With Father’s Day upon us, many of us will be out celebrating the dads in our family. It’s a good time of the year to think about the stresses dads may be under and what they might need to help boost their overall health and wellbeing.
In today’s world there are many pressures presented to the modern-day male. The 40+ hour-working week, providing for their family, sharing the school pick-up run, and kids shuttle service, as well as household chores that need to be done, all in all can make for hectic lives for men. Too add to this, quite often, men tend to overlook their own health and employ the “sweet-as bro” attitude resulting in their health taking a backseat.
But as you’ll see from the statistics below, men’s health issues in NZ are far from “she’ll be right”.
Did you know that 15.3% of NZ men have high blood pressure and are taking medication to control it or that 3,125 NZ men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012? Here’s just a snapshot into the state of the nation ….
You can’t change your genetic pre-dispositions but you can change your genetic expression (the outcome) by making nutritional and lifestyle changes that will hold you in good stead on your journey to optimal health.
Let’s looks at some key nutrients that can help power men’s health.
Zinc is involved in the production of at least 300 enzymes needed for hundreds of body processes, from producing DNA to repairing cells. It’s especially important for men because of its role in maintaining prostate health, testosterone levels and overall sexual and reproductive health. Zinc also promotes healthy immune function and sleep support, which provides a host of additional benefits.
HEALTH TIP:Since our bodies don’t produce zinc, a daily intake is recommended to ensure healthy levels of this critical mineral. Food sources include shellfish, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, squash, and cocoa although unless these foods are imported they are likely to be low in zinc as NZ soils are deficient. Supplementing with approx 15-25 milligrams (mg) of zinc per day may be best if deficient in this important mineral.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm-like plant (with berries) that has been used for centuries to aid prostate and male urinary health. It also helps to maintain healthy testosterone metabolism. In the early 1900s, men used the berries to treat urinary problems, and they also found that it increased sperm production and boosted libido.
HEALTH TIP:Taking a good quality supplement containing saw palmetto will help improve overall health and function of the prostate and urogenital system but it is always best to discuss any prostate concerns with your health practitioner.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fish oil is among the most well researched nutritional supplements in existence. Over 10,000 studies have been conducted, providing sufficient evidence to state with confidence that omega-3s are beneficial for many areas of health including cardiovascular.
HEALTH TIP:Eat two to three serves of oily fish per week (salmon and sardines are best as tuna can be high in mercury), or take a purified high quality omega-3 supplement daily containing the expert recommended minimum of 500mg of EPA and DHA for health maintenance (double this if you have any health concerns).
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant which is great for your liver and it also may help reduce hair loss in men. Furthermore, selenium may increase sperm production and sperm movement therefore increasing fertility. Selenium may also help to lower “bad” cholesterol.
HEALTH TIP: Since our bodies don’t produce selenium, a daily intake is recommended to ensure healthy levels of this critical mineral. Food sources include Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, liver, butter, fish (mackerel, tuna, halibut, flounder, herring, smelts) and shellfish (oysters, scallops, and crayfish), garlic, whole grains, sunflower seeds although unless these foods are imported they are likely to be low in selenium as NZ soils are deficient. Supplementing with no more than 150 micrograms (mcg) of selenium per day may be best if deficient in this important mineral.
Long known for its key role in building strong bones, vitamin D3 is also linked to many other key functions in optimising health including the regulation of the immune system and muscle strength/balance, healthy mood and regulation of your circadian rhythms so that you feel awake and sleepy at the right times.
HEALTH TIP: The best time to get Vitamin D (produced in your skin from sunlight) is in the middle of the day, unfortunately this is also a high risk time for sun burn and damage to the skin and Vitamin D can’t be produced through sun block. The recommendation for Vitamin D production is to get direct sunlight for 5 -15 minutes every day ideally on areas not often seen by the sun (eg inside of arms). The darker your skin colour, the longer you will need. If the sun shine is not for you, you could look to consume around 1,000 I.U. Vitamin D3 per day. This is tricky to get from food sources alone so you could look for a fish oil or multi that contains 1,000 IU or take it as a stand alone supplement.
Probiotics are microorganisms that play very important roles in regulating proper intestinal function and digestion by balancing intestinal microflora.
HEALTH TIP: Foods that contain probiotics include fermented foods, plain unflavoured yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickles, kimchi and kombucha tea. Alternatively, you can take it in capsule form! Top Tip for Manly Men The most powerful step anyone can do for their health is to take control by seeking information from a valid source on how to make the best decisions in relation to your personal well-being – after all, if we all want to be as strong as possible, for as long as possible, we need to know
When did you last get a comprehensive health check? Don’t wait till next Father’s Day where you may reflect on your health and wellbeing, we need you fit and healthy and every day of the year.