Check out these top tips to boost your health and well-being starting now.
| You may have noticed a trend in the topics featured on the covers of many men’s magazines: rock-hard abs, killer pecs and the secrets to ultimate lovemaking. Men may claim to resent this superficial focus on appearance and performance, but most guys do, in fact, want to look good, feel good, be in shape and enjoy a healthy sex life. The good news is the male life span is on the rise. But we still suffer more chronic conditions, have higher death rates for all 15 leading causes of death, and die seven years younger than women. Here’s a roundup of the latest research and real-world advice on how to stay healthy—starting now. |
What You Can Do To Boost Sexual Health
We’re all living longer, men included. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), men now typically live an average of 73.8 years, and, of course, we all want to live well. One of the first concerns that comes to mind is, arguably, impotence. It’s fair to say that men want to consistently achieve and maintain an erection long enough to engage in satisfying sexual activities. Those who can’t do this suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), a problem that affects 10 to 15 million American men. There are a variety of causes of ED, including endocrine, vascular, neurologic and psychiatric diseases. Diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, chronic alcoholism and atherosclerosis, account for about 70% of impotence cases. Side effects of certain drugs account for about 25% of the cases.
Here’s a look at the top natural remedies for ED:
Let’s face it: since cardiovascular disease is the No.1 killer of Americans, protecting our hearts is a priority. Interestingly, from 1979 to 1997, the number of coronary bypass procedures increased 432%. And, in 1997, 69% of bypass procedures were performed on men. But, you don’t have to be a statistic. There’s a lot you can do to keep your heart beating strong.
Here’s a look at the top natural alternatives to maintain good heart health:
The first steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease are fairly basic: Maintain a proper weight, don’t smoke and exercise. From a nutritional standpoint, there is a lot you can do to lower your risk of heart disease.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
As boys mature, the prostate (a walnut-sized gland that is a key component of a guy’s reproductive system) goes through its first big growth cycle—doubling in size during puberty. After age 25, the prostate starts its second growth phase. This post-25 growth phase often brings on benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), symptoms of which normally make themselves known after age 40. In fact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, more than 50% of men in their 60s and as many as 90% of men in their 70s have some symptoms of BPH.
Symptoms of BPH
Many symptoms of BPH come from the blockage of the urethra and gradual loss of bladder function as the prostate gland swells and pushes against these other tissues and organs. Although symptoms of BPH vary, here are a few of the most common:
In eight out of 10 cases, the above symptoms suggest BPH, but they could point to other more serious conditions that require immediate treatment, such as prostate cancer. Untreated BPH can ultimately cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones or incontinence. The bladder can also be permanently damaged.
Natural Treatments for BPH
Considering that a possible side effect of the popular prostate drug finasteride (Proscar) is ED, natural therapies for BPH appear to be a smarter option.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). In 2001, Egon Koch, M.D., published a key review of the research on supplements of saw palmetto and stinging nettle used in the treatment of BPH and related lower urinary tract symptoms. The review, which appeared in the journal Planta Medica, concludes that the use of these herbs for BPH is backed by "therapeutic efficacy and a favorable safety profile." Other studies show that compared to men receiving the drug finasteride, men who were treated with saw palmetto (160 mg twice daily) had "similar improvements in urinary tract symptoms and urinary flow" and fewer side effects, if any.
Flower pollen extract. Flower pollen extract (or Cernilton) has been used successfully in Europe to treat BPH for many years. In fact, one of the first published medical reports on the benefits of Cernilton appeared almost 40 years ago. Flower pollen extract appears to improve urinary flow and decrease inflammation associated with BPH. No side effects have been noted, but there is the potential for allergic reactions in some people susceptible to pollen allergies.
Exercise. That’s right, guys. In a 2001 study in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, a large percentage of the men who exercised the most at the beginning of the study, burning off between 862 and 7,535 kilo-calories a day, did not have BPH. The authors concluded that exercise protects against development of clinical BPH.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in men (other than skin cancer) and is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related death in men. More than 70% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over age 65. Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk:
Almost 23% of Americans are obese, with men ages 40 to 59 at the highest overall average of obesity (26.2%). And where do so many men become the most obese? Around the midsection. Beyond hiding those six-pack abs, a broad girth has also been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
One study shows that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help. Researchers from Uppsala University, Sweden, decided to study 25 obese men between 39 and 64 years of age, who carried the most weight in their midsections.
The experimental group received 4.2 gm of CLA per day and the control group received a placebo. After one month, there was a significant decrease in midsection girth in those receiving CLA.
The Latest Ways To Stop Baldness
So we know that a balding pate, otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia, or AGA (male-pattern baldness), makes men appear older. Is there anything we guys can do to slow, stop or reverse the process?
Here’s what’s worth a try:
The Chinese herb He Shou Wu is not only purported to boost strength, color and amount of hair, it may also boost sexual vitality. You also want to boost your intake of biotin and vitamin B6, deficiencies of which may manifest as hair loss. Saw palmetto may also help because it appears to block 5-alpha-reductase type II, which, in turn, blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (a prime hormonal culprit in hair loss). Vitamin E and zinc are also thought to be helpful in saving your mane.
In order to stimulate scalp circulation and, perhaps, new hair growth, massage the scalp with essential oil of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or rinse the hair with tea made from sage (Salvia officinalis).
James L. Gormley is a freelance health writer based in New York. He is also the author of DHA a Good Fat(Zebra Books, 1999)
Chen, J, Wollman, Y, Chernichovsky, T et al "Effect of oral administration of high-dose nitric oxide donor L-arginine in men with organic erectile dysfunction: Results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study" British Journal of Urology International (1999) 83: 269-273 • Koch, E "Extracts from fruits of saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) and roots of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): Viable alternatives in the medical treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and associated urinary tract symptoms" Planta Medica (2001) 67: 489-500 • Meigs, JB, Mohr, B, Barry, MJ et al "Risk factors for clinical benign prostatic hyperplasia in a community-based population of healthy aging men" Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (2001) 54: 935-944 • Wilt, T, Ishani, A, Rutks, I et al "Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia" Public Health Nutrition (2000) 3: 459-472 • Riserus, U, Berglunc, H, Versloy, B et al "Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduced abdominal adipose tissue in obese middle-aged men with signs of the metabolic syndrome: A randomized controlled trial" International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders (2001) 25: 1129-1135
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