Posted 2/21/2017 by UHBlog
While the nation prepares to celebrate the top college basketball team during March Madness, maybe it’s time to put your own health in the spotlight. After all, health care is the ultimate team sport, says internal medicine specialist Roy Buchinsky, MD.
“In life’s tournament, you’re the player and your doctor is your coach,” Dr. Buchinsky says. “We work together to reduce the risk of injury or early elimination.”
According to Dr. Buchinsky, a winning strategy begins with regular wellness examinations – at least every other year for guys over the age of 40, and annually after the age of 50.
“Even if you feel fine and you don’t think you have any problems, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor,” he says. “Routine screenings help to confirm that everything is okay, and it’s helpful to discuss things like changes in your family medical history. Maybe somebody in your family has been diagnosed with heart disease or cancer. It doesn’t mean you’re destined to get it, but it’s something we can keep a closer eye on in the future. Being proactive is usually the best defense against the development of serious medical conditions.”
How can you take charge? Think of it in basketball terminology by shooting for three. Most men’s greatest medical concerns, Dr. Buchinsky says, include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Penis and prostate health and maintaining optimum sexual performance
“All three of those depend on keeping the pipes clean and free of clogging,” he says. “Smoking can clog the pipes. High cholesterol causes atherosclerosis that can clog the pipes. And the biggest cause of heart blockage is inflammation, which is often caused by the foods we eat.”
Many health problems traditionally have been ruled hereditary. After further review, however, many appear to be more related to a bad diet, so that dinner becomes our destiny, rather than DNA, Dr. Buchinsky says.
“It’s best to keep sugars and processed foods, like refined flour products, on the bench,” he says. “They can cause inflammation and high blood sugar spikes, which can lead to diabetes and other chronic problems. Your best line-up includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts and fish with a minimum of red meats. Quantity counts, too. Some people get it right on quality of foods, but they overeat. We call that ‘portion distortion.’”
Particularly beyond the age of 40, increased inflammation can create a higher risk for three major health problems:
- Heart disease
“The last one is a surprise to some people,” Dr. Buchinsky says. “But generally, what’s smart for the heart is good for the brain. All of the factors we monitor for heart disease are the same for stroke prevention and prevention of dementia.”
One statistic to weigh when assessing your wellness is your waistline. Regardless of your height and weight, Dr. Buchinsky says, a waistline of more than 40 inches is likely to signal too much inflammation creating metabolic fat activity.
The good news is that you can always make in-game adjustments to your game plan when something isn’t working. Your doctor can help coach you into a healthier lifestyle.
Among the adjustments to consider are what Dr. Buchinsky calls the “Three Fs and Three Ss.”
The three Fs are:
- Fingers. That means keeping cigarettes out of them. Along with the increased risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction is three times more common in smokers than non-smokers, he says.
- Feet. As in physical activity. Regular exercise is important for wellness. But some exercise is better than no exercise. Try running on a treadmill while you watch this year's basketball tournament.
- Fork. Watch what's on it. Eat the right types of food and don't overdo it.
The three Ss are:
- Sleep. A good day starts with a good night sleep to reduce the risk of stress, frustration and even weight gain. Most guys should average seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
- Stress. Stress is a big cause of many physical and emotional health problems. To prevent stress from becoming distress find a stress-reduction technique that you enjoy – such as reading, yoga, deep breathing or meditation - and practice it daily.
- Socialization. Connect with other people. Find spirituality and purpose and don't forget to pay it forward in life, Dr. Buchinsky says.
At the end of the game, Dr. Buchinsky says, it’s usually the people who maintain a cheerful, positive outlook who tend to beat the buzzer and come out on top.
“Regardless of the score, be positive,” he says. “If you think good things, good things are more likely to happen. March Man-Ness is all about taking charge of your own destiny. Your doctor is there to coach you along in the sport of life.”
Roy Buchinsky, MD is an internal medicine specialist and the director of wellness at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Buchinsky or any other doctor online.