How men can add years to their life 

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How men can add years to their life 

Let’s face it- we’re all going to die someday.  But the good news is starting today there are ways to minimize our risk of developing certain diseases that get us in the end.  For men, this is particularly vital as males are already at a disadvantage compared to women in terms of longevity.  Women still live longer than most men in the United States with an average lifespan between 80 to 83 years old.  Men in America can expect to live to between 75 and 78 years of age, depending on where they live.

Obviously gender is out of our control but men can take steps to help possibly prevent or at least minimize their risk of developing the top 5 major causes of death in men.  By making the necessary changes to diet or lifestyle, a man can add years to his life and life to his years with better overall health and longevity.  Here’s how:

1.     Heart Disease

Heart disease is an umbrella term that includes heart failure, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, angina, and other heart-related infections, irregularities, and birth defects.  According to the American Heart Association, more than one in three men will develop heart disease.  The leading cause of heart attacks in men is coronary heart disease which is when the arteries going to the heart become narrow and hardened compromising adequate blood flow.

How to prevent it:

·      Do not smoke or use tobacco.  This is associated with a higher risk of heart disease

·      Have blood lipids checked yearly.  This includes total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL or “good” cholesterol, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol

·      Have regular checks of blood pressure

·      Reach and maintain a healthy body weight

·      Follow a Mediterranean-style eating plan.  Consume each day plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and other foods high in fiber and low in artery-clogging saturated and trans fats.

·      Have a consistent, regular exercise program at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes that focuses on cardiovascular health along with weight and strength training.

2.     Cancer

The five most common cancers in men include prostate, colon, lung, bladder, and melanoma.  Prevention is the best defense against cancer.  Men can be proactive reducing their risk by getting a yearly physical and knowing their family history of cancer. 

How to prevent it:

·      Not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke

·      Reduce exposure as much as possible to air pollution and to chemicals at work or home

·      Eat cancer fighting foods of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds

·      Be physically active

·      Limit alcohol use to no more than 2 drinks a day.  Higher alcohol consumption has been associated with a higher incidence of colon and lung cancer

·      Wear sunscreen every day and do a self-body check of skin each month to spot any changes

·      Get regular cancer screening tests that include colonoscopy, prostate exams, and skin cancer

3.     Chronic lower respiratory diseases

The third leading cause of premature mortality in men is chronic lower respiratory diseases or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  The easiest thing a man can do to prevent COPD is to never take up smoking of cigarettes, cigars or pipes and to avoid secondhand smoke.  Other causes of chronic lower respiratory diseases may include airborne pollution such as radon, asbestos and car exhaust.

How to prevent it:

·      Don’t smoke or take steps to quit

·      Avoid secondhand smoke

·      Avoid exposure to airborne pollutants as much as possible including dust and chemical fumes

4.     Stroke

Like most middle-aged men, few guys worry about having a stroke.  Even though strokes are more likely to occur in a man over the age of 65, they can still happen at any age.  Strokes in men are also more likely to be fatal and strike men earlier than women.  A stroke is when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.  When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.  When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost. 

How to prevent it:

·      Have blood pressure checked regularly.  If high, it can be treated to lower the risk for stroke and heart disease

·      Reduce sodium intake to help reduce high blood pressure

·      If a man has diabetes, he needs to keep his blood glucose levels in control

·      Avoid smoking or take steps to quit

·      Consume no more than 2 drinks of alcohol in one day

·      Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats 

5.     Type 2 diabetes

By the time most people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they have already had the disease for some time.  For men, they may have experienced erectile dysfunction or tingling or numbness in their legs or feet that were possible clues of the disease.  Diabetes is a disease in which the body has trouble using the sugar glucose from food as fuel.  When this happens, glucose can build up in the bloodstream instead of going into the body’s cells to be used as energy. This can result in various health complications from vision loss to kidney failure to heart issues.

How to prevent it:

·      Reach and maintain a healthy body weight

·      Ask physician to check his hemoglobin A1C.  This is a simple blood test showing the average level of blood sugar or glucose over the last 2 to 3 months. 

·      Follow a carbohydrate controlled meal plan recommended by a registered dietitian

·      Get in a least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise to help use up excess glucose and for weight control

·      Reduce stress by having a plan when stress strikes – meditate, go for a walk, take deep breaths or practice stretching using yoga or Pilates moves