Let’s talk Supermen!
Dedicated to all the supermen in my life & to my many family members and friends who have all been affected by the suicide of one of our treasured young supermen. May they never be forgotten. Love, Haley.
This article was featured in Healthy You magazine’s Spring 2014 edition.
Men usually don’t complain too much about their health (unless they get the dreaded ‘man-flu’), but the reality is our tough, unbreakable Aussie men are actually dying younger than women, have higher instances of obesity and diabetes, and are burdened with skyrocketing rates of cancer. Shockingly, 1 in 2 Australian men will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
Men, think of it this way: ‘If you don’t make time for your health now, you’ll have to make time for illness later.’
Starting at the beginning, let’s go through some key milestones in regards to the males of our species:
Studies show that encouraging fathers to bond with their baby sons within the first three months can lead to happier and calmer young boys.
Plenty of research supports supplementing with a good quality DHA fish oil from a young age. Benefits include a lower risk of allergic disease and enhanced cognitive development – helping your superboy become a smart superman! As they grow up, children who are fussy eaters can benefit from a good multi-vitamin and mineral to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need to meet growth spurts.
THE TEEN YEARS
Unlike girls, teenage boys hate to talk about their health; either physical or mental. Suicide and self-harm rates among teenage boys are extremely alarming. It’s a complex subject, as these hormone-charged years are fraught with many ups and downs, but diet is known to play a part. Certainly sugar can cause a nasty rollercoaster ride – it causes blood sugar levels to skyrocket, and what goes up most come down! When the high wears off, the blood sugar levels drop and moods go down with it.
For older teenage boys who are keen to bulk up and build some muscle, the best way to earn a superhero physique is through gym work and a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of vegies and protein to build and repair muscles. Protein powders can help provide extra protein boost, but be sure to choose one without artificial sweeteners/flavours. At no time is steroid use a good choice – these are not only illegal without a prescription, but they can also cause serious health issues later on including fertility problems; heart, liver and renal problems; and severe mood swings.
When coping with the stress of school and exams, herbs like withania and ginseng can help keep teens on top of their game, while zinc and a good quality fish oil with naturally occurring vitamin A and D can be great for brain health. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can also help clear up the inflammation of acne, and supplementing with zinc and vitamin B5 can assist in treating it as well. Research shows that acne can be made worse with the consumption of dairy products – sugar definitely increases those breakouts too.
‘From 18 onwards, it’s important to
have your blood pressure, blood sugars
and cholesterol checked at least every
Young men feel they are invincible, but skin cancers and testicular cancer are the most common cancers in men under 40. Cover up and check yourself guys – go on, stop being a girl about it! If found and treated early, testicular cancer is highly treatable with a good cure rate. So any lumps, changes or pain in the abdomen or groin should men you go straight to see your doc.
From 18 onwards it’s important to have your blood pressure, blood sugars and cholesterol checked at least every two years. A nutritionist or naturopath will be able to provide advice about natural remedies o keep your health at optimum levels.
Do I need to mention the importance of regular exercise here guys? You know about that, right? Unlike receding hairlines, beer bellies shouldn’t be a right of passage into middle age. Don’t bust a gut over it, but get your doctor to do a waistline check and be prepared to listen to their advice on shedding the spare tyre.
On a very serious note, mental health and sexual violence towards men are silent topics that need a voice. Contact one of the numbers on page 8 to seek help and don’t continue without shouting out. Over 85% of suicides in 2011 were men.
‘If you’re finding the length of time it takes
to urinate is longer than you’d stand for
the national anthem at a footy game,
go see your doctor for a prostate check’
You might not realise it from the media coverage, but more men die from prostate cancer each year than women from breast cancer. If you’re finding that the length of time it takes to urinate is longer than you’d stand for the national anthem at a footy game, then it’s important to go see your doctor for a prostate check. If you fall into a high-risk group, find out about getting a PSA test.
Shields that can help protect the more mature hero include resveratrol (found in red wine) and curcumin. These can be taken in capsule/tablet form for a supercharged dose of antioxidants, with curcumin also showing benefits of reducing symptoms of joint pain and arthritis.
Most importantly, make the time to see your doctor, don’t become yet another male health statistic!
Contacts & Resources
Dads in Distress (1300 853 437)
beyondblue (1300 224 636)
MensLine (1300 78 99 78)
Lifeline (13 11 14)
The Australian Men’s Shed Association (1300 550 009)
Movember (website: au.movember.com)