Are you a man? Do you care about one? Do you know what health problems they have, or could have, or how to tackle them?… Natural Lifestyle finds out.
What all men need to know…
From an early age, men need to start taking good care of themselves. Research studies have highlighted stark differences in men and women’s health, and it makes a surprising read. Men are slightly more likely to smoke than women, men are more likely than women to be overweight, men are about three times more likely to kill themselves than women, men are more likely than women to drink alcohol excessively and men are more likely to use illegal drugs. But why?
Is it that men are still brought up to believe that they must be strong and tough, and behave as if they are indestructible? What’s more, men don’t need to see a doctor to get contraception, have smears, see a midwife or have mammograms. And even when they do want to see a doctor, most GP’s surgeries only open at times when men are likely to be at work. Are we surprised, then, that many men turn to natural health products to manage health conditions?
Whilst this should be no substitute for proper medical care, there are some useful remedies and recommendations that could help.
Looking after your heart…
If you’ve got a family history of heart trouble, it makes sense to take good care of your own. More exercise, a healthy diet and stopping smoking are essential for heart health. Nutritional supplements based on antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, selenium, magnesium and sometimes plant extracts such as quercetin or pycnogenol, which guard against free radical build-up (a precursor to development of atherosclerotic plaques) should be considered. If you have high blood pressure, don’t forget low sodium products as re placers for table salt, and advise men to jazz up their diets with a few spices just to keep food interesting. Other formulations that might be recommended to you by a healthcare practitioner include:
- A supplement containing vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid will reduce heart disease risk (by keeping levels to homocysteine in the blood low).
- Vitamin E (at least 400iu daily) should be taken to reduce risk of heart attack in those with established heart trouble.
- Olive oil capsules were launched onto the market about four years ago and help displace high intakes of saturated fats in the blood, as well as decreasing “bad” LDL cholesterol, and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. Other options for cholesterol balance include: red yeast rice, beta sitosterol, octosanol, wild yam and artichoke.
- Fish oils at around SOOOmg daily (in split intakes of 1000mg) can also be chosen and linseeds also have a good ratio of omega 3 oils, so should be eaten in the diet, as should soya products, which provide isoflavones which are heart protective.
Never forget your nethers!
When it comes to prostate and sexual health, it really is important that men realise that modern lifestyles and diet have been taking their toll. Lack of exercise (which promotes healthy circulation, a factor in reproductive health) and poor diet has led to what the papers called the “great sperm disaster”. Sperm counts are getting lower, and the emphasis should shift from formulations which promise men they’ll reach new heights in the bedroom, to an overall health and diet plan including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic foods, plenty of nuts, pulses and the famous pumpkin seeds which are rich in minerals especially zinc for healthy sperm formation and prostate health).
Take a look at what manufacturers have to offer:
- Some formulations are broad spectrum, including all major vitamins and minerals for general health, with enhanced levels of zinc, vitamin E, possibly B vitamins for energy, antioxidant nutrients and amino acids such as arginine and glycine.(These nutrients are often recommended in higher amounts for infertility).
- Look for products that may be specific to reproductive health, including herbs such as Africanum pygeum (frequency of urination and inflammation), ginger or ginkgo biloba (circulation), Korean ginseng (sexual performance – especially erectile dysfuntion).
- Many products are marketed for prostate health in later life for urinary tract infections or Benign Prostatic Hyerplasia (think of Saw Palmetto, which can be used for male urinary discomfort).
- Soya supplements may be specifically marketed for helping to maintain healthy prostate, as research shows a clear link between intake of isoflavones and prostate cancer risk. These formulations are often based on Red Clover.
Anxiety, stress and depression
At any one time in the UK, 45% of those being treated for anxiety are men, and 40% of those for depression.
Natural therapies can work wonders for stress-related conditions, taking a holistic approach to stress, anxiety and depression, including aromatherapy, acupuncture, t’ai chi, reflexology and are sure to recognise how popular medical herbalism has been for these conditions (think of the role of St John’s Wort, Kava Kava and ginseng to name just three). Nutritional programmes where caffeine is cut out (recommend caffeine free drinks), plenty of slow-release carbohydrates (recommend beans and pulses) and an all-round healthier diet (plenty of organic produce, fruit and vegetables) will help. There are many “hectic lifestyle”, “busy people’s” formulations – which are essentially designed for stress (though not allowed to say it) that you can suggest and will often include increased levels of B vitamins and antioxidants. As well as tackling the stress itself, manage a poor diet, which is often a knock-on effect from lack of interest in, or time to prepare good meals. Flower remedies may be used for emotional/mental aspects of stress, anxiety and depression and Australian Bush Flower Essences can be recommended for people who are always over-committed and who need to mate time for themselves and their relaxation.
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