When men are young, they act as if they'll live forever. The modern saying "you only live once," which usually precedes some not so prudent, albeit moronic behavior, perfectly illustrates this feeling of immortality. As men age, this disregard spills over into the way they treat their health. Healthcare for men tends to be reactive rather than proactive. This means, unless something is broken, or chronically hurting, there is no reason to visit the doctor. We are here to tell men to get it together, and get proactive. It's time to take charge of your health.
It may interest you to know that men die at higher rates than women for all the top causes of death, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. Statistically, women outlive men by 7 years, driving the point home that overall women tend to be healthier. That doesn't mean that women are immune to disease or don't get sick, but it does show that women are better at taking care of themselves and bigger proponents of preventative and follow-up care.
More men suffer and die from chronic illnesses than women. They're 1.3 times more likely to have cancer than women and two times more likely to die from liver disease. The evidence is clear and the risk is high; men need to be more attentive to their health. In prostate cancer alone, there are 233,000 new cases in the U.S. every year and one out of seven men are diagnosed. Due to these hard facts, getting an annual PSA screening is essential.
Here are some quick facts on men's health:
• Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United State, killing 307,225 men in 2009 - 1 in every 4 male deaths.
o 50 percent of men who die of heart disease have no previous symptoms.
• Stroke is the third leading cause of death among men in the United States.
• Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men. 90 percent is caused by smoking.
• Prostate Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Many men follow the mantra "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to their healthcare. This unwillingness to make routine visits, or see doctors despite symptoms that may arise, magnifies the problem. How can men expect to turn the tides and outlive women if they refuse to keep one step ahead regarding their health? When it comes to staying healthy, it is important that we keep the body running like a well-oiled machine, rather than wait until it breaks down.
Generally speaking, following a healthy lifestyle, comprised of a health-conscious diet and moderate exercise, along with making routine doctors' visits can help you live longer. Here are five ways men can adopt to take control of their health, this summer.
1. Low T? Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels
Once a man hits the age of 30, his testosterone levels drop one percent each year after. We've touched on the very real reality of male menopause, but if men combat this early on in life, and instill healthy habits before resorting to testosterone replacement therapy, maintaining healthy levels is possible. Try these natural ways to boost your testosterone:
Resistance training has been shown to stimulate testosterone production, especially when taking 90 second breaks between sets.
Whether you get your vitamin D from the sun or from supplements, it is positively correlated with increased testosterone levels.
A zinc deficiency can negatively impact your levels of testosterone. Studies have shown that zinc supplementation can help increase testosterone levels. Zinc supplements, oysters, beef, pork, crab and fortified cereals offer great sources of this mineral. But be careful to not consume too much zinc, because the results can be toxic.
Nuts and Legumes
These foods contain high levels of D-aspartic acid, which promotes the production of testosterone in humans. Soybeans, lentils, almonds, salmon, shrimp, beef and eggs are all great sources of this compound.
Research has shown that garlic has a positive effect on testosterone levels. This ingredient is very easy to incorporate into your diet either by sprinkling garlic powder on your food or by including more garlic cloves when cooking.
Consuming caffeine can increase the concentrations of testosterone, not to mention its' obvious effects on energy. Good sources include coffee, tea and chocolate. Be aware that the more caffeine you consume, the greater effect it will have on your testosterone - so moderation is key.
2. Exercise: You Probably Will Live Longer
For obvious reasons, exercise is important for everyone at every age but as men age, exercise is increasingly important. In a perfect world, men when they're young should instill good exercise habits early on, but even if they're at a later stage in their life, focusing on daily physical activity can still have tremendous benefits. Two recent significant studies showed that just 30 minutes of daily exercise may help fight age-related high cholesterol and also extend longevity.
3. Get Enough Vitamins
Men need to focus on getting their essential vitamins through their daily diet or supplements if appropriate. Here are the 3 essential vitamins for men's health.
--Vitamin D: Most men can benefit from taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. The reality if, many men aren't getting enough healthy exposure to the sun. Vitamin D becomes critically important as men age, it's required to absorb calcium and help prevent weak muscles and bones. Healthy food sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, milk, cheese, egg yolks, orange juice and yogurt.
--Vitamin B12: Older men have an increased need for vitamin B12 which boosts and maintains brain health. Depression and dementia are symptoms of a low serum B12. Generally the recommended amount of vitamin B12 (2.4 mcg) which you can easily get from a healthy diet. You shouldn't need to supplement this vitamin, unless other advised by your doctor. Healthy food sources of Vitamin B12 include shrimp, salmon, beef, chicken, clams, eggs, milk and cheese.
-- Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for healthy aging. A potent antioxidant that serves a protective role in the body by neutralizing free radicals that want to attack healthy cells, it's also an essential building block for good nutrition. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for men is 90 milligrams (mg) per day. Good food sources of vitamin C is in oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, limes, lemons, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus and pineapple.
4. See A Urologist
Some men prefer seeing a urologist even if they aren't experiencing any symptoms to stay on top of their urinary and sexual health. But here are 5 reasons you may want to set up an appointment with a urologist.
-- Hematuria (aka blood in the urine)
Blood in the urine is not normal. It may be an early warning sign of a number of serious health conditions, such as a bladder or kidney infection, kidney stones, kidney cancer, or bladder cancer. If you see blood in your urine, the urologist will start by doing a simple urine test called a urinalysis to test for the presence and amount of microscopic blood in the urine. They may also do a cystoscopy to look inside your bladder, or refer you for an x-ray or CT scan. Do not wait to see a urologist if you see blood in your urine. It usually means something is wrong and in that case, will not go away on its own.
-- Prostate exam (PSA test and DRE)
Check your PSA. PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is a protein produced in the prostate. A PSA test, which is a simple blood test, can measure the level of PSA in the blood. A PSA that rises or is elevated, such as above 4.0 ng/mL, may indicate prostate cancer. However, the PSA test is not specific for prostate cancer. An elevated PSA could also mean an enlarged prostate or prostatitis (a prostate infection). Most doctors don't test the PSA, except for urologists.
When should you start checking your PSA? Men should have a baseline PSA test starting at age 40 and check it annually. The risk for prostate cancer goes significantly up after 50, however men can develop it younger than 50. It's especially important for men who are at a higher risk for prostate cancer to check their PSA. Men who have a higher risk for prostate cancer include African-American men, men over 50, and men who have a family history of prostate cancer. African-American men are often diagnosed with more aggressive prostate cancers, so it's important to check it early and keep track of any changes in the PSA level. With early detection, prostate cancer is highly treatable and curable.
-- Testicular pain or lump
Testicular pain occurs in or around one or both testicles. The pain felt in your testicles does not always mean the source is in your testicles; it could be pain caused by another area of the body such as in the abdomen or groin. Testicular pain may be caused by a number of different things including inflammation, hydrocele, kidney stones, inguinal hernia, scrotal mass, urinary tract infection, varicocele, or even testicular cancer. So, if you are experiencing mild testicular pain that lasts longer than a few days, or you feel a lump or swelling in or around a testicle, see a urologist.
-- Kidney pain or mass
If you are experiencing abdominal pain, your primary care doctor may refer you to have a CT scan or an ultrasound. While the scan may or may not show what is causing the pain, it can identify if there is a mass on the kidney. If a mass has been found in your kidney, do not let anyone do a biopsy on the mass until you have seen a urologist. While it is assumed that the mass could be kidney cancer, it can also mean a cyst (fluid-filled sac), an infection, or hydronephrosis (partial blockage of kidney). It's important to see a urologist before having your kidney biopsied in order to rule out other causes of the mass. A urologist may do a urine cytology, a cystoscopy, additional blood work, or order additional scans to check what could be causing the mass.
--If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving
In order to get your partner pregnant, you must be able to produce healthy sperm (which is produced in the testicles), sperm have to be carried into the semen, there must be a good sperm count (higher than 15 million sperm per milliliter), and your sperm must be well-functioning and have good motility. So if you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, it could mean that you are infertile.
Checking for male infertility is also important because it could mean other serious health conditions too, such as a varicocele, infection, hormone imbalance, or testicular cancer. These conditions can often be missed by primary care doctors who will then refer men to a fertility doctor, who may also miss them. Make sure you talk to your doctor about checking for any of the other health conditions so that you can determine what else might be causing male infertility.
5. Get Screened
It's no secret that men avoid doctors' visits at all costs. Ask a man about the last time he went for a simple routine visit and he probably cannot recall. It just takes a few simple tests to maintain your health. Here are the major recommended tests for each age group.
Helping men live longer healthier lives is my passion. By educating men on the importance of getting tested, taking preventative measures such as with their diet and being open to discussing treatment options, in case of a positive diagnosis, I believe we can really make an impact on men's health.