Men’s Health: Know the Risks, Be Proactive

Publish Date May 11, 2023 5 Minute Read

Would you let your car go 100,000 miles without an oil change? Hopefully not. While it’s easy to see when your vehicle needs routine maintenance, your body’s check engine light may be more subtle. And while many of the same chronic diseases can affect both men and women, there are some key differences to look out for when it comes to men’s health.

1. Know Your Risk Factors

Knowing your risk factors can help you live life to the fullest, year after year.

Heart Disease - This the leading cause of death for both men and women, but a study has shown that men can develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than women. Chronic stress can damage arteries over time, leading to an increased risk for heart disease. There are also many diet-related risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and consuming a diet high in saturated fat and low in fiber. The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, ischemic stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Mental Health - In 2020, men accounted for about 70% of all suicides, and the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic has brought mental health to the forefront of many health discussions. Stress, anxiety and anger can raise blood pressure and release hormones like cortisol into the bloodstream, causing secondary health risks as well. One step you can take to ensure that you receive proper support is looking into your employee assistance programs and health insurance coverage to determine which mental health services are available to you at a reduced cost.

Cancer - This is the second leading cause of death for men, with prostate cancer being the most prevalent. Men 65 and older are at the greatest risk for this type of cancer. The top 5 cancers that affect men are cancers of the prostate, lungs, colon, bladder and skin. Poor diet, lack of exercise and lifestyle factors like smoking, stress levels and alcohol have all been linked to increased risk for cancer.

Diet and Lifestyle - Our Kroger Health registered dietitians can help you use food as medicine through a dedicated, educated and personalized approach to eating and enjoying food. This proactive and holistic methodology can help you live a healthier life and prevent illness before it starts. While all foods can fit into a healthy diet in moderation, there are a few dietary components to keep a close eye on.

To reduce your risk of disease, consider making these simple adjustments to your diet:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, lean meats and unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, fatty fish, avocados and olive oil.
  • Limit saturated fat, alcohol, added sugars and sodium.
  • Drink an adequate amount of water each day. Water is essential for hydration. The appropriate amount of water for men is about 16 cups per day. However, needs vary based on age, activity level, climate, medical conditions and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about building healthy lifestyle habits, schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian today.

2. Take Steps to Live a Healthier Lifestyle

What you do daily greatly affects your overall health, and it’s important to take steps each day to implement healthy habits.

Physical Activity - Leading a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, along with the use of alcohol and tobacco. These lifestyle factors are closely linked to heart disease, cancers and stroke. Moving your body each day is one of the best ways to maintain your physical and mental well-being:

  • Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week.
  • Aim for 2 days of muscle strengthening activity per week.

Mental Wellness - Whether it’s stress, anxiety, depression, or even loneliness, it’s important to seek help, break stigmas and take steps to manage your mental health. Try incorporating the following to ensure your mental wellness:

  • Walking outside
  • Talking to a friend
  • Getting together with friends or family routinely
  • Spending time doing something for yourself
  • Talking to a mental health professional

3. Be Consistent with Your Care

Routine Screenings and Checkups - Your risk factors determine when you should get screened for cancers, heart disease and diabetes. Make sure you take the following steps to be proactive in your care:

  • Discuss necessary screenings with your doctor based on your risk factors and health history.
  • Explore screening resources available through the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
  • Find out your family history and inform your provider to make sure you’re receiving the right personalized recommendations.
  • Make sure you’re getting an annual checkup each year. Early detection of cancer and other chronic diseases significantly improves treatment outcomes. Find physical exams and screening services at your pharmacy or The Little Clinic.

Listen to Your Body - Do this every day, and know when to take a break, take a day off, talk to someone or schedule in some fun. When checking in with yourself, look for these warning signs:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue or feeling overly tired or over-worked
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

By knowing your risk factors, living a healthy lifestyle and staying up to date with regular checkups, you can make a world of difference for yourself and the people who care about you.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.