June is a month of choices for men

By Beth Cecil
Owensboro Health Healthpark dietitian

My dad has joined an exercise class. My son Nathan has started measuring out portions of certain foods before he eats them. Philip, my husband, is growing a garden and doesn’t consider a meal complete without a good serving of vegetables. And my brother has been running 3-6 miles a day.

Call me crazy, but this all really excites me. Why? It means that these guys have been taking control of their health in one way or another. It also means that just maybe my son and husband have actually been listening to me.

June is Men’s Health Month and, more specifically, June 9th-15th is Men’s Health Week. This is celebrated annually during the week leading up to Father’s Day.

Men’s Health is recognized each June across the nation with screenings and health education activities giving men and boys the opportunity to seek regular medical advice as well as early treatment for disease and injury.

This is also the perfect occasion to heighten awareness of preventable health problems among men and boys.

Since proper diet and exercise can be keys to a healthier lifestyle and disease prevention, this seems like the perfect place for men to start when evaluating their health status.

It is important to recognize that men and women have different body types and nutritional needs. In fact, men have less body fat and often 10-20 percent more muscle than women of the same age and weight and therefore have higher basic energy needs (lucky dogs). Yes, men can eat more than women, but the choices they make are important.

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains should make up a good part of a man’s diet. These supply carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber to the diet. They also contain valuable phytochemicals, which can help fight conditions such as heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Men should aim for 30-38 grams of fiber each day. Unfortunately, the typical American male barely gets half of this recommended amount each day. However, men who do meet the recommended daily amount are less likely to suffer from constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticular disease. Additionally, a high fiber diet may help control cholesterol and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Choosing low-fat dairy, lean fish and meat and skinless poultry is also important as is limiting margarine, butter, whole milk cheeses, salad dressings, foods that are fried and rich desserts.

But if you are a “meat and potatoes man” or know someone that is, the news is not all bad. You don’t have to completely avoid foods such as eggs, steak and potatoes. Just remember to eat these foods in moderation.

In fact, the best advice is to eat a moderate amount of a variety of foods. No single food has all the nutrients that you need. MyPlate is a great tool to help with the selection of a variety of foods in the proper portions. Visit https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for more information and for guidelines specific to you.

Moderation is important to remember when it comes to sodium too. If you haven’t already, try to shake the salt habit. Philip, my salt loving husband, are you listening? High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure. Try to limit sodium intake to about 2,300 mg a day.

And finally, child and adolescent boys should be active at least one hour everyday and adult men should aim for at least 30 minutes or more of exercise most days of the week.

Men’s health not only affects them, but it affects the women in their lives too, so be sure to make it a family issue all year round.

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