In Part One of this article, I discussed making the most of your doctor’s visit, the dangers of tobacco, the benefits of exercise and sleep, and how you can best monitor your salt intake. To continue reflecting on ways to better care for yourself in light of Men’s Health Month, we continue our list of what your doctor wishes you would do to protect your health.
Be Properly Hydrated—Drink More Water
The human body is approximately 60% water and every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs it in order to function effectively. To maintain temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints, your body needs to be hydrated. But how much water do you need in order to stay hydrated?
Most people need roughly 48-64 ounces of water each day, or 6-8 eight-ounce glasses, but that can vary depending on weight, activity, humidity, and diet. Some people may need more than 64 ounces if they have certain medical conditions, are spending increased time in hot weather, are exercising, or trying to lose weight.
When you are not getting enough water, your body becomes dehydrated which can be detrimental to your health. Be aware of these signs of dehydration to make sure your body is getting the water it needs:
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urine output
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
Drinking 64 ounces of water each day can be difficult, especially if you’re active. But here are a few tips to try and get all that you need to stay hydrated:
- Carry a reusable water bottle during the day and refill frequently
- If plain water is just too plain for you, add in a slice of lemon or lime
- When exercising, drink water before, during, and after your workout
- If you’re feeling hungry, drink water, as hunger can often be confused for thirst
- Drink water when going to a restaurant – it’s free!
Choosing Whole Foods, Not Supplements
As consumers search for magical anti-aging products and the newest way to stay mentally active, evidence has been showing that people who have high blood levels of selenium, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E are experiencing ageing better as well as having slower rates of cognitive decline. However, there is limited evidence that taking vitamins with these nutrients provides those same anti-aging benefits.
Your best bet is probably in the produce aisle, or found in canned/frozen fruits and vegetables. Did you know that a single tomato has more than 200 different carotenoids and 200 flavonoids? These chemicals have complex interactions that promote health beyond single nutrients like vitamin C or single beta-carotene. Actual fruits and vegetables are full of these kinds of nutrients and are much tastier!
Finding Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many health conditions. Luckily, your body begins to produce vitamin D after being in the sun for just 15-20 minutes- perfect for those who are outside being active! Additionally, in your diet, you can also gain this nutrient by eating fish, such as salmon, drinking fortified dairy, or consuming fortified foods such as soy and cereal. From these, adults should try to maintain 600 IU’s (international units) of Vitamin D each day.
Eating a Balanced Meal
What is a balanced diet? The food pyramid is out and MyPlate is in! When looking for those portion sizes of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains, www.choosemyplate.gov provides the newest information about a balanced meal and provides tips such as these to maintain a great plate:
- Balance your calories – keep track of what you’re putting in your body and spread your calorie intake throughout the day.
- Enjoy your food, but eat less – savor those bites!
- Avoid oversized portions. Working to eat less can be done by just putting less food on your plate. Seeing an empty plate can indicate to your brain that you are full.
- Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables – more colorful the plate, the better the meal!
- Switch to fat-free or low fat (1%) milk – don’t forget that this is a great source for Vitamin D.
- When filling your grains section on your plate, work to make at least half of the whole grain variety.
- Compare sodium in foods to maintain a healthy salt intake. See Part One for more information.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks to avoid those additional calories.
Although eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with proteins is important, there is more to know when deciding how much of which foods you should be eating.
There are two broad categories of nutrients – micro and macro. Micronutrients are the vitamins and nutrients your body needs such as Vitamins C and B12 like those discussed above. The macronutrients in our bodies are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. All of these are important to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
How many of each macronutrient do you need? Independent of age, carbohydrates should be 45-65% of a person’s daily intake. However, protein and fat amounts vary based on how old you are.
Young children, ages 1-3, are recommended to have portions that are 5-20% protein and 30-40% fat in addition to the above carbohydrates.
Older children and adolescents, ages 4-18, should be consuming 10-30% protein and 20-35% fat.
Those over the age of 18 should be taking in similar proportions as adolescents but 10-35% protein and 20-35% fat.
When deciding on which fats to consume, though, try to eat monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and less than 10% of saturated fats. Trans-fats should be avoided completely. Stay aware of the labels on the foods you’re consuming!
You should always have an annual visit with your doctor to help make informed medical decisions on screenings. The following are examples of annual screenings that are often recommended to adults:
- Fasting lipids screening - checks total cholesterol as well as the good (HDL) and the bad (LDL) cholesterol; also checks triglycerides
- Blood pressure screening – normal is near the 120/80 range
- Obesity screening – BMI can be a tool to track your health in terms of weight
- Depression screenings typically consist of questions such as “In the past two weeks have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things?” or “Have you been feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?”
- Other annual screenings important to the general population are diabetes and hepatitis C screenings
Other screenings are dependent on age and risk factors – discussions with your doctor can determine when the best time is for you to be screened for these:
- Colon cancer screenings are vital to health and should begin at age 50 and occur every 10 years (colonoscopy) or every year (take home kit/test).
- Lung cancer screenings typically occur between ages 55 and 80 but should occur more frequently or sooner if you have a 30-pack/year history of tobacco, smoke, or you have quit smoking in the past 15 years
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings are recommended to those age 65-75 and also to those who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes any time in their life
Men who are concerned about prostate cancer screenings, the American Urological Association gives the following recommendations:
- Not recommended to those younger than 40 years old
- Those who are age 40-54 should not be screened if there is only average risk
- After shared decision making with your doctor and weighing the risks and benefits, those aged 55-69 are recommended to be screened
- Individuals over the age of 70 are not recommended to be screened
I hope this has been helpful to you.
To learn more about any of these topics, Deaconess.com/YourHealth has a wealth of health and wellness information.