Holy Name Medical Center Blog

Hey Guys: It’s Movember. Time to Take Charge of Your Health

Posted by Clenton Coleman, MD
Specialist in Internal Medicine and Nephrology
Holy Name Medical Partners on November 19, 2019
Clenton Coleman, MD, Specialist in Internal Medicine and Nephrology Holy Name Medical Partners

Whether you celebrate Movember by growing a mustache to raise awareness of men's health issues, or commemorate No Shave November by donating your hair grooming funds to the American Cancer Society, it's time to let your facial hair grow!

It's also time to "face" up to the fact that compared to women, men avoid going to the doctor, skip recommended screenings, and engage in behavior that's far riskier to their health. They also don't go to their doctors as often.

Why?

The rationale I hear from male patients is often that it's a macho, tough-guy thing. 'I feel OK, I look OK, I must be OK. I don't need a doctor to tell me I'm OK.'

According to a Harris Poll, 59% of men say that in addition to the feeling that they are OK, there are a whole host of reasons to keep them from going to the doctor. Things like they 'don't have time to go,' or they 'don't like doctors.'

We're really not so bad. But in all seriousness, while I understand some of this male mentality, there are consequences. Men die about five years sooner than women and live with more years of illness. Life doesn't have to be this way.

So let's go through five simple actions you can do right now to improve your health:

1. Get a Good Doctor

Just like you have a good lawyer, accountant, barber, financial planner, etc., you need a good doctor. Think of your body as you would your beloved car. We do all the maintenance and service a car requires from oil changes to tire rotations and beyond. We would never think of putting cheap gas into our car; the same holds true for our bodies.

2. Practice Male Maintenance

Everyone should have a yearly check-up. Bring with you a checklist, just like you would with your car. This list should contain all of your health concerns -- from your family's history to your own current medical condition, including your weight, state of mental health, aches, pains, stress level, and whatever else is on your mind.

A check-up is painless; it's important because your doctor will do routine exams like checking your cholesterol and blood pressure to help determine if you're at risk of developing a serious heart condition.

3. Go for Screenings, According to Your Age

In addition to basic checks of blood pressure and cholesterol, men should have specific screenings at certain ages. For example, a prostate cancer screening is recommended at age 40 and a colorectal cancer screening is suggested at 50. A lot of men put these off because the traditional tests – a colonoscopy or digital rectal exam -- make them uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor about newer screening options to see what's best for you.

4. Don't Underestimate Your Diet

You've heard it a million times but it's so true: You are what you eat. Although you can certainly enjoy an occasional treat, a poor diet consisting of too many foods that are laden with fat, sugar, or salt can kill.

Diet is so underrated. A 27-year study within 195 countries looked at the effects of poor nutrition and found it was responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor. It's important to avoid too much salt, processed foods, saturated fats, sugary drinks, and red meat. Eating a diet that consists of lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables will help you live a longer, happier life.

5. Know Your Weight and Watch It

The human frame is designed to hold a certain amount of weight based on your height.

Knowing what your ideal weight should be and maintaining it is extremely important for your joints and your organs. Go to the link below to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI): https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

Although eating healthy is key, exercise is equally as important. Find something that you like, whether it be biking or walking, to help get moving. Just 15 to 30 minutes of exercise three times per week can help lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression, as well as reduce stress and help you sleep better at night, which are so important to overall good health.

While these five action steps are not quick fixes, few things in life are.

To Learn More

Holy Name's Center for Healthy Living provides educational talks, free screenings, and other health-related events. To learn more, visit HolyName.org/HealthyLiving or call 201-833-3336.

You can also listen to Dr. Coleman's weekly podcasts, "Recommended Daily Dose," featuring co-host Dr. Suraj Saggar, at HolyName.org/recommendeddailydose, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.