Photo credit movember.com.au
It’s that time a year when the moustache population expands worldwide in an effort to raise awareness for men’s health, in particular for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. This phenomenon, known as Movember, started in 2004 in Australia and New Zealand, has now become a global cause that aims to change the face of men’s health by encouraging men to grow a moustache whilst raising money and awareness.
In past generations, men’s emotions and health were not talked about subjects, for fear of not maintaining a “manly” image or for being seen as a “weakness”. This has been dramatically improved over the last couple of decades by charities and a growing awareness that speaking up and being proactive, is an effective way of dealing with health issues rather than sweeping them under the rug. Showing character and taking a stand for health issues bigger than yourself, are signs of strength and community that should be encouraged by everyone.
You might have heard it all before when it comes to men’s health, but remember “repetition is the mother of all skill.” The more you read something, there is a greater shift in your consciousness and you will take actions without even realising. With this in mind: read, re-read, share and teach others for best results.
There are four pillars for men’s health that must be considered and they are physical activity, sleep, nutrition and mental health. All of them are interlinked and equally important for long-term health and disease prevention. If you think that you can get away with neglecting one area, then think again, because there are countless studies showing the importance of each of the abovementioned pillars.
Being physically active on a daily basis has a whole myriad of benefits not only on the body itself, but also for mental state and cognitive function. If you’re someone who struggles to enjoy being active then try linking something you’re interested in or passionate about to physical activity. Trust me when I say everything can be improved when you’re physically active. Seemingly unrelated interests such as playing a musical instrument, business or career aspirations or learning a language, can all be improved by taking care of your fitness and physical activity levels. It’s just a matter of anchoring and developing momentum for success. Studies have shown that being physically active significantly reduces the risks of prostate cancer. 1, 2In older men specifically, 3 hours of vigorous physical activity per week was associated with a dramatic 70% reduction in the risk of dying of prostate cancers. 3
The old school train of thought by men was that sleep is not important, it gets in the way of work and needs to be kept at a minimum otherwise you are being lazy. Don’t get me wrong, you are not required to sleep all day, however there are numerous health and cognitive benefits for achieving the right amount of good quality sleep. Research has indicated that 7 hours is recommended for people to have optimal levels of cognitive function and increased productivity. 4 Lack of sleep can also increase the chance of depression, weight gain, diabetes and other cardio disease risk factors. 5-7
The food you put into your body has the ability to make or break your health! If you drive a Ferrari or some type of sports car that requires a lot of financial outlay, chances are you will be inclined look after it and use premium grade petrol. However men don’t often equate what types of foods they put in their mouth for better performance and don’t think of the consequences. Your body is a highly tuned machine, just like a sports car. Diets high in processed foods with little fresh fruits and vegetables are linked to increased risks of prostate cancer and poor mental health. 8-10 Inadequate levels of Vitamin D, selenium and zinc have impact on male sex hormones and increase risks of diseases. 11-13
Speaking up, sharing your thoughts with others and letting loved ones know when you’re going through a tough time is something that MUST be encouraged of all men. In recent times, meditation and mindfulness practices have also been indicated to improve mental health, cognitive function and reduced rates of depression. 14, 15 Taking care of the three pillars above will make a positive impact on mental health, however there are often outside life situations that cause huge strain on mental health, that need to be addressed by professionals.
In summary, grow a mo’, speak up, get moving, sleep well and eat fresh foods for men’s health!
- A. W. Hsing, J. K. McLaughlin, W. Zheng, Y.-T. Gao and W. J. Blot, Cancer Causes & Control, 1994, 5, 136-140.
- T. J. Hartman, D. Albanes, M. Rautalahti, J. A. Tangrea, J. Virtamo, R. Stolzenberg and P. R. Taylor, Cancer Causes & Control, 1998, 9, 11-18.
- E. Giovannucci, Y. Liu, E. A. Platz, M. J. Stampfer and W. C. Willett, International Journal of cancer, 2007, 121, 1571-1578.
- D. A. Sternberg, K. Ballard, J. L. Hardy, B. Katz, P. M. Doraiswamy and M. Scanlon, Frontiers in human neuroscience, 2013, 7, 292.
- C. A. Perlman, S. L. Johnson and T. A. Mellman, Bipolar disorders, 2006, 8, 271-274.
- M. H. Hall, M. F. Muldoon, J. R. Jennings, D. J. Buysse, J. D. Flory and S. B. Manuck, SLEEP-NEW YORK THEN WESTCHESTER-, 2008, 31, 635.
- J. E. Gangwisch, S. B. Heymsfield, B. Boden-Albala, R. M. Buijs, F. Kreier, T. G. Pickering, A. G. Rundle, G. K. Zammit and D. Malaspina, hypertension, 2006, 47, 833-839.
- M. F. Leitzmann, M. J. Stampfer, D. S. Michaud, K. Augustsson, G. C. Colditz, W. C. Willett and E. L. Giovannucci, The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2004, 80, 204-216.
- N. Allen, T. Key, P. Appleby, R. Travis, A. Roddam, A. Tjønneland, N. Johnsen, K. Overvad, J. Linseisen and S. Rohrmann, British journal of cancer, 2008, 98, 1574-1581.
- A. Sánchez-Villegas, E. Toledo, J. de Irala, M. Ruiz-Canela, J. Pla-Vidal and M. A. Martínez-González, Public health nutrition, 2012, 15, 424-432.
- S. Pilz, S. Frisch, H. Koertke, J. Kuhn, J. Dreier, B. Obermayer-Pietsch, E. Wehr and A. Zittermann, Hormone and Metabolic Research, 2011, 43, 223-225.
- N. Oldereid, Y. Thomassen and K. Purvis, Human Reproduction, 1998, 13, 2172-2176.
- A. S. Prasad, C. S. Mantzoros, F. W. Beck, J. W. Hess and G. J. Brewer, Nutrition, 1996, 12, 344-348.
- B. K. Hölzel, J. Carmody, M. Vangel, C. Congleton, S. M. Yerramsetti, T. Gard and S. W. Lazar, Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 2011, 191, 36-43.
- W. Ramel, P. R. Goldin, P. E. Carmona and J. R. McQuaid, Cognitive therapy and research, 2004, 28, 433-455.