Health & Wellness
Head to Toe

Head to Toe

Men's Health
By Neal McSpadden

The Mane Event
It's no secret that a head of healthy hair is sexy. Keep yours intact by eating a diet of salmon, walnuts and spinach. These foods provide essential nutrients for growing health such as protein, vitamins D and E, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Don't worry if you don't see immediate results. It can take several months before you see a difference in your hair, depending on how quickly your hair grows. Losing some off the top? Maybe it's time to consider implants or hair restoration surgery – make sure to see a professional before starting any treatment.

Skin Deep
According to a new study published in the "Journal of Investigative Dermatology," men get more cancer in the "peripheral" areas of the scalp, forehead, temples, ears and neck. The Skin Cancer Foundation found that men over 50 are more than twice as likely as women to develop skin cancer. The reason for this is they are less likely to visit the doctor. The bottom line? Protect all areas of your skin by applying sunscreen (at least 30 SPF), wearing protective clothing and limiting your time in the sun. Also, make sure to get an annual skin screening.

Gut Check
Stomach troubles can originate from foods you may be eating every day. An elimination diet can help you identify foods that have been causing the low-level chronic conditions such as heart burn that have been plaguing you for years according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, developer of the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome) diet. To start an elimination diet, cut out common allergenic foods for three to four weeks. This would mean avoiding foods like dairy, wheat, nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes), conventionally raised meats, legumes, sugars and citrus. After the initial 21 to 28 day period, add back in one type of food per week. Take note of any changes in your mood, energy level, or general state of wellness. Consult a professional to make sure you are cutting the right foods from your diet.

Leg Go
Your legs may not seem like an area of major concern, but as the essential method of getting from place to place, you should keep them in top condition. Dr. Marc Hamilton of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the nation's leading obesity research facility, tells us that one of the biggest threats to your leg health is sitting in a chair all day. Sitting creates unnatural points of pressure, which can cause poor blood circulation and (in extreme cases) deep vein thrombosis. So, get moving and walk around! Take frequent breaks throughout the day to get moving. The simple motion of walking helps blood pump through your legs, improves muscle tone, and can actually improve your insulin sensitivity. Another trick used by professional athletes to help with legs is to blast them with cold water at the end of your shower. According to a study published in the "Journal of Science Medicine," cold water helps improve circulation. It can also help reduce soreness and swelling after a workout.

Eye See You
If eyes are the windows to the soul, make sure you keep those windows clear. The two biggest dangers to eyes are the sun and a computer screen. Protect yours by wearing sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB light. Spending hours a day staring at a computer screen or cell phone can cause eyestrain, dry eyes and headaches, so take frequent breaks. If you find your eyes hurting, try using glasses specially designed to reduce glare. As we age the muscles in the eyes weaken, however by maintaining a healthy diet, you can slow this progression. The American Optometric Association recommends getting five sources of nutrients to support eye health: lutein and zeaxanthin, found in green leafy vegetables, can help reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases; Vitamin C can help reduce the chance of developing cataracts; Vitamin E helps protect eyes from free radical damage, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to support development and function of retinas.

Tough Tooth
Brushing and flossing daily is essential to keeping teeth and gums healthy, but diet is also an important factor. The key is choosing foods that promote mineralization and suppress bacterial growth because your teeth are living tissue, and need the proper building blocks to stay healthy. Eat foods high in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D such as sesame seeds, dried herbs, almonds and herring. The bacteria that live on your teeth and gums are responsible for producing plaque and dental decay, so keep bacteria at bay by avoiding sweets. Try anti-bacterial foods like coconut which has been shown to be effective against oral bacteria. Lastly, make sure you go in for regular dental check-ups.

Keep It Pumping
You're probably aware that risk factors like being overweight, stress and smoking can increase the chances of having a heart attack, but what you may not know are two of the latest findings in heart health research:

• Work stress may be a killer, but as it turns out, the stress of unemployment has been connected to heart attacks in recent years. The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Aging, suggests that you are 22 percent more likely to have a heart attack if you are unemployed.

•Probiotics, foods rich in healthful microorganisms, like sauerkraut, yogurt and fermented pickles can help your body increase beneficial levels of HDL cholesterol, which are associated with low levels of inflammation and relaxed veins and arteries. The healthier your pipes, the healthier your pump.

What's Up Down There?
Keeping everything south of the border functioning normally depends a lot on good health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in the U.S., after skin cancer. There are two tests to screen for prostate cancer, a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. This test looks for PSA, a substance that may be found in high amounts in men with prostate cancer. However, a high PSA level does not always point to cancer. Consider your own health and lifestyle and talk with a health care professional about your personal risk for prostate cancer. Keep your groin and prostate functioning well by paying attention to diet, stress levels and fitness. The leading physical cause of erectile dysfunction is inflammation associated with high blood pressure. When a man becomes aroused, the constrictions on the blood supply to the penis are relaxed, allowing an erection to develop. But if you have high levels of inflammation, those constrictions cannot be relaxed. Lower your body's level of inflammation with proper diet and exercise. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids will help to balance the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods. Other causes of erectile dysfunction can come from certain medications, depression, low levels of testosterone and stress. Be sure to consult a physician if you suspect any of these might be causes.

Plant Your Feet
Home to 52 bones and approximately 15,000 nerve endings, your feet are critical for your overall health. Unfortunately, the shoes we wear do little to help us in this regard according to authors Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee of the book "Barefoot Walking." Shoes push your toes together, which creates a narrower plank on which to stand. This creates abnormal stress on arches and ankles. Additionally, the sole of a modern shoe can tilt your hips forward and create hip and back pain.

The good news is that going barefoot for a little bit each day can help address all these problems. Taking a walk in your yard barefoot will accomplish several different things. First, it helps strengthen the muscles in your feet and legs. Second, walking barefoot will improve your gait so that you glide smoothly over the ground rather than stomping and causing shock waves to travel up your body. Third, in a discovery made recently by UK researchers, the exposure of your feet to beneficial microorganisms in the soil can actually lighten your mood and prevent depression.