June is men’s health awareness month, a time for guys to practice and implement healthy living decisions, such as exercising and eating better. While the end of June is nearly upon us, building smarter health habits doesn’t have to end here. These are six tips every guy (and girl, for that matter) should do to improve their health, no matter what month of the year it is.
Tip 1: Walk after eating
There’s an old saying that you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you swim. The myth stems from the mistaken belief that all your blood and oxygen goes to digestion. While walking isn’t swimming, it’s true generally that stomach cramps can arise from exercising too intensely too soon, but taking a leisurely walk after eating has plenty of health benefits. Studies suggest walking after a meal may help prevent glucose levels from spiking too high, which is crucial for your overall metabolic health – not only how you feel in the moment (blood sugar spikes can make you feel tired or lack focus), but it can also reduce the risk of developing preventable diseases like cardiovascular disease and prediabetes.
Tip 2: Prioritize getting better sleep at night
Sleep is often a silent player in so many aspects of our health — and yet it’s one health parameter that you can exert some control over. A good night’s rest has been linked to healthy brain function as well as lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Sleep has also been shown to have an effect on your metabolic health. When you are metabolically healthy, your blood sugar levels are better controlled so you can reduce the risk of prediabetes and diabetes, or fare better if you have either of those conditions.
Rest and recovery is imperative for health, for muscle recovery, for weight loss, and yet we live in a world where quotes like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” are commonplace, making us feel like unless we’re burning the midnight oil and awake before the crows caw, then we’re not working hard enough. The reality is that without adequate rest you are not maximizing your physical and mental potential.
Tip 3: Consume more fiber in your diet
Fiber is a key component of a healthy diet and has been shown to lower the risk of death from cardiac disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. It also lowers cholesterol and inflammation and helps people maintain a healthy body weight.
Yet, 95% of Americans barely eat half of the daily amount of fiber recommended by the USDA. How much fiber do you need? Guys should aim for 30-38g grams of fiber per day (women need 21-25g per day). What are the best sources of fiber? Most vegetables (especially dark green ones), fruits, legumes, nuts, and avocados are all good sources of fiber. You can find the amount of dietary fiber in non-packaged goods, such as produce, by checking a reliable internet source.
Tip 4: Limit your eating hours
Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating (yes, there is a difference) have gained a lot of attention in recent years, with studies showing positive health benefits when adjusting your eating schedule to an 8-hour window. Many researchers and practicing physicians believe that fasting is best combined with some level of caloric restriction, so try limiting your eating hours, refrain from eating a few hours before bedtime (this can play a big role in sleeping better at night, too), and decrease your overall caloric intake (even if modestly). By doing this, you’re sure to achieve a healthier metabolic profile.
Tip 5: Prioritize your mental health
According to the Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report, a third of the world’s population (that’s over 2.5 billion people) felt stressed, worried and/or angry in 2019. Since then, over 6 million people have died from COVID-19, inflation has spiraled out of control and a major war has broken out in Europe. So clearly stress is here to stay, and its prevalence and intensity is probably at an all-time high.
When stress gets out of control, the epigenetic changes that it induces can cause us to cross over from mere discomfort into actual illness. Stress has been associated with innumerable illnesses such as insomnia, high blood pressure, migraines, immune deficiencies, GI disorders, mental illnesses, and even diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Yes, stress is one of the leading causes of illness today, and so it’s never been more important to prioritize our mental health — whether that’s by exercising more, journaling, meditating, building stronger relationship with friends and family, or whatever works best for you.
Point is, prioritize it and make it part of your daily routine. Investing in your mental health is something all of us should probably do more of.
Tip 6: Consider monitoring your glucose levels
Many of the above steps have an impact on our blood glucose levels, something that’s crucial for overall metabolic health and reducing the risk of diseases like prediabetes. In the U.S., one in three Americans have prediabetes, and 80% don’t even know they have it. Our blood sugar levels are something all guys (and girls) should be aware of, and it’s never been easier to track your glucose and make sure you’re making smart decisions about what to eat and when to exercise to keep your blood glucose level in a safe range.
At January AI, we make monitoring your blood sugar levels easy. We provide you with two Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) and access to our app, where you can track in real-time the impact food and activity have on your body. This is beneficial not only for helping prevent or reverse diabetes, but even for metabolic health factors like weight loss. Understanding your unique body’s needs is crucial, because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.