By Dr. Rajen Mehta
June is Men’s Health Month – the time of year to heighten awareness of preventable health problems among men, and encourage them to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.
Heart disease, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, hypertension, and obesity affect large portions of the male population in the United States. Though some of these diseases may not be entirely avoidable, certain behavioral changes can go a long way towards preventing or controlling their symptoms, and improving overall health. Men should make their health a top priority and take daily steps to be healthier and stronger – not just for themselves, bur for their loved ones. (And women need to encourage the men in their lives to get important health screenings that can help detect disease at an early, treatable stage.)
There are many easy things to do every day that help promote a healthier lifestyle:
Eat healthy. For maximum health benefits, you should make an effort to eat only fresh, non-processed foods. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, low- or fat-free dairy products, fish and poultry includes many of the vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. You should also lower your intake of fried and processed foods, meat, added fat, high-calorie drinks (including alcohol) and sweets.
Get a good night’s sleep. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Sleep deprivation can also affect your mood and can lead to depression. Sleep apnea, a common problem in which your breathing stops briefly numerous times throughout the night, can increase the risk of accidents and certain health problems. See your doctor if you think you have serious sleep issues.
Be smoke-free. It’s never too late to quit. Smoking is linked to many of the leading causes of death, including cancer, lung disease, and stroke. Quit today and you’ll realize immediate and long-term benefits. If you’re not a smoker, try to avoid secondhand smoke. Inhaling other people’s smoke causes similar health problems to those of smokers.
Get moving. Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help you achieve and keep a healthy weight and lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke that come from obesity. A mix of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises, done at least twice a week, is a great way to begin.
Manage stress. Experts agree that some stress can be good for you. However, it can be harmful when it is severe enough to make you feel overwhelmed and out of control. So take good care of yourself. Balancing work and family responsibilities can be challenging, but it’s important to protect your physical and mental well-being.
See your doctor regularly. It’s not macho to avoid going for checkups or screenings … it’s just foolish. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so routine exams can help identify issues early before they can become a problem. Besides, it’s always a good idea to monitor your blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI) and other important numbers so you can keep them in a healthy range.
For more information about getting and staying healthier, get a customized Preventive Care Plan here, based on your age, gender and any of your known conditions. You can schedule an appointment with your physician to discuss your plan and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Dr. Rajen Mehta specializes in Internal Medicine for AdvantageCare Physicians (ACPNY), one of New York’s largest physician-led multi-specialty practices and partner of EmblemHealth. ACPNY serves nearly half a million patients in 36 locations throughout New York City and Long Island. Find out more at acpny.com.