Home' Rotary Down Under : February 2013 Contents HealtH Habits
t’s no fun when you get the feeling that your
body, your drive and your enthusiasm for life are
crumbling as you get older. Instead, you want to look
good, feel energetic, get things done and enjoy a
healthy sex life. You want to avoid the degenerative
problems that are often associated with old age in blokes,
like bladder problems, prostate enlargement and joint
pain from arthritis or gout. Your endocrine system is
largely responsible for your loss of vitality, as your body’s
natural production of testosterone declines. But, how you
manage your food, your fitness and your lifestyle play big
roles in slowing down how fast you age.
In a man’s teens and early 20s, testosterone production
drives high energy levels and easy muscle development.
With attention to your nutrition and fitness, this creates
a toned shape with little fat and a healthy interest in sex.
But as testosterone levels decline with age, creating good
muscle definition becomes more challenging, interest in
sex can fade, your mood can decline and your prostate
can start misbehaving from the now unfavourable balance
between circulating testosterone and oestrogen.
This combination of hormone-driven symptoms is
commonly known as the male menopause: Andropause.
It can leave you feeling tired, flabby and uninterested in
life. You may find yourself spending increasing amounts
of time on the couch.
To slow down the ageing process, your aim is to arrest
the decline in testosterone by refocusing on your health
through three major strategies. Here’s how:
The Antidote to Stress
First, manage your stress by managing yourself. Everyone
experiences stress, but the men who age slower have
learnt how to take action, which “antidotes” the effects
of stress. This won’t just help maintain your testosterone
production, it will improve your short-term memory, and
make you a much nicer person to be around. Taking
regular time out is an effective antidote for stress. You
don’t have to sit in a lotus position for hours on end to
have an impact on your stress levels (although you can if
you want to). “ Taking time out” could mean going fishing
or surfing, playing golf or music or team sports, rather
than watching them. The key is balance between work
and play. It’s challenging when there are many pressures
in life, demands on your time and lots to be done, but,
paradoxically, the more you are careful to make time
for relaxation, the more you will be able to achieve in
Eat Better (than you do now)
Second, a carefully chosen diet will create a lean and
energetic body. Refocus on protein, especially at breakfast.
Protein contains lots of zinc, a particularly important
nutrient for men. Ideal choices are eggs or high-quality
game meat like kangaroo. Give those breakfast cereals
and instant packaged meals a miss and take the time to
make yourself a full cooked breakfast that will set up high
energy for the rest of the day. In practical terms that could
mean eggs, bacon and baked beans, or leftover beef stew
on toast, or an omelette made with leftover steamed
sweet potato, mushrooms and spring onion.
For lunch, look for a salad that includes high-quality
protein, like tuna, salmon, chicken or other meat as a
base. Add in salad vegetables that are in season, a little
carbohydrate like rice or chick peas, and a nice dressing
to make the salad interesting. You definitely don’t want
to feel like you’re eating rabbit food! Your evening
meal should focus on protein like seafood and meat,
plus vegetables. Fresh fruit and nuts are ideal snacks,
as are vegetable-based dips like hummus with carrot or
For every meal, ask yourself these two questions and
you’ll be on track: “Where’s the high-quality protein?”
and “Where’s the vegetables?” Avoid processed
carbohydrates (like bread, beer, pasta and sugar) as this
will drive fat production, giving you a flabby appearance.
Needless to say, regular intake of fast food and soft
drinks won’t supply you with good nutrition. Coffee is
fine when you’re enjoying just one cup a day. One glass
of red wine is actually going to do you good; it’s been
proven by scientists (who probably enjoyed a glass of red
Get Moving (more than you do now)
Last, regular fitness training is essential, especially weight
training, because it stimulates the growth of more muscle.
The natural decline in testosterone with age means your
metabolism is going to shunt energy to fat production
(usually on your stomach), unless you are regularly
stimulating the growth of new muscle fibres. Training with
a fitness professional can keep you safe while pushing
you hard enough to get results.
You don’t have to become a grumpy, tired old man as
you age. If you’re prepared to put a little work into your
stress management, diet and fitness you can really slow
down that ageing process and enjoy life more.
Olwen Anderson is a naturopathic nutritionist.
For every meal, ask yourself these
two questions and you’ll be on track:
“Where’s the high-quality protein?”
and “Where’s the vegetables?”
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