Your clean bill of health may not be so squeaky after all. Even the strongest, most active (and proactive) men will experience a few health hiccups as they get older.
These conditions strike the majority of men by middle age. Here’s how to help fend them off and stay healthy for life.
(For more amazingly simple ways to take control of your health, check out The Better Man Project. It’s jam-packed with 2,476 life hacks on how to shrink your gut, have mind-blowing sex, transform your fitness, and more!)
If you can escape acne your whole life, consider yourself lucky. Up to 85 percent of teens suffer from the skin condition, and for many guys, breakouts persist well into adulthood.
The average adult male acne patient is 39.5 years old, according to recent research from Wake Forest University. Think about seeing a doctor if your acne is severe or doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatments, suggests Men’s Health dermatology advisor Adnan Nasir, M.D.
According to a study from New York University, high-glycemic foods, such as rice, potatoes, bread, and sugary snacks and drinks, may contribute to acne.
A diet loaded with sugars and starches causes a rise in insulin and blood glucose, which may influence hormones and other proteins that make break¬outs worse, the researchers say. For a healthy face (and body), limit your carb intake to no more than 40 percent of your total daily calories and eliminate high-glycemic foods, says Valerie Berkowitz, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at the Center for Bal¬anced Health in New York City.
This condition affects 67 percent of middle-aged men, according to a recent study from Finland. Hair loss happens when hair follicles become sensitized to dihydrotestosterone. This male hormone, also known as DHT, is more potent than testosterone, says Leona Yip, FACD, Ph.D., a dermatologist based in Canberra, Australia.
When DHT binds to receptors in the dermal papilla—part of the hair follicle—it shortens your hair’s growth phase so that each new hair comes in shorter and finer than the previous one, Dr. Yip says.
Handle and control hair loss with these 8 Strategies to Battle Baldness.
This is the bug that causes mononucleosis, the infamous “kissing disease” you may have contracted at some point in college. But even if you never felt the ravages of mono, there’s a good chance the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is lurking somewhere in your body.
About 95 percent of adults over age 30 carry it, according to research in the New England Journal of Medicine. “EBV transmits very easily,” says Ahmed A. Arif, MBBS, Ph.D, C.P.H., FACE, an associate professor of epidemiology at UNC Charlotte. “It is mostly through person-to-person contact, especially through saliva.”
Many people have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Your doctor can easily test your blood for the virus if you’re concerned about it.
This mouth malady strikes more than half of men, per a study published in the Journal of Dental Research. To reduce your risk, make friends with floss.
In a recent study from Japan, people who didn’t floss were 95 percent more likely to develop periodontal pockets, a hallmark of gum disease. Smokers also had a 71 percent increased risk, while those who only brushed their teeth once a day or less were 33 percent more likely to develop gum disease.
For more must-follow oral habits, check out 9 Surprising Ways to Whiter Teeth.
About 54 percent of adults carry the herpes simplex virus 1, while 16 percent carry herpes simplex virus 2, according to research from the CDC. HSV-1 is often the culprit behind cold sores, while HSV-2 frequently causes genital herpes.
To avoid the scarier second type, always use a condom unless you’re absolutely certain that your partner is herpes-free. Every unprotected sex act increases a person’s risk of herpes by about 4 percent, suggests a study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
That’s the human papillomavirus, a very common sexually transmitted infection that can cause genital warts. In a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, just over half of men 18 to 40 were infected with at least one strain of the virus.
Many strains of HPV are essentially harmless—however, HPV 16 and HPV 18 have been linked to an increased risk of various cancers. Safe sex is the best way to stay clean.
The average person will have five norovirus-caused gastrointestinal infections in their life, according to CDC estimates. You can catch this bug from food, surfaces, and—most commonly—other people, says Lee-Ann Jaykus, Ph.D., a professor of food science at NC State University who studies norovirus.
Related: The Germiest Places You Touch Every Day
Poop and vomit are reservoirs for millions to billions of virus cells, but you only need to be exposed to a few thousand to end up leaning over the toilet bowl. Worse yet, your immune system may not remember the bug next time you’re exposed.
“It appears that people have short-term immunity, but they don’t really have long-term immunity to noroviruses,” says Jaykus. “There’s a lot of strain evolution, so new viruses are popping up all the time.”
Your risk is highest in tight quarters—like on cruise ships. Wash your hands frequently and be cautious around others with stomach symptoms. Even if your friends seem fine, they can shed the virus for weeks after infection, says Jaykus. Many norovirus infections resolve themselves, but see a doctor if you experience dehydration or if you just can’t kick the bug.
CDC data shows that 73 percent of adult men are either overweight or obese. There’s no simple explanation for why so many of us are pudgier than we should be, but fortunately, we do know how to shed those pounds.
For the simplest, most effective way to shrink your gut for good, try our Lose Your Spare Tire! program. You can drop 10, 20, or even 50 pounds!)
According to research published in Public Health Reports, 98 percent of adults have been infected with this virus, which can cause chicken pox and shingles. The CDC recommends the varicella vaccine for any adult who hasn’t had the shot or chicken pox already. It’s a two-part vaccine with doses spread 28 days apart.
Lots of guys need glasses. A study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology suggests that 46 percent of Americans are farsighted, 25 percent are nearsighted, and 45 percent have astigmatism.
If you have any of these problems, you probably noticed them back in school when you couldn’t see the chalkboard. However, even guys born with perfect vision are likely to end up reaching for a pair of glasses by middle age.
Presbyopia—an age-related eye problem that makes it difficult to read up close—sets in between ages 42 and 44 on average, according to the American Optometric Association. To catch changes early, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everybody should have an eye exam at age 40.
(You can solve this problem with a solid pair of specs. But these 9 Horrible Things That Can Happen to Your Eyes aren’t so easy to fix.)
USING DIET TO FIGHT DISEASES
Trendy diets and nutrition research change almost daily. Still, amidst all the hype, study after study shows that good food choices have a positive impact on health, and poor diets have negative long-term effects. Know the facts:
- A healthy diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to perform physically, maintain wellness, and fight disease. Americans whose dietary patterns include fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish have a lower incidence of major chronic disease and especially of diet-related diseases.
- Unfortunately, the standard American diet (S.A.D.) is heavy in saturated fats, partially-hydrogenated oils, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods.
- This diet, in combination with a sedentary lifestyle, large portion sizes, and high stress, is blamed for the increase in obesity and associated diseases in the U.S. (according to the Center for Disease Control, over a third of the U.S. adult population is obese). Diseases associated with obesity include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and certain cancers, including breast cancer in women.
In short, what we eat is central to our health. Food acts as medicine to maintain health, as well as prevent and treat disease. For more information about how food works in our bodies, see What Do Specific Foods Do?.
Eating too much or too little
Obesity is rising rapidly, and, as we saw above, is associated with many serious, even life-threatening, diseases.
However, eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia (binge eating and purging), and binge-eating disorder, are also on the rise. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, in the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men have suffered from an eating disorder at some time in their lives. These disorders are significant threats to health and are often chronic.
The average age of sufferers is plummeting, claiming control of children as young as elementary school. Peak eating disorder onset among girls occurs between ages 11 and 13. Eating disorders are also appearing more frequently among men and middle-aged women.
The increase in both eating disorders and obesity dramatically demonstrate that diet is not just about giving your body sustenance. Nourishing yourself engages every aspect of your being—physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual. When any of these aspects are unbalanced, eating behaviors can suffer.
Nutrition involves our relationships with family, friends, community, the environment, and the world. We need to make decisions about what and how we eat that foster not only our health and wellbeing, but the health of those around us and of our planet and environment.
Source: Men’s Health.