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Sunday, December 31, 2006

A New Year’s Resolution To Post On The Shop Door


Happy New Year! And with that greeting we quickly move to the issue of New Year Resolutions, and knowing you probably resolved to lose weight, let’s go a bit further. For the men reading this, just click on “continue reading” now. For the women reading this, take a good look at the recommendations included here, post them on the refrigerator, the shop door, the machine shed door, and make extra copies for his bedside reading. There is a lot here, more embedded in the link, but it may pay off in the long run.

“Enjoy life more. Enhance your role as a productive employee and family member. Maintain your mental and physical function and independence. Even improve your life expectancy. Feel better today and tomorrow.” If that is your goal, make your New Year Resolution one of practicing better health. Kansas State nutrition specialists Mary Meck Higgins and Kimberly Shafter say that is the promise of good health in their guide: Men's Health: A Guide to Living Long, Strong and Well.

Answer these to yourself and be honest now:
1. Do you view your health differently from that of a woman?
2. Are you less likely to focus on your overall health, wear and tear on your body, or on disease symptoms?
3. Are you more reluctant to visit a health care provider?

Higgins and Shafter focus on six common health issues in men, most of which are never discussed at home, nor to anyone, for that matter. Since you are reading this on the privacy of your computer screen, or a printed copy in your shop (thanks to someone who cares about you), take a long hard look at these potential problems in your life. They can be fixed, just like a broken cultivator shovel, but you’ll need the help of someone who has the right tools.

Osteoporosis. You’ve seen the elderly women at church who are growing shorter and walking a bit more stooped than last year, or may have broken a bone too easily, all because of osteoporosis. Higgins and Shafter say two million men in the US have osteoporosis and twelve million more might potentially have it. “Male risk factors for osteoporosis include older age; heredity; Caucasian ethnicity (white males are at greater risk); prolonged use of medications such as steroids and aluminum-containing antacids (look at the ingredients label to find out if the product has aluminum); smoking; excessive alcohol use; lack of dietary calcium or physical activity; and chronic diseases of the kidneys, lungs, stomach and intestines.”

Here’s how to work on the problem:
1) Regularly do weight-bearing physical activities.
2) Get vitamin D, either by spending 10-15 minutes a day outside in the sunshine or through vitamins.
3) Get enough calcium, with the help of milk, cheese, or yogurt. (There are healthier ways than a dose of ice cream.)
4) Improve other lifestyle behaviors to reduce bone loss, such as quit smoking and don’t use alcohol to excess.

Cardiovascular disease (heart and stroke). Males have a better than 25% chance of dying from a cardiovascular problem. You know this, but it is good to review it. Higgins and Shafter say, “A man’s chances for getting heart disease and stroke increase if he has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, is physically inactive or overweight, and if he smokes. Healthy eating and physical activity are important for preventing and treating heart disease and stroke.” Briefly, diet and exercise are the issues here.

Here’s how to work on the problem:
1) Eat 4-6 cups of colorful fruits and vegetables per day; 3+ ounces of whole grains, only 5-7 ounces of lean meat, avoid fried foods or those with added fats, read nutrition labels to avoid saturated fats and trans fats, switch to lower fat dairy products, limit your sodium (salt) intake.
2) If you are a smoker, give it up.
3) Get moderate physical exercise
4) If you are overweight, lose some of it.

Prostate cancer. This is the second most common cancer that affects men, behind skin cancer. Higgins and Shafter say, “What factors increase the chances for prostate cancer? They include: older age, having a father or brother who had the disease, being African American, eating a diet high in animal fat (found in meats and high-fat dairy products), eating few fruits and vegetables, being overweight and getting little physical activity.” (Yes, you can cure a couple potential problems with the same tools.)

Here’s how to work on the problem:
1) Eat more fruits and vegetables.
2) Eat foods that are red or pink which contain lycopene.
3) Eat strong flavored foods such as onions or garlic that contain allium
4) Eat cooked dry beans which contain isoflavones

Colon cancer and large bowel problems. This is the fourth most common cancer in men, but one in three deaths from colon cancer could be avoided with a regular screening test. What increases men’s chances of getting colon cancer? 90% are 50 or older, family history of colon cancer, personal history of bowel problems, diet low in fruits a vegetables but high in animal fats, insufficient physical activity, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and diabetes.

Here’s how to work on the problem:
1) Eat 3+ cups of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day; eat 3+ cups of cooked dried beans per week; chose whole grains, limit sugar intake; eat fish frequently; limit consumption of red or cured meats.
2) Get 30+ minutes of daily physical activity at least 5 days per week.
3) Take a daily multivitamin with folate and a supplement with calcium and vitamin D.

Depression. Six million men have depression, but only 10% of diagnosed cases are men, leading authorities to believe there are millions of undiagnosed cases. Depression can be treated successfully to restore productivity and enjoyment of life. Higgins and Shafter say, “Although many men have depression, it’s often not recognized. Some men deny having problems with depression because they believe that they should be strong and not express emotions. Depression leads some men to withdraw from socializing with friends and family, or to use alcohol excessively. Men suffering from depression may lack sexual desire. They are likely to describe their symptoms as being physical, such as feeling tired, experiencing headaches or not sleeping well. Other signs of depression are difficulty concentrating or remembering, or feeling irritable, pessimistic, anxious, or sad most of the time.”

Here’s how to work on the problem:
1) Consume folate, Omega-3 fats, and vitamins B6 and B12 either through foods that contain them or with vitamin supplements.
2) Increase your physical activity
3) Talk to a health care provider about other options

Arthritis and joint problems. Only heart disease causes more work loss than arthritis. 17 million men have arthritis that has been properly diagnosed, but there are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis. Higgins and Shafter say, “Men who have had a sports injury (such as to their knee or hip), those ages 40 years and older, and men who are ten or more pounds overweight are at increased risk for osteoarthritis. Doing moderate physical activity, such as walking at least three times a week, can reduce the risk by almost half for knee osteoarthritis-related work disability. Losing 10 to 11 pounds of excess body weight also reduces the risk.”

Here’s how to work on the problem:
1) By losing 1 pound of weight, you will take a four pound reduction in the load exerted on your knee per step you take.
2) Consume the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains recommended for other health issues in this guide.
3) Avoid foods that adversely interact with your other medications
4) Any sugar, salt, saturated fats, and alcohol consumed should be in only moderate amounts.
5) If your problem has been diagnosed as gout, drink plenty of water; reduce fat intake, lose weight gradually, and limit your consumption of purines which are found in meat extracts and alcohol.
6) If your problem has been diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, consume sufficient amounts of citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables, along with omega-3 fats, and dietary sources of zinc and selenium.

Lastly, get a physical examination annually if you are more than 50 years of age.

Acknowledge it or not, men can suffer ill health from time to time, and some of it can be rather serious, even fatal if not treated properly. There are measures that can be taken for disease prevention, but if that is too late, begin with measures to address the disease. Many of those issues can be addressed with a healthy diet and good exercise.

Posted by Stu Ellis on 12/31 at 07:18 PM | Permalink


Stu I agree with your comments. I would say it in a slightly different way: Listen to your body and give up fairly quickly (see a doctor). Granted things like osteoporosis don't make much noise and are hard to hear. If it is too late then learning all you can about your illness and the drugs used to treat it should be first. And yes a healthy diet and good exercise are still important. While chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis are not curable they are treatable with drugs, diet, exercise, and how you think about it. For me the how you think about a chronic illness, how you think about your body, and how you think about the relationship between the two is more than half the battle. Drugs, exercise, diet, and physical therapy are the other 40%. Thanks for the article Greg Fountain Greg- Excellent insight!!! -Stu

Posted by: Greg Fountain at January 1, 2007 12:12AM

This is a fantastic post and full of awesome info....... I love the bit about putting it on the the shop door, the machine sheds door i've done that with all my goals and it makes an awesome difference. Cheers, TonyinAus!

Posted by: sheds at May 18, 2007 8:08AM

A nice article, I am particularly pleased that people are trying to get the message accoss that men get osteoporosis too!

Posted by: Dean at June 24, 2007 12:12AM

Hi Stu, Very interesting post, good on you for sharing. I am a big supporter of self care and was interesting to see all the natural ways to work on the problem. I kind of believe that everything should be cured (and prevented) through natural medicine. I wish you all the best! Adam

Posted by: garden sheds at January 12, 2010 1:01AM

Hi all, I am into whole food and natural medicine as well as well as Adam and it is getting more and more obvious that that is the best way to prevent and cure any type of problems. Good on you Stu. I also wish you all the bets!

Posted by: loft ladder at January 15, 2010 5:05AM

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