Improving Men's Health at Any Age
Age is subjective, and largely in the mind—really!
There are two competing ideas about aging that men encounter as they get beyond their 40s:
- Aging is a brutal process that isn’t for sissies. This is a myth largely promulgated by the health and nursing home insurance industries. It truly is a myth.
- 60 is the new 40.
The good news is: You get to choose which idea you will embrace. Yes, it may seem that nature built planned obsolescence into our DNA. But a few simple tricks can bypass this programming. After all, many of us have owned cars that we kept going beyond the 100,000-mile mark. And our bodies really aren’t that different. All it takes it regular maintenance and the occasional tune-up.
Most important things to optimize for your health:
- Nutrition and energy
Let’s take a look at each of these areas individually and discuss how to optimize them.
1. Importance of sleep for men
Until 130 years ago, the average American got about 9 hours of sleep per night. Then Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Today, we’re down to an average 6¾ hours per night, which is like a 25 percent sleep “pay cut” for our bodies.
Making time to sleep is just part of the solution. You also need to manage stress and irritations, so you can relax.
For example, many of us watch the news, but these days, “news” content is often geared not to inform, but to keep you glued to the screen—so the network can rake in more advertising dollars. If you find watching the news enjoyable, by all means, keep watching. But if you find that it just makes you irritated or anxious, turn it off and use that time for sleep. You’ll feel much better, I guarantee it.
Stress can adversely affect our hypothalamic sleep center. To overcome this, a few simple herbs can leave you sleeping like a baby. My favorites (look for an herbal combination sleep product): valerian, hops, passionflower, Jamaica dogwood, and essential oil extracts such as mandarin, lavender, and lemon balm.
Another common sleep problem for men, especially if you’re overweight, is sleep apnea. A simple clue is that you snore like a jet fighter at night, and fall asleep easily during the day. Ask your wife if you snore and stop breathing a lot at night, especially when lying on your back. If you find yourself getting elbowed in the ribs nightly, that’s a big clue.
A simple solution is to sew or pin a tennis ball (you can put it in a baggie) to the small of your pajama back. This way, lying on your back will be uncomfortable, and you’ll automatically turn on your side while sleeping, avoiding both apnea and getting elbowed by your wife. If daytime fatigue and somnolence persist, ask your doctor for a sleep study.
2. Optimizing Male Hormones
For men, the key hormone to optimize is testosterone. I’m not talking about the bodybuilder poison, but safe, bioidentical testosterone.
Symptoms of low testosterone include erectile dysfunction, lack of motivation, and even depression. It can also be accompanied by a mix of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes (called metabolic syndrome), and weight gain around the midsection. All of these issues can be helped by seeing a holistic doctor who can prescribe bioidentical testosterone cream or pellets. Studies show that this not only improves sexual function and libido, but also brings down cholesterol, high blood pressure, and elevated blood sugars.
For testosterone testing, ignore the normal range. If your testosterone is less than 500 ng/dl, and you have any of the problems noted above, I would consider trying bioidentical testosterone.
3. Improving Nutrition and Energy
It’s nearly impossible to get the optimal level of vitamins and minerals from the American diet, especially because food processing removes many of them from the final product. For this reason, virtually everybody should take a good multivitamin.
Each morning, I take a dose of Enzymatic Therapy’s Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder with an added scoop of D-Ribose powder. As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats this combination for optimizing health and vitality. Two published studies showed that this combination increases energy by an average of 61 percent after three weeks, which is nothing short of astounding.
As for diet, don’t forget that chocolate, coffee, and tea are health foods, chock-full of nutrients. Salt is okay too (unless you have heart or kidney failure). We now know that a salt-restricted diet lowers blood pressure by only about three millimeters. Instead of restricting salt, the best prescription for high blood pressure is to increase your potassium intake, along with magnesium and vitamin D. Your multivitamin should contain the latter two. Potassium can be found in bananas, avocados, and tomato products.
Overall, aim to eat a whole foods diet. There is no one diet that is best for everybody, so eat what leaves you feeling the best overall. What is critical is to cut out the excessive sugar intake from sodas and fruit juices. And if your diet is healthy overall, it doesn’t hurt to indulge yourself once in a while.
4. Improving Digestion
Got acid reflux? The problem isn’t excess acid, but poor digestion. When you can’t digest your food, it starts to reflux and then any acid hurts. Not only do prescription acid blockers fail to address the cause of the problem, they also have been shown to increase the risk of death, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease when taken long-term.
Consider completely eliminating gluten. Many anecdotal reports show that simply removing gluten from you diet can have a dramatic effect on acid reflux—I've known people who suffered from acid reflux, only to have their symptoms resolve within days (yes, days!) of following a gluten-free diet.
Improve your digestion by taking plant-based enzymes and using a vinegar-based salad dressing with larger meals. Also take DGL (a form of the herb licorice) for six weeks, and then as needed to heal your stomach.
5. Boosting Mood
Most mood problems will go away when the above areas are addressed. But if they persist, try a natural alternative to antidepressants. Research has shown that a special form of curcumin (BCM-95), 750 mg, 2 times per day, is more effective than Prozac after six weeks—without the sexual side effects.
6. Addressing Prostate Problems
Prostate enlargement can cause both the frequent need to urinate and/or slow urine flow. To support prostate health, make sure you are getting enough magnesium (200 mg per day); zinc (15 mg per day); vitamin A (2,000–5,000 IUs daily); and the amino acids alanine, glycine, and glutamic acid (500–2,000 mg a day). Saw palmetto (160 mg twice daily) is also extremely helpful for strengthening the prostate.
What Health Tests Do Men Need?
Unless you have specific problems, I recommend a blood pressure, blood sugar, and glaucoma screening every two years or so, and a colonoscopy every 10 years. Many other “routine” men’s screening tests—including cholesterol, PSA prostate testing, and even the dreaded digital rectal exam—are being shown to cause more harm than good.
And that’s it. Enjoying optimal health is just that easy—at any age. All you need is a tune-up. The free quiz at TuneUpDocs.com makes it easy to pinpoint the areas where you need to focus, and it can also help you find a holistic doctor to get you started.
Written by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD for Better Nutrition and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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