By Dr. Manuel Jain, family medicine specialist, WellMed at Haines
June is Men’s Health Month – a perfect reminder for men to make wellness a priority.
Some of the statistics on men’s health are alarming. For example, life expectancy for men in the U.S. is 76.2 years; for women, it’s 81.2 years. In addition, more than 40 percent of men aged 20 and over are obese and 13.2 percent of men aged 18 or over are in fair or poor health. Men are less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties, with women seeking mental health support 1.6 times more compared to men in a 12-month period across the U.S. Men are also 1.8 times more likely to take their own lives compared to women. 
These statistics may be worrisome for men and their loved ones, but many of the health risks men face can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings.
I know first-hand what it takes to help men of all ages get and stay healthy. It’s what I do every day in my practice as a physician specializing in family medicine for WellMed at Haines.
Regardless of gender, regular physical activity can help control weight, reduce risks of developing heart disease and some cancers, and can improve overall mental health and mood. Another important priority is nutrition. It’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, including whole-grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein, and limit foods and drinks higher in sugar, salt, saturated fat. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation – which for men is 2 or less drinks per day.
There are other important reminders for men, including managing chronic health conditions and following treatment plans. In addition, work with a doctor to get a full understanding of the purpose and side effects of the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements that you may take. Do not overlook the importance of using sunscreen, because skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States.
It’s also important for men and those close to them to be aware of the warning signs of mental health difficulties. For example, if you have mild symptoms that have lasted for less than two weeks such as trouble sleeping or feeling down, engaging in self-care activities can be a good starting point. If symptoms are severe, persistent or worsening, speak with a health care provider. Symptoms may include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor appetite changes that may result in unwarranted weight changes
- Loss of interest in things that you usually find enjoyable
- Inability to perform normal responsibilities and daily functions or struggling to get out of bed in the morning due to mood 
WellMed Disclaimer: If you or someone you know have thoughts about suicide or are in crisis, seek help right away. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
To talk with a trained counselor, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Men’s National Health Month is a reminder for men to take a proactive approach to their health. If you or the men in your life are not making positive health choices, now is the perfect time to take charge of your health.