By Brandon Bolton, RDN |Nutrition Educator
June is Men’s Health Month. That means it’s time to bring awareness to men’s health and the potential health issues all men face. It is a month dedicated to spreading awareness, education, prevention, detection, and treatment of disease among men, but men’s health is important all year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection’s National Vital Statistics Report men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women. One reason for this may be that men are more reluctant to go to the doctor and preventable health problems aren’t detected early. In fact, some studies show that women go to the doctor twice as often as men. It is important to encourage all men to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for injury and disease.
Taking men’s health seriously starts with a healthy diet. Men have specific nutritional needs, and regardless of age, all men need the nutrition from a healthy diet. Food is more than just fuel for the body, and an unhealthy diet can put you at an increased risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
What’s in a Healthy Diet?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a healthy diet for men includes:
- 2+ cups of fruits and 2½ cups of vegetables each day for vitamins, minerals, fiber and helpful phytochemicals
- Whole grains like barley, brown rice, and oatmeal should be at least half of the grains you eat every day. So swap that white bread/pita/tortilla for a whole wheat version.
- Get enough fiber, at least 38 grams per day for men under 50; 30 grams of fiber per day for men older than 50. Good sources of fiber include berries, popcorn, avocado, apples, nuts, and whole grains listed above.
- 2 – 3 servings of fish per week.
- Unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts, and oil-based salad dressings instead of saturated fats like full-fat dairy foods, butter, and high-fat sweets.
- 3,400 milligrams a day of potassium from fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy.
- Eat a variety of protein foods and include seafood and sources like beans, lentils, nuts, and peas.
Since men typically are larger and have more muscle mass than women, they require more calories throughout the day. On average, moderately active males need 2,200-2,800 calories and at least 50 grams of protein per day. Keep in mind, these are just averages. Specific energy needs are determined by your height, weight, age, activity level, and medical history. Consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help determine your energy needs and help you develop healthy eating patterns that can last a lifetime.