Men’s Health Week: Dr Knut Moe busts top common top men’s health myths

Men’s Health Week: Dr Knut Moe busts top common top men’s health myths This Men’s Health Week, Dr Knut Moe, GP and Medical Director at Sons, a Digital Health start-up […]

Men’s Health Week: Dr Knut Moe busts top common top men’s health myths

This Men’s Health Week, Dr Knut Moe, GP and Medical Director at Sons, a Digital Health start-up for men’s health, is on hand to teach guys how to get healthy and stay healthy.

From diet to exercise, sleep to hair loss Dr Moe offers insight with his guide to how men can be healthy and stay healthy.

Forming Healthy Habits

When discussing diet and exercise, it’s important to set achievable goals that are sustainable in the long run and goals that don’t involve massive changes in daily habits.
Setting targets that are realistic and planning how to achieve them will help us achieve those goals. For example, if the target is weight loss, is to alter our dietary intake and increase the amount of physical activity we do. Sustainable progress means not adopting fad diets that target rapid weight loss but adopting a ‘slow and steady’ approach, so instead of saying that you need to lose 10kg, why not try and set a target of 1kg per month, equivalent to a bag of sugar, a much more realistic target to aim for and far less daunting than looking at the overall weight loss goal. It’s also important to stress that as fat is turned into muscle, many will find that weight is more difficult to lose, due to the addition of muscle mass so don’t be disheartened, the weighing scales only tell part of the story.

1. Better Balance – The bottom line is that a balanced diet is the most beneficial thing you can adopt for your health. Most of us struggle to lose weight because we eat far too much in the way of carbohydrates. The big bowl of pasta or rice at the end of a long day is comfort food and gives us a fuzzy full feeling, but the truth is we don’t need anywhere near the amount of carbohydrates we eat – typically carbs should make up about 20% (or a small fistful) of our plate. We should try and eat these earlier in the day, if possible, as it’s more likely to be metabolized efficiently than late at night. We can still fill up on fruit, veg and protein, but reduce the carbs. It’s important to ensure that we are getting enough fibre, protein, and plant-based foods as part of a balanced diet.
2. Digestive Health – Our gastrointestinal system is its own ecosystem and contains billions of bacteria that help it to function properly. These gut bacteria are good bacteria; however, they sometimes can become overrun or wiped out (for example when taking an antibiotic that can indiscriminately knock out good bacteria as well as the ones causing the infection), disrupting the balance. To repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria, it can be beneficial to take a probiotic. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods such as yoghurt and milk and incorporating them consistently into your daily routine can increase the benefits that these foods have on digestion and boosting the immune system. A probiotic supplement can also help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria – there are many strains out there which help the body in different ways.
3. Drink more water – much of the time when we feel hungry, we are actually thirsty, so reaching for the water instead of snacking can help avoid taking in unnecessary calories. It’s also important to drink water before a meal as it is thought to prime the metabolism and may lead you to eat a little less also.
4. Avoid snacking and eat your calories earlier. Try not to eat between meals if possible and be sure to try and eat your evening meal at least 4 hours before you go to bed. You’re less likely to use the calories you’ve eaten from a large evening meal, so best to eat something more substantial earlier in the day and something lighter in the evening.
5. Eat breakfast – the best thing you can do is to kick-start your metabolism in the morning by eating breakfast. If you’re not a breakfast person, that’s fine, just try and eat something small, even a piece of fruit or a yoghurt, to get your metabolism going for the day.
6. Brain Health – Though the brain only weighs around 3% of your body mass, it uses around 20% of our energy, which means you need to think about your brain as well as your gains when deciding what goes on your plate. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish are one of the top sources of brain food.

You should undertake a recommended 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or if you’re an avid gym go-er 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise is better recommended per week. In short, keep moving! Benefits of exercise include improved circulation, muscle gain and clearance of toxins from the body through sweat, which is totally normal and natural and should be embraced. The type of exercise depends on what your goals are, whether it’s weight loss, fat burning, muscle building or overall cardiovascular health. In any case, start slowly if you’re not used to it and ease yourself into it, gradually increasing exercise amount and intensity. Remember it can take at least 6 months to see any noticeable benefits.

Reducing Calorie intake and increasing calories burned is the best way to effectively lose weight, however a Hunter College New York study found that the body does have a ‘calorie burn limit’. Being consistent with our diet and exercise is much better than bingeing on junk food and compensating with a long, hard work out, which may not be as effective as we tell ourselves. To better compensate for a Saturday spent at the pub, calculate your calorie deficit and intake across an entire week rather than a day. The main thing is to keep moving, ensuring to do 30-45 minutes a day of moderate exercise, even a brisk walk will do it. This is increasingly important as many of us are working from home these days and no longer have the daily work commute, which provides valuable exercise and ‘headspace’ at each end of the day.

A common myth, crafted by the protein supplement industry, is that there’s a 30-minute post workout ‘anabolic window’ for protein. But a Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition review found that your muscles are primed for protein within 3-4 hours of working out. Meaning you needn’t gulp down a shake, you can go home and eat a balanced meal which will likely be more beneficial for you.

Sleep patterns

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night according to the National Sleep Foundation however, many of us adapt to less without facing serious consequences. Sleeping in on the weekend is one of the most common ways we try to make up for ‘sleep debt’, but it’s often not enough and the change in sleep routine at the weekend can be detrimental. The best ways to improve your nightly sleep, is through a consistent routine, e.g., going to bed within the same 30–60-minute timeframe each night. Also, consider your daytime habits such as caffeine intake (remember a cup of tea has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee) and limiting screen time towards the end of the day.

Hair loss

Hair loss affects an estimated 6.5 million UK men but is still considered a taboo topic. The cause of male pattern hair loss is down to genetics which can be accelerated by other things, such as poor diet and stress. Turns out stress can quite literally make your hair fall out too due to a relatively common condition called Telogen Effluvium, where the hair cycle shifts into a shedding phase following prolonged periods of physical and psychological stress.
It’s always going to be easier to maintain the hair you have, than regain hair you have lost, meaning that a strong haircare routine is an important habit when caring for your hair. Treating Telogen Effluvium is as much about looking after your body and mind as it is about treating the hair loss specifically. Topical treatments such as minoxidil 5% solution can help with blood flow to the scalp, as well as supplements such as Biotin which will ensure that your hair has the tools it needs to grow.
Getting sound medical advice if you have concerns is paramount, especially before doing anything that could irreversibly damage your natural hair and leave visible scarring, such as a hair transplant or scalp micro pigmentation (which effectively tattoos pigment onto your scalp). If surgery is the route you want to go down, choose a reputable clinic with a track-record of quality hair transplants.

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