It probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that in general, men are traditionally less bothered about their health and wellness than women.
According to recent stats, New Zealand men go to a doctor three times less than women and 3000 men die from preventable deaths every year - that's one every three hours.
But one organisation is aiming to change that. June is Men's Health Month, which aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment in males.
Aside from going to the doctor, what are some of the things that men can be doing at home to help their health? There's a whole range of food groups that are full of vital vitamins and nutrients for men. As the old adage says: "You are what you eat".
Ben Edusei, Men's Health Trust spokesperson and health practitioner, has put together a list of his top ten foods that Kiwi men - and women - should all be trying to eat a little more of.
Spinach is a great source of folate (folic acid), a commonly known blood flow booster. Folic acid plays a vital role in male sexual function and deficiencies in folic acid have linked to erectile dysfunction. One serving of spinach is loaded with fibre, calcium and nearly your entire days recommended dosage of beta carotene - a nutrient vital for immune health and good vision. It is better to cook your spinach; it increases absorption rate. Popeye's magical green stuff is also a good source of magnesium, which aids recovery.
Soy has long been a highly debated food in terms of men's health. I sit on the beneficial side. Soy is an ideal food: it has the protein of meat, fibre of a wholegrain and the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals of the best fruit and vegetables on the market! It has also been found as great way to decrease the chances of prostate cancer - one of the highest diagnosed cancer among men. The best forms of soy tend to be organic sources such as edamame beans, soy milk, tofu and at the top of the list, tempeh, which naturally fermented.
Small but mighty, black beans are a powerhouse which help you feel energised and fuller longer. They are incredibly high in fibre, stuffed with complex forms of carbohydrates, packed full of nutrients and are a big-time player in protein levels. The bonus with black beans is that there is no saturated fat in them, making them amazing for heart health.
Carrots are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, beta carotene and are an excellent source of fibre. Studies have shown carrots help improve eye health and vision. Not only that, but carrots could also improve your fertility by helping to prevent sperm damage and boost the quality and quantity of sperm production.
This fruit (commonly mistaken for a vegetable) is an incredible source of lycopene, the chemical that gives fruits and vegetables their red colour. Lycopene is also one of the most potent antioxidants around - it helps fight off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. Tomatoes also help to naturally relax blood vessels to improve blood circulation and it has been shown to help improve shape and quantity of sperm. It too helps to reduce the chances of prostate cancer.
Oats are an incredibly nutritious food, packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Oats are high in protein and fibre, especially when compared with other grains.
Benefits include lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, protection against skin irritation and reduced constipation. They're extremely filling, useful for weight reduction, extremely cheap, and simply put - one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Brazil nuts are crammed with magic for your manhood. Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in our immune and hormone health. A small deficiency can be catastrophic for men's reproductive health. Unfortunately, in New Zealand there is not enough selenium in our soils so make sure you eat a brazil nut daily to help boost your immune system and sex life. Brazil nuts are also full of amazing fats and a great way to help boost testosterone levels.
They may be tiny, but chia seeds pack a massive health punch. They're is loaded full of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and fibre. Healthy omega 3s help reduce inflammation and support brain health. Protein helps strengthen and grow muscles. Fibre supports bowel health, supplies long-burning energy, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Adding them to oats, smoothies and salad dressings is the perfect way to reap the rewards.
Drinking water throughout the day should be a priority. As we are around 60-70 percent made of water making sure we are keeping levels consistent is important. Water flushes toxins from our systems, regulates body temperature, acts as an insulator for joints, prevents kidney stones, increases metabolism, helps to improve mental performance, maintains flexibility in tissues, is an excellent weight management tool and is an easy way to get important minerals (electrolytes) into the body. Drinking water around room temperature has been reported to be easier to absorb into the body so drinking herbal teas is a great way to get extra benefits. My top choices would be peppermint, ginger, chamomile and berry tea.
Coffee / green tea
Both these drinks have numerous benefits towards the body and have been suggested to increase longevity in humans. Rich in antioxidants, they aid liver cleansing, improve cognitive/ physical performance, encourage fat burning, enhance blood flow, protect the heart, and reduce inflammation.
From fighting cancer to delaying the development of Alzheimer's, these powerhouses have been shown to help fight almost every major illness. However, just before you start drinking litres of the good stuff, it comes with a warning.
Caffeine is a stimulant, it can be addictive and if abused, can cause anxiety, sleep disturbances, fatigue, digestive issues, dehydration, high blood pressure and elevated heart rate. So make sure you drink your caffeine before midday, stay hydrated and if you feel any of the side effects then stop immediately.