With men being prone to certain health concerns – both physical and mental – Nutritional Therapist, Jenny Logan, discusses the holistic health approach the male population could take.
Certain conditions are more likely in men than in women, including problems such as diabetes and heart disease – which is why keeping an eye on diet, exercise and the waistline is important for health.
The other main health issues men should be encouraged to address are stress, anxiety and depression. Mental health is a major problem, which has undoubtedly increased over the last year with uncertainty over Covid, lockdowns and job worries. Women are more likely to address their mental health, whilst men may look to ‘man up’ and suffer in silence. Male suicide is actually the biggest killer of men under 45, with statistics revealing that 84 men take their own life each week, and of the suicides in the UK, 75 per cent of them were committed by men. Not seeking help for issues like stress, anxiety and depression is the major risk factor for this.
Nutrients for male health
Most men are at risk of low zinc levels, and this is especially true of young men and boys going through puberty. This is because the prostate gland, sexual development and the production of sperm all require this vital mineral, which is recognised as being low in most diets.
Another mineral which is needed for healthy sperm production is selenium. This vital mineral is again recognised as being low in many diets due to its depletion from the soils worldwide. Low selenium levels have been linked to an increased risk of cancers and heart disease and is why a selenium supplement with zinc is one of the key supplements that men can use to support their health.
Like the rest of the population of the UK, men are also at risk of low vitamin D levels, especially if they work indoors. Studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect at least half the UK white population and up to 90 per cent of the multi-ethnic population. Vitamin D is required to support a healthy immune response, and there has certainly been a focus on this vitamin over the course of the pandemic.
Healthy eating plan
Eliminate ‘white’ and refined foods from the diet as far as possible and eat plenty of fresh vegetables and wholegrains. ‘White’, processed and refined foods have been stripped of all their nutritional value; they are simply empty calories. They will also have a negative impact on blood sugar levels and the waistline, contributing to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Ensure you eat plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables every day.
Eat plenty of good fats too; omega 3-rich foods offer protection from high cholesterol and heart disease, so eating oily fish or using fish oil supplements will be protective. Avoid trans fats – found in deep fried foods, many margarines and shop-bought cakes and cookies – as these are known to raise the risk of heart disease.
Switch your lifestyle
In terms of healthy lifestyle changes, keep in mind:
- Don’t suffer in silence or worry about embarrassment: Talk about mental health issues, seek help and support. Don’t be embarrassed about libido or erectile issues, there are many products out there, including arginine and ginseng, which could help. The sooner you realise you are not alone, and that help is available, the sooner you can start to feel better.
- Watch your waistline: This does not mean going on a diet, but an increased waist circumference is linked to the development of diabetes, so stay as fit and active as possible, try and eat healthily, be moderate with alcohol and try to keep that waist size down.
- Be aware of your prostate: Include foods like pumpkin seeds in your diet and ensure you are getting enough zinc. If you notice any changes in frequency or duration of urination, get it checked out by a doctor.
- Engage with sensible, regular activity and exercise, to look after the health of the heart and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Jenny Logan is a Nutritional Therapist and ran her own very successful health food store for 13 years, before setting up in private practice. She is Product Development and Training Manager at supplement brand, Natures Aid.