With ‘Men’s Health Week’ around the corner it is an appropriate time to write about this important issue especially as the average Kiwi man is six foot tall and bullet proof. Combine this with the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude; it can sometimes be too late when one is then faced with a major health event.

Of most concern will be cardiovascular disease, diabetes, body weight and prostate health.

The hormone that holds the key to body weight is Insulin. The food that you eat is converted to blood sugar or glucose. The pancreas then produces insulin to deliver the glucose to cells to be used as energy. High sugar foods and drinks lead to sky-rocketing glucose levels which shift insulin production into high gear. When this high sugar and high insulin cycle repeats frequently the cells become overwhelmed with blood sugar and stop accepting it. This condition is called Insulin Resistance.

This then paves the way for all the common diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Most of these will creep on insidiously and if not proactively looked into will be missed for several years.

We also now know that most of these diseases are influenced by lifestyle and environment rather than only our own genetic makeup – so even if we have a genetic tendency to these diseases we can modulate the risks substantially by changing our lifestyle.

Research is now clear that diet plays a great role in affecting our genes. Nutrigenomics is a reality and we can now programme our individual genes with the right foods. So instead of the various fad diets like high carbs, high protein, blood group diet etc. we should actually be eating as per our genetic makeup. A general diet that controls Insulin Resistance is more like a Mediterranean diet – with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, fibre, monounsaturated fats like olive oil, sea food and small quantities of meat. It avoids foods with high sugars like soft drinks, processed and bakery foods that are rich in transfats and saturated fats like butter and cream. Specifically supplements like CoQ10, L-Carnitine, Magnesium, D-Ribose, Fish Oils and antioxidants from grape skin can have an immense impact on prevention and treatment of Insulin Resistance and Heart Disease.

Exercise has proven benefits to help Insulin Resistance and in neurotransmitter balance of our brains. As little as thirty minutes of brisk walking daily is all that is needed in most cases.

Prostate health along with erectile dysfunction is another key area of men’s health. Until recently prostate problems were not a subject on the social agenda. However, nearly half of all men over the age of 50 develop an enlarged prostate, known as benign prostate hypertrophy. Furthermore prostate cancer kills four times as many men as cervical cancer kills women. Apart from skin cancer, cancer of the prostate is the most common form of cancer in men over 55 years old. If diagnosed early it is mostly treatable with a good outcome. Recent studies have found that relatively common genetic variants were strongly associated with the disease. Testing is available when appropriate. A physical examination by your doctor and a PSA test once a year after the age of fifty helps detection.

There is evidence to suggest a diet of high animal fat may increase the risk of prostate cancer and a diet high in fruit and vegetables may decrease the risk. Some of the supplements available to support prostate health include lycopene, saw palmetto, nettle root extracts and zinc.

At the Wellness Centre every case is assessed on an individual basis. After appropriate testing an Integrative Medicine approach is recommended. The strategies help to either prevent or reduce the impact of disease using conventional medication, diet and lifestyle with natural options.

Mens’ Health