Common Mistakes Men Make When it Comes to Their Health

Currently, across the developed world, women live roughly five to ten years longer than their male counterparts. Understanding why holds some answers to better health and longevity.

Here are eight critical mistakes men make when it comes to their health:

 1 – Eating poorly

The latest surveys indicate that only 47% of Canadian women eat five or more of the recommended eight servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Unfortunately, the situation is worse for men with only a third of them eating five servings or more per day.Fruits and vegetables are universally recognized as healthy. Health benefits associated with their greater consumption include reductions in the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in fiber which helps to maintain a healthy body weight. As a result of eating less fruits and vegetables, Canadian men eat more fat and less fiber than women.

 

2 – Carrying extra weight 

iStock_000018543931_LargePartly due to the dietary differences mentioned above, men end up being more prone to being overweight or obese. According to the latest statistics, around 46% of Canadian women were overweight or obese in 2014 compared to 62% of their male peers. Being overweight or obese can have a serious impact on health. Studies clearly show that obesity increases the risk for several chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, insomnia, mental illness, as well as certain cancers. Overall, being obese reduces your life expectancy and your quality of life.

 

 3 – Avoiding the doctor

Men are less likely to have a family doctor. While almost 19% of men do not have a regular family doctor, almost 90% of Canadian women see a doctor regularly. Research shows that having a family doctor improves long term health outcomes. One of the key benefits is that having a primary care giver grants you quicker access to healthcare should you need it. This also means that if your doctor does not make time for you when you really need him or her, it’s probably a good idea to find another physician.

 

4- Ignoring serious symptoms

Men are notorious for ignoring health problems. Something to do with that “big boys don’t cry” attitude which ends up making men reluctant to express concern about their health. You may think that your health problems will eventually go away, but if there is something seriously wrong, suffering quietly can put you at risk. The fact is that several chronic diseases can be identified early with proper medical care but otherwise carry no symptoms. Unfortunately a significant portion of the male population does not seek help until “extremely sick”. It goes without saying that waiting for serious symptoms to develop worsens health outcomes in several chronic diseases, a classic example being cancer. The bottom line is that toughing it out is not the best strategy when it comes to health. So now that you have a doctor, go see them. If you are healthy, you can discuss prevention. If you have some health concerns, you will have established a relationship with a health professional that can help you.
There is a long list of symptoms that should be discussed with your doctor as soon as possible. These include any pain that persists, chronic fevers, unexplained sudden weight changes, fatigue that does not improve with rest, depression, persistent cough, changes to the colour of your skin or moles, blood in your stool, urine or saliva, urinary problems, severe or sudden abdominal pain, persistent swelling in the legs, sudden intense headache, sudden confusion, crushing chest pain, shortness of breath…
 

5 – High risk behaviours

It turns out that testosterone is not the best ally when it comes to making healthy decisions. Men tend to be more accident prone and some injuries have lifelong effects. High risk behaviours also include the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Statistic show that Canadian men are twice as likely to have used drugs in the last year as compared to women.

 

6 – Handling stress poorly

Men internalize stressful events more than women. Internalizing is negativity that is focused inwards. The behaviour leads to difficulty in dealing with negative emotions or stressful situations. Internalizing problems instead of asking for help increases the risks for depression, anxiety and feelings of withdrawal and loneliness. Internalizing behaviours increase the risk of having poor mental health. Mental illness is the most important risk factor for suicide, the rates of which are three times higher for men. Internalizing behaviours are also detrimental to patients because suffering in silence makes it difficult for others to offer assistance.

 

7 – Not following medical advice

Non-compliance is a major problem when it comes to delivering effective care. Research shows that 50% of Canadians do not take their medications as prescribed. Not following the recommended drug dosage is the cause of 10% of hospital admissions. Research suggests that men are less likely to take their medications as recommended.

 

8 – Being a loner

We all need a little help sometimes.
Having a strong social support system is vital for health and longevity. Research clearly shows that being socially involved helps to thwart feelings of depression and contributes to well-being by making us feel safer. Having support from friends and family can help you get through tough times such as a critical illness, loss or difficult financial times. Social relationships are central to our well-being and health. Studies show that the lack of a supportive social network is linked to a 60% increase in the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Unfortunately, roughly a third of older men are socially isolated.
 
I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends
– Beatles –

Dr. Ludovic Brunel

Dr. Ludovic Brunel, Naturmend Naturopathic DoctorLudo is an exceptional physician with strong clinical skills grounded in scientific knowledge. He has helped design and formulated several dietary supplements for some of the most advanced nutraceutical companies in Canada. Dr. Ludo has also helped develop and implement wellness strategies for corporations and businesses looking to improve the health and happiness of their employees.


References:
  • Statistics Canada. Body composition of Canadian adults, 2009 to 2011
  • Statistics Canada. Percentage reporting that they consumed fruit and vegetables at least five times daily, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2012
  • Statistics Canada. Health at a Glance. Suicide rates: An overview
  • Statistics Canada. Overweight and obese adults (self-reported), 2014
  • Fratiglioni, L., Wang, H.X., Ericsson, K., Maytan, M. & Windblad, B. (2000). Influence of Social Network on Occurrence of Dementia: A Community-based Longitudinal Study. Lancet. 355(9212): 1315-9.
  • Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors. Factors Increasing the Risk of Seniors Becoming Socially Isolated, Including Critical Life Transitions. National Seniors Council. Government of Canada
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  • Manasse HR Jr. Medication use in an imperfect world: drug misadventuring as an issue of public policy. Part 1. Am J Hosp Pharm 1989; 46: 928-44
  • Health Canada. Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey
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  • Leenen FH1, Wilson TW, Bolli P, Larochelle P, Myers M, Handa SP, Boileau G, Tanner J. Patterns of compliance with once versus twice daily antihypertensive drug therapy in primary care: a randomized clinical trial using electronic monitoring. Can J Cardiol. 1997 Oct;13(10):914-20.

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