Written by: Danielle Maina
Men’s health has been on my heart quite a bit lately. It’s easy for me to get locked in on women’s health issues but ever since I’ve been living with my better half Marcus, my perspective has changed. So many of our loved ones: his parents, my parents, our aunts, our uncles, grandparents (you get the picture) are currently or have suffered from a disease or condition that are positively or negatively impacted by diet. After having an inspiring talk about health over dinner with Marcus’ Dad, who battles chronic eczema, it motivated me to research more about men’s health and what Marcus and I can focus more on to prevent later complications.
Our mid-20s prove to be a make or break time for health since our bodies tend to be in the physiological prime. How we treat our body, what we consume, what we don’t consume is something we take for granted on a day-to-day basis (I know I have).
So for all you fellas out there who are in your mid-20 or even 40s, and have been thinking about making a lifestyle change for the better, then sit tight and read up. This one goes out to you.
Food. It’s more than just fuel. An overall healthy diet can prevent numerous diseases and conditions that can potentially wreck havoc in your older years.
What a well-balanced diet looks life for you “guys”:
- Eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups vegetables a day for sufficient intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- 4-8 servings of whole grains (ex: 1 serving- ½ c of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or oatmeal. 1 slice bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal).
- 38g fiber/day for younger men. You can receive fiber through whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Fiber is crucial for weight maintenance, and helps fend off certain cancers such as prostate and colon cancer.
- 2-3 servings (one serving being 6 oz.) of fish per week to consume heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, and lean protein.
- 6-6.5 oz. of lean protein/ day through poultry such as chicken, turkey, duck or lean cuts of beef, ham, lamb, pork, veal or through game meats such as bison, rabbit, or venison. Other sources of protein include eggs, legumes (black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, pinto beans), nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pistachios, sesame seeds) or seafood (tuna, salmon, halibut, Pollock, trout, shrimp, lobster etc.)
- Choose healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocadoes, nut butters, plant-based oils such as olive oil or coconut oil as opposed to foods high in saturated fats such as full-fat dairy foods, butter, and high-fat sweets.
- 3 cups of low-fat or non-fat dairy to receive a good amount of calcium for your bones. Sources include non-fat or low-fat milk, non-fat or low-fat yogurt, reduced-fat cheeses such as Parmesan, Swiss, mozzarella or cottage cheese.
- 4,700 mg potassium/day through fruits, vegetables, fish and milk. Potassium is crucial for the electrical activity of the heart, building protein and metabolizing carbohydrates as you age.
Men require more calories than women due to having more muscle and being naturally bigger. For males who are moderately active, you want to aim between 2,000-2,800 calories (again your caloric intake depends on your height, weight and activity level). Maintaining a healthy weight for your age and height is crucial. Men gain more weight in the mid-section than women due to the hormone, testosterone. Adipose (fat) tissue deep in the abdomen increases the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
Lastly, there is a common misconception when it comes to males and eating red meat. Red meat contains crucial vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B12, iron and zinc) and is an excellent source of protein, however it is high in saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease and colorectal cancer in men later in life. Make sure to eat the leaner part of red meat once a week.
In summary, all men and women in their 20s should take a step back and look at their lifestyle. Now I am not telling you to ditch the occasional beers after a long day of work and the late night In & Out runs all together. Life is all about moderation! All I am saying is making a majority of your diet healthier because the benefits definitely outweigh the potential complications in the future.