For us, the health of the American male is not just a weeklong pursuit. We've compiled a list of our top tips for beating the biggest killers of men. Read them, follow our advice, and start living better—year round.
Eat meat. In a recent Australian study, people with high blood pressure who replaced 8 percent of their daily calories from bread, cereal, potatoes, or pasta with lean red meat experienced a four-point drop in their systolic blood pressure in just 8 weeks.
Arginine, an amino acid in red meat, may help dilate blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Plus, limiting starches lowers blood sugar and makes your body more efficient at burning fat.
Save Your Skin
Melanoma feeds on modesty—if you don't strip for a yearly skin screening, the cancer can spread undetected.
Made an appointment? Now make one with your honey. A Northwestern University study shows that when people learn how to do skin self-exams with a partner, they're more likely to check themselves (and each other) in the future.
Have a Healthy Heart
Eat more dairy. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. consuming three or more servings of dairy per day can slash your risk of heart disease by 31 percent.
"We don't know exactly how dairy lowers heart-disease risk, but other studies show that the calcium and magnesium in it can lower blood pressure," says study author Donna Spiegelman, Sc.D. a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard school of public health.
Want even more protection? Seek products fortified with vitamin D. British researchers found that daily D supplements lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of arterial inflammation, by 23 percent.
Lose Weight Over the Phone
Pick up the phone and ask for help dropping the pounds.
Researchers at the University of Kansas recently had 96 overweight people follow weight-loss counseling programs and discovered that the programs conducted by telephone were just as effective as face-to-face clinical counseling. On average, members of both groups lost 28 pounds in 26 weeks.
"Telephone-based programs have the benefits of convenience, lower transportation costs, and accountability with anonymity," says study author Joseph E. Donnelly, Ph.D.
Our pick: the phone program offered by John Berardi, Ph.D. C.S.C.S. coauthor of Scrawny to Brawny. Go to johnberardi.com and receive a Men's Health reader discount.
Drink Coffee for Your Colon
Drink decaf coffee. A recent study at the Harvard medical school surveyed the tea and coffee consumption of men and women for 18 years -- and showed that drinking two or more cups of decaf coffee per day can slash colon-cancer risk by 52 percent.
Decaf coffee may have a positive effect on bowel motility—meaning it keeps things moving—an effect that the caffeine in regular coffee may cancel out.
Kick the Sticks
Go spit. A 2005
study in the British Medical Journal found that smokers who saw their results from a saliva-based nicotine test were 17 percent more likely to quit. The test, which involves spitting in a cup and measuring the amount of tobacco-derived toxins in the saliva, was used in conjunction with antismoking counseling.
Researchers believe that being able to see progress in the quest to quit—in much the same way one can see the results of a cholesterol-lowering regimen—helped motivate the participants.
Check a local drugstore for NicAlert, a saliva-based nicotine test ($15, also available at www.nymox.com ).
Protect Your Prostate
Carve a pumpkin, cut your prostate-cancer risk. Eating a large slice of pumpkin pie (or 13 baby carrots) daily will give you about 8,000 micrograms of beta-carotene, an amount research from Roswell Park Cancer Institute shows may halve a man's risk of the disease. Top with whipped cream to boost your absorption of the nutrient.
Ask your therapist how many patients he treats. If it's more than 25, beware. Research has shown that a therapist's effectiveness decreases as his caseload surpasses this number.
A Finnish study found that men who exercise and are exposed to sunlight experience a greater reduction in depressive symptoms than those who work indoors. A CDC survey also found that people who exercise regularly feel less depressed.
Avoid a Car Accident
Cellphones make distracted drivers out of all of us, quadrupling a man's accident risk—even hands-free.
One answer: Take a page from airline pilots. In a new study in Risk Analysis. researchers found that when pilots talked on a cellphone in a driving simulator, they caused 46 percent fewer virtual accidents than nonpilots did.
"They knew to disengage from the cellphone conversation at precise moments," says Jake Rose, Ph.D. the coauthor.
Decrease your own distractibility by hitting "hold" at the must-focus moments identified in the study: when merging, during stop-and-go traffic, and at intersections involving multiple turn lanes.
Eat to beat high blood sugar. When you consider that "glucose-intolerant" is another term for "diabetic," it's easy to see what you shouldn't eat. Namely, glucose-rich foods, such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes.
But Mary Vernon, M.D. prefers a more positive approach: "I like to emphasize what people can enjoy." So, use these guidelines to build a prescription diet.
One caution: If you're currently taking medication for high blood pressure or high blood sugar, consult your physician first, as this diet will cause both to drop.
Save Yourself from a Stroke
"Each daily serving of fruits and vegetables decreases stroke risk by 6 percent, so three servings decreases it by 18 percent," says James Bobenhouse, M.D. stroke-program director at BryanLGH Medical Center, in Lincoln.
No time to cook? Down a Tropicana Fruit Smoothie—one 11-ounce bottle equals 2.5 servings of fruit.