The wellness movement and its message of health (focusing on unprocessed food, clean water, upgraded personal care products, regular fitness, meaningful relationships and stress management) is as important to men as to women. But men just aren’t as well-versed in self-care.
The challenge of balancing career and family is not often discussed with men but can be stressful and leave little time for working on health goals. Many men I know eat on the run, have long drives, eat late, or simply have no cooking skills — all of which make them vulnerable to eating highly processed and carry out foods. Lessons in conscious eating would help them make better choices.
Finally, the male “weekend warrior” mentality of doing intense cardio exercise on weekends can be dangerous. Instead, we should all find ways to guide men into movement practices emphasizing flexibility and breathwork, such as yoga and pilates.
The Danger of Ignoring Wellness in Men
Some sobering statistics about men’s health are worth considering:
General Men’s Health Stats in the US
- On average, men die six years earlier than women across the world
- Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year
- More than one-third of adults (34.9%) in the United States are obese
- 12.4% of men 18 years and over are in fair or poor health
Prostate Cancer Facts
- Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in men in the United States
- 3M American men are living with prostate cancer
- 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime
- 73 American men will die from prostate cancer every day
Testicular Cancer Facts
- Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men aged 15–34 years
- About 8,850 new cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed in men each year
- About 380 men will die of testicular cancer
- 1 American man will die everyday from testicular cancer
Mental Health Facts
- 1 in 4 adults in the United States will experience a mental health problem in a given year
- In America, 4 out of 5 suicides are men
- Every day 90 American men die by suicide
- Every minute, somewhere in the world, a man takes his own life
Who Are the Male Wellness Role Models?
If we want men to get more engaged in wellness, we need more role models who are as compelling as the high-profile ladies who inspire legions of women. We need male equivalents of Kris Carr, Dr. Terry Wahls, Suzanne Somers, and others who have turned health issues into “teachable moments” for all of us.
Men need more examples of guys who have used holistic and integrative approaches to beat mental and physical challenges. Rich Roll and John Joseph come to mind but men need more role models, particularly among professional athletes and actors who have high visibility. It would also be helpful to hear more often from male cancers survivors like Chris Wark who share how they detected their illness at an early stage and struggled to regain health.
What Men Need to Focus On
To stay healthy, men need to be encouraged to have wellness checkups and self-checks, to know their numbers, and to learn more about the role of nutrition and fitness in overall and sexual health.
Men need to understand that emotional health, loneliness, and stress are common situations that do not indicate weakness and can be talked about publicly and with health professionals.
Men also need to know the importance of male friendships and peer support. Mens’ nights out at wellness centers, yoga studios, pilates centers, and juice bars could bring more guys into the wellness movement.
Men need to learn the role of selecting personal care products that are organic and free of endocrine disruptors (like triclosan and phthalates) in order to protect their health and their reproductive systems. This topic is featured in the documentary The Disappearing Male, which explores the connection between environmental toxins and male health issues. It’s worth watching, especially since medical centers have done little to address this issue.
Women’s heart centers are available at many centers around the country, including one that I worked in. Yet there is no visible equivalent of a “man cave,” where a male-focused approach (including hormonal analysis and early detection and prevention of men’s health issues) is offered. It’s time for these centers to be developed.
Men: Four Things to do in June
1) Get lab work
Whether you ask your PCP or order labs yourself, if you are overdue for lab work, be sure to check your basic labs (CMP, CBC, PSA, vitamin D) and advanced labs (NMR lipoprofile, HgbA1C, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, hs-CRP) at a minimum.
2) Get a heart check-up
Men die without warning of cardiac arrest due to undiagnosed atherosclerosis of their heart arteries. A simple CT scanof the heart without contrast takes under a minute, costs around $100, and identifies silent heart artery issues years before a stress test, a heart attack, or a sudden death. Ask your PCP for a Rx to get it done this month.
3) Don’t Ignore Erectile Dysfunction
Many men in their 40’s and 50’s, if not ever earlier, experience difficulty achieving and maintaining erections. The answer is not just a blue pill but a deep dive into the health of their arteries, including heart arteries, with the tests listed above, and a serious evaluation of diet and fitness. A whole food plant-based diet supports optimal nitric oxide production required for strong erections.
4) Eat your damn fruits and vegetables
Eat a giant salad every day. Eat berries for breakfast. Make your plate so green and colorful that you do not see any animal foods. Plant up your life in June and you will “man up” your life and never go back.
Mickey Mantle once said, “if I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” Involving men in the wellness world is an important goal so that they can learn simple steps to take better care of themselves.