Eating for health in men over 50
Staying healthy as you get older is extremely important for physical, mental and psychological well-being. Women go through the menopause and there is a huge amount of information, help and advice available for them to help them to cope with the symptoms of menopause.
Men go through a change too, but it is more subtle than the menopause and is called andropause. Andropause happens gradually and brings about a slow decrease in testosterone levels, lower metabolism, an enlarged prostate and increased risk to developing cardiovascular problems and other diseases such as diabetes. All of these can impact upon your sex life, mood, concentration, ability to sleep well and prostate health.
Eating the right foods can help to boost your health, concentration, energy levels and decrease your risk to developing health problems. Simple changes to your diet can greatly improve your health and well being and many are easy to implement into your daily meals. The foods mentioned below can be beneficial to both men and women but some have more health giving properties for men.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils make a great meat substitute because they are packed with fibre and protein. Research from Loma Linda University (2011) found that people who ate beans three times each week reduced their risk by 33% of developing colon polyps which can often become cancerous. Research for Colorado State University found that white beans have more powerful cancer protective benefits, rather than more colourful beans.
It is recommended that all older men eat a cup of berries each day to gain the most benefits from these super foods. Berries can help with your memory because they contain flavonoids called anthrocyanins. Research conducted by Harvard University (2011) has found that flavonoids, especially anthrocyanins have neuroprotective properties, which can help in preventing Parkinsons Disease. Eating a diet high in flavonoid rich foods such as berries, apples, oranges and tea can reduce your risk of developing Parkinsons by 40% in you are a man. The effects are not as great for women, though they do offer some protection.
All those lovely green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy and radishes can help to prevent bladder cancer and hormonal cancers, especially if eaten raw (Nutrition and Cancer 2001). They are also high in fibre, therefore helping to maintain a healthy digestive system and regular bowel activity.
Cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and in a different area of the cell, an enzyme called myrosinase. By blending, chopping or chewing these vegetables, we break up the plant cells, allowing myrosinase to come into contact with glucosinolates, which initiates a chemical reaction that produces isothiocyanates (ITCs). These are powerful anti cancer compounds which have been shown to detoxify and remove carcinogens, kill cancer cells, and prevent tumours from growing.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are high in folate, calcium and potassium, which are beneficial to cell and bone health. Spinach is an excellent source of magnesium, which helps dilate blood vessels. Better blood flow to the penis can help with erectile dysfunction and improve sexual health.
Spinach and other green vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, and bok choy are good sources of folate, beneficial to sexual health. Folate may lower blood levels of a harmful substance called homocysteine, an abrasive amino acid which irritates the lining of arteries and encourages plaque to adhere to it, leading to peripheral vascular disease. In a study of 46,000 men. Harvard University researchers found that those who consumed the most folate daily were 30 percent less likely to develop PVD (Peripheral Vascular Disease) than men who ate the fewest folate-rich foods.
Drinking several cups of green tea daily has been found to prevent certain cancers, such as prostate cancer as well as improving cardiovascular function and lowers cholesterol. It has also been linked to improving brain activity and blocks the plaques which stick to the brain cells in people with Alzheimer’s disease (University of Michigan 2013).
Healthy oils incorporated into your diet can be extremely beneficial, such as olive oil, seeds, nuts and avocado. Avocado contains monosaturated fat and has the ability to reduce cholesterol levels and inflammation in cells and joints.
There are many spices which can be used in cooking and taken as supplement which can improve your health in addition to making your food more tasty.
Curcumin, derived from turmeric has been found to reduce growth of tumours by promoting cellular growth in non-cancerous cells and introducing death cells into cancerous cells. (University of Texas MD Anderson Centre 2011). It has anti inflammatory properties, beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis, prostatitis and other inflammatory conditions.
Cinnamon may help aid memory and garlic is great for lowering blood pressure and boosting your immune system.
Nuts are good for your heart, improve your mood and can aid sleep. Brazil nuts and walnuts are super foods for preventing prostate cancer and walnuts have the added benefit of anti inflammatory properties, great for joints and muscles. Pistachio nuts can lower cholesterol, protect your heart and improve erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is commonly linked to cardiovascular disease and studies have found that because pistachio nuts are relatively high in the non-essential amino acid arginine, they can help to maintain flexible arteries and improve blood flow by boosting nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels.
Omega 3 rich foods are excellent for promoting good heart, prostate and brain health. The omega-3 fatty acids can be found in wild salmon, tuna and sardines, as well as flaxseed and walnuts. Flaxseed is a high fibre mood lifter and is best enjoyed sprinkled on yoghurt, salad or cereal. Tuna contains high levels of niacin and selenium, both beneficial for a healthy heart and can improve skin elasticity for tighter, firmer skin. Oysters and Alaskan King crab legs are not only rich in omega-3 but also contain zinc, which plays a key role in prostate and sexual health.
Vitamin D has been found to improve erectile function. Research from John Hopkins University (2015) found that men lacking in Vitamin D were 32% more likely to experience erectile problems compared to men who had normal levels.
Vitamin D helps to improve endothelial cell function and forms nitric oxide, a molecule that helps blood vessels function properly. Nitric oxide allows blood vessels in the penis to relax which increases blood flow and causes an erection, so insufficient levels can prevent this from occuring.
Sunlight is the most well known source of Vitamin D but you can also boost your intake through your diet too.
Oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel contain Vitamin D. Forteifed cereals also offer a Vitamin D boost too.
Red and orange fruits and vegetables
These coloured fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A which helps your immune system to fight cancer and other disease. Chilli peppers improve your metabolism by speeding it up, work as blood thinners, helping to prevent blood clots and can even improve your mood as they help to release endorphins, the chemicals which make us feel happy.
Sweet potatoes contain glutathione, an antioxidant that can enhance metabolism and immune-system health, which can help to prevent diabetes and other diseases such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers, heart attacks and strokes. They can also improve skin health and combat wrinkles. They contain Vitamin E, which studies have shown if eaten in sufficient quantities may help to cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 20 percent – but it should only be taken on the advice of a medical professional (JAMA Jan 2014).
Lycopene, found in tomatoes and watermelons helps to boost sexual health by protecting against prostate cancer and reducing the risk of enlargement of the prostate.
Oatmeal or porridge is one of the best cholesterol lowering food, containing high fibre and protein. The fibre found in whole grains calms inflamed tissues and keeps the heart and colon healthy. Whole grains are digested more slowly, reducing blood sugar and insulin levels, cutting your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
As you get older, you can reap the many benefits these foods offer to your health by incorporating some of them into your diet. Staying healthy in your older years can help prevent many diseases and conditions from developing. Eating healthily, taking regular exercise and losing weight can all help to prevent or reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and many other disorders.