June is National Men’s Health Month—but every month is a good time for guys to take care of themselves.
Here are some simple ways for men to make a big difference in their health:
1) Eat fresh, not processed. Use this simple philosophy to guide your everyday eating—and you’ll feel better, have more energy, and will probably even lose weight, too. What this means: choose fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, and nuts and seeds—on a regular basis—over processed foods like chips and cookies (which pack a lot of sodium, calories, and/or sugar). These fresh foods contain key health-promoting nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, key vitamins like vitamins C and E, and more.
2) Limit the steaks (and other red meat) you eat. No one’s saying you’ve got to become a vegetarian, but limit your red meat to about two servings per week. Studies have shown that eating a lot of red meat—particularly grilled meat—is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
3) Eat small meals often. Eating every 2 to 3 hours will help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steadier. It’s also less taxing on the digestive system—and creates fewer free radicals in the body. It’s also a good idea to be mindful and chew your food slowly; eating this way is less stressful and can help with digestion.
4) Drink plenty of water. It’s a great way to flush out internal toxins and hydrate your skin from the inside out.
5) Be sure to get enough probiotics. These healthy bacteria—found in some yogurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut—help keep your gut healthy. A healthy gut has been linked to a stronger immune system, better digestion, healthier skin, and even lower risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
6) Go ahead, drink that coffee—without guilt. Study after study shows that drinking coffee is actually good for you, in moderation. One reason: it’s chockfull of health-promoting antioxidants. Coffee has been linked to a lowered risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, deteriorating eyesight, and even erectile dysfunction.
7) Take time to meditate. Learning how to manage stress is key to keeping your immune system healthy—and warding off chronic diseases. Even if you just meditate for five to 10 minutes at night before bed, you’ll notice that you’re more clear-headed and less stressed during the day—and you’ll probably sleep better at night, too.
8) Get moving. Daily exercise—be it a walk around the block with your dog or a high-powered run (or session at the gym)—is critical for reducing stress, protecting your heart, reducing your risk of chronic diseases, and keeping your weight stable. Weight-bearing exercise can also strengthen your bones, warding off osteoporosis (which isn’t just a concern for women).
9) Visualize the life you want. Visualization—picturing the life you want down to the most minute detail, including how it looks, feels, and even smells—has been shown in research to help lower blood pressure, improve insomnia, reduce anxiety and depression, help Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and help control asthma. So take a few minutes away from the daily grind to let your mind wander a bit!
10) Shut off your Smartphone at least an hour before bed. Also, power down your computer, the TV, and any electronic devices (including e-readers). Studies show that the blue light that emanates from these devices interferes with the brain’s production of melatonin at night, which is the key hormone that makes us sleepy. Try this trick at night and you may find yourself falling asleep faster—and staying asleep longer.
Stay healthy—and live the life you’ve always wanted!