Happy Movember - it's Men's Health Month!
Did you know that men live, on average, 5 years shorter than women? And did you know that this is not due to biology? It’s by choice. And it’s true worldwide.
Image source: My Year Without Clothes Shopping
“But why would men choose to live shorter lives?” you ask. Well, to be fair, they probably don’t know they’re making that choice…and there lies the problem.
It’s about a lack of awareness of men’s health. Maybe it’s a feeling of “I can deal with that stuff later, when I’m older”. Or “It’s just a small thing, I don’t need to get it checked out”. Or maybe, it’s not wanting to be the only one looking for vegetables while everyone else tucks into their burgers and fries.
Image source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Whatever the reason, the fact is that this neglect of men’s health is leading to higher instances of disease, and yes, shorter lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Guys, you are not invincible. Taking care of yourself now is important in order to take care of future you, as well as the people who rely on you. And what better time to take charge of your health than in Movember? Growing a moustache for Movember may be fun and all (a break from shaving duties? Yes please!). But what if you went a little bit further this time and actually took steps to live a healthier (and ultimately longer, stronger) life?
Image source: Men's Health
An easy place to start would be with your diet. Sometimes it feels like the only time men’s diets are talked about is in the context of bodybuilding – you know, 10 egg whites on a slab of salmon washed down with a protein shake. But men’s bodies are far more complex than that. Here are 5 nutrients that are especially important to men's health, and how to get them into a manly diet!
Image source: www.nutrilett.no
Everyone knows it’s good to eat your veggies – but this is especially true for guys. Colorectal cancer (cancer of the large intestine) is the most common cancer in men in many parts of Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore. And we all know that a diet high in fibre can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
While women need fibre too, women are less prone to colorectal cancer than men. So guys, for the sake of your digestive tract, think twice before skipping over your veggies and fruits. You can also get excellent fibre from whole grains (granola, anyone?), beans, legumes, and nuts.
Image source: WebMD
While it may not be necessary to overdose on protein (see bodybuilding example above), it is undeniable that men do need more protein from their diets than women. Men, by nature (and testosterone), generally have more lean body mass than women. Yes, even the men who don’t regularly lift weights. And this muscle mass requires more protein to maintain.
This isn’t a license to buy all kinds of expensive protein shakes, by the way. Getting enough protein from the diet is simple – meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy are all great sources of protein. But how about trying some plant proteins as well? Nuts, beans, legumes, and quinoa are all amazing options. Added bonus: these plant proteins are also packed with great fibre (see point #1!).
Image source: Everyday Health
With great muscle comes great responsibility..er, I mean potassium. Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for proper muscle function – in short, your muscles need potassium to contract and relax properly. Potassium is also key in keeping your blood pressure within check – and this is especially important for men, as hypertension affects men more than women.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts & beans, dairy, and meat are all sources of potassium. Not all sources of potassium are equal – there are some foods even within a food group that are better sources of potassium than others. A quick Google search can give you a comprehensive list – but a good rule of thumb would be to have two servings each of fruits and veggies a day. Bonus (again): fibre!
Image source: Rodale's Organic Life
Lycopene is one of the colour pigments that gives red-orange foods their vibrant colour. It is a powerful antioxidant, and is thought to be especially protective against prostate cancer. Lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, goji berries, and apricots.
Although many health food stores sell lycopene in supplement form, as with other antioxidants, you should consume the food as a whole to get the best effects. Unlike other antioxidants that are destroyed by heat, however, cooking a lycopene-containing food actually makes the lycopene easier to absorb – so cooking those carrots is actually more beneficial than eating them raw in a salad!
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Osteoporosis is often considered an “old woman’s disease” – and it’s true that it affects women more than men. However, it is crucial to note that the older you get, the more fragile your bones become – this is true for everyone. And as lifespans increase (as we hope it will), ensuring that your bones are strong enough to withstand the test of time becomes ever more important.
Calcium is the main mineral that is deposited in bones, giving them their hard texture and strength. It is also used in many other body processes. If insufficient calcium is taken in the diet, your body ‘steals’ calcium from your bones – resulting in a quicker loss of bone density over time.
Dairy products are the easiest source of calcium in the diet. However, dairy products do not regularly feature in Asian diets. High calcium alternatives include fortified soymilk, tofu, ikan bilis (anchovies), sardines, and green leafy vegetables.
Image source: Eat Right Ontario
That’s not so difficult, is it? Guys, do “mo” for men's health than grow a moustache this Movember! It’s never too early, nor too late.
And don’t forget to encourage the guys in your life to make a change for the healthier! Head over to our Facebook page to see what we have planned in support of men's health this Movember – it involves you, a friend, and some FREE granola!