Managing Men’s Health Issues the Natural Way

Not so shockingly, Men are less likely than women to visit a healthcare provider when they’re sick. And often they wait until a medical issue has become serious before they do anything about it. Some of this tendency may be that men are less likely to ask for help in general (hence their often-joked-about difficulty with asking for directions). And some of it may be that many men simply don’t like to talk much about health issues.

The reason most commonly cited by men for avoiding medical appointments is that they feel they’re too busy. But with the rise in chronic conditions and disease, men need to be more proactive about their health. This month we’re discussing some of the most common health concerns specific to men, and natural ways to prevent and treat them.

This information doesn’t replace the need to see your doctor – in fact, we hope that it will encourage more men to take their health seriously and visit their healthcare practitioners.

1 – Prostate Enlargement

The prostate gland is one of those little-discussed body parts. However, one in every 9 men in North America will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. That makes it the most common form of cancer for the country’s men. The good news is that regular screening is often able to catch prostate cancer because it is generally a slow-growing cancer. The bad news is that many men don’t seek out screening at all until they have been living with the symptoms for far too long.

All men over 50 should talk about their prostate health with their healthcare provider. It’s particularly important if you have one of the risk factors for prostate cancer.

What Are The Risk Factors For Prostate Cancer?

● Obesity (having a BMI over 30)
● A family history of prostate cancer
● Eating a diet high in red meat and dairy

Some evidence suggests smoking may also be a risk factor (and even if it’s not, quitting is always a good idea anyway). As well, black men have higher rates of prostate cancer.

Benign Prostate Enlargement (BPE)

Not all prostate enlargement is cancer. In fact, a more common issue causing similar symptoms in the earlier stages is an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostate enlargement (BPE). Although it’s not prostate cancer, BPE can have a negative impact on a man’s lifestyle. That’s because it leads to frequent urination, poor control of urine flow, embarrassing “leaks,” and difficulty emptying the bladder.

About 50 percent of men will experience BPE by the age of 60, and up to 90 percent by the age of 85. In addition to age, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are risk factors.

Fortunately there are several natural approaches that can be used to support a healthy prostate and reduce the risk of issues down the line.

Supplements To Support The Prostate

Some studies have found that the herbal remedy saw palmetto can improve men’s urinary tract function because it lowers testosterone production, which in turn can shrink the lining of the prostate. In addition, low zinc levels are indicative of BPE, so consider adding zinc supplements to your regime and increasing your consumption of high-zinc foods such as eggs and nuts. Another promising supplement, pygeum (African plum extract) has been linked with a lower risk for BPE in several studies.

Simple Dietary And Lifestyle Changes To Help Protect The Prostate

● Increase the amounts of lycopene you consume. Deep pink or red foods are good sources of lycopene, so turn to things like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit.

● Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink lots of fluids during the day to support your urinary system. However, it’s best to stop drinking about two hours before bedtime if you are plagued by frequent trips to the bathroom.

● Limit or eliminate caffeine, artificially sweetened drinks, and alcohol. If you must have caffeine, choose green tea – one study found it may help prevent prostate cancer.

● Choose natural, unprocessed food whenever possible.

2 – Low Testosterone

Many signs of “low T” develop slowly over time. As a result, men often ascribe their symptoms to simply growing older. However, a reduction in testosterone levels doesn’t have to be a normal consequence of aging. Although your hormone levels do begin to drop as early as your 30’s, there are a number of steps you can take to help protect them.

Symptoms Of Low Testosterone Levels

How can you tell if you have low testosterone? Only your healthcare practitioner can make a definitive diagnosis, but the following signs could indicate it’s time to schedule an appointment.

● Lagging libido
● Unexplained fatigue
● Depression
● Irritability
● Increased body fat
● Male breast tissue growth
● Loss of muscle tone

How Can You Protect Your Testosterone Levels As You Get Older?

1. Sleep

Missing a few hours can quickly cause your levels of testosterone to drop. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, and practise good “sleep hygiene” by ensuring your bedroom is dark and switching off any electronics one hour before bedtime.

2. Exercise

Working out is one of the more direct ways to give your testosterone levels a boost- there’s a reason many men feel “pumped up” after a workout. Weights are the most effective activity for raising testosterone levels, and recent studies found high-intensity interval training HIIT workouts productive in this regard.

3. Eat a balanced diet

Include plenty of good quality protein, unrefined carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

4. Keep stress levels in check.

When you’re stressed, your levels of the hormone cortisol rise. And when cortisol rises, testerone drops. So avoid chronic, long-term stress. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule some mini-breaks for yourself. Calling a time out on a hectic schedule to meditate or simply go for a short walk can pay off in the long run.

5. Watch your vitamin D levels

Spending time in the sun, or taking vitamin D supplements during the winter, can give your body a key component needed to raise your testosterone levels if they are low.

6. Talk to your healthcare provider about supplements

Studies suggest that both ginger and ashwagandha can help raise testosterone levels.

7. Avoid estrogen-mimicking materials

Many compounds found in daily life can affect your hormones because they mimic estrogen in your body. In particular, avoid materials made with BPA, parabens, and phthalates. That means not using things like plastic water bottles, air fresheners, and scented grooming products.

3 – Heart Health

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death regardless of gender. However, the average age of a first heart attack is about seven years younger for men, largely due to the protective effect of women’s hormones.

Men can take steps to protect their own heart health at any age. Although some commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications have adverse side effects, nutritional therapies show promising results in research and can be used alongside conventional medicine to support the body.

Factors That Affect Your Heart Health

Omega-3 fatty acids

Several studies have found that men who consume a lot of foods high in essential fatty acids have lower mortality rates from cardiovascular events. Foods that are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish like salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed oil.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is used by all muscles in the body to relax, and that includes the heart. A recent study found that magnesium may also help the heart repair existing damage. Foods high in magnesium include dark chocolate, avocados, tofu, and beans.

Exercise

Of course, one of the best things you can do for your heart muscle is to exercise it. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to run a marathon or spend hours in the gym. The movements of daily life (like gardening, vacuuming, and walking to the store) all contribute to a healthy heart.

Stress

Your heart is yet another body part that suffers when you’re stressed. Think about it: When your stress hormones kick you go into “flight or fight mode,” your blood pressure rises and your heart beats faster. You’re also more likely to engage in behaviours that hurt your heart, like overeating or drinking alcohol. Yes, drinking small amounts of alcohol has been shown to help heart health. But don’t forget that moderate drinking for men is two drinks a day or less.

4 – Depression

Signs of depression can be different for men than they are for women. Men are more likely to appear angry when they are suffering from depression. But the effects of this tendency to hide depression can be devastating. Consider these stats: over 30 percent of men say they have felt depressed. And the rate of suicide in men is four times that of women. You may be surprised to learn that men over 85 years of age have the highest rate of suicide of all.

If you experience any of the signs below, talk to someone immediately. Depression is treatable. There is lots of help out there.

● Difficulty concentrating
● Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
● Difficulty sleeping
● Loss of appetite
● Indecisiveness
● Agitated repetitive movements like pacing or drumming with your fingers
● Unexplained aches and pains

If you’re a man with any of the symptoms or health concerns mentioned, don’t hesitate to come in and talk about them. Taking charge of your health can help you get back to living with vitality and energy. It’s time to get started!

References:
https://www.greenmedinfo.health/blog/7-ways-prevent-and-even-reverse-heart-disease-nutrition1
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18982874
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-allana-polo/holistic-mental-health_b_8270604.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/
https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health-concerns#circulatory-health
https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health#doctor
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160609064534.htm
https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-016-3706-5
https://www.prostatecancer.ca/Support/Healthy-Living-Tips/Healthy-Living-Tips-Archive/Are-you-at-Risk-of-Developing-Prostate-Cancer
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3af2/cba5d0c864e798333b719f0dcb9d49611894.pdf
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/382c/bc37042c44ee019b3bca77af8c21e03d391f.pdf
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-mystery-of-declining-testosterone_b_59fcc5fbe4b0d467d4c224b3
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-mystery-of-declining-testosterone_b_59fcc5fbe4b0d467d4c224b3
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.cir.102.19.2353

Crohn’s and Colitis: Natural Treatment Options

If you are someone who experiences one of the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, you will know that the pain and disruption caused by these disorders can wreak havoc on your life, affecting relationships, employment and more.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for either condition, although much exciting research is being done. The good news is that we have made a lot of progress in recent years discovering natural ways to ease and support IBD. Read on to discover some non-invasive treatment modalities that can help you take your life back.

Crohn’s and Colitis- What You Need to Know

Crohn’s and Colitis develop when the lining of your intestines become inflamed. But behind that short definition lie several debilitating consequences, including difficulty with food digestion, nutrient absorption, and waste elimination. These issues can result in problems with bowel movements including urgency (feeling like you need to find a bathroom immediately) and bloody diarrhea.

The two disorders share many symptoms, including:

● Diarrhea (sometimes alternating with constipation)
● Bloody stools
● Belly pain and discomfort
● Rectal bleeding
● Weight loss
● Reduced appetite
● Nausea
● Increased gas
● Fatigue
● Anemia
● Joint pain

The Differences Between Crohn’s And Colitis
Although they share many symptoms, it is important to note that they’re not exactly the same. The main differences between Crohn’s and Colitis are:

● With ulcerative colitis, only the large intestine is affected. Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere in the digestive system.

● In Crohn’s disease, healthy tissue can be intermixed with inflamed tissue. In contrast, ulcerative colitis affects an entire area.

● The inflammation of colitis affects only the inner lining of the intestines, whereas it can affect deeper layers with Crohn’s disease.

In real-life terms, bloody diarrhea and rectal bleeding are more common with colitis. The pain of Crohn’s is often a sharper, more intense pain than the cramping that typically characterizes colitis.

Bear in mind that these are just generalized differences and a medical practitioner is the best person to diagnose any form of inflammatory bowel disease.

What Causes Crohn’s and Colitis?

Why do some people get Crohn’s and Colitis? Scientists don’t have precise reasons and most cases are considered idiopathic (of unknown origin). They are generally considered to be autoimmune in nature, where a number of factors can come into play including genetics and environmental triggers.

The Effects Of Stress & Diet

Many people do notice that IBD tends to flare up during times of stress (and, of course, this creates even more stress). Certain foods are often triggers as well. Although stress and diet don’t cause either condition, they can often exacerbate the symptoms. So, managing Crohn’s and Colitis often requires careful dietary monitoring and lifestyle changes.

How Are Crohn’s and Colitis Treated?

Treatment often focuses on two main goals: reducing inflammation and managing symptoms. A number of medications, including steroids, can work to reduce inflammation, and, particularly with Crohn’s, surgery is sometimes necessary to remove tissue that has been too deeply damaged. Many people suffering from IBD find that they can ease their symptoms enough to return to a more normal life by making a few changes to their diet and lifestyle.

Natural Ways To Ease Crohn’s and Colitis Symptoms

Improving your overall health is an important first step in managing IBD symptoms. Your treatment plan should target your lifestyle holistically, from all angles, with the joint goals of reducing inflammation and minimizing the number of flare-ups you experience. Some proven strategies include:

1. Reduce stress

Your nervous system is intricately connected with your digestive system. Stress, particularly the kind of chronic stress that never seems to let up, can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in your gut. (Also known as dysbiosis.)

In order to relieve the physical effects of stress on your body, a variety of mindfulness activities such as yoga, meditation or tai chi can be very helpful.

2. Exercise

Working out while you’re experiencing symptoms of IBD can be difficult. However, research has shown that exercising can help to reduce the severity of gastrointestinal disorders. With IBD it’s especially important to listen to your body and focus on exercise such as yoga which is lower in intensity, as working out too intensely can actually create a stress response and exacerbate symptoms.

3. Work On An Elimination Diet

It can take a bit of trial and error to figure out which foods are triggers. That’s why it is a good idea to create a carefully planned elimination diet in consultation with your Naturopathic Doctor.

What Foods Trigger IBD?
Although everyone is different, some common triggers include:
● Alcohol
● Caffeine
● Fried foods
● Fatty foods
● Many dairy products
● Chocolate
● Artificial sweeteners
● Large meals
● Carbonated drinks
● Foods with a lot of fructose, such as apples and many dried fruits

4. Use probiotics

Restoring the bacterial balance in your gut with probiotic supplements can ease symptoms. However, you’ll get the best results if you work with a healthcare practitioner to ensure you’re taking the best type of probiotic. Not all probiotics are the same, so you want to make sure you select the best one for your condition.

5. Consider Herbal And Nutritional Supplements

Talk to your healthcare provider about supplementation, as a number of natural supplements have shown promising results in treating Crohn’s and Colitis, including:
● Boswellwellia (also known as frankincense)
● Glucosamine
● Turmeric (Curcumin)
● Berberine

6. Stay Abreast Of New Treatment Options

Although much work still remains to be done, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about recent medical research. IBD is an area where promising discoveries and potential new treatments are emerging often. For example, trials have been conducted on the effectiveness of fecal transplants, in which healthy stool is “transplanted” into an inflamed large intestine in hopes of restoring the balance of healthy bacteria. Other exciting findings involve stem cell research.

If you have been diagnosed with or are experiencing the symptoms of Crohn’s or Colitis, you should know that there is reason for hope. Many natural supportive treatments prove quite effective, and new developments are on the horizon. Come into the office and we can work together to improve your digestive health!

References:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/crohns-disease/symptoms-causes

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202343/
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