Nutrition for Men – Health, Retirement, and Longevity
As a physician who specializes in nutritional approaches to weight loss I see many women who are concerned about wellness, and take immediate action when they see a gain of a few pounds. Some men are interested in prevention as well, but typically they only become concerned about lifestyle issues after a medical event. Unfortunately it requires a diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease before men grasp what their status of health really is.
Many men ignore self care such as regular exercise or following a healthy diet as they climb the corporate ladder or other wise push themselves for success in their occupation, and sadly many times they do this at the expense of their health. I have encountered many men in my practice who retired young (early 50s) due to medical conditions that developed over the years from less-than-optimal self care.
Retirement: Time to enjoy the best life has to offer, or time to devote much needed care for his health?
Men who are used to a full-throttle life, going at 100 mph most days often enter retirement without any real activity plan. Who can blame them? It’s time to rest and relax. Unfortunately, like many of us, they may find enjoying rich food and wine is a good way to pass the time. Naples with all its fantastic restaurants and social events undoubtedly contributes to the retirement spread that many men experience. Middles grow and belts are loosened. It is more common for men to carry excess weight in the abdomen more than any other part of their body. Weight gain in this area is associated with the start of metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetic condition with increased risks of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, high cholesterol, and blood pressure.
What’s the solution?
Eating well and developing a sustainable exercise regimen is one of the best ways for working men to continue to function at a peak level and for retired men to enjoy their time spent in good health and vitality. I feel there is great medical evidence to show that the body functions optimally when people follow a more structured meal plan which consists of three moderately sized meals a day and a few high quality nutritional snacks.
Many men have gotten used to a breakfast of only coffee and maybe a pastry of refined flour and sugar, or high fat eggs and sausage. However, men need adequate lean protein in the diet to maintain lean muscle mass. That 12-ounce steak dinner doesn’t cut it, unfortunately. The body can only use approximately 4-6 ounces of protein at a time. Ideally, protein should be eaten throughout the day instead of all at once, or else it will be stored as fat.
Lean protein choices include fish, chicken, lean pork, turkey, and reduced fat red meat. Also important for men’s health is obtain phytonutrients from a variety of veggies and fruits. Lycopene, which is found in tomatoes, has been linked to reduced rates of prostate cancer. Variety is the spice of life, so making sure to glean health choices from all of the food groups is quite important.
The most important food group to discuss is carbohydrates. Men (and women)’s tolerance for carbohydrates decreases with age and lower activity levels. The food guide pyramid stresses carbs as the foundation, but it was created based on information gleaned from active military men, who expend enormous amounts of energy daily. It’s a good idea to make sure carbs are reigned in and sourced from good quality whole grain foods which contain more fiber.
Wine is Good for Your loved One, in Moderation.
Health benefits of wine intake include decreasing heart disease risk and lowering blood sugar with moderate use. However, we must be clear about what moderate actually means – two 3oz glasses of wine per day or preferably 10 glasses of wine or equivalent per week – no more. If he opts for three per day, he is easily doubling what is recommended and thus begins the adverse health effects of too much alcohol use, such as liver disease and stroke.
Supplements Supply Health Benefits Too
I am a fan of a good quality multi-vitamin for men as well as an EPA/DHA fish oil supplement. In my practice, I have tested many patients who live in Florida for adequate vitamin D levels, and have found deficiency in the vitamin quite common. It may be a good idea to consider checking this level and begin with supplementation if it is low. Adequate Vitamin D levels have been linked to cancer prevention and better immune system function.