Answering men’s nutrition questions


In this article:

  • Making healthy food choices is an important habit you can develop to achieve your best health and wellness.

  • Dr. Daniel Getz answers men’s health questions and offers expert insights into how nutrition affects men’s health.

  • March is National Nutrition Month, focusing on the role nutrition plays in improving your quality of life.

Making informed food choices and developing healthy lifestyle habits are such vital components of improving your health and well-being that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has chosen the entire month of March to highlight their importance.

Since 1980, National Nutrition Month has taken place every March. Healthcare experts across the country focus on raising awareness and offering answers to the questions many of us have about nutrition and its role in improving our quality of life.

To mark the occasion, we took the opportunity to listen in on a recent conversation between Rick Malambri, host of the His Health podcast, and Dr. Daniel Getz, Chief Medical Officer of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. During the podcast, Dr. Getz took a deep dive into men’s nutrition and answered listeners’ questions about men’s health.

Here are some of the highlights.

Q. What role does nutrition play in men’s health?

A. Good nutrition is absolutely a cornerstone of good health. You know, you are what you eat – at least that’s what Grammy tells us. And it's probably true to some degree. Your diet is the fuel that helps drive your health.

Some of the choices that you make when you’re younger can impact your health when you’re older. Poor diet and poor lifestyle choices like lack of exercise or lack of sleep all affect your body’s systems down the road. High blood pressure and hypertension are both associated with unhealthy dietary choices.

Q. Are fad diets like ketogenic or protein-only a healthy option?

A. Fad diets may have some benefits, but they’re pretty restricted. When you fall off the wagon – and I’ve yet to see a patient who hasn't fallen off the wagon at some point – most people tend to fall into some pretty bad habits. This trend can lead to weight gain and the development of other health issues if you don’t get back into a healthy eating pattern.

When we work with patients to find healthy dietary options, we want them to approach it from a lifestyle standpoint. We know how important it is to make the right choices to help achieve good health. We want you to take a mindful approach and realize that diet is one aspect of whole-person care. Once you start feeling better from eating better, it’s easier to stick to it.

Q. Does eating organic make a difference?

A. In some instances, eating organic makes a lot of sense. We’re finding lots of different chemicals that can leach into what we’re eating or drinking and even affect our endocrine system. So, I think there are certain advantages to organic foods.

Some foods that aren’t organic are still probably safe to eat. I think organic has a bit of a marketing connotation. In some cases, it’s a way for certain companies to make money. In general, however, limiting the chemicals and pesticides used in food production makes really, really good sense.

Q. Does poor nutrition affect a man’s sex life?

A. Diet plays a large part in your cardiovascular health. Erectile function is one of those things that is affected early in cardiovascular disease. The penis is the barometer for men’s health. And if you’re not having good performance in that aspect, it’s probably a wake-up call to start addressing all those variables that affect cardiovascular health: diet, exercise, sleep and making good choices to keep yourself in a good mental state.

Q. What’s the healthiest way to increase fiber intake?

A. Fruits and vegetables tend to be the best sources of fiber. Whole grains, legumes, and beans are also great ways to increase the amount of fiber you’re getting from your diet. So are green leafy vegetables and all those brightly colored fruits and vegetables that take center stage in your favorite grocery store’s produce aisles.

Q. Are superfoods real or just a marketing buzzword?

A. Superfoods are just a fancy name for foods that help reduce inflammation or prevent oxidization. Both inflammation and oxidization can accelerate the aging process and promote damage to DNA through cellular aging. Examples of superfoods include dark green leafy vegetables, blueberries, salmon, anchovies, and herring.

Q. What’s more important to men’s health: diet or exercise?

A. A combination of both is probably your best bet. They both play such a critical role. A little bit of any exercise always beats no exercise. Whether it’s getting up and down out of your chair 10 times in a row once every hour or if it’s taking a gentle stroll down the block, you really need to exercise the muscles in your body.

How much meat is in a healthy diet? Do men need to cut out red meat altogether?

A. When we look at diets around the world in societies known for longevity, we tend to see that they eat less protein. Their diets are more vegetable-forward. Eating smaller meat portions and not eating red meat too frequently makes sense for cardiovascular health. It makes sense to eat in moderation. If you make good protein choices, including fish and other lean meats, and combine them with plenty of vegetables, you’re setting yourself up for success.


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Related resources

Stay strong with good nutrition in the new year

Men’s heart health: Prevention and wellness strategies

Food choices for a healthy prostate

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Men's Health Team is dedicated to helping men reach and maintain their optimal health by providing relevant and helpful clinically based advice.

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