For Brothers Only: Guides to Leading Healthier Lives
By John Riddle and Shola Adenekan
Saturday, October 25, 2006.
Men love to fix things, or at least we love to try. Give a man a toolbox and set him loose around the house and he will probably start looking for things that need to be repaired.
But Black men also need to take responsibility for their own health. When it comes to fixing things, they need to put their bodies at the top of the list.
Here are 10 tips to help men lead healthier lives:
1. Start eating healthier. - While this is easier said than done, black men must realise that it is never too late to change their eating habits. Start eating fresh fruits and vegetables and stop snacking on those salty, fat-filled snacks that seem to find their way into the house.
Currently, black men eat the least amounts of fruits and vegetables of any group, averaging only about three servings a day. Most black men are not even aware that they can improve their health and fight disease by eating more fruits and vegetables.
Experts recommend that all men and teenage boys eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
2. Get up and get moving. - No matter how busy you are, you can find a few minutes here and there to get up and get moving. Excercise will help you live a longer and healthier life, so make an appointment with your doctor and get some advice on an exercise regime that is best for you.
Joining a gym can also improve your social and love life.
3. Learn how to deal with stress. - Black men are more prone to stress than white men, according to several studies. Yes, life can be tough for us but we must remember that if left untreated, stress can be a real killer. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and a host of other ailments that are not good for you.
Take time to learn how to deal with the stress in your life. Find a book, go dancing with your boys or your girl. If it's your job that is stressing you out, talk to your boss or see a careers adviser. You can also surf the Web or ask a friend for advice. Just do something about it.
4. Stop smoking. - If you smoke, you are destroying your own health. Ask your doctor for information on how you can stop smoking. Visit www.givingupsmoking.co.uk for tips and advice. You can quit!
5. Cut back on alcohol consumption. - How much alcohol do you drink each day? You might think it is a macho thing to stop at the local watering hole and drink a few beers on the way home from work, but it's not. Drinking too much alcohol can affect your health.
6. Have your prostate checked. - Black men get prostate cancer more often than White men and are two to three times more likely to die of it, and doctors are powerless to explain why or cut the risks.
Prostate problems are not fun and can lead to serious health problems. Prostate cancer is a significant health problem for middle-aged and elderly men. While men of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are at risk, black men of African descent are at especially high risk.
African-Caribbean men, particularly Jamaican men, have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world. Make sure your doctor is checking your prostate on a regular basis.
7. Have your blood pressure checked. - Thousands of black men walk around with high blood pressure without even knowing it.
We suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension, at about twice the rate of whites. Several smaller studies have linked stress and the reaction to racism as an apparent added risk factor of hypertension, along with other environmental reasons like diet, excess salt intake, lack of exercise and being overweight.
Blacks also have a genetic predisposition to the condition, which can lead to stroke, heart disease, organ damage and other problems.
In Western countries, the risk of high blood pressure among blacks appears to be affected by experiences with racial discrimination and whether people challenge unfair treatment, researchers said today.
The researchers, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute of Oakland, Calif., said a study of more than 4,000 men and women indicated that racial discrimination and reactions to it made a substantial contribution to the differences in blood pressure between blacks and whites.
In general, black professionals who are conscious of instances of discrimination and who challenge unjust or unequal treatment appear to be at lower risk of elevated blood pressure than black working class men and women who may be less aware of discriminatory acts and less likely to challenge them, the researchers said.
If you cannot recall the last time you had your blood pressure checked, make an appointment with your doctor.
8. Learn how to deal with groin itch. - Through no fault of your own, you might wake up one day and feel the urge to start scratching your groin area. Welcome to the world of jock itch. Stop scratching and learn how to deal with the problem. Over-the-counter medications are available, and your doctor can help.
9. Learn how to deal with athlete’s foot. - There are several things you can do to help prevent athlete’s foot, from wearing clean socks every day to not walking barefoot in the gym changing room. And if you do get it, deal with it immediately. Several over-the-counter creams and other medications are available. Severe cases may require a visit to the doctor’s office.
10. Put safety first. - Men, you are not invincible, so start using your car's seat-belt, wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle and take all the necessary precautions when doing DIYs. When you practice safety in all areas of your life, you are protecting yourself and your health.
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