Men's Health: Easy Changes Can Boost Longevity

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Research continues to pile up showing that a few basic tenets go a long way toward maintaining our health as we age. A balanced diet heavy on plants and low on saturated fats, regular physical activity, low-stress social connections, and avoiding smoking are powerful lifestyle habits. Some key nutritional supplements are helpful as well.

New studies out of Boston underscore these truths.

Healthy Aging, Diet, Exercise & the Brain

Boston University researchers determined that “every additional hour of light intensity physical activity was associated with higher brain volumes, even among individuals not meeting current physical activity guidelines.” Those guidelines call for 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise.

The new study found that favorable effects on brain aging may begin at a lower threshold than 150 minutes per week. Physical activity is strongly linked to larger brain volume and healthy aging.

Another study supported the idea that diet plays a role in maintaining physical function—which, of course, enables us to increase those minutes of exercise!

“Diet can have specific effects on our health and can also affect our well-being and physical independence as we get older,” said senior author Francine Grodstein, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Even if people can’t completely change their diet, there are some relatively simple dietary changes people can make . . . such as eating more vegetables and nuts.”

Fruit, whole grains, legumes, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, and other fatty, cold-water fish as well as flax) are other great choices. The researchers also recommend lower intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, red and processed meats, and sodium.

Heart Health Supplements for Men

“With heart and blood vessel disease being the number one killer of men, as well as a major cause of disability, it is critical that you take good care of your heart,” said Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Real Cause, Real Cure.

Dr. Teitelbaum said coenzyme Q10 is a great supplement for heart health, especially for those taking a cholesterol-lowering medication. These medications can deplete this important nutrient—putting your cardiovascular health at risk.

The mineral zinc serves as a mild heart protector. Zinc supplements in older adults lower heart disease markers (such as C-reactive protein).

The most important nutrient on Dr. Teitelbaum’s short list is magnesium. This mineral “increases the strength of your heart muscle and helps keep heart rhythms steady and smooth.”

Joint Pain Relief

One of five American men reports joint pain (generally from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis), notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A go-to for relief is curcumin, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory extracted from the spice turmeric. This herbal extract offers relief for aching joints without the risk of adverse effects seen with conventional medications. But it’s not just about masking discomfort. Research shows that curcumin can help rebuild joint tissue by replacing damaged cartilage with new, healthy cartilage.

All areas of connective tissue in the body contain collagen. This protein plays an important role in healthy joints. Supplementing with a form called collagen hydrolysate offers joint benefits, particularly for those with osteoarthritis.

Key Supplements for Male Athletes

Glutathione

Glutathione supplements have been shown to reduce exercise-induced fatigue and to suppress levels of lactic acid, which often causes soreness following exercise.

Chokecherry

Drinking chokecherry juice helps prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, and iron depletion after intense physical exercise.

Beet Juice

Athletes recovered faster from sprinting and made quicker decisions after drinking high-nitrate beet juice for a week.

Sources: 

“The alternative eating index and physical function impairment in men” by K.A. Hagan and F. Grodstein, Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 3/20/19

“Healthy diet helps older men maintain physical function,” Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 4/8/19 

“The impact of the Mediterranean diet on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults” by D.G. Loughrey et al. Adv Nutr, 7/17

“Substituting healthy plant proteins for red meat lowers risk for heart disease,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 4/9/19

"Beetroot juice improves sprinting and decision making during exercise," University of Exeter, 9/18/15

"Glutathione supplementation suppresses muscle fatigue by prolonged exercise..." by A. Wataru et al., 2/6/15, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

"Re: Black chokecherry juice improves inflammation and iron metabolism parameters after intense physical exercise" by Laura M. Bystrom, PhD, HerbClip, 4/15/15

Contributor: 

Cameron Hendrix