Updated: May 9
Men's health and the modern world.
As a practitioner with a focus on men's health a large part of my clinic day is working with men that have issues with male fertility. I believe that the decline in men’s fertility rates is a direct correlation to the overall health of that individual and is an early warning for men that other health problems may be on the horizon. With the exception of any structural or genetic defects it seems that the cause of low fertility and a lot of other men’s health problems come from the world we live in and the stress which is put on our bodies. If you are interested in learning more about Male Fertility Support specifically please read our other blog posts 'Maybe Baby Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Fertility Journey' and 'Preconception Health and the Yuan Qi'
What is toxic stress?
The modern term for how we tend to lead our lives and put pressure on our system is ‘toxic stress’. Toxic stress from a Chinese Medicine viewpoint encompasses many of the bodies internal systems and differs from person to person depending on how the stress affects them. In this blog I am going to briefly explain how leading a ‘toxic’ life can really damage your chances of having optimal health (even though you may think all the things your doing are helping your body).
Toxic stress means that your body is producing things called ‘Free Radicals’. I am sure you have heard of these before. Free radicals are a by-product of energy in each of our cells. We are always making free radicals and we can’t help but make some free radicals, but the way we live our lives and our surrounding environment also contributes to how many free radicals we produce.
What can increase the level toxic stress in our lives?
Exercising too much or too little. Exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, but too much can increase oxidative stress in our bodies. I see a lot of men now that exercise far too much, just remember this can be as detrimental as too little exercise.
Eating too much sugars and refined carbohydrates. Releases more free radicals in cells.
Too much alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol increases your levels of cytokines, inflammatory molecules that are linked to oxidative stress.
Smoking. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 toxic chemicals that lead to oxidative stress.
Exposure to air pollutants. This includes home air fresheners and spry on deodorants. Allergens and industrial pollution increase oxidation in our bodies.
Stress from work, relationships and our busy modern life. Stress and the stress hormone cortisol increase inflammation, which further increases free radical production.
Exposure to the mobile phones, lap tops, Wi Fi, x-rays, radon, airplanes, electric blankets and waterbed heaters can contribute to oxidative stress.
Environmental molds (like those in bathrooms and basements) and internal molds and fungi (those related to your gut) can produce toxins that increase oxidative stress.
Food toxins from mass produced and processed foods. Results in poor liver and gut detoxification. When the liver becomes overwhelmed with toxins from food (sugar) or the environment (pesticides or mercury), it becomes inflamed and produces more free radicals.
Chronic/recurrent infections. Dental infections and chlamydia can cause hidden infections that contribute to oxidative stress.
Poor sleep/ shift work. Sleep deprivation increases oxidation.
As you can see there are many ways that oxidative stress can harm your health.
Preventing Toxic Stress
The best way is to start avoiding the causes of free radicals mentioned above and making changes to your lifestyle. You can also prevent free radical formation and control oxidative stress by:
Improving your breathing by doing meditation, tai chi, qi gong, yoga. This helps oxygenation of the cells. This will help your body flush out toxins, free radicals and inflammatory molecules.
Eating real wholefoods- organic is best, and include foods that reduce oxidation. These are foods that contain ‘antioxidants’, which is a term I am sure you have heard before. Lots of foods contain antioxidants (like vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and polyphenols) that are major factors in protecting us from free radical damage. To avoid oxidative stress and inflammation, it’s important to eat a diet full of many different colourful fruits and vegetables that contain these antioxidants. A nutrient-poor, calorie-rich, high glycaemic, antioxidant-deficient diet should be avoided.
Using herbs. Chinese Medicine has plenty of herbs that can assist with counteracting oxidative stress.
Taking supplements. Certain supplements can be especially useful at fighting free radical production, including: N-acetylcysteine. This will boost production of glutathione, an important antioxidant and detoxifier. Acetyl l-carnitine is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier much easier than l-carnitine where it acts as an antioxidant in the brain. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This is an antioxidant that is also important for the mitochondria.
We can all get caught up in the pressures and stressors of today’s hectic world. Take a look back through at some of the things that you may be doing that are affecting your health. If any stand out, start making some changes and start looking after your health. If you feel like you have any questions or would like a check-up of your current health make an appointment and I would be glad to discuss your men’s health needs further. Look after yourself!
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