11 Habits Men Need for Good Health

Experts highlight certain things men need to pay attention to

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Some habits related to health are particularly pertinent to men’s health. While anyone could benefit from a healthful diet and exercise, these areas of health warrant attention from men.

1. Testosterone. “The biggest thing men want to maintain is good testosterone,” said Erica Callahan, a chiropractic doctor with a master’s degree in applied clinical nutrition. She is also an assistant professor at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls. “There are healthy foods to maintain that, but physical activity that challenges muscles throughout the day will help increase testosterone like body weight exercise. Zinc is an important mineral for good testosterone. Whole foods with high fiber keep hormones in balance. Lean beef can help maintain muscle mass.”

2. Prostate cancer. Callahan said that omega-3 fatty acids “have anti-inflammatory factors that decrease risk of prostate cancer. Fatty fish are the best source, as well as plant-based sources like walnuts, chia and flax seeds.”

She also encourages consumption of produce containing beta carotene and lycopene to promote prostate health and decrease risk of prostate cancer. Beta carotene is found in orange, yellow and some red colored produce, like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and leafy green vegetables. Lycopene is found in some red colored produce, such as tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, including watermelons, grapefruits, and papayas.

Men should also seek prostate exams upon their physician’s recommended schedule.

3. Sexual function. Eating foods rich in lycopene supports more than prostate health. The red carotenoid hydrocarbon “is also good for erectile dysfunction,” Callahan said.

Zinc can also promote erectile health. Shellfish, pumpkin seeds and beef are good sources, but stick with lean cuts of beef.

Callahan also recommends beets and berries.

“Beets have a compound that increases the production of nitric oxide, which opens the blood vessels,” she said. “Berries have some of that compound. They’re good for overall health with antioxidants.”

4. Sperm health. Men seeking fatherhood should include Brazil nuts, a source of selenium, in their healthful diet. Callahan said that selenium supports good sperm health.

“They’re good for the thyroid, too,” she added. “Poultry, beef, turkey, chicken, fish and most animal products contain selenium.”

Limit beef to occasional consumption of lean beef.

5. Heart health. “A small shift of the amount consumed of animal meat, the better the health,” said Lacey Roy-Ciciriello, certified nutrition coach and owner of Full Bodied Health in Fayetteville. “As cholesterol and blood pressure are an issue a lot of men struggle with animal protein does not help. Also, cutting back on the animal protein and increasing plant-based protein increases libido and stamina.”

Food is one of the factors in heart disease. Russell Silverman, a cardiologist and medical director of the St. Joseph’s Health Heart Failure Clinic, wants men to better “manage risk factors for vascular disease including management of cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and smoking.

“Establish care with a primary care provider and keep your appointments up to date. Establish and stick to a regular exercise program. Physical activity is important to the maintenance of health in everybody.”

6. Tobacco use. Men use tobacco products more than women, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health.

“Avoid all tobacco products and vaping products,” Silverman said.

Tobacco and vaping products contribute to multiple disease processes.

7. Health screening. “Make sure to stay up to date on cancer screenings such as prostate, colorectal screening for cancer, CT chest if you’re a smoker and other screening recommendations according to your primary care provider,” Silverman said.

8. Sleep. “Take note of sleep issues,” Silverman said. “Men have a high likelihood of developing sleep apnea as we age. Pay close attention to your sleep and sleep history and relay that information to your primary care provider.”

9. Weight control. “Men need balance,” said Randy Sabourin, team leader at MetroFitness in Fayetteville and Syracuse. “I have seen too many men over the years give up on achieving health goals because they often attack only one component, diet, no exercise or exercise, no diet changes, creating a lifestyle change. This approach will not create lasting change. I wish men would embrace a balance between adjusting their nutritional strategy to complement their efforts in the gym.”

Avoid falling into the trap of becoming a “weekend warrior.” While some activity is better than none, over-exertion one day a week can lead to injury. Occasional workouts also do not bring lasting results.

“Men need to give it more time; two weeks is not a fair test,” Sabourin said. “Give it two months and see what happens.”

10. Hydration. “Men don’t drink enough fluids,” said Peter Lacell, registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager with Oswego Health. “They tend to drink more caffeinated drinks which are natural diuretics. You can drink other fluids, but most adults don’t drink enough fluids.”

11. Alcohol. “Alcohol comes down to moderation,” Lacell said. “Any alcohol item will be comprised of carbohydrates so there will be calories in there. Whether wine, beer or hard liquor, it is something you can manage. Most people, if they drink a six-pack a day, that’s a lot of extra calories. You don’t want to replace calories from food with calories from beverages.”