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June is Men’s Health Month. Currently, men are dying an average of five years earlier than women and lead 9 out of 10 of the top causes of death. Nutrition plays a role in disease prevention in six of the 10 leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

In this article, I’ve included nutrition advice for warding off many of the diseases. In general, shifting your protein sources from land animals to fish, seafood, shellfish, and plant protein can extend your life. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that men who favored animal protein over plant-based protein in their diet had a higher risk of death in a 20-year follow-up than men whose intake was more balanced in terms of their sources of protein.

Protect Your Heart

Replace saturated fats - found in coconut oil, beef, cheese, and butter - with mono and polyunsaturated fats. Sources of healthy fat include avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Increase intake of foods high in soluble fiber. Some of the best sources are beans, legumes, cooked oats, oranges, pears, apples, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Regular exercise and weight loss can also reduce cholesterol.

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

Research has consistently shown that when people reduce sodium, blood pressure drops. On average, Americans consume 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. Experts suggest that reducing that number to 2,300 milligrams would prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes a year. Check food labels for sodium content and pick out products with lower levels. Then, balance sodium intake by increasing your intake of high potassium foods. Do a web search on the DASH diet for more information.

Work Towards a Healthy Weight

Excess weight is associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Extreme diets are not sustainable. Focus on increasing your intake of vegetables while decreasing after dinner snacking and alcohol consumption. Resign from the clean plate club and move more.

Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes

Easy-to-digest carbs eaten alone can cause spikes in blood glucose. Frequent spikes can lead to insulin resistance, belly fat accumulation, and eventually prediabetes. If you already have diabetes, be sure to keep your blood sugar levels under control. People with diabetes have a heightened risk of heart disease. High blood sugar levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Reduce Cancer Risk

Cancer is the second leading cause of death for men with lung, prostate and colorectal cancers topping the list. A heart-healthy diet also reduces overall cancer risk. Improved nutrition may specifically help minimize the risk of prostate cancer. For a healthy prostate, incorporate cooked tomatoes (preferably cooked with olive oil) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) into many of your weekly meals.

Keep Your Kidneys Functioning

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are the major risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Though the DASH diet was initially developed to lower high blood pressure, recent research has shown that people who follow the DASH eating plan are less likely to develop kidney disease.

Seek Support and Share

A registered dietitian is not only a trusted resource for information on healthy diets but can also be a coach to help in the journey toward better health and long life. If you are a female reader, honor the men in your life by sharing this nutrition article.

Nancy Teeter is a registered dietitian and SaddleBrooke resident. She loves sharing her nutrition knowledge with readers.