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Inside man

Rude Health gets natural health advice for each different decade in a man’s life, from your teens and 20s right through to retiring gracefully

Teens and 20s

Despite being younger and fitter than older men, young men in their teens and 20s can suffer from acne. This is caused by an excess of the male hormone testosterone.

“Changing your diet to lower dairy consumption can be beneficial,” says Matt Ronan from health store Evolv in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. “The addition of zinc is useful both for hormones and skin healing. A herb called agnus castus can be quite helpful for normalising hormone levels. Acne on the back and back of the neck can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, therefore a good tonic can help.”

“Minimising sugar and increasing vegetable and water consumption can help,” says Gerald Colfer from health store Only Natural in Wexford town. “We favour a good probiotic to balance gut bacteria.”

30s

During the 30s a gradual slowing down of testosterone production begins. This is also the time when most men are thinking about starting a family, and fertility issues become more important.

“The right diet is vital here, so try reducing alcohol, sugar and caffeine,” says Gerald Colfer. “Optimise sperm health with plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds that are rich in essential fats, zinc and selenium. Take enough high intensity exercise to ensure normal body weight and deal with sleep issues if they are an issue.”

“Testosterone levels should be reasonably healthy at this age, but male fertility has declined over the last 50 years,” says Matt Ronan. “There are many possible culprits, most famously the levels of pesticides in our vegetables. Stress can also be a major factor. A session with a nutritional therapist may be useful.”

40s

Stress can be a big problem for men in their 40s and if it is not addressed, it can negatively contribute to heart health issues, high cholesterol, low libido and diabetes.

“This can be a decade when poor habits start catching up with you,” says Matt Ronan. “Getting a good exercise program going can pay huge dividends, but you cannot outrun a bad diet. Moving the diet further towards quality food is a huge investment in future well-being and energy levels. Work stress can be affecting sleep at this stage and poor sleep quality is indeed a very big deal for health. Using magnesium and valerian products can be helpful to reduce stress and anxiety. During the 40s sometimes the hairline comes under challenge and this can be helped by taking the herb saw palmetto.”

“Stress can be a major causative factor in elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes,” says Gerald Colfer. “So mitigate stress through meditation and regular exercise. Eat balanced, regular meals including some protein to regulate blood sugars and try to stick to a maximum of two teas or coffee per day. Stress can also be managed with B vitamins and magnesium as well as with herbs like rhodiola, ashwagandha and ginseng.”

50s

Men may not go through the same obvious hormonal changes that women experience during menopause, but there is a gradual decrease in testosterone production as men get older. Testosterone affects body shape, energy levels, how men deal with stress, male fertility and libido.

“A drop in testosterone can lead to weight gain, especially round the middle, lower energy and libido,” says Gerald Colfer. “Strength training and high intensity exercise can increase production of HGH (human growth hormone) to encourage overall hormone regulation. Healthy fats from nuts and seeds, fish and avocados are all beneficial as are greens such as spinach and broccoli. Above all balance blood sugars as insulin spikes and gains in body fat have a negative effect on male hormone production. Chromium can be beneficial for this as well as vitamin D, B vitamins and zinc.”

“My first mission in this age group would be to get energy levels up,” says Matt Ronan. “There are some superb energy boosting tonics which can be recommended. Prostate issues can be helped by the herb saw palmetto with some zinc and possibly nettle.”

60s

Prostate issues become a real problem for an increasing number of men in their 60s. Another issue is that the cartilage around the joints begins to give a bit, causing pain and inflammation.

“Prostate and joint issues are prominent in this age bracket,” says Gerald Colfer. “To ensure prostate health regular medical checks are advisable as well as herbal support from saw palmetto. Inflammation can be managed through diet by reducing sugar and grain intake and eating plenty of fish, nuts, seeds and green vegetables. Keep tea, coffee and alcohol to a minimum. Include anti-inflammatory foods like ginger and turmeric in the diet, supplements like curcumin and omega-3. Collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid all support connective tissue health.”

“Nowadays we have some terrific products available to help combat joint discomfort,” says Matt Ronan. “Combinations of glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin are now commonplace. We also have a good selection of powdered collagen products for helping joints to rebuild and facilitate better flexibility in tendons and ligaments. For joints which have progressed to the painful stage, turmeric products reduce this inflammation. We have found that CBD has terrific benefits to offer in alleviating a type of nervous irritability which leads to strain on relationships within the family.”

70s and beyond

Issues with osteoporosis and the risk of a fall due to less strength and balance can be a concern for men in their 70s. Greater attention should be paid to cognitive health, including depression and dementia.

“Heading into the 70s can be quite challenging for all of us men, but it need not be the cause of a lessened quality of life,” says Matt Ronan. “There is much which we can do to maintain vitality. Fish oils are wonderful as they provide assistance for joints as well as cardiovascular health and help maintain our cognitive abilities. Avoiding sugary foods becomes vitally important - uncontrolled blood sugar levels can be the cause of much of the harm which we ascribe to dementia. If an additional boost to focus and mental sharpness is required there are some great new products with ingredients such as lemon balm, l-theanine and sage that can be very useful. Vitamins C and D supplements give real benefits, and we have some immune system complexes which can be a real help.”

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