According to Harvard’s Health Watch, men were three times more likely than women to have not seen a doctor in the previous year, and more than half of all men reported not having a physical exam or cholesterol test within the previous year. To help bridge the gender gap, National Men’s Health Month was established to educate the public and encourage prevention and early disease for men. Nicole Avena, Ph.D., offers health and wellness tips to help empower men and their loved ones towards a healthier, happier life.
"During National Men’s Health Month, I encourage men to take time to evaluate their health, and ensure they are doing all they can to take charge of their health," says Dr. Avena. "I recommend that they be proactive and either continue or start developing healthy routines, nutrition, and mindset."
Dr. Avena offers these simple tips for men to consider:
- Get regular checkups. A survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that 72% of men would rather do household chores than go to the doctor. However, men should ensure they make time for physical exams and screenings, including: Cholesterol test, Blood pressure testing, Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and Diabetes screening.
- Move more. According to the CDC, only 27% of men meet the federal physical activity guidelines which recommends adult men get at least 150 to 75 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week. Exercise has many benefits including: weight control, reducing heart disease, and releasing endorphins that can help relieve stress.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables. Stereotypes suggest men only like to eat meat and potatoes, but men should include fruits and vegetable in their diet. Incorporate a colorful variety such as dark green leafy vegetables; yellow, orange or red fruits and vegetables; legumes; and citrus fruits. Studies show that people who ate five servings of fruits and vegetables per day had roughly a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Choose lean proteins. Avoid fatty cuts of meat and processed meat since both can raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. Instead, replace with lean proteins like white meat chicken or turkey; lean pork and beef; egg whites; seafood like salmon, cod, or shrimp; or even tofu or tempeh. Eating the correct proportion of omega-3, found in fish, and omega-6, found in vegetable oils, can also reduce cholesterol.
- Avoid the junk that makes up junk food. Reading the nutrition label and ingredient list on food is an important, overlooked aspect of nutrition. Many packaged foods contain harmful ingredients: high-fructose corn syrup, antibiotics, monosodium glutamate (MSG), growth hormones, and artificial sweeteners. Pay attention to how many milligrams of sodium are in packaged food and avoid foods with high amounts.
- Add a multivitamin. If one finds that they are not meeting their nutritional needs, consider adding a multivitamin that includes B-complex vitamins. A great gummy vitamin option without gluten, artificial sweeteners and flavors, or dairy is vitafusion Organic Men’s Multi.
- Drink more water. The recommended minimum amount of drinking water is half a gallon, or eight 8-ounce glasses. Substituting high calorie beverages like soda; fruit, energy, or sports drinks; and yes, even alcohol, with water not only helps men meet minimum water recommendations but also can aid weight loss.
- Have a positive attitude! Positivity has been scientifically proven to improve health. A study from John’s Hopkins, which assessed a person’s cheerfulness, energy level, anxiety levels and satisfaction with health and overall life, revealed that positive people were 13% less likely than their negative counterparts to have a heart attack or other coronary event.
"Making mindful adjustments in one’s lifestyles – including diet modifications, physical activity, and a positive outlook – can help make effective and lasting changes that will allow men to feel confident and in control of their health," adds Dr. Avena.