Men’s health is no different than the universal definition of health – it encompasses complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease. The fact that the average life expectancy of NZ males is 78 years, versus women at 82 years, raises important issues about male behaviour and socialvalues, and delivery of health care.
Though cardiovascular and cancer take the top spots, essentially common to both sexes, it is not inclusive of the poor quality of life issues suffered by the ageing man. This includes the gradual decrease in memory, arthritis, depression, loss of muscle mass and frailty, and specific issues related to erectile dysfunction and prostate health.
This article will essentially emphasise prevention of disease and maintaining quality of life, well into the later years.
Hormones – complex and controlling!
Beyond optimising commonlyknown facts of a healthy balanced diet, exercise and movement, avoidance of harmful habits like smoking, excessive alcohol and exposure to other environmental toxins, it is essential to maintain good hormonal balance to maximise ‘organ reserve’ with advancing years.
Our body has several hormones that pour billions of units per day into our bloodstream. These control essential functions like brain and heart health, adequate digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food, building and maintaining bone mass, sleep-wake cycle, governing metabolism, combating the effects of stress and supporting levels of blood sugar and other electrolytes in the body. In essence, they maintain a state of balance called ‘homeostasis’ in the body.
Hormones also control one’s sex drive, virility and fertility. Though these hormones have specific jobs to do, they are essentially an elaborately interwoven system that needs to work together in synergy, like an orchestra playing a symphony.
Overcoming the challenges of decreasing hormone levels
All of these key hormones are known to decrease as we age – a fact that is well documented in medical literature. Good diet, exercise and avoidance of toxins are the main levers of all positive health outcomes that help to reduce this normal age related decline.
A carefully assessed, small dose multi-hormonal replacement programme can help this process further. Typically, for a man, this may consist of ensuring adequate testosterone levels, using either botanicals or bioidentical hormones, amongst other lifestyle factors to maintain good prostate health and sexual function.
There are several questionnaires, lab tests and imaging procedures, along with genetic testing, which can be utilised to enable a comprehensive assessment. A medical practitioner conversant with all of this information is able to suggest a safe, long-term programme to achieve optimal health.
1. Make sure your diet is tailored to your physical and individual health. Generally, eating less calories with a predominantly plant-based multi-coloured diet rich in phytonutrients with some variations will achieve this.
2. Movement is essential for good health.Incorporate some form of exercise (include interval training if possible) daily for 20-30 minutes.
3. Restrict use of alcohol, sweet and processed foods.
4. Keep hydrated and maintain an alkaline blood pH by drinking lemon water.
5. Maintain ideal body weight, preferably with bioimpedence measurements to know the fat content of the body.
6. Ensure adequate nutrient intake from food and supplementation as needed –especially as deficiencies are present more frequently as you age.
7. Some of the key nutrients useful in this area include:
Quality high dose fish oil with EPA and DHA oils. These levels can be measured in blood.
Adequate vitamin D as needed after a blood test.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Nicotinamide riboside, along with resveratrol are key longevity promoting nutrients.
8. Maintain good hormonal balance with careful replacement of natural (bioidentical) hormones.
9. Finally, being connected to your family and community, as well as prioritising personal spiritual development, have shown great health benefits in recent research (and has not been previously emphasised).
Dr. Kamal Karl, MBBS, FACNEM, FRNZCGP, FNZCAM, and his wife, Dr. Avani Karl, MBBS, DipObs, RNZGP, currently practise in Auckland as Functional Medicine Practitioners. Specialising in treating chronic illness, they adopt an integrative, personalised and preventative approach to healthcare. Please email email@example.com or visit fmdr.co.nz for more information.