8 Practical Strategies to Optimize Men’s Health and Prevent top Health Conditions

Despite my medical background, I still find it very difficult to get my husband to book an appointment for a medical checkup. This is not a preserve of my household, men are generally resistant to medical attention. In most cases, men seek medical attention when the disease has progressed to an irreversible state. But does it always have to be like this?

Most health conditions that afflict men and cause most deaths are Preventable. Chronic diseases are almost symptomless making it impossible to capture the disease early. Late diagnosis when the disease has been established increases hospital stay, care costs, and the risk of death.

Understanding men’s health risks over their lifetime, the most common chronic diseases, and strategies to mitigate their health conditions can lay the foundation for a quality lifestyle and longevity.

Men’s Health Risks Over Lifetime

AgeHealth StatusHealth Risks
AdolescentHigh Testosterone productionUnintentional injuries
Road traffic accidents
Interpersonal violence
HIV/Aids
Suicide
20 to 30 yearsPhysical primeStops risky behaviors
  More likely to abuse alcohol
  Smoke tobacco
  Die from accidents
40 to 50 yearsTestosterone production rate  declinesLean muscle loss
  Weight gain
  Risk of heart disease,
  High blood pressure,
  Diabetes.
50 to 70 yearsTestosterone production diminishesHair loss
  Enlarged prostate
  Less active
  Poor nutrient uptake
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Top Health Conditions that put men at risk of illness and early deaths

Lifestyle diseases present a high risk to health in both men and women. Diseases that pose a risk to men’s health are;

Heart Disease

Heart disease is an umbrella term covering coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. In comparison to women, men develop coronary heart disease 10 years earlier, and out of every 4 deaths in men, 1 is due to heart disease.

A combination of factors increases the risk of heart disease; declining testosterone production, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, stress, anger, and anxiety all exert pressure on the heart. Often, the disease presents with almost no symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), 50% of men with heart disease present with no symptoms. 

Difficulty breathing on exertion, chest tightness, pain in the left arm that radiates to the jaw, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, and fainting are some of the symptoms associated with heart disease.

Medical checkups for common risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, higher body mass index, and waist circumference are necessary.

Lung diseases

Lung disease is a broad term that covers airway diseases, lung tissue diseases, and lung circulation diseases. Common lung diseases include asthma, bronchitis, tuberculosis, lung cancer, COPD, pneumonia, and pulmonary edema (fluids in the lung). Classical symptoms of lung disease include breathlessness, persistent cough, wheezing, mucus production, coughing out blood, weight loss, and general weakness.

Tobacco smoking, infections, air pollution, and genetics are some of the underlying factors in lung disease. 

To protect your lungs, quit smoking, exercise regularly, reduce exposure to pollutants by opening windows, practice deep breathing exercises, and incorporate a healthy diet.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men after lung cancer. The prostate gland is part of the male reproduction system that produces seminal fluid. It is small in size and weighs about 30 grams. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. 

Prostate gland health problems include an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, and prostate cancer in men above 40 years. Symptoms of the prostate disease include frequent or urgent need to urinate, urine leakage, inability to hold urine, and low back pain. An enlarged prostate can block both urine flow and bowel movements. 

The prevalence of prostate cancer increases with advancing age. You can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by maintaining a healthy body weight, a balanced diet, and regular exercise. Antioxidants like Lycopene in tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and cauliflower have protective compounds against prostate cancer. 

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Depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety are common mental disorders in the general population. On average, the lifetime prevalence of depression is 1 in every 8 men, while anxiety affects 1 out of every 5 men. The greatest challenge of mental health conditions in men is that they are unlikely to talk about it nor seek medical attention and treatment.

Young men, new fathers, older men, men in remote rural areas, men at the workplace, unemployed men, and men who abuse alcohol and other substances are at greater risk of mental illnesses. Depression and anxiety present with sadness and hopelessness, irritability, anger, aggressiveness, or “being on edge’, loss of interest in previously enjoyed work, and a lack of concentration.

Untreated sadness is a high risk for suicide in men. Building strong social support from family and friends, engaging in regular exercises, achieving adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and restricting alcohol and drug abuse are some basic measures to prevent depression and anxiety.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body does not produce adequate insulin, or is unable to utilize insulin appropriately leading to insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Factors that increase the risk of diabetes in men include smoking, being overweight, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and age (above 45 years).

Diabetes presents with excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, weight loss, overwhelming fatigue, and tingling and numbness of hands and feet. 

Uncontrolled diabetes has serious complications. It raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, eye problems, cardiovascular disease, and neuropathy (a nervous system problem). In men, diabetes increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.             

Diabetes can effectively be prevented and controlled by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Practical Strategies to Promote Men’s Health and Prevent Chronic Diseases

The etiology of most chronic diseases emanates from poor lifestyles. Moderating your lifestyle towards healthy behaviors can adequately control, reverse, or prevent chronic diseases and delay complications. Below are some lifestyle behavior that can mitigate poor health conditions;

  1. Adapt a Healthy Diet Plan

“You are what you eat” is a common mantra among many health-conscious individuals. The food choices you make impact your health in a great way. A nutrient-dense diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Sources of a nutrient-dense diet include whole grains, lean protein, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats from nuts and seeds. 

We should limit highly processed foods, saturated fats, added sugars, and excess salts. Highly processed foods are associated with blood sugar spikes, an underlying cause of diabetes. Saturated fats lead to high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterols and increase triglycerides, the unhealthy fats in the blood circulation leading to the narrowing of blood vessels which is a precursor of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and high blood pressure.

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2. Be active

Lack of physical activityis a major risk factor for most chronic diseases and deaths. It is well established that inactivity is equally harmful to your health just like a poor diet. This is because our bodies should be active. When body parts are not actively engaged, they lose their powers and functions.

Regular exercises improve general well-being, prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, dementia, heart diseases, and many types of cancers, and it adds quality to the years. Exercising increases the heart, respiratory, and metabolic rates which are critical determinants of well-being. Exercise boosts cardiac activity and enhances blood circulation throughout the body. Blood is what transports oxygen and nutrients to every body part.

Physical activity improves brain and cognitive functions and mental well-being and reduces the risks of cognitive decline, mental disorders like depression and anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases.

Again, regular physical activity helps moderate weight gain which is a leading factor of chronic diseases. Being overweight and obese are some risk factors for colorectal cancers. Extensive studies have pointed out the relationship between fat cells and cancer.

Regular exercise moderates growth factors responsible for cancer cell proliferation. It reduces insulin resistance and improves glucose metabolism. Equally, physical activity aids the body in fighting off chronic inflammation and lowers oxidative stress elements that are key in chronic disease manifestation.

3. Get a quality sleep

Adequate sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is an active process that aids the body to restore and heal itself. Short sleep duration defined as less than 6 hours, or a long sleep duration of more than 10 hours has health consequences. Evidence points out that short and long nights’ sleep increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease.  

Short sleep duration increases insulin resistance leading to metabolic challenges such as weight gain. Obesity is the underlying factor in diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Lack of sleep due to insomnia or sleep deprivation due to shift work or the use of electronic devices creates mental disturbances. There is a close relationship between anxiety and depression, and lack of sleep. 

4. Control weight gain

Obesity the excessive accumulation of body fat is a risk factor for most chronic diseases. Increasing Body Mass Index (BMI) is a significant risk factor for premature deaths, functional impairment, and quality-adjusted life years.  

Excessive fat stimulates the body to release inflammatory markers that are responsible for tissue destruction and reshaping and change in genetic expression, the underlying factor responsible for the development of chronic diseases. Raised C-reaction protein (CRP) and Erythrocyte sedimentary rates (ESR) are the basic assessment of inflammatory markers.

Achieving a healthy weight (>18 to 25 Kg/m2) range helps control high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

5. Protect your heart

The heart is the core of blood circulation. A weak heart compromises blood circulation and organ metabolism. 

Caution the heart from damage by working out. Aerobic exercises like jogging, cycling, and swimming strengthen the heart muscles. Eat a healthy balanced diet, and avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.

Nicotine in tobacco causes an increase in blood pressure, and blood clotting occludes the blood vessels. 

Equally, excessive consumption of alcohol for an extensive period weakens heart muscles leading to heart failure.

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6. Reduce stress and anxiety

Though women suffer more mental health issues than men, men report more severe anxietythat presents with headaches, tremors, loss of appetite, and loss of control more than women.

While mild anxiety can prompt better cognitive function, severe anxiety is associated with reduced cognitive functions, low quality of life, and poor functioning.

To cope, men results to excessive alcohol intake, and abuse of prescription and non-prescribed drugs, and they are less likely to seek professional help. The stereotyping of men’s muscularity is one reason that prevents men from reaching out for help.

Seeking mental health care should never be the last option. Men can express fears and anxieties to close and supportive family and friends. Building lasting relationships help deal with challenges and life experiences and to focus on factors that promote mental well-being. A healthy diet, adequate sleep, and physical activity are basic elements that promote men’s self-care and compassion.

7. Lower your risk of cancer

Like other diseases, men can proactively prevent or control cancer risks. Men can prevent their risk of cancerby gaining knowledge on common cancers and how to prevent them. Adopt healthy eating habits. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of cancer-fighting elements. Tomatoes and watermelon contain lycopene, the cancer-fighting element in foods. 

Engage in routine physical activity. Exercising regularly reduces your cancer risk. Exercises help control weight gain and build the immune system.

Limit consumption of barbequed meat to occasional. There is evidence that roasted meat at high temperatures produces a compound that increases cancer risks. Choose quality lean meat and limit your intake of processed foods like bacon, sausage, and hot dog. 

If you are a smoker, quit smoking because smoking carries a high risk of lung, head, and neck cancers.  

8. Undertake periodic health screening

Medical checkups provide an opportunity to evaluate your health state and take appropriate actions. It alerts you of any existing or impending health conditions that can be detrimental to your health. Early detection and diagnosis are the first steps to prompt treatment.

Most chronic diseases have insidious onset with no symptoms. Periodic medical health checks help to keep your health optimal.

Conclusion

Though chronic diseases manifest in almost equal measures between men and women, some lifestyle changes can help avert their development. Adopting healthy dietary habits, setting time to exercise, and ensuring you get quality sleep are just a few strategies that can help curb chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and some cancers. The emphasis is to make small changes and gradually embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Picture courtesy of clipart library

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6 thoughts on “8 Practical Strategies to Optimize Men’s Health and Prevent top Health Conditions

  1. Thanks Catherine,
    Always something new to learn. Keep up the good work. Indeed you are transforming lives.

    Like

  2. Free medical consultation is very useful especially for men who might be in blissful ignorance oblivious of insidious perils lurking around. Kindly continue to keep us updated and carry on with the good work.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Zibeon. True, it is important I keep on enlightening the public on their health gaps. We need to shift our attention from curative health care to preventive. Keep on reading…

      Like

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