Between the 13th and the 19th of June 2022, those behind Men’s Health Week are challenging men to be at the top of their game, physically and mentally. Using the hashtag #manmot, the Men’s Health Forum, a charity based in the UK, is trying to encourage more men to prioritise their health and to make time for their own MOT. In this article, we will look at what is meant by an MOT for men and how a plant-based diet can help males to reduce their risk of some of the most serious diseases they face throughout life.
Why is it important for men to have a health MOT?
Men’s Health Forum is encouraging men across the UK to take time for an MOT of their physical and mental health. In many ways, this is a clever message as many of us put more thought into ensuring our car is safe to drive and undergoes checks each year than we do into making sure our own bodies are in good order. The other message that the charity is trying to convey is that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have forgotten about other serious conditions such as cancer, resulting in the following worrying statistics:
- Early-stage cancer diagnoses fell by a third in the first lockdown, and this has continued.
- Cancer charity, Macmillan, believes that in the region of 50,000 people have missed a cancer diagnosis during the pandemic.
- In men, prostate cancer diagnoses were down 29% between 2019 and 2020 because men were less willing to visit their GP to be diagnosed.
- Male GP visits fell more than female visits.
How can a plant-based diet improve the health of men?
There are almost limitless ways in which a plant-based diet rich in nutrition can improve the health of men and even stave off serious diseases. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the leading cause of death is still ischaemic heart disease (IHD). The good news is that the proportion of men dying from heart disease each year is reducing. The second leading cause of death in men is dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (by far the leading killer of women in the UK).
Thankfully, the scientific evidence shows a very clear link between plant-based vegan diets and improved health outcomes. Research by Hyunju Kim et al. in August 2019 found that “Diets higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in a general population”. In addition, research on the effects of a plant-based diet on the risk of dementia by Ming-Nan Lin et al. was extremely compelling. The authors concluded that high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals from plant foods are protective against dementia, while animal-based foods tend to have a negative impact. They also found that plant-based diets with limited animal products lead to improved glycaemic control and reduce the risk of diabetes.
Plant-based diets are not just associated with improved physical health, they also boost mental health. More and more research is showing that certain antioxidants and phytochemicals found in plant foods are able to repair damage and decrease inflammation in brain cells. For example, according to research, the phytochemical quercetin inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme found at elevated levels in those with depression.
We really hope that Men’s Health Week in June 2022 spurs more men than ever to take time out to have a check-up with their GP and to consider how they can look after their own mental and physical health. What are you waiting for men?
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