By Jared Graybeal
In honor of Men’s Health Month/Father’s Day, this article will focus on how men are wired and how nutrition helps keep the men in the best shape possible (physically and mentally).
No matter how old you are or what stage of life you are in, the manliest thing you can do is to stay healthy. Not just for yourself, but for your friends, your family, and your future.
Although the human body is relatively similar no matter the gender, men and women have slightly different nutritional needs and physical demands. Just like women need different diets to accommodate pregnancy and avoiding things like breast cancer, men also need different nutrients to support muscle mass and avoid common issues like prostate cancer.
For men over 35, the #1 and #2 leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. By implementing healthy habits into your lifestyle, you can not only live longer, but you get to enjoy it more (in all areas).
Here are 3 ways to be the manliest man possible and live a longer, healthier life:
Although this one is a no-brainer, that doesn’t mean everyone is doing it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises adults to engage in physical activity no fewer than three days per week. Support for the recommendation comes from numerous health studies, according to the agency’s publication “2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” The research indicates that certain kinds of physical activity help people decrease their risk of developing health problems, regardless of their age, disability, ethnicity, gender or race. The health-related advantages of performing adequate, regular physical activity include a lower risk of experiencing depression, heart disease, excessive weight gain, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and premature death. (1)
It can be as easy as (3+ times a week):
- 30-minute jog or 60-minute walk.
- Joining a local health club.
- Paying a little more for a group training experience.
- Paying a little more than that and getting a one-on-one personal trainer.
Two things you probably aren’t getting enough of is protein and potassium. Because men often have more muscle mass and bone density than women, it’s important to eat an adequate amount of it throughout the day. Although the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.36 grams per pound (3), my recommendation is to aim for consuming 1 gram per lb of your goal weight.
How to get more protein:
- Have a protein source at every plate (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
- Use protein shakes throughout the day when you are on the go.
- Increase your protein intake if you increase your activity level.
- Pre-prepare meals for the week ahead of time with a variety of items like fish, chicken, beef, and eggs
- If you are on a Plant-based or Vegan diet, make sure to combine the right items to have a “whole protein” source (like beans and rice).
Potassium is another key nutrient especially for men as it acts in the body to help promote balanced blood pressure (this is key for decreasing risk for elevated blood pressure and thereby heart disease) and is also key for muscle contraction and relaxation. Potassium also plays an important role in promoting fluid balance and is key for proper hydration.
How to get more potassium:
- Eat more fruits and veggies that are red, orange or yellow.
- Sweet potatoes, oranges, bananas and beets.
More specifically, Vitamin D and Omega 3’s. Vitamin D is involved in so many key roles in the body including bone health, cancer prevention, nerve and immune health and more. Many of us don’t get enough vitamin D because it’s almost impossible to obtain from food. Supplements tend to be the source of most of our vitamin D (other than the sun), and because of that, it’s a good idea to get your blood levels checked so that you know how much you really need. (2)
How to get more vitamin D: Sun exposure (be careful not to get a sunburn!), mushrooms, fortified orange juice, and milk, or supplements.
Omega 3 fatty acids are another key nutrient for men but are hard to get enough of unless you are eating fish on the daily. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential, which means that the body cannot make this nutrient on its own and relies on us consuming it to ensure we are getting enough. 3 fatty acids have incredible anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect blood vessels, and joints. They also play a key role in brain health, aid in lowering triglyceride levels in the blood that can over time damage blood vessels.
How to eat more Omega 3’s: Fatty fish (mackerel, salmon), enriched eggs, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil (plant-based source), walnuts (plant-based source), chia seeds (plant-based source), or supplements.