Sexual Health of Men!

The sexual health of men is not as complicated as that of women. Show a man a certain type of image and if his brain and nervous system are working properly to produce nitric oxide, then a response will usually occur. That’s not to discount any mental, emotional, and spiritual components but it is the physical component that has the greatest impact on man’s sexual health. This article will focus on what men can do to improve the physical component of their sexual health. The side benefit is that these suggestions can also positively impact your overall wellness and how you age.

In all the information I gathered to prepare for this article, two overriding issues kept surfacing. These two health issues were consistently present. The first is hormone levels. The second is cardiovascular health. Most men would understand how hormone levels could apply but few ever consider cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular Health!

Your cardiovascular health is as important to your sexual health as it is to your overall health. The reason why centers on the health of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels of your body. The creation of nitric oxide occurs in these endothelial cells. Nitric oxide researchers believe that nitric oxide can correct up to 90% of all penile dysfunction. When the endothelial cells are damaged by high blood pressure, high sugar levels, cholesterol, and smoking this decreases nitric oxide production. Endothelial cells and their ability to produce nitric oxide are critical to the sexual health of men.

Hormone Levels!

At its simplest level, sex is just a hormone driven function designed to perpetuate the species. With that said, the sexual health of American men is in trouble. Testosterone levels have been decreasing over the last 20 years. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It plays an important role in maintaining bone and muscle mass. Low levels of testosterone have been linked to lowered libido and diabetes. Diabetes can affect the endothelial cells of the blood vessels compounding the problem of lower testosterone levels.

Over the past two decades, the level of testosterone in American males has decreased by 16 percent. Researchers don’t know why. But there are some clues. The recent Nurses’ Health Study revealed some important truths as they apply to women. Some of those truths also apply to the sexual health of men because they affect both hormonal levels and cardiovascular health.

Additionally, as testosterone levels have decreased this has resulted in reduced muscle mass and tone, reduced metabolism and energy and an increase in body fat. Not a sexy combination! You can accept it and do nothing about it. Or, you can begin to live life by making healthier eating and exercise choices. Choices that will help your body actually be younger physically than your chronological age.

You Have Control Over the Process!

Every day you replace approximately 1% of your cells. That means that 1% of your body is new today, 1% is new tomorrow, and 1% is new each and every day of your life. You choose whether those new cells will be nourished properly or poorly. You choose whether you will have healthy and vibrant cells that act young. Or, sickly and sedentary cells that act old.

The sexual health of your body will be affected by the choices you make. I call it “The 1% Solution!” and it will positively affect the cardiovascular and sexual health of your body.

Choices Affecting Sexual Health!

The Nurses’ Health Study highlighted five critical lifestyle and diet behaviors. They are:

o Carbohydrates – Slow verses Fast!

o Fats – Natural verses Artificial!

o Protein – Animal or Plant!

o Body Weight – Your BMI!

o Exercise – Is It Important?

If you look at this list, three critical components emerge: Diet, Weight, and Exercise! Now you might think that this only applies to women. It doesn’t! Each of these factors will affect your cardiovascular health and hormonal balance. Each of these factors also affects the health of your endothelial cells and their ability to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide production is the most important component to the sexual health of men. Let’s look at how all of these factors impact your sexual health.

The Diet Component!

You are what you eat and drink. The sexual health of your body and the cardiovascular health of your circulatory system will be greatly determined by your food and drink choices. These choices will also impact the potential for disease and how you age.

Your first choice is in the area of carbohydrates. Are you choosing foods and drinks that are high in fast carbs (simple sugars)? If you are, then you need to understand that:

o Fast carbs disrupt hormone levels.

o Fast carbs create the potential for high blood sugar that can lead to diabetes.

o High blood sugar can damage the endothelial cells of your blood vessels reducing the production of nitric oxide which is critical for good sexual and cardiovascular health.

Learn to consume foods that are high in slow carbs (complex carbohydrates). Slow carbs will help to keep your blood sugar levels normal and your hormonal levels balanced. Drink water instead of sugary drinks and diet sodas. Drinking water hydrates your system, helps you balance your hormone levels, and aids in weight management.

Your second choice is in the area of fats. Eliminate all trans fats from your diet and replace them with natural, heart-health fats. The Nurses’ Health Study clearly showed how disruptive trans fats are to fertility in women. As little as four grams of trans fat (the equivalent of two tablespoons of stick margarine, one medium order of French fries or one doughnut) began to disrupt their hormonal balance.

How much of your diet consists of trans fats from fast food restaurants? How many orders of French fries and doughnuts have you consumed at work? Although I can’t give you any hard research on men, it makes sense that we can be as affected by trans fats as women are. It’s time that you incorporate foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild, cold-water fish, walnuts, and flax seeds) since essential fats help to balance hormone levels and promote healthy cell function.

Your third choice is in the area of protein. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, women who got their protein from plant sources rather then from animals took a big step toward improved fertility. Animal protein can adversely affect your sexual health. It also has a direct influence on cancer!

If you’re not willing to give up your beef, pork or chicken, then invest the time, energy and extra cost to make sure that these sources of protein are hormone free. This also applies to your dairy products. Much of the industry still relies on hormonal injections into their livestock to help increase food production. Eating meat from these animals and their byproducts will affect your hormonal levels. If you’re not willing to switch to plant-based protein sources, then make sure your meat and dairy sources are hormone free.

The Weight Component!

Like it or not weight impacts the sexual health of your body. Why? Because fat interferes with your hormonal balance! Fat also stresses your cardiovascular system. This additional stress on your cardiovascular system will compromise the sexual health of your body. Currently, 66% of Americans are overweight with at least a third being obese. Diets are not the answer. America has been dieting for the last 50 years. It has had no real impact on slowing down overweight and obesity rates.

You need a paradigm shift from “dieting” to “healthy eating”. Make food choices based on how it will improve your health and wellness, not on how it will impact your weight. Most people who do this see their weight stabilize or decrease.

The Exercise Component!

Exercise is important for both sexual and cardiovascular health. Inactivity saps the body of its ability to respond to insulin and makes you less efficient in absorbing blood sugar. A study from the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality highlighted that people who exercised on a regular basis:

o Feel better about themselves.

o Think they are more sexually desirable.

o Experience greater levels of satisfaction.

It’s always important to check with your physician or health care provider before you start an exercise program. Once you have their OK, than strive to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, biking, and swimming are important and seem to increase circulation to the pelvis and the reproductive organs. But don’t forget about strength training exercises. Strength training exercises will help you maintain bone health and density. Additionally, strength training exercises will increase your spatial awareness. This is a very positive feeling that improves your overall well being.

The Nitric Oxide Component!

You cannot live without nitric oxide. Your cardiovascular system could not function properly without nitric oxide. The sexual health of your body revolves around the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide production is dependent upon the health of the endothelial cells of your blood vessels, and adequate supplies of the essential amino acid L-arginine.

High blood pressure, high sugar levels, high cholesterol levels and smoking all affect your endothelial cells in a negative way. Damage to these endothelial cells will reduce nitric oxide production. This can compromise the blood flow to the sexual organ resulting in reduced sensitivity and/or erectile dysfunction.

Since nitric oxide is synthesized from the essential amino acid L-arginine, your diet needs to include protein sources and/or supplements that contain this amino acid. It needs to be emphasized that L-arginine is not a hormone and it is not testosterone. However, when properly brought into the body it can cross the blood-brain barrier to signal the hypothalamus to naturally trigger the pituitary gland to produce growth hormone. This is the key to eliminating any negative side effects typically associated with hormone supplements like DHEA and HGH.

Please note that L-arginine has a dark side and can cause some serious side effects. Read my article, “L-arginine, Nitric Oxide and Sexual Health!” for more information on this essential amino acid.

Conclusion!

If you continue a life of inactively, animal protein intake, sugary drinks, foods made from refined grains, increased body fat, and inadequate nitric oxide production, then you will become part of the new reality for America. This new reality includes epidemic increases in diabetes, continued high levels of cardiovascular disease and stroke, continued high levels of cancer, and poor sexual health especially for those over the age of 40. As Aristotle said, “We Are What We Repeatedly Do!”

By taking the necessary steps to improve your diet, manage your weight, exercise properly and increase your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide you will experience positive changes in the sexual health of your body. If you repeatedly take these positive steps you will also improve your wellness and slow down your aging.

One Final Thought!

Although the hormonal balance between men and women are different, the process of change is the same. Many of the steps that improve the sexual health of men will also help improve the sexual health of women. Encourage your spouse or partner to implement these changes with you. If you both take the steps to improve your health, then you will both be reward in the bedroom, and in living your life to its fullest.

Until next time, may we both age youthfully!

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Improve Your Well-Being – How Your Attitude to Health Can Help

What is Health?

How do you define health? Is it a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being? Is it merely the absence of disease or infirmity? Or is health a resource for everyday life, rather than the objective of living; a positive concept, emphasising social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities?

Good health is harder to define than bad health (which can be equated with the presence of disease), because it must convey a concept more positive than mere absence of disease, and there is a variable area between health and disease. Health is clearly a complex, multidimensional concept. Health is, ultimately, poorly defined and difficult to measure, despite impressive efforts by epidemiologists, vital statisticians, social scientists and political economists. Each individual’s health is shaped by many factors, including medical care, social circumstances, and behavioural choices.

Health Care

While it is true to say that health care is the prevention, treatment and management of illness, and the preservation of mental and physical well-being, through the services offered by the medical, nursing and allied health professions, health-related behaviour is influenced by our own values, which are determined by upbringing, by example, by experience, by the company one keeps, by the persuasive power of advertising (often a force of behaviour that can harm health), and by effective health education. Healthy individuals are able to mobilise all their physical, mental, and spiritual resources to improve their chances of survival, to live happy and fulfilling lives, and to be of benefit to their dependants and society.

Achieving health, and remaining healthy, is an active process. Natural health is based on prevention, and on keeping our bodies and minds in good shape. Health lies in balancing these aspects within the body through a regimen consisting of diet, exercise, and regulation of the emotions. The last of these is too often ignored when health advice is dispensed, but can have a pronounced effect on physical well-being.

Diet

Every day, or so it seems, new research shows that some aspect of lifestyle – physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, and so on – affects health and longevity. Physical fitness is good bodily health, and is the result of regular exercise, proper diet and nutrition, and proper rest for physical recovery. The field of nutrition also studies foods and dietary supplements that improve performance, promote health, and cure or prevent disease, such as fibrous foods to reduce the risk of colon cancer, or supplements with vitamin C to strengthen teeth and gums and to improve the immune system. When exercising, it becomes even more important to have a good diet to ensure that the body has the correct ratio of macronutrients whilst providing ample micronutrients; this is to aid the body in the recovery process following strenuous exercise.

If you’re trying to lose weight by “dieting”, don’t call it a diet, first of all – successful dieters don’t call what they do a “diet”. A healthy diet and regular physical activity are both important for maintaining a healthy weight. Even literate, well-educated people sometimes have misguided views about what makes or keeps them healthy, often believing that regular daily exercise, regular bowel movements, or a specific dietary regime will alone suffice to preserve their good health. Despite the ever-changing, ever-conflicting opinions of the medical experts as to what is good for us, one aspect of what we eat and drink has remained constantly agreed by all: a balanced diet.

A balanced diet comprises a mixture of the main varieties of nutriments (protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins). Proper nutrition is just as, if not more, important to health as exercise. If you’re concerned about being overweight, you don’t need to add the extra stress of “dieting”. No “low-fat this” or “low-carb that”; just healthful eating of smaller portions, with weight loss being a satisfying side effect. Improve health by eating real food in moderation. (For many reasons, not everyone has easy access to or incentives to eat a balanced diet. Nevertheless, those who eat a well-balanced diet are healthier than those who do not.)

Exercise

Physical exercise is considered important for maintaining physical fitness and overall health (including healthy weight), building and maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, running and swimming, focus on increasing cardiovascular endurance and muscle density. Anaerobic exercises, such as weight training or sprinting, increase muscle mass and strength. Proper rest and recovery are also as important to health as exercise, otherwise the body exists in a permanently injured state and will not improve or adapt adequately to the exercise. The above two factors can be compromised by psychological compulsions (eating disorders, such as exercise bulimia, anorexia, and other bulimias), misinformation, a lack of organisation, or a lack of motivation.

Ask your doctor or physical therapist what exercises are best for you. Your doctor and/or physical therapist can recommend specific types of exercise, depending on your particular situation. You can use exercises to keep strong and limber, improve cardiovascular fitness, extend your joints’ range of motion, and reduce your weight. You should never be too busy to exercise. There’s always a way to squeeze in a little exercise, no matter where you are. Eliminate one or maybe even two items from your busy schedule to free up time to fit in some exercise and some “YOU” time. Finding an exercise partner is a common workout strategy.

Emotions

You may have heard about the benefits of diet and exercise ad nauseam, but may be unaware of the effect that your emotions can have on your physical well-being and, indeed, your longevity. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life. Mental health is how we think, feel, and act in order to face life’s situations. Prolonged psychological stress may have a negative impact on health, such as weakening the immune system.

Children are particularly vulnerable. Caring for and protecting a child’s mental health is a major part of helping that child to grow into a normal adult, accepted into society. Mental health problems are not just a passing phase. Children are at greater risk for developing mental health problems when certain factors occur in their lives or environments. Mental health problems include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and conduct disorder. Do your best to provide a safe and loving home and community for your child, as well as nutritious meals, regular health check-ups, immunisations and exercise. Many children experience mental health problems that are real and painful, and they can be severe. Mental health problems affect at least one in every five young people at any given time. Tragically, an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need. Mental health problems can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug abuse, family discord, violence, or even suicide. A variety of signs may point to a possible mental health problem in a child or teenager. Talk to your doctor, a school counsellor, or other mental health professionals who are trained to assess whether your child has a mental health problem.

Control your emotions. If a driver overtakes you on the wrong side, or pulls out of a side road in front of you, don’t seethe with rage and honk your horn; You’re hurting no one but yourself by raising your blood pressure. Anger has been linked to heart disease, and research has suggested that hardening of the arteries occurs faster in people who score highly in hostility and anger tests. Stay calm in such situations, and feel proud of yourself for doing so. Take comfort in the knowledge that such aggressive drivers only increase their own blood pressure. Your passengers will be more impressed with your “cool” than with your irascibility.

If you are in a constant rush, feeling that every second of your life counts, just slow down a little. Yes, every second does count, but consider the concept of quality of life. Compare how you feel when you’re in a hurry with how you feel when you’re not. Which feels better? Rushing everywhere increases your stress level. The body tries to overcome stress by making certain physiological adjustments. Some time after you slow down, the physiological adjustments and the stress symptoms revert to normal. If you don’t ever slow down, the physiological adjustments and the stress symptoms persist. It is this persistence of the body’s response that matters. You may develop physical, physiological or psychological problems, and may not be able to lead a normal life. Many cases of stress are somehow connected with money, or rather the lack of it. Such people struggle to make ends meet or to acquire more material possessions. This brings us to our final discussion: attitude.

Attitude

It is always pleasant to enjoy the fruits of our labours, of course. Sometimes, however, it seems that whatever we do, it’s just not enough to be able to afford that new car or that foreign holiday. So, what do we usually do then? We work harder, longer; we increase the stress on our minds and bodies; we spend less time with our families and friends; we become more irascible and less likeable people. If you find yourself in this situation, just stop for a moment, and consider: Is it all worth it? What is the purpose of life? Surely it is to be happy. You’ll probably be happier if you adopt the philosophy that true quality of life is not to be found in material things. If you convince yourself that you want less, you’ll need less. If you need less, you’ll cope with life more easily, and the happier, and therefore healthier, you’ll be. Buddha called this “enlightenment”. Enjoy a “good-health attitude”. Focus on your abilities instead of disabilities. Be satisfied with what you have, rather than be dissatisfied about what you don’t have and probably never will have.

If you simply cannot cope with a healthy diet, exercise and emotional control, but genuinely prefer to eat junk food, be permanently drunk, be under constant stress, and be disliked by others, then enjoy your life while it lasts, but understand that the trade-off is that it will probably not last long. If you accept this willingly, you’ll be happy. There is some merit in the philosophy that it is better to live a short, happy life than a long, miserable one.

Conclusion

Personal or individual health is largely subjective. For most individuals and for many cultures, however, health is a philosophical and subjective concept, associated with contentment, and often taken for granted when all is going well. The evidence that behavioural factors such as diet, physical activity, smoking and stress influence health is overwhelming. Thus, health is maintained and improved not only through the advancement and application of health science, but also through the efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices of the individual and society. Perhaps the best thing you can do for your health is to keep a positive attitude. Optimal health can be defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual health. Maintain a positive attitude!

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