7 ways black men can jumpstart generational health

BlackDoctor.org | 6/13/2017, 10:53 a.m.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 percent of men age 18 and older are ...

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12 percent of men age 18 and older are in fair or poor health leading to obesity, hypertension and even mortality. Medical professionals from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have provided a few tips to help men get healthy.

  1. Take the right vitamins

Americans spend more than $20 billion per year on multivitamins, but not every vitamin is appropriate for every person. Identify the health problems you have to better evaluate your daily vitamin needs.

“For the average person, there is no evidence that multivitamins improve health or help one avoid disease,” said William Curry, M.D., professor in the UAB School of Medicine. “There is no proven value of multivitamins unless a man has a known deficiency or specific condition. However, the doses of various vitamins — vitamins A, B complex, C, D and E — in the standard multivitamin products are typically in a safe range.”

Curry recommends a multivitamin for those with malabsorption of the gut, alcoholism, previous gastric bypass surgery, severe kidney disease, on dialysis, or rare metabolic defects. Those who follow a strict vegetarian diet should also consider a general multivitamin.

Antioxidants including Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E are heavily promoted and advocated; but studies have not found benefit for preventing cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to Curry. Men with higher risk for cardiovascular disease, especially heart attack and stroke, may consider a vitamin with anti-oxidants. However, high doses of Vitamin A can result in fractures and visual problems. Curry warns that high doses of Vitamin E, 400 units per day or more, may cause higher mortality.

“Vitamin E can interact with blood thinners to increase their effects,” Curry said.

  1. Get moving for heart and brain health

Regular physical exercise is recommended to keep your cardiovascular system and brain healthy. Exercise helps lower blood pressure, improve lipid profile, and better control and possibly prevent Type 2 diabetes, as well as provide a longer life. Multiple studies have shown men who exercise regularly have better erections than men who do not exercise.

“A healthy exercise program keeps the heart, lungs and blood vessels working at their best,” said David Geldmacher, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Memory Disorders. “We recommend two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week, like brisk walking, or lesser totals of more intense exercise.”

Although it represents only about 2 percent of the total body weight, the brain gets about 15 percent of the total blood output from the heart, and consumes 20 percent of the body’s oxygen. Geldmacher recommends keeping the delivery systems working at their best with exercise.

Research studies indicate that persistent exercise triggers hormonal pathways that actually help brain cells increase the number of connections with other cells, as well as strengthen the chemical mechanisms of memory. A combination of resistance or strengthening exercise with endurance exercise is ideal for heart and brain health.

“The time to act is now, while the brain is healthy,” Geldmacher said. “Nowhere in the neurosciences are we able to get the brain to grow new, functioning neurons. However, brain-protective mechanisms, like exercise, get their best shot to work a little bit at a time over long periods.”

Those with medical issues should maintain regular checkups for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes using medications as prescribed to keep those numbers in the healthy range, recommends Geldmacher.