping your guy healthy
Men live a lot longer than they used to: About 40 years ago, average life expectancy was 67 years; today it’s almost 76. It’s a definite improvement, but men still have work to do when it comes to their health: They tend to smoke and drink more than women, they see their doctor less often, and they are diagnosed with more cases of cancer and heart disease.
Step One to staying healthy: Get regular checkups and screenings. Here are more strategies to help prevent or treat the top threats to men’s health:
Eat more fiber
Two recent studies suggest that doing so may help decrease your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. These findings add to the body of evidence that links fiber-rich diets to lower rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. The daily recommended fiber intake is 38 grams for men under 50 and 30 grams for men over 50. But most men don’t even come close, averaging about 15 grams a day. Some of the best sources of dietary fiber are beans and peas. Others include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
Stub out cigarettes for good
Reason number 1,001: It’s the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD—a term used to describe serious lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD makes it hard to breathe, and smoking accounts for up to 90% of related deaths. There’s no cure for it, and over time, shortness of breath can get in the way of the most basic tasks, like going for a walk or even taking a shower. Quitting smoking is no small feat, but science shows you can double your chances of success if your plan includes a combination of methods, such as nicotine replacement therapies, counseling, using self-help materials, and setting up a support system. To get started, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit smokefree.gov.
Know signs of diabetes
According to the most recent statistics, 7 million Americans have the disease and don’t know it. That’s because symptoms often go undetected. But left untreated, diabetes can damage your heart, blood vessels, nerves, vision and kidneys, and it can lead to health complications such as erectile dysfunction. Diabetes is diagnosed with a simple blood test. If you are overweight and age 45 or older, ask for it at your next checkup. See your doctor sooner if any of the following signs seem familiar: frequent urination, unusual thirst, exhaustion, recurring skin, gum or bladder infections, blurred vision, and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.
Keep BMI below 25
You know maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, but new research suggests it may also help prevent dementia. Scientists in Sweden followed more than 8,500 twins over 30 years and found that people who were overweight or obese in middle age had an 80% higher risk of certain types of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease later in life compared with people who have normal body mass index (BMI). One possible explanation: Excess fat releases hormones and chemicals that may affect the brain’s functioning. Normal weight equates to an 18.5 to 24.9 BMI. To measure yours, visit the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website at nhlbisupport.com/bmi.
Take a nap
It’s one way to help reduce high blood pressure, according to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Hypertension is the leading cause, and the most controllable risk factor, for stroke — a top health threat for men. Researchers found that 45 to 60 minutes of midday sleep may help buffer the effects of stress on hypertension. Other ways to control blood pressure: Consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day; increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy; limit alcohol to two drinks a day; exercise regularly; and watch your weight. Your blood pressure goal: less than 120 over 80.
Lighten your lead foot
Car crashes are the leading cause of fatal accidents among men, and more than half are associated with aggressive driving, such as speeding. To stay safe on the roads, stick to the basics: Heed the speed limit, focus your attention on driving, signal when changing lanes and keep your cool.
Take a conservative path in treating prostate cancer
Most of the 217,000 men in the USA who are diagnosed every year with prostate cancer have a slow-growing, non-aggressive form of the disease. New research from Johns Hopkins Hospital concludes that taking more of a watch-and-wait approach may be a better treatment option for older men who have very-low-risk prostate cancer rather than immediately opting for tumor removal or radiation therapy — both of which come with risks and complications. Studies have shown that even after 10 years of follow-up, about 40% of participants who chose “active surveillance,” which involved semi-annual checkups and annual biopsies, did not need any treatment. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Reconsider meds that cause ED
From antidepressants and antihistamines to drugs used to treat high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, and certain cancers, the list of prescription and over-the-counter medications that may contribute to erectile dysfunction is long. Recent findings even suggest regular use of aspirin, ibuprofen and other painkillers may also be linked to an increased risk.
If you suspect something in your medicine cabinet is causing ED, take a list of all the pills you pop — including vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements — to your next doctor appointment. He may be able to switch you to a different drug. An important note: Never stop taking any medication without first consulting your health care practitioner — some may produce life-threatening reactions if they are not slowly weaned or switched appropriately.
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