Dr. Will Cole Shares Functional Medicine’s Best Everyday Advice to Empower Men in Their Health and Wellness
Health practices that you, or the men in your life, can use to rē-spin the modern world of medicine.
Women make up the majority of the wellness world; it’s not that men don’t care about looking and feeling good, they simply tend to be more removed from the conversation. (Ed note: Some, but not all, have even been known to put off doctor’s appointments for as long as they possibly can!) But as a functional medicine practitioner who happens to be a man, it’s my goal to show men the importance of taking care of their health. Over the last 10 years, I have seen more men take their health into their own hands. There has been a subsequent increase in male patients at my telehealth functional medicine clinic.
There are many things that men can do to start becoming empowered in their health — even in conventional areas of wellness that they might already be involved in. Wellness isn’t always about crystals, meditation, specialty diets, or intensive therapies. Sometimes it’s the little tweaks to everyday practices that make the biggest difference.
Here are a few conventional health practices that you, or the men in your life, can use to rē-spin the modern world of medicine with some functional health hacks:
Get to the root cause of your chronic pain.
Ibuprofen is a quick fix for headaches and other pain problems, but can lead to other problems that become serious over the long-term. For instance, ibuprofen has been shown to mess with gut health by damaging your gut lining, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome, inflammation, and further perpetuate chronic pain.
This is why it’s vital to get to the root cause of why you are experiencing chronic pain or headaches in the first place. A functional medicine practitioner can combine a review of your symptoms with lab work for greater insight into your case and then design a plan to address any underlying dysfunctions.
If you aren’t ready to dive into all of your health history just yet, try making the switch to natural pain relievers first. Curcumin supplements can address ongoing inflammation that might be contributing to chronic pain, and topical peppermint essential oil can act as a cooling relief for headaches and other body aches.
Start tending to your mental health
There has been a stigma surrounding mental health for a long time but that is finally starting to change. In fact, caring for your mental well-being has never been easier with a variety of apps and virtual counselors available that allow for on-the-go care and a greater sense of privacy. This can be especially beneficial for men who are just dipping their toes into the waters of mental self-care, but managing stress levels — even if you are unaware of them — plays an invaluable role in both physical and emotional wellness.
rē-evaluate your exercise routines
Yes, exercise is good for us, there’s no question about that. However, there is such a thing as too much exercise. It can be tempting to hit the gym hard every day of the week, but overexercising can actually contribute to chronic inflammation [that leads to disease and illness]. Exercising normally results in short-term inflammation, but it should go away after periods of rest, whereas excessive exercise keeps the body in a problematic, inflamed state long-term.
One sign that you might be overdoing it in the gym are joints that are constantly stiff and achy. This can be a normal response after your more intense workouts, but if that feeling never subsides, there’s a good chance it is because inflammation is on overdrive.
rē-think protein powders and consider collagen instead
It’s really important to evaluate the protein powder you use on a daily basis. Most conventional protein powders are loaded with ingredients that can wreak havoc on your hormones and overall health. For example, soy can mimic estrogen in the body, which is not good in large amounts for men since it can lead to higher levels of this hormone in the body and contribute to low sex drive, brain fog, fatigue, and irritability.
Try switching to a collagen powder like one from Vital Proteins. Since collagen contains subtypes that are found in our bodies, it should have little to no effect on hormones. Plus, it is extremely bioavailable and has minimal taste — perfect for adding to your pre-workout shake or smoothie.
rē-consider your mealtimes
It’s been ingrained in us from a young age that we need to eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sometimes snacks if we are still hungry. Even though eating all three meals isn’t always a bad thing, studies are showing just how powerful intermittent fasting can be for your health.
Giving your body a break from food for extended periods of time has a variety of health benefits including improved digestion, enhanced mental clarity, stabilized blood sugar, and more. Just be sure that the meals in your eating window are filled with nutrient-dense, clean, whole food sources and not processed, sugary foods so you can really reap all of these amazing health benefits. If you want to learn more about fasting and how it can help level-up your health, check out my latest book, Intuitive Fasting.
These simple changes that add up cumulatively can make a world of difference in your health and wellness, so try one of these modern wellness hacks to take your health to the next level.