The Doctors HealthSmart column: Keep him healthy
Ryan Summerlin November 1, 2011
Men live a lot longer than they used to: About 40 years ago, average life expectancy was 67 years; today, it’s almost 76. It’s a definite improvement, but men still have work to do when it comes to their health: They tend to smoke and drink more than women, they see their doctor less often, and they are diagnosed with more cases of cancer and heart disease.Step 1 to staying healthy: Get regular checkups and screenings. Here are more strategies to help prevent or treat the top threats to men’s health:Eat more ﬁberTwo recent studies suggest that doing so may help decrease your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. These findings add to the body of evidence that links fiber-rich diets to lower rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. The daily recommended fiber intake is 38 grams for men younger than 50 and 30 grams for men older than 50. But most men don’t even come close, averaging about 15 grams per day. Some of the best sources of dietary fiber are beans and peas. Others include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.Stub out cigarettes for goodReason number 1,001: It’s the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD – a term used to describe serious lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD makes it hard to breathe, and smoking accounts for as much as 90 percent of related deaths. There’s no cure for it, and over time, shortness of breath can get in the way of the most basic tasks, such as going for a walk or even taking a shower. Quitting smoking is no small feat, but science shows you can double your chances of success if your plan includes a combination of methods, such as nicotine-replacement therapies, counseling, using self-help materials and setting up a support system. To get started, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov.Know signs of diabetesAccording to the most recent statistics, 7 million Americans have the disease and don’t know it. That’s because symptoms often go undetected. But left untreated, diabetes can damage your heart, blood vessels, nerves, vision and kidneys, and it can lead to health complications such as erectile dysfunction. Diabetes is diagnosed with a simple blood test. If you are overweight and age 45 or older, ask for it at your next checkup. See your doctor sooner if any of the following signs seem familiar: frequent urination, unusual thirst, exhaustion, recurring skin, gum or bladder infections, blurred vision and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet.The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.