Around 4,000 people end their lives in England each year and 75% of those are men and suicide sadly still remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35. Figures on depression also show that it is becoming much more prevalent in men today.
Men’s attitudes to health differ from women in that they:
- visit their GP half as much as women
- embark on riskier behavior
- downplay their symptoms
- men don’t recognise the symptoms and early warming signs
- they are more reluctant to talk and receive treatment
Men’s health issues are often surrounded by stigma and are taboo with men simply refusing to go for tests relating to prostate screening, erectile dysfunction and fertility. Many of these problems can simply be helped through diet and lifestyle changes.
Dr Chidi, Director of The European Society of Lifestyle Medicine in Harley Street was on Good Morning Britain recently offering advice on what signs to look out for if your fella is feeling low and ways you can help him.
Dr Chidi advises the key signs to look for are in men that they are low or depressed are:
- lacking interest & enjoyment in anything, life in general
- lower sex drive/ lower libido than normal
- not sleeping very well
- not eating as they did before
- saying they feel low
Any one of the above signs could mean your partner/friend or husband is depressed.
There are a number of steps one can take to help men who are depressed or battling loneliness says Dr Chidi:1. Trying talking to them – don’t give up, take it gently 2. Ask them to visit their GP 3. Looking at talking therapies to help them such as CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 4. Look at their diet - there are ‘feel good foods’ that can help. Also reducing foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugary food can help reduce ‘spikes’ in moods. 5. Exercise is an excellent way of boosting serotonin and helping boost levels 6. There are charities where people can also turn to for help such as MIND (http://www.mind.org.uk) or the Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/.
Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition says men are more likely to eat a poorer diet (31% boys and 65% men are overweight or obese) which will have an impact on depression, fertility, impotence, hair loss and stress. Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference.
- Make sure plenty of zinc is including in the diet as this is good for men’s reproductive health and may help hair loss. Foods rich in zinc are: shellfish, seeds, red meat, eggs, mushrooms, asparagus and wholegrains
- World Cancer Research Fund: Lycopene can probably help to reduce risk of prostate cancer and foods rich in lycopene are: cooked or processed tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, red peppers
- Low levels of selenium can really affect mood but researchers this week from the University of Copenhagen have now demonstrated that selenium - naturally found in, e.g., garlic and broccoli -- slows down the immune over-response which may help improve cancer treatment. Brazil nuts also rich in selenium only need a handful a day.
- Vitamin D, really is the ultimate sunshine vitamin to help boost mood.
- Don’t forget your Omega 3 - anti-inflammatory and essential for maintaining healthy skin cell membranes and has been shown to help improve depression especially those with depression. Plenty of fish, nuts and beans on the menu.
- As Dr Chidi mentioned about, lack of folate, thiamin (B1), niacin (B3) and cobalamin (B12) contribute to exhaustion and negative mood. Pile his plate with green vegtables where possible.
Finally, remember the basics to health:
- Stay well hydrated - dehydration can leave you unable to think clearly and unable to concentrate
- Avoid processed foods as there are very low in vitamins and minerals
- Reduce alcohol especially if struggling with fertility one big night on the town can deplete sperm supply for up to three months
- Careful with the caffeine intake especially if suffering from stress and anxiety
For further advice on men’s health visit: nutritionexpert.healthspan.co.uk/mens-health