NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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June is Men's Health Month

men's health, cholesterol, high blood pressure

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Your body and your vehicle have one very important thing in common: They both need to be maintained. What’s the best way to keep your body running smoothly? Fill it with premium fuel, such as whole grains, lean protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are essential in the diet for many reasons. They provide vitamins, minerals and fiber, which can protect you from chronic diseases, such as heart disease and certain cancers.

Because an engine has many parts, many things can go wrong. Your heart is the engine of your body. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. Heart disease occurs in many forms, but the most common is coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack and other serious conditions.

Excess cholesterol in your body is much like a clogged fuel filter. The fuel filter sends clean fuel into the engine to keep it running. If it were to get clogged, much like how cholesterol can build up in an artery, this would cause restriction in fuel flow.

Cholesterol is necessary in the diet, although consuming too much of it can be dangerous. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in the arteries. When buildup occurs, pumping blood throughout the body becomes difficult, causing strain on the heart.

Obesity, poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history are all risk factors. Having high cholesterol increases your risk of developing heart disease.

In cars, fuel pumps use pressure to pull or push fuel into the carburetor through the fuel line. In us, blood is pumped from our heart through blood vessels. If the fuel line is constricted, your fuel pump won’t be able to keep your body moving. Clogged arteries constrict blood flow, leading to the buildup of pressure on the vessel wall.

High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. Some risk factors, such as race, heredity and age, can’t be controlled. Other risk factors include stress, lack of physical activity, eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol and obesity.

If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, you should talk with your health-care provider about the steps needed to safely lower your numbers. Eating less saturated fat, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and adding foods high in potassium to your diet may help manage your blood pressure.

In cars, the exhaust system guides exhaust fumes away from the engine. Our exhaust system works much the same way, but sometimes it can get “rusty.” Colon cancer begins with the growth of small polyps in the colon or rectum. If detected early, these polyps can be removed to prevent the development of cancer. After the age of 50, men and women should undergo a colonoscopy.

Just as a car needs a regular tune-up, your body requires the same attention. A routine doctor’s appointment can help maintain performance and extend your life.

Source: NDSU Extension Nutrition, Food Safety and Health: www.ag.ndsu.edu/food. FN1428

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