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Building (holistic) healthy habits for men

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15 June 2022|2 min read

We’re currently celebrating Men’s Health Week. So this is a perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on men’s health issues and support us to make changes.

Men’s health involves physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and social wellbeing. It’s not simply the absence of disease. It’s also evident that men face different health issues than women, and we also have contrasting needs. Often, men can be less proactive about their health than women, and are less likely to visit their doctor to discuss their health or worries. The macho-man mentality may be at play here. However, subscribing to the ‘she’ll be right’ model is not producing positive results. 

So, let’s talk about men’s health, discuss some of the issues facing us and put the building blocks in place so we can lead happier and healthier lives. 

Here are some healthy habits to implement and build into your routine.

Get cooking

Research shows that while many men are interested in cooking, the women in the household often undertake this responsibility. A Dietitians Australia study revealed that out of 800 men surveyed, only 24 per cent cooked at home no more than twice a week. Yet, several studies suggest that when we cook at home, we eat fewer calories and less sugar, fat, and salt than when eating out or ordering takeaway. 

There’s no need to set the bar overly high. Add omelettes, veggie-filled pastas, hearty salads and pan-fried meat and fish to your repertoire, and hone your skills over time. 

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Adopt a Mediterranean approach

The Mediterranean diet originates from countries around the Mediterranean Sea – Greece, Italy and Spain. Cornerstones of the diet include fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and moderate amounts of seafood. Extra virgin olive oil is the predominant and preferred fat source. 

New research has highlighted how diet can impact our mood and mental health. Data from the PREDIMED study showed that adopting a Mediterranean diet protected participants’ hearts and reduced the incidence of depression. These findings have been replicated in other such studies. 

Research also shows that the Mediterranean diet may boost a man’s health and reduce risk factors for disease. Improved sleep quality, sexual health, erectile function and prostate health have all been linked to this delicious and nutritious diet. 

Limit alcohol

Alcohol is a significant energy source that may impact your weight. Research also shows that excessive alcohol intake can influence testosterone production, which may lead to erectile dysfunction and issues with fertility. Further, the risk of prostate cancer is higher in men who drink regularly. 

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that healthy men limit their drinking to no more than 10 standard drinks a week, with a maximum of four standard drinks in any one day.

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Slow and steady wins the race

Men are often eager to make dietary changes. They tend to tackle new diets with gusto. However, the shine can be quick to rub off, with old habits soon reappearing. The key is to make small changes along the way. This has been shown to create lasting change, and is more likely to achieve long-term results. 

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take a long-term view of your health and wellbeing, rather than seeing it as a 100 metre sprint. 

Move your body for fun and with purpose

Exercise is an outdated word that can have negative connotations. I much prefer the term ‘movement’. Moving your body in a fun and positive way should be the order of the day. 

Movement isn’t necessarily about running marathons or pumping iron at the gym - unless that’s your thing. Instead, bike riding with the kids, playing chase, dancing or kicking the footy in the backyard are all great forms of activity. Movement should be fun and never mundane, because it’s a celebration of the incredible things our bodies can do. 

Need some help kickstarting your movement journey? Explore our free ways to move health programs and follow our expert insights to help you get moving just that little bit more each day. 

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Make time to see your doctor

Men should check in with their GPs for an annual health check. Just as we take our car to get regularly serviced, we should give our bodies a regular once-over too. And the doctor might just pick up something like the early signs of heart disease, diabetes or cancer. When these are detected early, treatment is often more effective.   

Men can profoundly change their health outcomes when they adapt their diet and lifestyle. Building for a better future should be our primary focus. 

The aim is to establish healthier habits that propel our health and wellbeing forward. So are we up to the challenge? Here’s hoping! Happy Men’s Health Week, fellas. 

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Written by Joel Feren, aka 'The Nutrition Guy', who is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist with a background in biomedical sciences. 

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board June 2022.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.