Taking care of yourself is a lifelong endeavor, but it's good to take time to reflect on the best strategies that work for us. Black men are less likely to seek preventative care and more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease at younger ages. For National Men's Health Week, here are some tips for your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s on how to improve your health during these ages — and beyond.
Wellness in Your Twenties
If you’re a guy in your twenties, exercising regularly is one of the best ways to maintain wellness when your young age works in your favor. Men aged 18-25 have lower obesity rates than those 26 or older. Eating well is another; take advantage of free blood tests available through many universities to learn more about your body. Black men are more likely to be obese than their white counterparts—and it’s not because they eat differently. The culprit? An increase in stress levels for Black men between ages 15 and 24 can lead to weight gain later on. Stress leads people to seek out comfort food that is high in fat, sodium, and sugar—all things that can lead to weight gain over time.
Did you also know Black men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than other racial groups? Establishing a good sleeping routine early on can work wonders later on. A lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes—and it’s easy to see why. Not getting enough shut-eye increases your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and reduces your leptin levels (the hormone that tells your brain when you’re full). Both factors increase appetite; if you aren’t getting enough rest, it becomes all too easy to reach for unhealthy snacks instead of healthy ones.
Wellness in Your Thirties
A 30-year-old’s body is very different from a 20-year-old’s body. In addition to requiring fewer calories each day, your 30 year old body is also less able to metabolize protein, vitamins and minerals due to changes in hormone levels. It is important that your health habits are now more geared towards longevity rather than risk prevention. Maintain a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and if you drink alcohol, do so moderately. Continue to exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week), and manage stress by getting enough sleep and staying physically active during non-exercise time.
Taking a multivitamin can help ensure you are getting all of your vitamins on a daily basis, so you feel great throughout your day. According to a new study by The Cooper Institute & the University of Chicago, 76% of African Americans are vitamin deficient. As a result African Americans bodies are less likely to be able to fight off infection. Don't know where to start? Our Immune Defense Support Vitamins combine the 11 most researched ingredients for immune defense and immune support, making getting the nutrition you need easy.
Wellness in Your Forties
Black men are 70% more likely to die of heart disease than any other cause. This is especially troubling given that heart disease is preventable. In your forties, continue to make healthy lifestyle choices, including staying physically active on a regular basis. Avoiding tobacco use should also be a high priority, as smoking doubles your risk of developing serious health problems later in life. If you don’t know your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, find out today! While you’re at it, schedule an appointment with your doctor for routine physicals. Routine visits allow doctors to identify risks and take steps toward improving overall wellness before problems arise.
Black men can take further steps to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering their cholesterol. High levels of LDL or bad cholesterol can increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis—the buildup of plaque inside arteries restricts blood flow and increases risk for stroke or heart attack. A diet high in saturated fats is a major contributor to high cholesterol, so make sure you’re getting plenty of polyunsaturated fats instead, such as fish like salmon and tuna (fish is an omega-3 supplement) as well as nuts like almonds and walnuts.
Wellness in Your Fifties and Beyond
When men reach their fifties, they need to keep a particularly close eye on their prostate health. The prostate gland is part of both men’s reproductive and urinary systems. It sits below the bladder in front of your rectum. There are many misconceptions about prostate health—it doesn’t just affect sexual function but also overall wellness for older Black men (and all Black men). Along with regularly seeing a doctor, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine play important roles in prostate cancer prevention.
Older Black men should have their blood pressure checked every year after age 55 or earlier if they have risk factors such as diabetes or high cholesterol. High blood pressure increases your heart disease, stroke and kidney disease risk. If you’re 60 or older, you can also ask your doctor about blood tests to check for hidden signs of colon cancer. Screening tests can help find polyps before they turn into cancerous tumors. The saying is true: we get better with age! But we can still do what we can to look after our health and ensure we're at our best for ourselves and the ones we love.