MENS HEALTH - How to look after yourself and have a healthier and longer life.
The following article was compiled by Dr. Ciara Kelly and published in the Living Section of the Sunday Independent.
The current life expectancy of an Irish man is 78 years, a full five years less than their female counterpart. How can Irish men narrow that gap.
This is the number one killer and can strike from your thirtys. Men are at significantly increased risk of heart disease compared to women, but can be significantly decreased by changing your lifestyle. So what should you do to add back those extra years of life!
Stop smoking – easiest way to live longer.
Smokers on average live a full ten years less than their non-smoking counterparts. Stopping smoking reduces your risk of heart disease but also your risk of stroke, cancer, vascular disease and Alzheimers to mention a few. There are lots of ways to quit – Nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum and inhalers almost double your chances of success. Alternatives such as acupuncture, hypnosis addiction counselling help too.
Lower your Cholesterol
Most Irish men have high cholesterol, which is strongly linked to heart disease, vascular disease and stroke. A healthy diet is low in bad cholesterol – like fried foods and fatty meats. Diets containing good cholesterol – like oily fish, avacados and rapeseed oil, help bring your cholesterol under control. Porridge oats and plant sterols also help. Keeping your cholesterol level below five reduces your risk of heart disease by a third.
Blood pressure tends to rise with age but for optimum health it should be below 140/90 and ideally closer to 120/80. High blood pressure puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels which cause them to wear out more quickly. Reducing your intake of salt, caffeine and alcohol in your diet will lower your blood pressure. Take regular exercise – which reduces your Heart rate – and so lowers your blood pressure and maintain a healthy BMI – to stop your heart from working so hard.
Men should have a waist circumference below 37 inches. You measure your waist at your belly button so even if you wear 36 inch trousers – if your belly is hanging over – 36 is not your true waist.
Alcohol is the single biggest risk factor for death in Irish men under 30 years of age – through accidents, assaults and suicides. Alcohol is a depressant. It affects relationships, careers, finances and your ability to function. We have one of the highest rates of male suicides in the world. Excessive alcohol makes you eight times more likely to commit suicide. Two thirds of Irish men drink excessively. The maximum recommended weekly limit of alcohol for men is 17 units or eight and a half pints.
Depression and stress
Irish men over 55 have a higher rate of depression than women. Alcohol plays a huge role in Irish men’s mental health and if you are suffering from stress, anxiety or low mood you should avoid it. Mental Health issues are fixable but you need to seek help by speaking to someone about counselling and /or medication.
Sex, Marriage and your Prostate
Sex is great for men. It releases hormones that make you feel happy and calm and it fosters intimacy, which is important. The feeling of connectedness to another person is something we all crave and sex has a role in that. It burns 300 Kcals in an hour – and so is a good form of exercise. Regular ejaculation is also thought to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer – the most common male cancer. Married men live longer that singletons. Their stress levels and blood pressure are lower and it also seems that those men that are in a relationship take better care of themselves, eat better, exercise more and are likely to be economically secure and also have the benefit of a sense of social connection and inclusion. Our mental health is strongly linked to having a supportive relationships.
Basic hygiene to avoid contacting infections that can lead to serious complications that can affect the heart or other body systems is a cornerstone of good health. Men often are not great at looking after their health. Getting problems sorted and have occasional check-ups with your GP especially from middle-age can prevent problems from arising or getting worse and can maximise your life expectancy.
The benefits of health screening can be felt by both the employer and the employee alike. Health screening is an effective way of increasing employee morale, and leads to reduced sickness and levels of absenteeism.
Smoking Cessation Programmes, Carbon Monoxide Lung Analysis, Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, Alcohol Awareness/Risk Assessment, Spirometry, Celiac Testing, Weight and Stress Management.