For many men, concern for their health during their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s is not at the top of the important list. It wasn’t for me as I recall. Lack of health care monitoring earlier in life for any man can open the door for serious specific disease challenges later in life. If I only knew then what I know now!
Recent reports indicate women are 33% more likely than men to visit a doctor. With age, this figure reduces but still many men are slow to visit the physician for simple tests like cholesterol level, regular blood pressure monitoring and the impact on blood sugar levels of all of the things like ice cream and sodas. When did you last have a bowl of Caramel Coast Highway ice cream or a Pepsi made with real sugar?
With the ability to monitor blood pressure using small battery powered wrist devices and home A1C test kits for blood sugar levels, we men just do not have a reason to avoid monitoring these health indicators. It takes little effort or time to check one’s blood pressure in the morning and before bedtime. For years healthcare professionals have used a 120/80 ratio of systolic to diastolic pressures to indicate acceptable levels. Just recently, new official guidelines for those over 60 have been adjusted to 150/95. Blood pressure of course fluctuates during the day based upon activity. What is the biggest contributor to high blood pressure? Overweight by 20 pounds can cause one’s blood pressure to jump at least 20 points for systolic and diastolic pressures. In older men, higher blood pressure levels can also support erectile dysfunction.
A1C levels are reflected as a number of how your blood sugar has fluctuated during the past 3 months and offers an average number. A1C numbers of less than 7 or even 6 are now considered optimum and support a healthy blood sugar level. This A1C number typically increases with age. The in-home A1C test uses a small finger prick to pull adequate blood for the test. Less than a drop is required. Cost for these kits is minimal. $15 every 3 months to know one is avoiding other serious health challenges later in life is money well spent. Most healthcare professionals recommend starting regular A1C level testing in the 30’s.
Cholesterol levels are a little more difficult to monitor regularly as often these levels of the “good and bad” cholesterol components may require a blood draw in a physician office. Although typically a part of a wider assessment of key health markers done with yearly physicals, cholesterol levels are clearly a result of what we eat and how long we have been eating poorly. For younger men, cholesterol testing needs start when in the 20’s. However there are kits one can purchase in drug stores which have directions on how to retrieve adequate blood and allow one to send off to a test lab and receive back your cholesterol levels.
From experience, knowing the condition of one’s prostate is particularly important to men over the age of 50. Today, many of the younger physicians have moved away from a physical examination to determine prostate gland smoothness and now depend only on the PSA test result numbers from a blood draw. PSA numbers can be reflective of dimension (size) of the prostate. Once PSA numbers begin to exceed 5, closer monitoring of the PSA level is appropriate. Higher numbers do not necessarily indicate the possibility of a cancer involvement but often alert one to a condition known as BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia. This condition in men often leads to erectile dysfunction. Recent research reports seem to suggest that as many as 2 out of 3 men over the age of 50 may have some level of erectile dysfunction. Medications that treat high blood pressure can cause erectile dysfunction.
Perhaps most important to remember for any man of any age, a heart-healthy lifestyle avoiding heavily processed foods is mandatory. Men need eat more natural foods. We need foods that are non-GMO (non-genetically modified) and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Avoiding foods that have wheat as part of the composition makeup is particularly important. As an example, be aware that over 80% of the foods we eat contain wheat. Nearly all wheat today is GMO….genetically modified. It starts with the wheat seeds that are planted and continues through the processing using synthetic ingredients. GMO foods, including natural sugars, aggravate the microbiome intestinal flora and challenge health. Men need to read the labels of the foods they consider ingesting…and start when they are in their 20’s.
If I only knew then what I know now….