Adult males, like all other segments of our population, have their own special needs. Much of the information in this volume relates to both men and women; here we will look at the differences between the genders with regard to nutrition. In this program, we will review the requirements for a male’s optimum physical, mental, and sexual functions, as well as his specific nutritional needs.
We want to think of life as long, healthy, and happy. How do we create that? Heredity and nutrition are probably the two most influential factors governing longevity. Other aspects of lifestyle, such as work, activity, exercise, stress levels, and chemical exposure, are also important. More subtle aspects, such as purpose, creativity, attitude, and often spiritual awareness, may also be core factors. I believe that the state of our nutrition, our general attitude toward life, and how we handle stress can influence our health and longevity more than anything else; they can maximize our potential or hasten our demise. Many specific nutrients protect us and enhance our energy and physiological potential as well.
Men (and humans) in this modern age, however, have departed from the basic aspects of supportive living. We have moved away from the land and manual labor to a frenetic lifestyle in cars and offices, eating on the run, working more with our minds than with our bodies. These increased stresses require greater nourishment than we have needed under low stress conditions. Unless we fill this vital nutrient gap, our energy, stamina, and productivity can be diminished. Obtaining quality foods and taking the relaxed, receptive time to eat them need to be more of a life priority. Most active, productive men need a good supplement program to protect them from illness and deficiency symptoms and increase their longevity by reducing chronic degenerative disease patterns.
Many parts of this book deal with nutrition’s effect on our major diseases—cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Even though the average life span in the United States has increased greatly (from 47 years for males born in 1900 to 72 years for those born in 1980), much of this is due to better prenatal and infant care, immunizations, and the use of antibiotics to treat acute infections. Now, many adult chronic, degenerative diseases result from regular overeating and from choosing the wrong foods, such as those high in fat and sugar, and too many refined foods. At the same time, too little of the wholesome, nutritious foods may contribute to suppressed immunity, increased infection rates, and susceptibility to cancer. It is important that men (and all people) find the right balance in diet and lifestyle. This includes all of the nutritional suggestions discussed previously—eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fish, and, if desired, occasional lean poultry or animal meats, free of chemicals and antibiotics. Limiting the fatty, refined, and sugary foods, such as milk products, processed meats, fried foods, breads, candies, and pastries, while minimizing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine will help produce a healthier and longer life.
Most men with good energy levels can use regular detoxification periods (discussed in detail in later programs). Regular fasting or “cleansing,” yearly (in springtime), seasonally, monthly, or even one day weekly, is a great preventive medicine tool; it may also help to reenergize the will and instincts. Difficulties may arise when we overwhelm our capacities to handle our foods, chemicals, emotions, thoughts, and so on. We may also begin to feel “backed up” when our abilities to digest, assimilate, and eliminate these many potential life stressors are reduced. Constipation, back pain, allergies, and sinus congestion, as well as certain cardiovascular diseases and gastrointestinal problems are the results of this type of lifestyle autointoxication. Many of these problems will respond well to a cleansing program. Refer to the General Detoxification and Fasting Programs. These cleansing periods offer us a good chance to reevaluate our life and make a new plan for health, work, or whatever else we may need to renew ourselves. Most men do not usually consider this practice, but those who do respond very well. In my experience, women are more likely to embrace these more evolutionary (or traditional) aspects of cultural medicine, hygienic practices, and healing; women are also usually more receptive to change and learning. Men, of course, need these renewing processes also; women, however, require fasting programs less frequently, because their problems more commonly result from nutritional deficiencies. Ultimately, we all need to find a balance, ever-changing, of course, that will keep us well and not require much detoxification.
Sexual energy and vitality are also important male issues, especially if we are going to get along well with our mate, lover, or friends. Safe sex is a big concern today, but if we do not have the energy for sex, we can forget these more adventurous subjects. Sexual function is supported by good diet and nutrient intake. The healthy diet should provide adequate protein and essential fatty acids as well as some cholesterol (eggs, dairy foods) or plant sterols, as are found in olive oil; these foods provide some of the precursors of certain sex hormones.
Several endocrine organs aid in normal sexual function. The thyroid gland, necessary for proper energy level and metabolism, is supported by iodine and B vitamins, particularly thiamine and pantothenic acid. Testicular function is vital to normal production of testosterone, the hormone most essential to male sex drive. Adrenal androgen hormones also support testicular activity and sexual development in men. Vitamin E and zinc may be the big two when it comes to sexual energy support. Vitamins A, C, and E and folic acid as well as essential fatty acids are all important to sperm production. The minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, and sulfur, as well as vitamin B12, inositol, and vitamin C are found in healthy sperm and so also may be necessary to fertility.
Adrenal function is important for sexual function, both physiologically and in terms of energy level. Many nutrients support healthy adrenal function—vitamins A, C, and E, the B vitamins, especially pantothenic acid, and essential fatty acids. Factors such as stress, worry, excess mental activity, and regular sugar and caffeine use may contribute to weaker adrenal function.
If a man has a decreased sex drive, some extra zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 may be helpful. With impotence, vitamins C and E, B complex, and calcium, plus some counseling to explore the psychological factors, will provide support. Herbs, such as ginseng root, which is a good tonic herb, can raise general and sexual energy levels. Also, reducing the use of sedative-type drugs, such as alcohol, and nicotine, which interferes with circulation, and generally reducing stress may all help. Much sexual dysfunction has to do with mental stresses and fears of intimacy. Massage and body therapy give an important balance to a busy lifestyle, as does regular exercise. All of these may be helpful in improving both energy levels and sexual vitality.
For men who experience premature ejaculation, there may be many factors involved. Among these are not enough practice or enough sex, poor circulation, and even allergies. Histamine, a chemical in our cells and blood, controls ejaculation. If this chemical is too high, as it often is with allergies, ejaculatory rate may be increased. Low histamine levels may slow this rate and in some men may even cause problems with ejaculating. Niacin and fatty acids tend to increase the release of stored histamine, while calcium and the amino acid methionine may lower it. So extra calcium and amino acids with higher methionine levels could help in certain cases of premature ejaculation. (For more on sex and nutrition, see the Sexual Vitality program.)
Men, like women, have special nutrient needs to maintain their energy and sexuality. Men usually need at least the RDAs for all nutrients, with less iron and more magnesium and B vitamins than women. Otherwise, the requirements for a good nutritional foundation are really not very different. Men may need additional iron, particularly if there is any problem with bleeding, anemia, or if they are vegetarians. (Some recent research, however, suggests that excessive iron in men adds to their risk for cardiovascular disease due to iron’s oxidative irritation of the blood vessels and the liver cells.) Men will also obviously need more calories and protein to support their generally larger size and often higher activity levels. The number of calories needed by men will vary with their desired weight and activity level. The male “couch potato” may need to reduce his caloric intake by eating fewer munchies, drinking less beer, and restricting his intake of foods high in fats and sugar.
The Nutrient Program shown in the table offers guidelines for men “on the go” between the ages of 19 and 65. The values listed range from minimum requirements to more optimum levels. For certain nutrients, such as calories, fats, iron, and sodium, the lower numbers may be more appropriate. These values represent a combination of diet and additional supplements, and certain essential nutrients, such as sodium, chloride, fluoride, phosphorus, and vitamin K are not usually taken above dietary levels. If such nutrients as iron, calcium, copper, iodine, and potassium are sufficient in the diet, these are not usually added unless there are specific problems with digestion and/or assimilation. Important extra support for men may come from B vitamins, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Range(RDAS to Optimum Safe Levels)
|Vitamin A||5,000–10,000 IUs||Calcium*||800–1,200 mg.|
|Beta-carotene||5,000–20,000 IUs||Chloride*||2–5 g.|
|Vitamin D||200–600 IUs||Chromium||200–500 mcg.|
|Vitamin E||30–800 IUs||Copper||2–3 mg.|
|Vitamin K*||150–600 mcg.||Fluoride*||1.5–4.0 mg.|
|Thiamine (B1)||1.4–50.0 mg.||Iodine*||150–300 mcg.|
|Riboflavin (B2)||1.6–50.0 mg.||Iron*||10–15 mg.|
|Niacin (B3)**||20–200 mg.||Magnesium||400–800 mg.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||7–250 mg.||Manganese||3.0–10.0 mg.|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||2.5–100 mg.||Molybdenum||150–500 mcg.|
|Cobalamin (B12)||3–200 mcg.||Phosphorus*||800–1,200 mg.|
|Folic acid||400–800 mcg.||Potassium*||2–6 g.|
|Biotin||150–500 mcg.||Selenium||200–400 mcg.|
|Choline||50–500 mg.||Sodium*||1.0–3.5 g.|
|Inositol||50–500 mg.||Zinc||15–60 mg.|
|Vitamin C||60–2000 mg.|