Let's Talk About Men's Health...
It’s time to place some focus on issues most relevant to men’s health! Men are (in general) becoming much more conscious of their wellbeing which is great, but here’s a few areas to pay particular attention to:
Muscle Mass & Body Composition:
Maintaining a healthy body composition / building & keeping muscle mass (especially into old age) is soooo beneficial for men’s health. It can assist with ALL of the below mentioned problems! You do not need to join a gym or see a personal trainer (though I’d highly recommend this if you’re half keen & have access to one - it will help motivate you & keep you on track). There are many free body weight training resources online, & you can easily make your own weights / pick some up second hand. Just be careful with technique & do not start too heavy too quickly - build slowly to avoid injury! Twist a mate’s or your partner’s arm to train with you - you’ll both feel amazing & keep each other accountable. We live in a crazily sedentary world where everything has been made so easy for us - we no longer need to exert ourselves physically to survive & get things done on a daily basis, so it’s crucial to make up for that by structuring some planned exertion into your day!
Get this checked regularly - just keep an eye on it as there’s usually no symptoms until you drop dead or suffer a cardiovascular event! You can walk into almost any pharmacy & ask for a blood pressure test, or better still buy your own monitor & keep an eye on your whole family & your mates too! If yours is on the high side, my 3 top tips are: regular exercise, regular sauna use & regular meditation. If you add these 3 things into your week, there should never be any need for meds, or their side effects. Plus, you’ll have all the wonderful side effects from exercising, sauna-ing & meditating! Life-changing stuff. Get a monitor, get moving, sweating & sitting - your cardiovascular system will thank you! There are some great health benefits of using a sauna and great cardiovascular health help with the next focus area. If you’d like to purchase a home sauna but not sure on quality brands etc, happy to share my research as we've just invested in one - awaiting delivery now!
Libido & Sexual Health:
As a rule, when you’re healthy & feeling great, your libido is generally high, & your system functions pretty well. When you’re unwell / in pain / stressed / busy with life / not in the best shape, desire will naturally decrease. Nature is not silly - the last thing an unwell or struggling bloke needs is a pregnant wife & more mouths to feed! Your sexual energy can be a good indicator of your general vitality, your life-force. When your energy is strong you’ll have surplus, & it will naturally want to ‘flow over’. When your system is ageing, struggling to cope, when you’re feeling weary & drained, the last thing you want to do is keep spilling your vital fluids everywhere! Ancient Chinese & Indian medical systems recognised this & encouraged the preservation & transmutation of sexual energy via limiting / modifying sexual activity & especially ejaculation. Also recognised as useful practice in the sporting world by many coaches. Many modern resources are available if you’d like to find out more: The Way of the Superior Man is a great read on this. Also Think and Grow Rich the personal development classic by Napoleon Hill has a chapter on this. You can actually use your ‘transmuted sexual energy’ as ‘fuel’ for the rest of your energy needs - in business, in relationship, in sports.
Note: Medical issues that you’re unaware of can show up with or be accompanied by a sudden drop in libido (with no other apparent cause), so be mindful of this - sudden changes from your own ‘normal’ with no reason you can put your finger on, may mean it’s worth getting a check up. There are also many medications that will interfere with sexual function - including: antihistamines, anti-depressants & anti-psychotics, blood pressure meds & recreational drugs. (These can effect both male & female sexual function). And be aware also that cardiovascular disease & T2 diabetes will often impact the blood vessels responsible for sexual function - so refer to those sections for tips!)
Testosterone naturally declines with age, & libido will follow to some extent. Testosterone has many benefits other than boosting libido, so it’s worthwhile preserving / maximising your levels as you age.
If your testosterone is on the decline you may notice:
- decreased libido
- decline in energy levels-depression / low mood / weaker memory
- trouble with muscle building & maintenance
- reduced bone density
- increase in fat, especially abdominal area
This article has some good testosterone boosting / maintaining tips:
The 8 Best Supplements To Boost Testosterone Levels
Type 2 Diabetes:
So common - it’s actually the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, kicking butt over cancer & heart disease (though there are links between them all). Unfortunately it will likely be even more common as the youth of today age, thanks to our kid’s ultra-sedentary-device-centered lifestyles)! Type 2 diabetes actually used to be referred to as ‘adult onset’ or ’late onset’ diabetes, but not anymore because so many younger folks are showing signs & being diagnosed early! You can be super lucky & dodge the diabetes bullet if your genetics allow, but it’s just not worth chancing it - better to take precautions & act as though it’s in your family (you’ll be healthier for it anyway). The world we’ve grown up in & are living in is predisposing us all to diabetes. We move too little, we eat more than we need (esp of the sweet stuff), & we sleep too little & stress too much. So. Get your HbA1c & fasting blood glucose checked regularly, eat a ‘low carb’ diet & look after / build your muscle mass. Yes, eat a low carb diet - just because the typical Aussie diet is ridiculously high in carbs, for 99% of us it won’t hurt to cut back! If you’re training a lot, get the advice of a dietitian / personal trainer qualified in nutrition - but then again if you’re training a lot - you’re probably not in the high risk category! Find out more about insulin resistance (when you’re on the way to diabetes) & what to do.
1 in 8 Aussie men will apparently experience depression in their lives. So what is the difference between these men & the other 7? This is where it gets tricky….what exactly causes depression? Is it what happens to these men? No, because there are many men who’ve experienced awful things who do not become depressed. Is it their genes? No, because many men become depressed when there is no history of it & many men with a family history of depression do not become depressed. Is it the people / circumstances around them? No - you can be depressed in an amazing life situation & you can be happy in an awful situation. Is it their biochemistry? No, because brain chemistry is constantly changing & is influenced by many factors - there’s no solid research revealing depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
So what causes it? It’s usually some combination of the above factors working together, but at the end of the day when you’re depressed you don’t care so much what caused it - just how to fix it! And men pride themselves in being strong, in control of their emotions & fixing things - so when something emotionally-out of control like depression takes hold, it can get even more depressing! The key here is to seek help - recognise that:
a) you’re feeling a way that you don’t want to feel & that it’s affecting your life & the lives of those around you
b) there are plenty of ways to address that - it’s totally fixable
c) there are people who’s lives revolve around helping people with depression, they’d love to help you
d) they won’t help you unless they know you need help - reach out, find them
This general article goes into detail / provides more detail on depression in men (triggers, signs etc).
A lot of people find ‘The Work of Byron Katie’ a really helpful process to help dissolve negative stressful thoughts - great for both severe depression & anxiety but also for the mild day-to-day stuff we’re all dealing with. Well worth watching her YouTube material / reading her books / downloading the app if you struggle with any sort of mental health issue or just want to spend more of your life feeling awesome! Her process is super simple once you get the hang of it, & it will assist any human with any troubling thoughts - here’s a couple to watch to get you started:
If you're looking for diet tips for mental health try reading the following blog posts:
Foods That help with Depression
See blood pressure & diabetes sections above, if you look after your blood pressure & your blood sugar, there shouldn’t be too higher risk of cardiovascular disease. One thing I will add is, when your doctor orders a cholesterol check, always get them to add on a B12 & homocysteine check as well. And if they’re unsure how it’s related to your cardiovascular health, I’d find a new doctor or ask them to research it. This blog has some great dietary tips for healthy blood vessels.
Just eat more Blend11. Haha - I’m kidding - see advice in these 2 blog posts:
Blokes tend to take less care of their skin than us girls, & are often working / playing more outdoors. So regular skin checks are vital. A melanoma can spread extremely rapidly if not removed early enough, making it a tricky cancer to beat. But super easy if you catch it early - so don’t keep pushing back those skin checks & if ever there’s something changing / weird / abnormal / itchy - don’t delay, a timely check can literally save your life. If your job or sporting passion requires you to be out in the sun all the time, slip, slop (with natural sunscreen) & slap, make sure your diet is full of antioxidants & avoid trans fats (everyone should anyway, but esp important for skin health / sun protection). Astaxanthin is a great antioxidant supplement (algae derived) for sun protection too.