This June we celebrate Men’s Health Month in the United States with the goal of encouraging men to increase their awareness of preventable health issues and advocate for early screenings of potential diseases common among men, including cancer and heart disease.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), men in the U.S. live approximately six years less than women, and non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native men have a lower life expectancy than non-Hispanic white men. While these statistics are daunting, there is some positive news: according to HHS, many diseases that disproportionately impact men are often preventable through regular doctor visits and healthy lifestyle choices – and we have a few suggestions on the latter.
I. Eat Healthy! Men’s Health Month is an ideal time to take a serious inventory of your daily eating habits. One of the healthiest diets is the Mediterranean diet, which can lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many other chronic conditions. According to Cleveland Clinic, a Mediterranean diet is heavy on plant-based foods and healthy fats, particularly olive oil. June is the perfect time to start this as the diet emphasizes vegetables and fruits (and whole grains), many of which are in-season this time of year.
II. Minimize your alcohol intake. Remember, as pleasant as a buzz from that glass of wine might be, at the end of the day, alcohol is a toxic chemical, so limit your intake of it (or consider stopping altogether).
III. Stop smoking. Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body, including your heart, and nearly one-third of deaths from heart disease are the result of smoking or secondhand smoke, according to Johns Hopkins University Medicine. And while vaping has been touted as being safer than smoking cigarettes, research is showing that it is far from healthy, and probably harmful. 2021 research from Johns Hopkins University on vape ingredients showed thousands of chemicals in vape products, most of them unidentifiable, and among those that were identified, many of them were potentially harmful substances, including a pesticide and flavorings linked to possible respiratory irritation and toxic effects. “Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma, as well as associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease. You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe,” said Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, according to an article published on www.hopkinsmedicine.org.
IV. Learn your family’s health history. Many health issues are genetically linked; if you know ahead of time what to look out for, you can take extra special preventative care.
V. Many men suffer from depression but are too embarrassed to ask for help. This is because they think that talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist makes them ‘weak’ or the like. This is so far from the truth. In fact, it takes incredible courage and strength to admit you need help, even to yourself, and taking that next step to meet with a mental health professional shows just how incredibly strong you are.
This month, we strongly encourage you to take an honest look at how you’re feeling emotionally and mentally, and if you have more bad days than good ones, it very well may be time to talk to a mental health professional.
And please, don’t underestimate the importance of seeking mental health. At its worst, untreated depression can sometimes lead to suicide – and the rate of suicide for men in the U.S. is four times higher than females, according to a 2020 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, and one of the leading causes of death in the country.
VI. June is the beginning of summer, so take some time to enjoy yourself. Spend quality time with those you love or simply enjoy some downtime by yourself – or better yet, both. And with more daylight hours, immersing yourself in nature is always a great option – and easy to incorporate into your schedule even after work.
HAPPY MEN’S HEALTH MONTH!