Feel empowered with natural medicine
Dr. Cassie Irwin
Most men would rather clean the toilet than go to the doctor, according to 72 percent of respondents in a 2019 men’s health survey. Regardless of whether that toilet actually gets cleaned, men still don’t go to their general practitioner (GP) for regular check-ups nearly as often as women do, which deprives them of health screening that can prevent disease progression down the road.
The fear of receiving a diagnosis and navigating its ramifications on job security and income are practical reasons why men avoid regular check-ups. Men may also feel pressured to remain strong and avoid the vulnerability of asking for help, a concept which researchers have identified as a contributor to health care avoidance. This likely plays a role in why two-thirds of men avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible.
Naturopathic doctors promote health and prevent disease by prescribing safe and effective natural treatments that address the connections between body systems. Holistic nutritionists provide individualized guidance on healthy eating patterns. Physiotherapists focus on optimizing musculoskeletal health and assist with injury rehabilitation, post-stroke care, and symptoms related to heart disease and diabetes. Chiropractors assess dysfunctions related to the spine, joints, and nervous system, and provide adjustments to improve joint pain and range of motion.
|Test||What it reveals|
|fasting insulin||indicates metabolic risk before abnormalities in blood glucose appear|
|bioavailable testosterone||indicates how much testosterone is biologically active|
|vitamin D||deficiencies associated with male fertility, erectile function, and reduced prostate cancer risk|
|homocysteine||risk factor for cardiovascular and neurological conditions|
|LDL and VLDL||“bad” cholesterol that can contribute to buildup of arterial plaque|
|omega-3||assesses absorption of omega-3s, which are associated with improved blood glucose and LDL|
|HbA1c||standard assessment of blood glucose over the preceding three months|
Adopting a proactive approach to health that prevents disease is fitting for the men who want to remain strong and avoid feeling vulnerable about their health trajectory. Working with a natural health practitioner may minimize the consequences of medical avoidance and reduce risk factors for many of the diseases that are screened during routine medical check-ups.
Natural health practitioners prescribe safe and effective treatments to optimize health. A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle practices are foundational prescriptions from naturopathic doctors and are integral to reducing risk factors of preventable chronic diseases, including cardiorespiratory disease, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Adopting healthy practices and using targeted supplementation now can reduce the need for pharmaceuticals in the long run, effectively reducing the burden on both body and wallet!
Cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, account for 40 percent of male deaths in industrialized countries. Consulting a natural health practitioner can provide peace of mind, especially since hypertension and prediabetes don’t cause symptoms. Naturopathic doctors order blood work that shows what’s happening in the body long before symptoms appear and implement evidence-based strategies to avoid the mediators of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
A natural health practitioner isn’t a replacement for your GP, but rather acts as one player on your health care team. There’s a role for pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and surgery when needed, just as much as there’s a place for preventive and supportive treatments. As the evidence for natural medicine grows, medical professionals are becoming better equipped to work together to coordinate patient care. And let’s not forget the team captain—you! By taking your health into your own hands, you can continue to feel strong, happy, and in control.
Prostate cancer is the second most frequent cancer among men, which likely contributes to some fear about going for a check-up. But you can advocate for your health by learning about your individual risk. Saturated fat, red meat, dairy, alcohol, and smoking all increase risk, whereas eating soy and cooked tomatoes reduces risk. Naturopathic doctors can prescribe evidence-based treatments to further decrease prostate cancer risk, as well as to manage prostate enlargement, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.
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Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND, is a functional medicine practitioner who consults virtually and in Vineland, Ontario, to optimize quality of life for those with autoimmunity and chronic illness. drcassieirwin.com; @drcassieirwinThis article was originally published in the June 2020 issue of alive Canada, under the title "Taking Charge of Men's Health."