In support of the wonderful global movement Movember, we want to talk about men’s health this month. During November, the Movember community encourages the growth of all kinds of moustaches (and host of other actions) to fundraise and raise awareness of men’s health issues.
Without getting too morbid, according to the recent stats, men die on average five years earlier than women, from largely preventable reasons. Research shows that men are less likely to be proactive when it comes to looking after their health, this includes being less likely to go for regular health checkups and less likely to reach out for help. Analysis of American health statistics found particularly higher mortality rates among men for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
The great news is, that according to Ayurveda, maintaining good health is not difficult or high tech! The fundamentals of good health are:
- Keep your digestive system functioning well
- Clear the body of excess toxins
- Ensure that the body’s tissues are nourished, including reproductive tissue
- Ensure you have an effective way of dealing with day to day stress
So how do men ensure the above are taken care of? Let’s take a look at a few things the lovely men in our lives can do to stay healthy, happy and live longer. A great place to start is to take a look at: food, exercise, stress management, connection, health checks and herbs.
Eat foods that directly support balanced digestion, promote a more calm, peaceful mind, and nourish your immune system. To do this, you can:
- As much as possible choose food that is organic, in season, fresh, wholefood.
- Regularly eat meals that are warm (e.g. cooked and lightly spiced), light (e.g. cooked vegetarian meals) and slightly oily (e.g. cooked with good quality oil such as olive oil or ghee)
- Include foods that are a good source of zinc, to support healthy prostate, such as pepitas, cashews, eggs, legumes, wholegrains, broccoli, kale and dark chocolate
- Avoid or reduce foods that are too cold, e.g. iced drinks, icecream, too much raw food
- Avoid or reduce foods that are too hot, e.g. fermented foods, chilli, coffee, chocolate, alcohol
- Avoid or reduce foods that are too heavy, e.g. deep fried food
- Eat your main meal at lunch time when your digestion is at its strongest and have a light dinner several hours before bedtime
- Sip warm/hot water or herbal tea throughout the day
It’s no secret that incorporating a good exercise program into your weekly schedule makes a huge difference to overall health, including metabolism, cardiovascular health, digestion, stress release and sound sleep. Also, remember to consider taking more walking meetings, park further from the station, take the stairs, replace driving with cycling whenever you can. Over-exercising can have a depleting effect, so pace yourself and rest if you are feeling that you’ve over done it!
Stress plays a hugely important role in the cause and development of many diseases. When it comes to stress management, prevention is better than the cure. Ayurveda recommends two approaches to the prevention of stress: (1) To avoid factors inducing stress & (2) To increase the coping capacity of the body.
Two adaptogenic herbs that are known in Ayurveda to increase the body’s resilience toward stress are Tulsi and Ashwagandha. Modern scientific studies suggest that Tulsi is effective in treating a range of stressful conditions. It is commonly recommended in Ayurvedic practice as a preventative measure to enhance the ability to adapt to psychological, physical, mental, and environmental stress, and therefore prevent the development of stress-related diseases.
Ashwagandha is known for its ability provide strength for the nervous system and to promote calm during stressful times. This ability to energise while having a calming effect makes it very special. Ashwagandha is said to promote the strength of stallion, and to have a rejuvenating effect on men’s sexual and reproductive health.
In addition to herbal support, look for recurrent patterns of stress to enable you to work on reducing the sources of stress to protect your nervous system and heart. Consider a practice that provides stress relief such as meditation, tai chi, mindful hiking, or swimming.
Connect and Talk
A fundamental message for men’s mental health is to stay connected. Spend time with people who make you feel good, and make time to catch up regularly. Talking more with friends is key; being there for each other can be life-saving. Look into a local men’s group or men’s shed to connect with likeminded men in the local community, and as an alternative to the pub.
There are some wonderful resources on the Movember website including ideas on how to talk to a friend who needs some help:
Regular Health Checkups
It has been hypothesised that one of the specific lifestyle reasons for men’s reduced life expectancy is a lower likelihood of seeking medical care. Regular health checks at your local GP is a great idea. As you approach 50, two of the top five things Movember recommend for men’s health are learning more about prostate and testicular cancers. https://au.movember.com/mens-health/general
The addition of herbs to your diet can have a helpful compounding effect in supporting healthy digestion and overall wellbeing, especially when taken regularly over a period of time. Taking herbs in the form of herbal teas is a great way to do this.
In addition to being a potent adaptogen, as discussed above, Tulsi has a unique combination of pharmacological actions that promote wellbeing and resilience. The following are a selection of certified organic Tulsi herbal teas by ORGANIC INDIA that are a supportive and nourishing addition to your healthy diet:
Create a balanced life that prioritises your health and time spent with loved ones to promote more joy! Make the switch from some less healthy habits to supportive alternatives; meet for a run, followed by kombucha rather than heading to the pub. A good daily routine is great medicine for your heart and soul.
Pole, S. (2013). Ayurvedic Medicine: The principles of traditional practice.
About the Author: Sarah Holloway is an ORGANIC INDIA team member with a keen interest in Ayurveda and a background in environmental resource management. She is a proud Aunty and lives near Byron Bay with her husband and beloved pooch.