Irish men should be encouraged to take more responsibility for their health. The National Men’s Health Policy 2008-2013 from the Department of Health stated that Male life expectancy is 71 years old — five years lower than women. Men over 50 can be just as healthy, fit and active as younger guys. It may take a little more effort, but eating right, exercising regularly and getting your routine health screenings can keep you going strong.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Consider following the heart healthy Mediterranean Diet – which recommends healthy, tasty and nutritious foods. The plan includes lots of fruits, vegetables, olives, olive oil, legumes and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and wholemeal pasta. People who follow the Mediterranean Diet enjoy fish regularly, and there is low consumption of meat and meat products. The Mediterranean diet discourages the consumption of saturated fats and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), both of which contribute to heart disease, while spices and olive oil are used to turn simple dishes into culinary delights.
- Switch to healthier Fats. The total amount of fat you eat, whether high or low, isn’t really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat. The “bad” fats – saturated and trans fats, increase the risk for certain diseases. The “good” fats however – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, lower disease risk. The key to a healthy diet is to include more good fats such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna), seeds such as flaxseed and seed oils, olive oil, avocados, nuts (walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds) and also nut butters. Furthermore, it is important to limit saturated fats to a minimum by reducing red meat, dairy, vegetable oils, pastries, cakes, biscuits and fried foods. Omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fatty fish have many benefits for heart health. They have been shown to lower triglycerides, reduce cholesterol, regulate heart rate and make blood platelets less sticky, overall improving heart health considerably.
- Exercise is Essential to Good Health. Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, improve your energy levels and may help to relieve any stress or low mood that you might be feeling. With life increasingly busy, it is important to prioritise exercise by scheduling your work outs for the week ahead. At a minimum, aim for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. You should incorporate both aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, running, rowing, dance etc.) and strength training (weights/ dumbbell exercises, bodyweight strength training exercises e.g. plank, lunges, push ups, squats) a couple times a week. Aerobic exercise e.g. walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, running, rowing, dance etc. Find something you enjoy and Just Do It! Consider investing in a Fitbit or other smart watch – it really motivates you to move!
- Maintain a Healthy Waist: If your waist measures more than 40 inches around, indicates a substantially increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A healthy waist circumference for men is 37 inches or under. The best way to shed excess belly fat for most men is simply to cut calories from your diet and exercise more. Ask your doctor to help you develop a weight-loss plan that’s safe and effective for you.
- Stop Smoking: Smoking is the biggest contributory factor to the main killer cancer, especially lung cancer. Studies show that it’s linked to a whopping 80% – 90% of lung cancer deaths. Smoking is also a major risk factor for heart disease, as it contributes to hardening of the arteries. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of cancer, heart- and lung disease. So by stopping smoking, you will not only boost your own health – but also protect the well-being of your non-smoking loved ones.
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption. Irish men have been known to binge drink at weekends and regularly consume a lot more than the recommended 2-3 units. So, if you drink, drink in true moderation: two or three units at a session and no more than a couple of nights a week. Cutting down on your alcohol consumption has a wide range of benefits. Lower blood sugar, better sleep, boosted immunity, more energy, weight loss, and reduced cholesterol are just a few examples! Today, there is a wide range of alcohol free beers, wine and spirits, making it easier to socialise while reducing your alcohol intake.
- Get 7-8 hours of Sleep: A good night’s sleep is vital to your overall well-being, immunity, and mental health. Too little sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, and a lack of energy and enthusiasm. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be very calming before bedtime, as can a hot Epsom salt bath infused with lavender essential oil. Key nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid are also important for restful sleep.
- Supplement your Diet: It may not be possible to get all the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health through diet alone. Below are some supplements that may help
- A Multi-Vitamin-Mineral is “nutritional insurance”. Terranova Living Multivitamin Man has been specifically tailored for men and its formula is enriched with magnifood blend including Aronia, Beetroot Juice, Ginger & Grape Seed with 29 nutrients including Zinc, Magnesium, Lycopene & Vitamin E to support men’s unique needs.
- Omega-3 fish oil, which is high in EPA and DHA, is vital for heart, brain, joint and eye health. Your brain needs 250 mg DHA to maintain adequate brain function, so make sure your preferred fish oil contains enough DHA. Fish oil has been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides, therefore making it my top choice for keeping your heart healthy. Surprisingly, a massive 89% of Irish people are not consuming sufficient oily fish in their diet, so often there is a need to take a good quality omega-3 fish oil. Make sure the fish oil you choose is 100% pure, natural and stable.
- Co-Enzyme-Q10: Coenzyme Q10 has been shown in many studies to reduce blood pressure with no side effects. Your body produces coenzyme Q10; it helps cells manage your body’s energy supply and acts as a powerful antioxidant. But as you get older, production decreases, so its vital you top up with a good supplement.
- Green Supplement – let’s face it, we don’t eat enough vegetables – so consider adding a teaspoon of chlorella or spirulina into a smoothie or protein shake to obtain extra phytonutrients.
- Ginger and Curcumin: These healthy spices are a must for good health. They provide many phytochemicals to help keep your body functioning optimally.
- Probiotics to replenish friendly bacteria and keep your gut healthy.
- Get Checked: It’s really important to visit your GP at least once a year to get bloods checked, blood pressure, physical check up etc. For men, it is vital to do regular prostate screening.
Take Charge of Your Health
It is as important at any age to take charge of your health. The good news is that it’s never too late.
Prioritize your own wellbeing by developing healthy habits that include delicious and nutrient-dense food, regular workouts, proper sleep, routine health check-ups, and supplements to ensure that you get enough of the vitamins and minerals you need.
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