Growing Strong from Boyhood to Retirement

A men’s health cheat sheet for every life stage

Growing Strong from Boyhood to Retirement

As guys grow up, they face many different situations that could affect health. Think of this as a crystal ball into the future, with helpful tips on how to stay strong and healthy at every life stage.

As men, we like to use our wit and skills to make decisions on the fly. But when it comes to life’s journey, it’s helpful to know what’s coming around the bend. Every life stage offers something new. With the right nutrition and the best supplements for men at every age, we can conquer anything life throws at us.

Boys (ages 0 to 12)

Boost behaviour

Look, a toy! Friends! A squirrel! Boys are easily distracted, some more than others. In fact, 10 percent of Canadian boys—more than double the rate of girls—have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“Having concerns about a child’s behaviour can feel overwhelming,” says Natasha Montroy, ND. Other common behavioural issues include aggression and anxiety. Montroy usually starts such boys on a whole foods diet free of gluten and casein (a protein found in dairy). These ingredients “have been found to aggravate many of these conditions.” Chemical food dyes are out, too. They have an impact on mood, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. “This elimination alone can often result in a significant improvement,” says Montroy.

Montroy recommends probiotic supplements for boys. “Restoring a healthy gut in children with or at risk of developing autism or ADHD may help prevent, or help improve, their symptoms,” she says.

Consult a doctor before self-treating health concerns

Always consult your primary health care practitioner. “All therapies need to be monitored by a physician,” advises Montroy. In addition, make sure to seek the advice of a qualified health care practitioner before taking any new supplement.

Get unplugged

A third of boys struggle with constipation. “It’s one of the most common complaints I see in boys,” notes Montroy. If your child is stuck on this problem, she says, we should discuss it with a doctor, but most cases can be addressed by

  • drinking liquids
  • cutting out refined carbohydrates
  • taking probiotic, fibre, and magnesium supplements

Teen guys (ages 13 to 17)

Sprint away from sport pains

Every year, high school athletes are injured an estimated 2 million times. Ouch! And because teens are still growing, these injuries affect them differently than adults and can have lifelong effects.

One of the most important preventive measures is a teenager’s mealtime habits—bad news for the stereotypical teen who wants to live on pizza and pop. “For many teenage boys, their diet leaves something to be desired,” says Preet Khangura, ND. “They’re not providing their bodies with the nutrients needed to maintain healthy tissues, and also repair tissues.”

Besides ensuring a healthy diet, Khangura says popping these supplements may help teens maintain healthy joints and muscles:

  • curcumin extract
  • Boswellia extract
  • ginger
  • fish oil
  • L-glutamine

Young adult men (ages 18 to 25)

Stay mentally fit

Young people are more likely to experience a mental illness than any other age group. Yet there’s a lot of stigma attached to mental health. We’re talking to you, Mr. Strong and Silent.

“Young adult men have been culturally conditioned to suppress pain and emotion and avoid seeking help,” warns Andrea Whelan, ND. “Pharmaceuticals have their place in the treatment of mental health issues,” she explains, but also adds that it’s important to ensure the body has the essential nutrients to function optimally.

Whelan’s top three supplements for supporting men’s mood and mental health are

  • B-vitamin complex: “They play an essential role in all biochemical pathways and can be depleted by stress.”
  • vitamin D: “Deficiency has been linked with depression and mood disorders.”
  • fish oil: It works as an anti-inflammatory. “Research has linked certain mental health issues to inflammation in the brain.”

Adults (ages 25 to 40)

Skip the stress

“Older men typically come to me for low energy,” says Whelan. However, the root problem starts earlier. She suspects her older patients are fatigued due to chronic stress and adrenal fatigue from when they were younger.

Now is the time to get ahead of this stress to avoid future consequences, with these suggestions from Whelan.

  • “Deep breathing calms the nervous system and the adrenals.”
  • Avoid processed foods and keep blood sugar balanced. According to Whelan, it’s the best way to support your adrenals nutritionally.
  • Try maca, Withania somnifera (ashwagandha), and Rhodiola rosea “They modulate the stress response while supporting the adrenals.”

Dodge diabetes

“We’re seeing a rise in diabetes and prediabetes in adult men,” says Holly Fennell, ND. Take control of blood sugar and diabetes risks with these suggestions from Fennell.

  • Eat more foods that have a low glycemic index (GI), which measures a food’s effect on blood sugar. “A great low-GI snack that supports prostate health is a mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds with walnuts.”
  • Sweat a little. “Exercise can lower your blood glucose levels for up to 24 hours.”
  • Add supplements. “Try adding Ceylon cinnamon to your diet—it’s been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels.” Fennell also recommends magnesium and chromium to help with blood sugar levels.

Middle-aged men (ages 40 to 60)

Get to the heart of the matter

At age 45, our risk of coronary heart disease ramps up—a decade sooner than women. Some of Khangura’s favourite supplements and herbs to keep our tickers strong include

  • berberine extract
  • coenzyme Q10
  • proanthocyanidin antioxidants (such as grapeseed extract)
  • garlic

Guard against metabolic syndrome

One in five Canadians have metabolic syndrome. Men are more likely to experience it, and the rate goes up dramatically as we age. The term refers to a wide range of risk factors (including a large waistline, a low healthy cholesterol level, and high blood pressure) that increase our chances of strokes and other health problems.

“A diet high in fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, … good fats … and limited alcohol is beneficial in reversing metabolic syndrome,” says Adrienne Youdim, MD. Exercise works, too. It “trains the muscles to better utilize sugar as an energy source so insulin levels fall,” says Youdim.

The following supplements help prevent or manage metabolic syndrome, according to Youdim.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids “can be beneficial in reversing high triglycerides.”
  • Niacin may lower high cholesterol.
  • Phytosterols (plant cholesterol) “may improve cholesterol and LDL.”

Seniors (ages 60+)

Protect the prostate

“The main concern affecting men in their sixties is benign prostatic enlargement (BPH),” says Montroy.

“This condition can often be managed with natural therapies. The most well-researched natural medicine for BPH is saw palmetto. Numerous studies have found it effective in the treatment of most symptoms of mild to moderate BPH.”

Other natural supplements that may be helpful for prostate health include

  • lycopene
  • green tea
  • pomegranate
  • vitamin E

Ace these tests at every age

Depending on your life stage, ask your health care practitioner about these helpful exams.

Children

Blood or skin tests can help identify common allergy triggers to avoid.

Teenagers

If you’re sexually active, get screened for sexually transmitted diseases.

Young adults

Testicular cancer mostly affects young men. Have your boys checked as part of routine cancer exams.

Adults

At your next physical, ask for a hemoglobin-A1C blood test. “This test helps to detect diabetes,” says Dr. Holly Fennell.

Middle age: “Men should begin screening for cardiovascular issues around the age of 40,” says Dr. Preet Khangura.

Seniors: Get screened for colorectal cancer.

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