June marks Men’s Health Month. With Father’s Day approaching, this can make for a great time to start considering men’s health and nutrition, whether it’s for you or the man in your life. Men are greater risk for some diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Lifestyle change and nutrition may help men to lessen these risks. Here are some dietary factors to consider:
Heart Disease: Fiber plays an important role in our heart health. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, such as the fiber found in oats, can potentially improve cholesterol levels. Including omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as fatty fish like salmon, nuts and seeds including walnuts, flax and chia seeds, can protect our hearts as well.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as the “silent killer” as it can affect you without even knowing. Sodium can play a major role in our blood pressure. Unfortunately, controlling the salt shaker at home is only a small piece of the puzzle. Most salt in our diets come from processed foods, fast food and eating out at restaurants. Try cooking at home more often and including potassium rich foods such as bananas, potatoes (with the skin), dairy products, beans, leafy greens and fish, as high potassium foods can help to balance out the sodium in our diets. Do caution these foods if your doctor has told you to limit the amount of potassium in your diet.
Cancer: Some cancer, such as colorectal cancer, can possibly be prevented with dietary changes. Some of these changes include eating more plant based foods and less red (such as beef and pork) and processed meats (including lunch meats, bacon and sausage). The World Health Organization suggests that these foods can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
Grilling and charring food can also produce potentially cancer causing compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). One way to prevent this is to marinate your food before grilling. This is a tasty way to protect your health and make your meat more tender. Choose marinades that are low in salt or make your own with a little olive oil, some vinegar or lemon juice and your favorite seasonings (try some antioxidant rich oregano!).
These are just some of the important things for men to focus on in their diets. Though, the fact is that women are still much more likely to visit their doctor for annual check ups and preventive services, such as nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian. So, one of the best things a man can do is seek out regular visits with his doctor and take further steps to preventing these health outcomes.