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Keeping men healthy banner
Keeping men healthy banner

Keeping men healthy

Our men – what would we do without them? Fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, friends – they all hold important places in our hearts and our lives.

But too many of them are overweight, tired, stressed, and just not getting the best out of life. With Men’s Health Week from 12-18 June, we’re reminded to talk more often with our special menfolk about their health and wellbeing.

Men and doctors

Men have been avoiding doctors since the dawn of modern medicine: too often, they'll wait until they’re in real pain before seeking help. To a large extent, this reflects cultural attitudes of ‘big boys don’t cry’.  A recent study shows that in Australia, 61% don't go for regular checkups.

A yearly or even 6-monthly GP check should become an established habit from childhood onwards. Parents need to teach their young sons that asking for help is okay, and fathers should model good health habits for their sons.

By adulthood, men should be used to discussing their general wellbeing with their doctor, getting their weight, waistline and blood pressure checked, and having tests for things like cholesterol and blood sugar. This can help prevent serious ‘lifestyle’ conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How to support him

If your son or partner doesn’t go to the GP at least 1-2 times per year, try to make him aware of the importance of this, and help him to find a doctor he respects and feels comfortable with. Keep health in regular conversation, make it an easy topic to talk about, and when needed, don’t shy away from asking the hard questions. If you don’t, who will?

Men and their lifespan

Men’s life expectancy has always been lower than women’s, but they're slowly catching up. Men now live until 80 on average, and women 84. But living longer is only worthwhile if you maintain your energy, mobility and mental sharpness along the way.

How to support him

Try making small, gradual diet and lifestyle changes together, and speak to a dietitian and exercise physiologist for more support. Try our free Ask a nutritionist service.

Men and chronic disease

Men have a higher risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and diabetes, caused mainly by lifestyle factors such as poor diet. These diseases often present no early warning signs, but they are the leading cause of illness and death in New Zealand.

How to support him

Throw out the chips and soft drink at home - if he can’t see them, he’s less likely to want them! Bring in a variety of fruit and veggies instead - sadly, only 1.7% of males between 19-50 years are eating enough vegetables.

Men and protein

You can get too much of a good thing, and protein is one of these. The amino acids from proteins are great for repairing body cells and muscles, but large amounts can be harmful.

How to support him

Keep protein on his plate, but make sure it’s portioned and lean. Try other nutritious proteins such as legumes (lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, and black beans), tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds. Choose protein foods over powders.

Men and alcohol

The beer belly is no laughing matter. Not only can alcohol increase his risk of cancer, it also increases his risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

How to support him

If he chooses to drink alcohol, encourage him to have no more than 3 standard drinks on any day, and aim for more alcohol-free nights each week.

Men and exercise

While weight training is great for building muscle tone and strength and increasing bone mass, cardiovascular exercise is important too. Cardio helps keep a healthy weight, encourages good blood flow, helps reduce stress, and cuts the risk of chronic disease.

How to support him

Get him to go for a daily walk before or after dinner, or in the early mornings. Go cycling on the weekends, play tennis or a team sport, and aim to use more public transport.

Men and relaxation

Men are far from immune to stress, anxiety and mental illness, and are more likely to try to ‘tough it out’ than women are.

How to support him

Encourage him to spend some quality ‘time out’ in nature with you, family and friends, or reading and other relaxing pastimes.

Let’s celebrate them

So here’s to the men who mean so much to us. Here’s to living full and vibrant lives together. Here’s to men’s health!

Men's health menu plan

Try our 7 day men's health menu plan. Make them yourself, encourage him to make them, or make them together!

Each day of the plan includes nutritious plant proteins with at least 5 servings of vegetables and legumes/beans and at least 2 servings of fruit. The plan is best served with 8 glasses of water each day, limited alcohol and daily exercise.

10 eating habits to ditch or keep banner
10 eating habits to ditch or keep banner

10 eating habits to ditch or keep

When it comes to healthy eating, we’re a big fan of getting the most bang for your buck. While we can agonise over every little thing we put in our mouths every day, the truth is that some behaviours have a much bigger effect on our health than others.

A great example of this is recent research out of the US which looked at over 700,000 subjects who died as a result of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. They found almost half of these deaths could be attributed to just 10 eating habits.

10 eating habits

These top 10 eating habits fell into one of two categories.

They were eating too much:

  • Salt – 9.5% of deaths

  • Processed meats – 8.2% of deaths

  • Sugary drinks – 7.4% of deaths

  • Unprocessed red meats – 0.4% of deaths

or too little:

  • Nuts and seeds – 8.5% of deaths

  • Omega-3 fats – 7.8% of deaths

  • Vegetables – 7.6% of deaths

  • Fruit – 7.5% of deaths

  • Wholegrains – 5.9% of deaths

  • Polyunsaturated fats – 2.3% of deaths.

How to get the most bang for your buck to protect your heart

The simplest way is to choose to fill your diet with minimally processed plant foods. By doing this you’ll find yourself eating plenty of the foods many of us eat too little of and eating less of those that harm our health, but feature too prominently in modern diets. Big benefits don’t have to come from complicated changes so start prioritising those plant foods today!

3 ways to get nuts and seeds in your daily diet

Nuts are often mentioned as being high in fat, but did you know they’re also a source of fibre, protein and vitamin E, as well as other vital nutrients? And while high in fat, it’s the heart healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that they’re rich in.

1. The 3pm hunger buster

A good goal to aim for is 30g of nuts at least 5 days a week. 30g is roughly a small handful, so why not grab that small handful when your stomach’s growling mid-afternoon.

2. Power up that smoothie

Did you know that chia seeds form a gel like texture mixed with water? Try a tablespoon in your next smoothie to add a satisfying texture, a shot of healthy fibre and plant based omega-3 fats.

3. Make your own nut butter

Natural nut butters are simply ground up nuts without anything else added. Try making your own by grinding your favourite nuts to a paste in a food processor and spreading on a tasty wholegrain bread.

Challenge

Eat less of ...

  • Remove at least one "serve" of these this week.

  • Remove at least one "serve" of these next week.

  • Keep doing this for 1 month.

Eat more of...

  • Add at least one "serve" of these this week.

  • Add at least one "serve" of these next week.

  • Keep doing this for 1 month.

Reflection

  • How many Eat less of "serves" have I removed this month? How do I feel?

  • How many Eat more of "serves" have I added this month? How do I feel?

Try doing this for 1 more month, so it becomes a good habit, then increase/decrease each month until the end of the year. 

It's a great challenge to review when you welcome in the new year in 2018!

First published in The Record