It’s worth changing your diet, men! Research shows most major health risks men face are preventable with easy diet and lifestyle changes. Today, more than ever before, the average male is less healthy and expected to die sooner, than the average female. “Genetics loads the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger,” comments Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida. “Yet, men can control their food and exercise habits, which dramatically effects their health outcomes.” You don’t have to be the average male – you can live healthier. Here’s everything you need to know to live longer with a healthier lifestyle, including what sciences says is the best diet for men.
Why Men Die Younger
There’s been an increase in life expectancy due to recent emphasis on healthier lifestyles, smoking cessation, and better food choices. However, women continue to outlive men. In fact, the gender gap is wider than a century ago. In 2017, American women had a life expectancy of 81, while men only 76, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a 5-year difference, while in 1900, the gender gap was only 2 years. This trend exists in other countries as well, including the United Kingdom and Canada. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men?
A complicated series of factors attribute to women’s extended life expectancy over men across the globe. Females tend to be driven by attractiveness, propelling them towards foods, such as fruits and vegetables, that promote weight control and are linked to lower risks of heart disease and cancer. However, there are also biological elements playing roles. Estrogen, a hormone present in the female body, has protective effects against heart disease, and may also beneficially affect the immune system, according to Japanese researchers.
What’s the Best Diet for Men?
Chicken wings, beer, and donuts are common staples of male diets on popular media; food choices that are more of an expression of social gender roles than a biological need. “Men traditionally have believed that eating meat helps them be stronger, increase performance, and have more power,” explains Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, Lon Ben-Asher of the Pritikin Center. Both alcohol and meat are seen as power foods, and are more highly regarded in masculine stereotypes than fruits and vegetables, despite that science continues to show these as health enhancing foods. Lon shares the frustration of male adults when it comes to finding a good diet for men. “Commercial marketing and media push protein intake from animal-based sources… almost suggesting you are not a ‘manly’ individual if you don’t consume enough meat.” Yet, Lon points out that there are profound health benefits, seen within days of eating less meat. “Even if someone is used to consuming at least 2 servings per day of meat, substituting and adding a meatless option per day provides profound health benefits.” If that sounds daunting, don’t fear! It’s actually easier than you think to change your diet, men. Swap your meat burger for a vegetable burger. Use more black beans and baked beans in your chili instead of meat. “Incorporating more plant-based foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, potatoes, beans and lentils is key to longevity,” notes Lon. Lon has seen how these simple diet changes have had profound health benefits on guests at the Pritikin Center. “We’re the only medically-supervised, scientifically supported program to not only reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HTN, and obesity, but also reverse disease process, non-specific to gender.”
How Can Men Be Healthy?
Research shows that many of the major health risks men face (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression) can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle: a healthy diet rich in plant-based, whole foods, regular physical exercise and a healthy mindset that includes stress management strategies. “When men see how they feel on a whole-foods, plant-based diet, they quickly see the difference… men on the Pritikin Eating Plan consistently report feeling more energetic, happier, and stronger,” remarks Gomer.
Who Lives Longer: Single or Married Men?
Men are definitely better off with a spouse, in terms of longevity, according to scientists. “Men need warm, lasting connections,” explains Gomer. “Most of the men I see either have poor communications skills, or are workaholics. They need to be in a validating relationship…to feel connected, yet all of the work and lifestyle stress plays a negative part in eating and drinking. Coming to Pritikin, working on your connections, health, brain plasticity, and communication skills help mind and body longevity.”
How Can I Be Happy?
Interestingly, we all do better when we have good connections. A program that helps both spouses simultaneously improve their nutrition and exercise habits conducted by Australian doctors have reported success. “A fabulous relationship with another human being is a bonus,” states Gomer. Pritikin’s program offers opportunity for partners to adopt a healthy lifestyle together, while working on skills that help you build stronger connections with each other.
How Men Find Motivation for Health
What motivates men to make a healthy change is very different than women. “Commonly, men are motivated to make changes to their eating choices and lifestyle based on a type of fear: a bad lab results, or someone close having a major health event,” comments Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center in Miami, Florida. “Women, on the other hand, seem to be more motivated by how they look and feel.” Regardless of your gender, living longer comes with adapting to a healthier lifestyle. The only way to successfully adopt a healthier lifestyle is in a helpful, supportive, and practical manner. Are you ready to make a change?