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November - Men’s Health Awareness Month

You may have noticed that in November there’s a proliferation of men with moustaches. This is an annual event known as Movember, the aim of which is to draw attention...

You may have noticed that in November there’s a proliferation of men with moustaches. This is an annual event known as Movember, the aim of which is to draw attention to men’s health issues and to get men talking about their health. The emphasis is on mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. See https://uk.movember.com/ for more information.

Men die on average 4.5 years earlier than women for reasons that are largely preventable. Movember wants everyone to take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives through:

  • Education - Helping men and boys to stay mentally healthy, to build strong social connections and take action early when times are tough.
  • Conversations that matter - Working toward a world where men and boys are comfortable having conversations about the big things in life.
  • Services that work for men within their communities and where they feel comfortable.

Some tips for men include:

  • Stay connected with people who make you feel good
  • Talk to each other
  • Get your PSA level checked if you are over 40 and of African or Caribbean origin or over 50 for other ethnic groups.
  • Check your testicles regularly so you know what is normal for you
  • Get moving regularly

First we’ll look at Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

What to Look For in Friends and Relatives

Changes in behaviour can be a sign of poor mental health. If you spot a friend whose behaviour is out of character, it's important to check in with them - it might just save their life.

Signs that someone could be in distress include:

  • Not sleeping
  • Eating less or more than usual
  • Forgetting grooming (no clean clothes, not showering or brushing teeth)
  • Avoiding social situations and interactions
  • Missing social or sports events
  • Going quiet on social media or messaging apps
  • Being more irritable than usual
  • Talking of death and dying or increased hopelessness

How to check in with your friends:

There’s a 4 step process known as ALEC: Ask, Listen, Encourage action and Check in:

A – ASK how they’re feeling. Mention any changes you’ve noticed; have they stopped replying to texts? do they sound different on the phone? have they gone quiet in the group chat?

Say something like, "You don’t seem yourself lately – are you feeling OK?”

Trust your instinct. People often say "I'm fine" when they’re not, so don't be afraid to ask again.

L – LISTEN - Give them your full attention. Let them know you’re hearing what they’re saying and not judging. You don’t have to diagnose problems or offer solutions, just ask questions to let them know you’re listening. Ask a question like: "That can't be easy – how long have you felt this way?"

E - ENCOURAGE ACTION - Help them focus on things that might improve how they feel. Are they getting enough sleep? Are they exercising and eating well? Maybe there’s something that’s helped them in the past. Suggest that they share how they’re feeling with others they trust. If they’ve felt low for more than two weeks, suggest they chat to their doctor.

C - CHECK IN - Follow up your conversation with a phone call or FaceTime. This helps to show that you care; plus, you’ll get a feel for whether they’re feeling any better.

The issue of suicide is incredibly complex but improving overall mental health and helping men establish better social connections can reduce the risk of suicide.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in younger men. It's highly curable when caught early. Men are encouraged to get to know their nuts! It’s important to know what’s normal for you so that you will notice if anything changes.

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer

Common signs and symptoms include a hard lump on your testicle or unusual soreness, a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum (nut sack) or a dull ache or ongoing pain in your testicles, groin or lower back.

Prostate Cancer

If you have a prostate, your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. If you’re Black or have African ancestry, start talking to your doctor about prostate cancer when you’re 40. Other groups can start that conversation from the age of 50.

Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if there’s a father, brother or uncle who’s had prostate cancer. It’s also higher if there’s a mother or sister who had breast or ovarian cancer. If there’s a family history like this, start talking to your doctor about prostate cancer when you’re 40.

True North is a charity that supports men through their prostate cancer journey.
See https://truenorth.movember.com/

Dietary Tips for Mental and Physical Health

There is growing evidence for the relationship between nutritional deficiencies, diet quality and mental and physical health. It’s recommended to eat a diet high in colourful fruit and vegetables, rich in polyphenols which help support the immune system and protect the body and brain. Eating whole grains, pulses, nuts, seeds and fish also support physical and mental health. Having protein and fibre with each meal helps to avoid the blood sugar roller-coaster which can affect mood.

The Microbiome - The health of our microbiome affects every aspect of our health including mood and behaviour. To increase the diversity of organisms in the gut eat a wide range of plant foods and include small amounts of fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tamari, kimchi and kombucha.

Foods to avoid or restrict include processed foods, sugary foods and drinks, artificial additives, processed meats and alcohol.

Lifestyle Tips for Mental and Physical Health

The benefits of exercise for physical and mental health cannot be overstated. Exercise improves mood, reduces depression and anxiety symptoms and is good for the immune system and blood sugar control. Get moving in whatever way you enjoy. Joining a sports club or team has the extra benefit of being a chance to meet people and socialise.

Other lifestyle measures that can improve mental health include gardening, being in nature, being with other people and light therapy using a full spectrum light. 

Supplementary Help

Even those eating a healthy diet may need some extra support from supplements to reach optimal health. Here are some nutrients that may help body and mind.

Tom Oliver’s Men’s Multivitamin/Mineral - designed to meet the needs of men at all stages of life; supports energy, mental health, cardiovascular health and fertility. It includes all key nutrients plus phytonutrients from nettles and lycopene

Lycopene and Prostate Health - Studies suggest that higher lycopene consumption significantly lowers prostate cancer risk. 

Nettles – are rich in compounds that reduce blood glucose and blood pressure as well as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering properties. Nettles have anti-proliferative effects on several type of cancer as well as supporting prostate health. 

Tom Oliver’s B Complex – needed to convert carbohydrates from food into energy and to support the adrenal glands and brain function.

Tom Oliver’s Vitamin Cthe adrenal glands have a high need for vitamin C which is depleted by stress.

Tom Oliver’s Vitamin D3 + K2 – evidence suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Vitamin D also has anti-cancer properties.

Tom Oliver’s Curcumin – found to reduce depression and has anti-cancer properties.

Tom Oliver’s Omega 3 Oils - the omega 3 oils are vital for the endocrine system (hormones), brain function, and have anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Tom Oliver’s Protein Powders – protein helps to keep blood sugar levels stable which in turn stabilises mood and energy.
  • Tom Oliver’s Zinc – has a beneficial effect on neurotransmitters involved in depression. Also needed for hormone balance and testosterone production.


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