Health is Wealth

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According to CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S, making up 1 in every 4 male deaths.  Also, between 79% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men, and half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

Gentlemen, those numbers are scary high and it further underscores how little attention society pay to men’s health and more importantly it shows how little attention and care men pay to their own health.  If I can credit women for one thing at least, it is that they are fastidious in caring for their health and safety.  Men on the other hand, partly due to the stigma that doggedly shapes a demented mentality that manliness is the outward show of strength despite inward disintegration, are very poor in caring for their own health.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a woman who told me, when our conversation furtively strayed towards heart health, that she has probably had about a hundred EKG done in her lifetime.  She said at any minor felt chest pain or ache she goes to the hospital and since such clinical manifestation warrant an EKG, she gets it done every time.  I was so surprised because I, a medical professional, has never had an EKG done before.  Even though I’ve taken an EKG of many patients, it has never crossed my mind even at those moments when I have had maybe a heartburn to go to the hospital to have an EKG done.  Could it be that at those moments my subconscious arouse a bit of contempt at any reaction that may be considered weak?  See, this is how the consciousness that prioritizes health before anything else is suppressed unconsciously due to the stigma that states a real man is a man who keeps silent about his health and drowns his concerns in booze, all empty attempts to seem macho.  If I, as a man, had said to a woman or a man the same thing the woman had said to me in our conversation, that I have had about a hundred EKG done because I go to the hospital anytime I feel a chest pain or ache, what do you think any listening audience, male or female, reaction would be?  Think about it for a second.

Exactly.

Your heart health is very important, gentlemen.  I am compelled, as a medical professional, to say that if you take care of your heart you’ve taken care of 90 percent of ailments that may jeopardize your well-being.  So, exactly how do you go about taking care of your heart?  Well, exercise is the number one and the most obvious.

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Humans didn’t evolve to live the sedentary lifestyle the comfort of science and technology in modernity has afforded us.  The human body evolved to be in constant motion in order to ensure survival, not shackled to a computer desk with occasional walk-around.  The only way to mirror our evolution in modern times is through exercise.  I don’t think I need to list the benefits of aerobic exercise such as running or cardio in general but I’ll do it anyway.  Personally, the feeling I get while running or afterward is unspeakable and I’m sure you feel it too.  I mean, is it the feeling you get in those 20 to 30 minutes of running as the wind rushes by to meet the sweat building on your face while the road ahead falls away beneath you or is it that feeling afterward when you feel almost like a god as your muscles excite vigorously to cool down?  Exercise lifts your mood, improve your learning abilities, builds self-esteem, keeps your brain fit, keeps your body fit and able, boost your mental health, boosts your immune system, reduces stress, improves your tone and color, improves sleeping patterns, reduces chances of stroke, improves joint function, improves strength, alleviate anxiety, sharpens memory, helps control addiction, boosts productivity, improves body image, increases longevity, strengthens your heart, improves cholesterol levels, lowers risk of certain cancers, lowers high blood pressure, lowers risk of diabetes, fights dementia, prevents muscle loss, increases energy and endurance, improves concentration, and improves overall quality of life.

My second suggestion, one I think people may be oblivious to, is Beets juice.  The enormous health benefits of this drink can’t be overstated and every studies done has confirmed this.  I drink this every day and from a firsthand experience, I can say this drink is everything and more.  I mean, you literally, literally, feel your body receive the calmness that courses through every fiber of your body as you drink beets, result of the dilating effect it has on blood vessels.  Many studies have validated the instantaneous (positive) effect it has on the heart the moment you drink a cup and the immediate reduction in blood pressure.  You get all the benefits of antihypertensives like beta blockers or ACE inhibitors without any of the drawbacks.  Beetroots can be purchased for cheap at wholefoods or any other local market that sells such produce.  Combine the drinking habit of beets with daily exercise and you are in the top shape of your life.

As men, we like to drink and smoke, and there is nothing wrong with occasional indulgence of either one but add that to our high testosterone level and our natural risk-reward tendencies and then add all of that to men’s suppressed ability to express pain, hurt, or disappointment, and you have a recipe for excessive, not to say anything of disastrous, engagement in behaviors that puts our health at great risk.  Because of this, men make up the majority consumer who keep alive the multi-billion dollar industries that produces products that, literally and figuratively, eat away at hearts of men.  It is high time that we start to look after our health as health is an integral part of self-actualization.

A pint of beer and a cigarette

Let it be known that any improvement you make today towards the betterment of your health is the biggest and single most important investment you could make in life as a man.  So, making lifestyle changes such as cutting down on alcohol consumption and smoking, you are investing in your life.  By taking this important step you’re are making a winning bargain with the distant future, a bargain in which great quality life dispels an otherwise life of pain and discomfort, heart disease, lung disease, liver or kidney disease, cancer, huge hospital bills, and so on.  I’m always of the mindset that the level at which one cares for one’s health shows the value one puts on life.  So, gentlemen, what is your life worth?

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Food is king.  That is a popular phrase in one familiar culture.  Yes, food is indeed a king, consider that not only do we humans eat to keep alive, we also treasure the taste of food.  Taste of food is one of many human pleasures in life.  The taste buds located in the papillae throughout our mouth are the most potent of all mammals.  Humans love food.  To put it more accurately, I would say men, especially, love food.  Due to their biological make-up, men exert and burn so much energy that they need that much more food and nutrient for replacement, but when is too much too much?  Our propensity to keep eating long after hunger is satisfied and boredom is kept at bay are what leads to many heart diseases that many men experiences and what unfortunately lead to the deaths of many.  I don’t need to go through the pathophysiology of the detrimental effect excessive eating habits could have on health long term but what I’d say is that, you know, as I know, that too much of anything is bad for you and food is no exception.  As a matter of fact, according to a new study by CDC, 40% cases of cancer is related to obesity, In 2014, approximately 631,000 persons in the United States received a diagnosis of a cancer associated with overweight and obesity, representing 40% of all cancers diagnosed. Overweight- and obesity-related cancer incidence rates were higher among older persons (ages ≥50 years) than younger persons; higher among females than males; and higher among non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white adults compared with other groups.”

Make no mistake, I’m not advocating for a vegetarian or pescetarian lifestyle.  I love meat as much as the next man as I love tasting them.  I often joke that I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to not eat meat.  What I’m advocating is a fervent watchfulness of the types and the amount of food one consumes in one sitting or in a day.  Cutting down significantly on fast-food would be a huge step in the direction of a healthy lifestyle.  By doing this, not only are you making the best decision for your body, you are also saving money.  The money you spend at McDanolds or at Burger King drive-thru in a week, if spent on groceries, would leave you a nice change at the end of the week to be spent on other things.  Not only that but the hobby you could make out of cooking those purchased groceries could provide for a vibrant daily life; could be an activity you look forward to doing every day.

Amount is also critical here.  People tell me the challenges they face in trying to lose weight even though they exercise and what I tell them every single time is amount, amount, amount.  Needlessly filling the plate to the brim every time you eat isn’t a recipe for a healthy lifestyle.  Yes, you may eat a plate-full only twice or three times a day, but the effect it has on body’s mechanism when metabolizing such a large amount reveals itself in the ugly fats that won’t go away.  When the extra fat is useless to the body, the body stores it instead of converting it to energy.  Instead of eating a plate-full two or three times a day, I suggest you divide the plate in half or three-way and eat four to six times a day or cook small meals and eat four to six times a day.  This way, the body metabolizes faster and fats aren’t stored with preexisting fats in the body.

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Lastly, my next suggestion, a plea rather, is to make sure you see your doctor the moment you feel like something isn’t quite right with your body.  Gentlemen, don’t be afraid to go see your doctor when you don’t feel right and never fail to schedule a regular check-up to see to it that you are as healthy as you can be.  There is absolutely nothing macho or manly about walking around with a broken down body or an heart attack waiting to happen.  Health is wealth, gentlemen.  Acquire it.

Oh, by the way, the healthiest decision you could make as a man is to NEVER EVER GET MARRIED.

Steele, B. C., Thomas, C. C., Henly, J., & Galuska, D. A. (2017). Vital Signs: Trends in Incidence of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity — United States, 2005–2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 66(39), 1052-1058. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6639e1.htm.

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