We know that men and women are different. Our hormone structures are different, our physiological response to stress is different and the things we need to reach optimal health are also different.
I like to describe the primary difference between men and women with an analogy to explain their hormonal systems. Men are like a Toyota Hilux – they are reliable and go and go and go until one day the engine explodes. In this analogy, the engine explosion is like having a heart attack or being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
On the flip side, women are like a formula one sports car. When operating well, the things women can do are amazing. They can grow another human and give sustenance to their offspring. But it doesn’t take much for the finely tuned engine to be thrown out of balance. Think hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, stress, anxiety or weight fluctuations.
For men, the health concerns that they are specifically prone to, such as heart attacks or heart diseases, can come out of nowhere. Prostate cancer, which is the number one registered cancer for men, and type two diabetes are two conditions that have a knock on effect to other issues for the men we see at the BePure clinics.
"We commonly see issues with low energy, decreased performance, low libido, pre-diabetes and high cholesterol or triglycerides; increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease."
The first tip I would give to improving health for men is to focus on stabilising blood sugar levels. This is particularly vital due to the increased risk of type two diabetes for men. Stabilising blood sugar levels is critical for managing insulin production and managing, preventing or reversing type two diabetes.
"The first tip I would give to improving health for men is to focus on stabilising blood sugar levels."
We all probably know what it’s like to feel like we are on a blood sugar rollercoaster. You feel ravenous one, two or three hours after eating a substantial meal and need to get food quickly. So you grab the nearest thing you can find; often sugar or refined carbohydrates. Immediately your energy picks up again and you’re fine for another one, two or three hours until the cycle repeats itself.
Unstable blood sugar levels are responsible for those 3pm chocolate or lollie cravings and usually are the result of eating a lunch that is unsuitable for your needs.
When we eat, food is broken down into its macronutrient parts and released into our bloodstream for “processing”. Carbs break down to their simpler forms; glucose, fructose or lactose, proteins break down into amino acids and fats become lipids or essential fatty acids. Our clever bodies release insulin in response to this incoming food. More insulin is released to deal with carbs but some insulin response is also triggered for proteins and a lesser response again for fats.
If you eat a food and your body can’t "find a home for it" in your cells or glycogen stores, it will be stored as bodily fat. All of these actions require more insulin to be released. Therefore, the more insulin your body needs to produce, the more body fat you will store. Consistently eating - or being on the blood sugar rollercoaster - requires your body to produce insulin with very little break. The right food for you will be processed in your body with very little difficulty, therefore requiring less insulin.
"The right diet for you is the one that keeps you the fullest the longest."
Some people thrive on a carbohydrate rich diet. For these people, carbs will keep them full for longer periods of time and the same food for them will produce a smaller insulin response than in people who run better on fats or protein. Ultimately, the right diet for you is the one that keeps you the fullest the longest. A good tip for starting is to include low GI carbohydrates, protein and a quality fat with every meal. The fats will prevent your blood sugar levels spiking, while the protein will keep you full and satisfied between meals. I talk about this more in my video, "Eating Right for You".
We’ve also written a previous blog on how to eat right for you, or you can watch my video below. It shows you how to figure out which foods work for your unique genetic makeup. Understanding how to balance your blood sugar levels is one of the most critical things men can do to reduce their risk of type two diabetes while improving energy and mood.
Exercise is important for men for two reasons. The first has to do with improving the function of their liver and the second has to do with improving hormone balance, particularly testosterone.
"Exercise clears the liver by removing fats and sugars out of the bloodstream which then allows the liver to release some of the stored fats and glycogen."
Exercise clears the liver by removing fats and sugars out of the bloodstream which then allows the liver to release some of the stored fats and glycogen. This frees up space, stabilises blood sugar levels due to decreased insulin production and can help with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Read this article to find out which type of exercise is right for you.
Exercise also helps to burn testosterone. This is very very important because testosterone is used in men’s fight or flight response, that is when their body perceives danger in times of physical or psychological stress, including exercise. If testosterone is not used it converts to oestrogen which promotes fat storage and in men this can result in “man boobs” or a spare tyre around the midsection. If too much oestrogen is in the body, you become oestrogen dominant. You can read here about the effects of oestrogen dominance and what to do about it.
The next tip I have is to support male health with trace minerals, especially selenium. One study tested selenium supplementation against a control group and after an 8 year period it was found that participants taking selenium had half the incidence of bowel and lung cancers while prostate cancer reduced by over 60%.
The best dietary source of selenium is brazil nuts. Some other great sources are tuna, sardines, beef, chicken, eggs and spinach.
Gluten is a food that is proinflammatory and I recommend avoiding it for all people. It is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and is what gives bread its stretch.
"Gluten is a food that is proinflammatory and I recommend avoiding it for all people."
The consumption of gluten stimulates the production of a protein called zonulin in everyone who eats it. Zonulin is currently the only known regulator of the tight junctions between the cell walls of the digestive tract. The wall of the digestive tract is meant to serve as a barrier between us and the outside world. However, zonulin can loosen these tight junctions, allowing undigested food particles and other inflammatory particles to pass into the bloodstream. This is known as leaky gut syndrome.
For male health, the problem with chronic inflammation within the body is due to the link between inflammation and heart disease. In the late 1990s a group of German scientists showed a causative link between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Removing gluten from your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease.
"We encourage the consumption of quality carbohydrates from vegetables and soaked gluten-free whole grains."
Contrary to common criticism of a gluten free diet that removing gluten removes a whole food group, we still encourage the consumption of quality carbohydrates from vegetables and soaked gluten-free whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and millet.
We all need a diet rich in healthy Omega 3 fats to support mood and hormonal health as well as lowering inflammation. This is especially true for men because of the predisposition to heart disease. One study found that doubling blood plasma levels of Omega 3 decreased the risk of heart attack by 90%.
"One study found that doubling blood plasma levels of Omega 3 decreased the risk of heart attack by 90%."
We need both Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids. The word “essential” means our bodies cannot produce it, it has to come from food or supplement sources. The problem is in the modern world the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats is too high. When we don’t have the right balance of these essential fatty acids we can get systemic inflammation, chronic illness, hormonal imbalances, increased cardiovascular risk and decreased mood.
The modern diet contains a lot of processed food. This usually means we are consuming far more vegetable oils than we should. Vegetable oils and conventionally raised meat and caged eggs are all high in Omega 6 fatty acids and increase our consumption of Omega 6 foods.
Foods that are rich in Omega 3 include small oily fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel. You could eat these foods - and we highly encourage it - but molecularly distilled and purified, fish oil can have high concentrations of DHA and EPA, at levels that would be difficult to obtain from eating fish alone.
Unfortunately, our oceans are not as clean as they used to be and the risk of mercury contamination is high when eating a lot of fish for concentrated Omega 3 benefits. Getting your Omega 3’s from a quality, filtered source is possibly a safer option. You can read more about fish oils here.
As you can see, there are a number of things men can do to help lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes while improving energy and health overall. It’s important to be aware of the conditions which are more common for men so we can take preventative measures to protect against them. The tips I’ve included in this article are general and simple to put into place. If you have a family history of these medical conditions or have a diagnosis yourself, we always recommend implementing these tips alongside a tailored plan from your healthcare professional.
Source: Ben Warren from BePure.