Ancient prophets understood the wisdom of living by the adage, “Eat, drink and be merry,” and it still rings true today. Today’s health experts further add, “get moving” and “see your doctor at least once a year.”
Adopting this short, easy-to-do list of habits as a guiding principle can be key to a healthier and happier life, and add more years to accomplish your bucket list. The good news about male longevity is that much of it is under our control.
Dr. Robert Butler, gerontologist, psychiatrist and author of The Longevity Prescription: The 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life, received a Pulitzer Prize for his work on aging. A founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, he also started the nation’s first department of geriatrics, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. In his early 80s, Butler was still regularly walking around Central Park before putting in 60-hour weeks doing work he loved as head of International Longevity Center–USA ()
Butler maintained that genes account for only 25 percent of our individual health and said, “Our environment and personal behaviors account for the rest.” For him, it was simple things like welcome hugs and laughter that added pleasure and length to life. Of course, learning something new helps the brain stay active. Butler lived the essence of active right up until his passing a year ago at age 83.
A Simple Prescription
So, what are men up against today? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), the leading causes of death for men are heart disease; cancer (especially prostate); injuries; chronic lower respiratory diseases; stroke; diabetes; suicide; influenza and pneumonia; kidney disease; and Alzheimer’s disease. But can men take a preventive approach to these conditions. Here are five proactive, enjoyable ways that work:
Eat. The simple everyday act of healthy eating can have long-term, holistic benefits for not only overall health and weight management, but for preventing prostate cancer. In 2010, nearly 218,000 men in the United States were diagnosed with prostate cancer, a largely curable challenge when caught in its early stages, according to the American Cancer Society. But why not eat well to prevent potential cancer cells from becoming a bigger problem?
“All of us have microscopic cancers growing in our bodies all the time,” says Dr. William Li, founder and head of The Angiogenesis Foundation, in Cambridge, Massachusetts (angio.org and the user-friendly EatToDefeat.org). Angiogenesis is the process our bodies use to grow blood vessels, he says, a natural process that sometimes gets hijacked by cancer cells. “A microscopic tumor can grow up to 16,000 times its original size in as little as two weeks,” explains Li, “but new, groundbreaking research from The Angiogenesis Foundation proposes that you can stop cancer before it begins to grow.” Li calls this new preventive approach “anti-angiogenesis.”
“Many common foods contain cancer-starving molecules,” Li continues. “Anti-angiogenesis encourages that. By changing the way you eat, you can change your internal environment, thereby depriving cancer cells the opportunity to grow and multiply.
Li and his colleagues continue to monitor the results of other studies while continuing their own research showing the positive effects of certain foods in slowing or preventing the growth and spread of cancer cells. One seminal study, published in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute in 2002, established the link between eating cooked tomato products and a lowered risk of prostate cancer. “Cooked tomatoes… have more cancer-fighting properties than raw tomatoes,” advises Li. “Both contain the molecule lycopene, but heating the tomato changes its chemical structure and makes the benefits more readily available to the body. You should eat two to three [½ cup] servings of cooked tomatoes a week.”
The Angiogenesis Foundation provides a base list of 40 natural foods that contain cancer-preventing properties. New foods are added as their benefits are proved in research. The newest additions for fighting prostate cancer—emmental, Jarlsburg and gouda cheeses— are rich in vitamin K2.