Health concerns for men are changing. While heart disease remains the top killer, thyroid and testosterone levels are being negatively affected by environmental toxins, leading to a host of new symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, low libido, and erectile dysfunction. While not immediately life-threatening, these symptoms reduce quality of life and increase risk for weight gain, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and premature aging.
Unfortunately, traditional modern medicine is not equipped to deal with these new developments. "It takes, on average, 17 years for a new concept to get into mainstream medicine," says Kent Holtorf, MD, a California-based integrative physician. "Physicians are reluctant to adopt new approaches." And men also face another challenge: reluctance to see a doctor. When male patients arrive in Holtorf's office, they frequently tell him, "My wife made me see you."
Reducing toxic impact
Holtorf recommends avoiding beverages in plastic bottles, eating organic food, and using toxin-free grooming and household products. In addition, key supplements can mitigate toxins.
Fish oil and vitamin D are basics, says Holtorf. For "slow metabolism" that results from toxin-inhibited thyroid function, he recommends Coleus forskohlii. And to prevent overstimulation of the prostrate by testosterone, take the nutrient I3C (indole-3-carbinol). Toxins cause testosterone to be converted into estrogen, reducing "manliness," and I3C reverses this process. Also found in cruciferous vegetables, I3C is converted in our bodies into DIM (diindolylmethane).
Three ways to boost your diet: load up on cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and watercress; eat more tomatoes; and brew a cup of ginger tea.
ED Is a Health Marker
"Erectile dysfunction is the tip of an iceberg," says Stephen Sinatra, MD, an integrative cardiologist and author of The Sinatra Solution. As a marker of heart health, he says, "It's as significant as high blood pressure or cholesterol." And it should be addressed as a sign that it's time to make changes to improve overall health or get a thorough physical rather than a blue pill.
For any man who is overweight, losing a few pounds is vital. "If waist size goes up," he says, "there should be a lightbulb going on in a man's head." Restrict sugar (including sodas); eat regular meals of lean protein, plenty of vegetables (especially cruciferous ones) and fruits. Sinatra also recommends drinking organic green tea to keep metabolism humming and ginger tea to prevent fluid retention.
And take what he calls the "awesome foursome" supplements for a healthy heart: CoQ10, acetyl-L-carnitine, ribose, and magnesium.
In addition to walking or other aerobic exercise, strength training and exercises that improve flexibility are equally important. Pilates and yoga, done correctly, can reduce stress, stretch joints and muscles, and improve balance.
"A lot of men have been athletes and might start too fast and injure themselves," says Tony Victory, a Los Angeles-based fitness trainer.
As a first step, practice proper form. Victory recommends starting with a weight that allows you to do a set of 15 repetitions, but not more, and working all the major muscle groups. Once you've mastered form, increase the weight so that you can do no more than 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise per set. Strength train three times a week, and do three sets of each exercise. Within a month, "You'll feel more alive and awake," says Victory.
Choose supplements that support overall good health and address your individual needs. Recommendations from Kent Holtorf, MD, and Stephen Sinatra, MD, include the following (click here for larger version):
Product Examples (from left)
Jarrow Formulas QH-Absorb CoQ10 contains the highly absorbable ubiquinol form of CoQ10. Recent clinical studies show that 300 milligrams of QH-Absorb per day raised blood levels of CoQ10 by 400 percent over baseline in humans.
Wakunaga USA Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Formula 108 Total Heart Health contains aged garlic extract, plus vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, and L-arginine, patented to promote healthy cardiovascular function on every level.
ReserveAge Organics Prostate Advantage is a new product that protects the prostate with the power of resveratrol from French organic red-wine grapes and other nutrients.
Irwin Naturals Prosta-Strong combines saw palmetto with natural fatty acids and sterols from pumpkin seed extract to support prostate health.
Sprunk-Jansen Masculine features asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida)-the same herb the ancient Egyptians used 4,000 years ago-to enhance male desire.
Natural Vitality Energy 28 Whole Food Energizer provides a "shot" of energy with nutrient-dense chlorella, 24 organic superfruits, maca, D-ribose, and rhodiola.
Paradise Herbs Coleus forskolii supports vitality with a concentrated form of Ayurvedic coleus root, extracted without isolating, fractionizing, or using toxic solvents or harsh chemicals.