In a special to the Province Newspaper, Dr. Nathan Thakur discusses the importance of good lifestyle choices men need to make to avoid hormonal health problems as they age.
Managing male hormones helps men remain vigorous as they age
We often hear much about hormones when discussing women’s health but men would also be well-advised to pay attention to their hormones if they wish to stay strong and vigorous into their later years.
And for maximum benefit they should do it sooner, rather than later.
“I see many men who come in to see me in their fifties, and they haven’t been watching their diet or been consistent with exercise. They may be in denial about aging, but they’re experiencing a number of health issues such as pre-diabetes and high cholesterol,” says Dr. Nathan Thakur, family physician at Copeman Healthcare.
Step 1 Screening, Step 2 Optimization
Dr. Thakur suggests it’s best for men to see their doctor regularly for screening after the age of 40.
“We check for the big diseases first, such as colon or prostate cancer and heart disease. Then we start working on optimizing health to ensure men can maintain their vigor as they age.”
Maintaining healthy testosterone levels will help sustain vigour and allow men to carry on with the activities they love, whether it’s golf, skiing or biking, well into their senior years.
Testosterone is a hormone that decreases, starting around the age of 30. It’s a slow and gradual change – about 1% a year. Low levels can affect sleep and sexual function, as well as cause physical and emotional changes.
But as it’s a gradual change, men often don’t notice. You combine this with many men’s reluctance to visit the doctor, and you get a host of health issues that may have been preventable.
It’s never too late to get healthy
“It’s never too late to start eating well and exercising. Many health problems are reversible with good lifestyle choices,” says Dr. Thakur.
Maintaining muscle mass as a young man will help avoid low testosterone levels later. It’s also important to support muscle maintenance with good nutritional choices.
Eating well keeps you at a healthy weight – being overweight works against your testosterone levels. Poor diet also increases your chances of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease among other conditions.
Dr. Thakur says that if you haven’t been eating well you’re causing incremental damage to your body over time – even if you still feel the same as you did when you were younger.
Low testosterone & what you can do
But what if you’re doing all the right things and you’re still not feeling strong, vigorous, energetic?
“Men will complain to me about fatigue and feeling weak. They may even experience occasional dips in mood or complain that they’ve been working out on a regular basis but not seeing a noticeable increase in muscle or other results,” says Dr. Thakur.
These can be signals that their testosterone levels are low and need to be tested.
If a test shows low testosterone, a program of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be initiated. If a man has a true deficiency, such as hypogonadism, that is not helped solely by diet and exercise he may require HRT indefinitely. But most often the HRT will be a three- to six-month kick start to help men get to a place where they’re able to build muscle, sleep better and improve their wellbeing. Testosterone therapy is now typically administered as a gel.
Every man is different. A discussion with your care provider or a Copeman Healthcare representative will help determine whether lifestyle modifications or treatment is necessary. Your health is important. Make it a top priority.