What you need to know about Men’s Health
June is the official beginning of Summer and Father’s Day so here’s a look at what you need to know about Men’s Health
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death among adults of both sexes in the United States. However, heart attacks are twice as common in men than in women. That higher risk persists even after traditional risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, body mass index, and physical activity are accounted for. There are several explanations for this including the protective effects of hormones in pre-menopausal women.
However, the striking difference may be in the gender difference of using antacids that contain proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for acid reflux. We have known for years that these drugs not only inhibit stomach acid production that inhibits nitric oxide formation from swallowing your own saliva, but more recent data reveal they inhibit nitric oxide production from the enzyme in the lining of your blood vessels. Therefore, these drugs inhibit both pathways to make nitric oxide (see my 6-minute video).
Now, a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, and Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System has linked long-term use of such drugs to fatal cases of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer. More than 15 million Americans have prescriptions for PPIs. Further, many millions more purchase the drugs over the counter and take them without being under a doctor’s care and often indefinitely. The researchers also found that risk increases with the duration of PPI use, even when the drugs are taken at low doses. The study is published online May 30 in the very prestigious journal The British Medical Journal.
Men are more likely to use these drugs than women. Generally, men tend to use tobacco products such as cigarettes more than women. Many studies have shown that nitric oxide production is higher in all the blood vessels of females than males and is stimulated during pregnancy, a high estrogen state. Data also reveal that men consume less fruits and vegetables than women and therefore take in less nitrate that can be reduced to nitric oxide. Collectively all this data tells us is that men generally have less nitric oxide and we know too little nitric oxide is responsible for cardiovascular disease. More often than not, it’s women who know more about health than men.
The signs and symptoms are there for men but perhaps most men ignore them until it is too late. The first sign and symptom of nitric oxide deficiency is erectile dysfunction. When men lose the ability to produce nitric oxide, regulation of blood flow to the penis is compromised and the result is decreased blood flow and poor erections. With over 50% of the men over the age of 40 self-reporting some degree of erectile dysfunction, this is a major problem and what healthcare professionals call the “canary in the coal mine”. It is a warning sign that if not corrected will lead to progression of cardiovascular disease. Because if you have insufficient nitric oxide production in the cells that line the blood vessels of the penis, you have insufficient nitric oxide production in the cells that line the blood vessels of the heart, brain and all other organs. Men also have higher rates of high blood pressure than age-matched women and it occurs earlier in men. When you lose the ability to make nitric oxide, blood pressure goes up. It is not enough to take anti-hypertensive medications; you have to restore nitric oxide production.
So, my advice to all the men out there as summer begins:
- Pay attention to your body. Your body will tell you when something is wrong. Having high blood pressure or erectile dysfunction is not normal and it is your body telling you do not make enough nitric oxide.
- Stop using antacids and mouthwash. Stop smoking if you smoke. Get some physical exercise as exercise will help stimulate nitric oxide production.
- Work in a few more vegetables in your diet (primarily dark leafy greens)
- Consider a nitric oxide dietary supplement or nutritional regimen as a simple means to restore NO production.
My philosophy is quite simple for optimal health. Give the body what it needs and remove from the body what is does not need and our body will heal itself. Many of the things we do or don’t do affect the production of nitric oxide. When you cannot make nitric oxide, bad things happen and the science tells us that your body cannot and will not heal without restoring nitric oxide production. This summer makes some changes that could save your life.