National Men’s Health week is celebrated each year the week ending with Father’s Day. It’s a time to encourage the men in your life to focus on their health, live a healthy lifestyle and get medical attention if necessary. There is a lot of focus on women’s health issues, perhaps because the changes a woman goes through from the teenage years into middle age is generally more abrupt and dramatic (menstruation→ pregnancy→ menopause→osteoporosis). The health changes men experience due to hormones, from youth to middle age, are real but generally not as abrupt (or dramatic). Men generally find themselves with age-related health concerns gradually appearing over time. And although less dramatic for men, it can be quite troubling when one day they realize they have slowly been gaining weight, decreasing muscle mass & strength, decreasing energy, decreasing libido and ability to perform sexually, as well as insomnia, nervousness and depression.
When faced with this realization, some may look outside themselves to find great satisfaction, for example a shiny new sports car in their driveway to fix their ‘mid-life crisis’. Although this may help a man feel younger, clearly it will only be a short-lived fix.
At Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation (NMR) we care for middle-aged men living through andropause, the male equivalent of menopause. By looking at the body as a whole, we help you achieve optimal health and body composition (body fat %). Counselling a patient on healthy and effective nutrition and fitness habits, balancing hormone levels and teaching stress tempering techniques generally accomplish this.
A well balanced diet and exercise are basic to good health. Health issues assumed to be related exclusively to a man’s age – weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, high blood pressure, blood sugar and lipid imbalances, sexual dysfunction– may have more to do with insufficient or poor health habits over half of a lifetime than simply age alone. Making time for all the responsibilities at work and home and not taking the time for proper nutrition, exercise and rest can increase your risk of weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately, these stressors add to a man’s stress burden that also greatly contributes to poor health and disease. Aside from all the physically positive aspects of exercise, it is also one of the greatest therapies to temper stress hormone output. Regarding nutrition, many difficulties experienced at mid-life are caused by a pro-inflammatory diet high in sugar, fat and junk food. Many health risks are the result of unhealthy aging, which can often be corrected with good nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes that temper stress and restore the body toward balance.
Optimal health is also dependent on the balancing of hormones. Hormones are natural substances produced in our bodies, which function as messengers between cells to regulate metabolism as well as other bodily functions. Blood work and laboratory testing can be done to show normal and abnormal levels of many different hormones including sex and adrenal stress hormones. Bio-identical hormones include estrone, estradiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. These hormones can be individualized in terms of dosage based upon a person’s unique hormone levels and then monitored in order to maintain a healthy blood level of any hormone prescribed.
Hormones are not for everyone, but if you decide they are right for you after taking into consideration your health, family history and other lifestyle based options, the proper dose is of utmost importance along with continued monitoring. Dr. Carol Ellis, M.D., The Director of Medicine at Natural Medicine & Rehabilitation is trained in Botanical and Nutritional Medicine, is a member of the Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, and has been certified by the Board of Preventive Medicine in Occupational Medicine. NMR supports natural based approaches to health & wellness, which can include identifying an individual’s need for hormone replacement and prescribing bio-identical hormones as a therapeutic option to restore and balance the body to as close to normal as possible.