On average, men die five-years younger than women. Because June is Men’s Health Month, this month, learn about nutrition habits known to ward off six of the ten leading causes of men’s death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s 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.
Enjoy Good Health Longer
First, shifting protein sources from land animals to fish, seafood, shellfish, and plant protein can extend men’s health-span. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that men whose dietary habits favored animal protein over plant-based protein had a higher risk of death in a 20-year follow-up than men whose intake was more balanced in terms of their protein sources.
Protect Your Heart
Replace saturated fats—found in coconut oil, beef, cheese, and butter—with mono and polyunsaturated fats found in avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. To lower cholesterol, incorporate foods high in soluble fiber, and some of the best sources are beans, legumes, cooked oats, oranges, pears, apples, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Regular exercise and weight loss can also promote healthy cholesterol levels.
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, and experts suggest that reducing that number to 2,300 milligrams would prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes each year. Check food labels for sodium content and pick out products with lower levels. Then, balance sodium intake by increasing foods high in potassium. 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. A study at Arizona State University found that getting up from one’s seat and moving around each hour improved numerous health markers.
Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes
Easy-to-digest carbs eaten alone can cause spikes in blood glucose, and frequent spikes can lead to insulin resistance, belly fat accumulation, and prediabetes. If you already have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels under control because people with diabetes have a heightened risk of heart disease. Also, 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 reduces overall cancer risk, and improved nutrition may help minimize prostate cancer risk. For a healthy prostate, incorporate cooked tomatoes (preferably cooked with olive oil) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) into several 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.
Nancy Teeter is a Registered Dietitian and a SaddleBrooke resident. Though she is mostly retired, she is passionate about sharing her nutrition knowledge with others. This article should not replace advice from your medical provider.