If an aspect of your health is concerning you, the logical first step is to go to a doctor.
However, not everyone does. While men and women have very different factors to consider that affect their health, there’s one outside issue that divides them: women go to the doctors more readily than men do1.
A 2019 study found that only 50% of men surveyed engage in preventative care2. The reasons vary from accessibility to the fact that 41% of respondents were told “men don’t complain about their health” when they were growing up.
When it comes to health, information is key: knowing what you’re most likely to be up against means knowing how to protect yourself. We recently wrote about the areas of health that women need to focus on, and in this article, we’ll be doing the same for men.
Read on for some simple, targeted, and healthy changes that you can make to protect yourself against some of the most common issues that disproportionately affect you (or the men in your life!)
1. Immune Health
Your immune system is one of the most important parts of your health, as it plays an important role in protecting us against infection and illness3. There’s bad news on that front if you’re male: your immune system is thought to be naturally weaker than that of women4.
That’s a problem, considering your immune system plays a part in more than just keeping away the fabled ‘man cold’—it neutralizes infections and helps to battle harmful environmental substances5.
That said, keeping a healthy immune system is important regardless of gender. There’s a number of dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to help support it, including a few common suggestions for good health in general:
- Get enough exercise (around half an hour per day)
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid stress6.
And then, the famous answer to protecting your immune system: ensuring there is enough Vitamin C in your diet, which is an essential micronutrient that helps to both prevent and treat infections7.
Supplements like Ester-C® may help to maintain immune function.
2. Heart Health
Research has found that heart attacks are twice as common in men8 than women throughout life, and heart disease is the leading cause of death9 in men over the age of 45. Fortunately, there’s plenty of good lifestyle choices you can make to keep your heart strong and healthy.
Aerobic exercise is one of them. A number of studies10 (and a 1996 report from the US Surgeon General11) have established a link between a higher rate of cardiovascular events and sedentary lifestyles. Aim for around half an hour of moderate physical activity every day—although there are many more reasons to keep physically active beyond your heart health12.
On the other end of the spectrum, smoking can be a significant detriment to your heart. You’ll likely have heard plenty of reasons not to smoke, but here are a few more: nicotine constricts blood vessels and carbon monoxide can damage them, and heart attacks are more common in smokers than non-smokers13.
One other simple thing you might do to support your heart now is to make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats in your diet: Omega-3 fatty acids may benefit heart health by contributing to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke and heart failure14. A supplement like Full Spectrum OmegaTM which contains these fatty acids may help to support your cardiovascular health.
3. Joint Health
Conditions like osteoarthritis, which happens when the cartilage in our joints breaks down and wears away, can be debilitating.
You might think of arthritis sufferers as being older, but that might depend on whether they’re male or female: osteoarthritis is more common in men under 45 but more common in women over 45. Either way, joint pain can be a serious detractor for quality of life15, so it should be a consideration of any well-planned healthy lifestyle.
One important factor for keeping your joints healthy is hydration. The cartilage in our joints is around 80% water, and when we get dehydrated, our bodies might leech that water16.
Smoking can also cause dehydration, but there are more joint-related reasons to keep yourself smoke-free. Smoking also causes ‘bad inflammation’ throughout the body, which can hamper joint health. You can learn more about that in our article on inflammation here.
If you already have issues with your joints, you might benefit from a supplement. Sisu No. 7 helps to reduce joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis in as little as 7 days.
4. Liver Health
The liver is a vital organ that plays a role in a number of important functions, from neutralizing poisonous substances to—probably the liver’s most famous function—helping us to metabolize alcohol17.
Protecting your liver means monitoring and limiting your alcohol intake to those in Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, but alcohol isn’t not the only thing that can cause liver disease18.
The most important thing for men to know is that they are twice as likely to die of chronic liver disease or cirrhosis (scarring on the liver caused by various liver diseases19) than women are20. Liver health may often be forgotten about, but with an estimated 1 in 10 Canadians suffering from some form of liver disease21, it should not be ignored.
Here’s what you should look out for as early signs of liver disease and damage22:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin of eyes)
- Painful swelling, particularly in the abdomen or ankles
- Dark urine or pale stool
- Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
- Itchy skin
- Chronic fatigue
- If you develop a tendency to bruise easily
If you experience any of these persistent signs, it’s time to see a doctor.
5. Mental Health
While mental health issues can affect anyone, one simple and sad fact deserves much attention: in Canada, out of every 5 victims of suicide, 4 of them are male23.
The potential causes of the crisis vary, although one that is often discussed is the notion of societal stigma that disproportionately prevents men from reaching out and discussing their emotions and their mental health24.
Due to the number of potential mental health issues and the fact their causes are poorly understood, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how your mental health should be protected or treated, whether you’re male or female, but here are some of the protective actions you can take25:
- Take care of your body: avoid smoking and eat a balanced diet.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs
- Try mindfulness and meditation
- Maintain your social network and make plans with them
Avoiding stress is an important factor. Reducing stress in the long-term may require significant lifestyle changes, but in the short term, supplements like Stress Rescue can help by promoting relaxation.
If anyone in your life is struggling with your mental health, consider reaching out to provide them with extra support. If the person struggling is you, please do not suffer in silence: there are numerous helplines that you can call across the country for additional support.
While each of the above areas of health deserves its own considerations for men, maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle, keeping your diet balanced and nutritious, and getting enough exercise are always good ideas. Learn more about the latest health and wellness information by following Sisu on Instagram.
If you have health problems, please seek help from a healthcare practitioner. Always check with a healthcare practitioner before taking a nutritional supplement. These products may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label. These recommendations are for information and education purposes only.