“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
All too often, such a mentality misleads men into ignoring their health, according to Fred Pescatore, MD, a New York-based integrative physician and author of The Hamptons Diet, The Allergy and Asthma Cure, and other health-related books. However, men who keep themselves in good shape have an excellent chance of staying that way for many years to come.
A study of 2,357 men who had reached the age of 70, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that men have a 54 percent chance of living to age 90 or longer if they don’t smoke or have diabetes, have normal weight and blood pressure, and exercise two to four times a week. “Furthermore,” the authors of this study reported, “men with a life span of 90 or more years also had better physical function, mental well-being, and self-perceived health in late life compared with men who died at a younger age.”
In other words, a healthful lifestyle doesn’t just increase the length of life, but also improves its quality.
A drop in sex drive, less enjoyment from exercise or sports, and inexplicable fatigue are among the most common reasons men come to see Pescatore. “I’m just not as strong as I used to be,” or “I’m not feeling like my usual self,” are frequent complaints. The likely trigger of these symptoms is excess weight around the middle, creating an apple-shaped body.
“Pushing the pants down under the gut is not a good look,” says Pescatore, and he isn’t just referring to faulty fashion sense. “That gut is not healthy,” he says. Internal fat surrounding the organs in the abdominal area actively promotes disease-causing inflammation and brings about insulin resistance, a precursor of diabetes and heart disease.
Insulin delivers blood sugar, or glucose (energy from food), to cells. When insulin resistance exists, the cells refuse to accept that energy, causing high levels of glucose in the blood and more fat storage, which then perpetuates the condition. One of the byproducts is low levels of testosterone. “The more overweight men are, the more testosterone converts to estrogen,” explains Pescatore. And low levels of testosterone make a guy feel less manly.
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