International Men’s Health Week is celebrated every year in the middle of June. It's an opportunity to shed light on the importance of men’s health and also promote and support the health and wellbeing of men and boys.
Men’s Health Week doesn’t just focus on the physical health of men but also their mental health and emotional wellbeing. In general Australian men are falling short when it comes to eating enough nutrients, they’re not moving enough and getting enough exercise and they’re struggling to open up enough about their physical or mental health when there is an issue and they need help.
A snapshot of the current state of Men’s health in Australia
It’s safe to say there's some room for improvement when it comes to Men’s health in Australia. Let’s take a look at the numbers;
- Less than 50% move enough and meet the physical activity guidelines
- Less than 50% eat enough fruit and less than 10% eat enough vegetables
- 75% are overweight or obese
- The average life expectancy for an Aussie male is roughly 4 years less compared to a female
- Suicide is in the top three causes of death for males aged between 15-64yrs
What are some simple things men can do to improve their health?
- Eat more fruit and veg! Research shows increased consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for overweight and obesity, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Some easy ways to do this include;
- Adding a side serve of Activate Foods fresh roast vegetables to a main meal
- Adding fresh or frozen fruit to smoothies, cereals or muesli in the morning
- Snacking on fresh fruit or veggie sticks between meals
- Adding tinned or cooked legumes like chickpeas, lentils or 4 bean mix to salads, soups, stews, casseroles
- Substituting half your mince in bolognese for tinned lentils
- Incorporating an Activate Foods vegetarian meal 3x/wk
- Move more: For men aged between 18-64 years aim for: 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, fast cycling or soccer. If you lack motivation, book in a session with an exercise physiologist or personal trainer or look for a local training group. Also look for ways to be more active throughout your day, whether that's parking your car a little further from work or at the shops or walking to a work colleagues desk instead of emailing them
- Incorporate fish 2-3x/wk: Fish, in particular oily fish, is a rich source of heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to reduce the risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure which are two big risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Research shows they are also beneficial for brain health and mood. Struggle to cook it yourself? Why not Activate Foods steamed barramundi with tomato nam jim
- Follow a Mediterranean style dietary pattern: A Mediterranean-style diet comes from the traditional eating pattern of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Italy and Spain. This diet is based on healthy whole foods and includes very few processed foods. A Mediterranean-style diet ihas a strong emphasis on
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Whole-grain breads and cereals such as oats, rice, barley
- Legumes or beans (e.g. chickpeas, kidney beans or lentils)
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish and seafood
- Onion, garlic and other herbs and spices
It includes small amounts of yoghurt, cheese, milk and lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey or eggs are also eaten in a Mediterranean-style diet. Red meats and sweets are only eaten in small amounts. Processed meats (deli meats, bacon, ham, corned meats, salami or sausages) and packaged foods should be limited to rare occasions.
The Mediterranean-style diet is healthy because it contains heart-healthy poly and monounsaturated fats, its high in fibre, rich in antioxidants and low in processed foods.Following a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce the risk of lots of the health conditions which affect men including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, depression or anxiety, some cancers, including bowel cancer and cognitive decline, including dementia.
- Be proactive about your mental health: Unfortunately men are known for bottling things up. When you’re feeling down, reaching out for support is the smart thing to do. On average, 1 in 8 men will experience depression and 1 in 5 will experience anxiety at some stage throughout their lives. If you are starting to feel stressed, low, or anxious reach out to a friend, family member or your doctor. We also know following a Mediterranean style diet, reducing our intake of ultra processed foods, prioritising good quality sleep, moving our bodies and having healthy relationships also help with promoting emotional wellbeing.
Looking to optimise your health? Book an appointment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian at Eatsense today.