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The Natural Man

old message The Natural Man Darrell Miller 06/10/05


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Date: June 10, 2005 03:31 PM
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Subject: The Natural Man

The Natural Man

by Chrystle Fiedler Energy Times, July 14, 2003

Men face significant health challenges as they age. "When men go through andropause in their late 40s (like women go through menopause) and testosterone drops, these hormonal changes are associated with heart attacks, high cholesterol and diabetes," says Jacob E. Teitelbaum, MD, Director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Therapy in Maryland.

And although cardiovascular disease and cancer account for about two-thirds of men's deaths, says Michael Castleman, author of Blended Medicine (Rodale), men are also plagued by chronic pain (arthritis, especially from old athletic injuries), sexual problems and mental decline.

But men, and the women who love them, need not accept decline as an inevitable sign of aging. A natural man lifestyle makeover can make a difference. "Prostate problems can be significant [for men as they age]," says Jamey Wallace, ND, clinic medical director at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle. "As men get older there can be an enlargement of the prostate that can cause urinary problems, with increased frequency and discomfort. There's a correlation between inactivity and weight gain and perhaps prostate problems as well." Besides lack of exercise, other contributing factors to health problems include a diet loaded with pesticide residues and chemicals, a lack of fiber and an excessive amount of unhealthy fats.

The Stronger Sex?

Women, on average, live five years longer than men. "At every age, American males have poorer health and a higher risk of mortality than females," says David Williams of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The gap in life expectancy between men and women may have both genetic and lifestyle origins. More men smoke than women, and men are twice as likely to be heavy drinkers. A recent study Williams led, published in the American Journal of Public Health, confirms that men's behavior is indeed a contributing factor to longevity or lack thereof. "Men take more risks than women," says Castleman. "Men ride motorcycles, go skydiving and do 'death-defying' things. Sometimes, death wins." A macho attitude can prompt men to practice risky behavior by, say, driving without a seat belt. Men also typically engage in more dangerous occupations like construction or fire fighting.

Get Him to the Health Practitioner

Being macho may also mean men postpone visits to their health practitioners. Women are twice as likely to schedule an annual checkup.

"Men postpone admitting and getting help for problems," says Shoshana Zimmerman, ND, author of My Doctor Says I'm Fine...So Why Do I Feel So Bad? (Blue Dolphin). "They may want to prove they are tough or are preoccupied with their jobs and responsibilities." "Starting in adolescence men feel they can take care of themselves," says Dr. Wallace. Unfortunately, this means that it may take a health crisis like severe pain to prompt a man's visit to a health practitioner. "Men care less about their health, so they don't take care of themselves as well as women do," says Castleman.

Get Him to Take the Long View

"Health problems are a result of decades of poor diet and not enough exercise," says Dr. Wallace.

Dr. Teitelbaum, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic (Avery/Penguin) says, as a rule of thumb, "Things that make you feel good are generally good for you." But there is a difference between a craving, say for sugar, and what makes you feel good. The difference is how you feel an hour after you've eaten something. Sugar may make you feel fatigued; a high-protein diet may make you feel energized. "If you have low energy, that's the time to add eggs and meat. Others need to be vegans. It's really individualized. Listen to your body."

Zinc is an important nutrient for men's health, particularly for the prostate, and can be found in pumpkin seeds. "Sprinkling a small handful on salads on a daily basis or bringing a small bag to the office and nibbling on those can be a helpful adjunct," says Dr. Wallace. Don't overdo zinc supplementation because high levels can lowers HDL-the good cholesterol-levels. If you do use supplements, follow package directions.

By eating different whole foods, you get optimal daily doses of vitamin A (in the form of mixed carotenoids); flavonoids; B vitamins; vitamins C, D, E and K; and important minerals like calcium, boron, manganese and magnesium, the single most critical nutrient. "It's also the one most Americans are deficient in," says Dr. Teitelbaum. "It promotes heart health, improves mental function and mood, helps you relax and sleep better." When sleep is elusive, herbs that can help include wild lettuce, Jamaican dogwood, hops, passionflower and valerian.

For many men, an enlarged prostate is part of aging. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) may reduce the frequent urge to urinate that can result.

"After age 40, men's levels of testosterone decline, while levels of other hormones, notably prolactin, increase," says Castleman. "This results in an elevation of the male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone, which is responsible for the overgrowth of prostate tissue that is characteristic of benign prostate enlargement. Many studies have shown that saw palmetto shrinks enlarged prostates and relieves symptoms." It takes about six weeks to work. (Since urinary difficulties can signal several health problems, it's important to consult a trained practitioner first.)

Give Him a Multivitamin

Add a good multivitamin with essential nutrients from a natural food store, says Dr. Wallace. "You'll find vitamins there with bioavailability. You can take something but it may be in a form that you can't assimilate. You need a multivitamin that your body can actually use."

Powdered vitamin formulas can be a good choice, says Dr. Teitelbaum, since they don't have binders or fillers. "You can just put it into a glass of say orange juice or mix it into a smoothie."

In addition, omega-3 oil offers antioxidant protection and anti-inflammatory action, says Dr. Zimmerman: "Especially on the arteries, which protects against plaque buildup."

Get Him Eating Better and Exercising

To help your spouse or significant other improve his health and vitality, start by setting a good example both in nutrition and activity.

"Eat a whole-food diet yourself, include foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains like quinoa, teff and kamut (find them at your local natural food store) full of fiber and B vitamins, instead of refined bread and pasta," says Dr. Wallace. "Choose foods you both like. Go to a natural food store and look through whole food cookbooks, find recipes that use ingredients that you know your spouse likes and try those."

"Spend your time in the produce section, have salads and fruit salads in the fridge at all times, and serve them at all meals," says Castleman.

Make gradual, healthy substitutions, steps you both can live with. For example, replace one meat lunch and dinner a week with a vegetarian alternative, says Castleman. "Make a big pot of hearty bean and vegetable soup a week, and just keep it in the fridge for an easy heat-and-eat meal." You can also broil fish instead of frying it. Use olive or canola oil when cooking.

To get your four to five servings of vegetables each day, eat a five-color salad. "You'll get a variety of nutrients so the body can select what it needs from the different vegetables," says Dr. Wallace.

"Serve more vegetables, at least two with dinner and add fruit into your man's (and your own) diet," says Dr. Zimmerman. "Eating three each of protein, vegetables and fruits per day goes a very long way to improving health." So does drinking plenty of water, eight to ten glasses a day.

Besides providing a good example by eating healthy foods, a woman can do the same thing with exercise. "If a woman wants to start walking she can invite her husband to go along. Thirty minutes of walking every day can be very helpful," says Dr. Wallace. Walking, like sex, keeps the pelvic area active and improves prostate health by stimulating blood flow. Remember, in both diet and exercise, nagging doesn't work-while setting an example and trying to be inclusive, and not demanding, often makes a big difference for better health.



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