Men’s Health & Nutrition

5 min Article Healthy Eating
Learn all about men’s nutritional needs for better health and wellbeing.
Men’s Health & Nutrition

If handsome is as handsome does, then men’s fitness and mental wellbeing depends on good lifestyle behaviors and nutrition. Given that many a modern man in big cities is more attached to his desk and couch than his ancestors, the significance of nutrition, exercise, mental wellbeing, and lifestyle choices contribute significantly to their health. According to Harvard Medical School, men pay less attention to their health than women and are more prone to drink and smoke, making susceptibility to stroke, heart disease, diabetes, prostrate issues, cancer, and sexual health issues even more serious.

What are the Nutritional Features of Men’s Health?

Nutrition and a balanced diet are essential for men's physical vitality and mental wellbeing. Due to their increased muscle mass and metabolic rate, men generally require higher caloric intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a daily intake of about 2000-3000 calories for men incorporating nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruit, and vegetables. Here are some of the nutritional and health features impacting men’s health:

Protein, the Building Block of Strength: For men engaged in physical activities and strength training, protein plays an important role in muscle repair and growth. The recommended daily intake of protein is (0.8 gm per kilogram of body weight) but the recent dietary guidelines highlight the importance of eating protein-rich foods rather than being focused on specific amounts . This helps maintain and enhance muscle mass, ultimately supporting an active lifestyle. Good sources of plant protein include legumes, beans, tofu, and tempeh that can be integrated into daily meals.

The Heart of the Matter: Heart health is of utmost importance for men, as they face a higher risk of heart disease compared to women. According to John Hopkins Medicine, on average men develop heart disease 10 years earlier than women do. Adopting a heart-healthy diet that includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, can help lower the risk of cardiovascular issues. Plant-based omega-3s can be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and certain algae-based supplements. Additionally, limiting saturated and trans fats found in processed and fried food can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and heart health.

Weight Management Made Easy: A healthy weight is crucial for overall health and longevity. Men can achieve and sustain a healthy weight through mindful eating, portion control, and regular physical activity. Men’s weight gain can be caused by unregulated drinking and unhealthy eating patterns, sedentary lifestyle, and stress. A fiber-rich diet can also contribute to weight management and lower the risk of heart disease. Fiber is also essential for digestive health and can help prevent constipation and diverticulitis. Fiber-rich foods include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Don’t forget probiotics: beneficial bacteria that support gut health and immune function. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are natural sources.

Bone Health Matters: Calcium and vitamin D are pivotal for bone strength and density, especially as men age. Men between 19 and 70 should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Dairy products, leafy greens, fatty fish, and fortified foods like milk and cereal are all good calcium sources. Regular weight-bearing exercises, such as walking and jogging, further bolster bone health. And don’t forget sunlight, which also helps the body produce vitamin D.

Vitamins & Mineral Health: A balanced diet including antioxidants helps to protect the body from oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer. Examples of foods rich in antioxidants include colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, oranges, spinach, and kale, nuts, and seeds. As magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, supporting muscle function, nerve transmission, and energy production, be sure to eat leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.

Try Chef Akthar Nawab’s White Lentil Hummus for some plant protein

Hydration for Better Health

Good hydration is often underestimated but holds the key to peak performance and cognitive function, particularly for men. Drinking an ample amount of water throughout the day maintains bodily functions, helps regulate body temperature, and supports mental clarity. According to the Institute of Medicine, on a daily basis men should get 125 ounces (3.7 liters) of fluids from water, beverages, and food. Men who follow fitness and exercise regimes should get more.

Men’s Sexual Health

For optimal sexual health for men a balanced diet rich in nutrients like vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids is crucial. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is indicative of both sexual health and heart health for men. Zinc is an essential mineral that supports the immune system, helps heal wounds, and is vital for male reproductive health. Good sources of zinc include beans, nuts, and whole grains. Regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep also play an important role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels and promoting sexual performance. “Foods that improve libido such as basil, garlic, fig, avocado, chia, ashwagandha, and foods that can help prevent erectile dysfunction like apples, berries, garlic, clove, greens, and chiles can be included to men’s diet,” says Nadia Mahmud, Nutritionist with Roundglass.

Mental Wellbeing for Men

Beyond physical health, mental wellbeing is an integral part of men's overall health. Depression, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety, substance abuse are some common mental health issues for men. Proper nutrition plays a role in nurturing a positive mood and mindset. Try eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B-vitamins, in addition to fermented foods to support gut health, which may contribute to healthy brain function.

Try immunity boosting jackfruit in chef Sadaf Hussain’s kathal bhuna masala

Remember that men's health is not solely confined to diet and exercise. Regular physical activity, sufficient sleep, stress management, and avoidance of harmful habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are also important for men to live life to their fullest potential.

The Benefits

  • Specific nutrient and calorific needs for men
  • Nutrients that support heart health for men
  • Factors specific to men’s mental and physical wellbeing

About the Teacher

Sudha G Tilak

Sudha G Tilak

Sudha G Tilak is a journalist who has reported from India, Sri Lanka and the UK. She is based out of Gurgaon and is a writer, translator, editor of books on food and travel, and a vegetarian. She is committed to building culinary connections and initiating healthy conversations around the history and traditional wisdom around food.
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