Healthiest Things Men Can Do For Themselves
Ayurveda, irrespective of gender, considers good health as holistic – a harmonious balance between the mind, body and soul rather than just concentrating on the physical wellbeing. There are numerous books, articles and research regarding women’s health and their issues including in the ancient Ayurvedic texts such as the Charak Samhita and Sushrut Samhita. But men’s health, comparatively given lesser prominence than the women’s, is also a serious matter, after all it pertains to the welfare of almost half the population of the planet!
Years of societal norms (and basic genetics) have put men in the role of physically stronger, providers for their families and not really prone to showing weaknesses. But just like women, men also struggle with their health, be it mental or physical. Self-care is equally vital, for women and men. Generally, men tend to lead hectic, physically demanding, stressful lives that can result in loss of energy, fatigue and other common acquired lifestyle diseases such as heart troubles, hypertension, diabetes, etc. whereas, prostate problems, loss of virility are some health issues that specifically affect men.
Ayurveda principles state that all living beings are born with a particular Prakriti that is the result of the interplay between the tridoshas in the body – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Ayurvedic knowledge categorizes each stage of men’s health through a distinct dosha. The young age as the Kapha period, middle-age as the Pitta period and the advancing age as the Vata period.
Let’s find out about men’s health, ayurvedic treatments and remedies as well as some key men’s health tips that can help guys take care of themselves in a natural and healthy manner…
What are Men’s Health Issues?
Although both men and women are susceptible to diseases arising out of poor dietary and lifestyle choices such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, elevated cholesterol levels, etc. there are certain health issues that only affect men.
Ayurveda believes that premature hair loss in men (male pattern baldness) is related to their body type and dosha, namely those who have aggravated pitta dosha are at risk of losing their hair early or having thin/gray hair. Balancing the pitta dosha, ayurvedic remedies including medicated oils (brahmi, coconut, etc.), herbs (Bhringaraja, Brahmi, amla, neem, reetha, and ashwagandha), yoga (vajrasana, sarvangasana , bhujangasana, kapalbhati, pranayama, etc.) are some of the useful ways in which men can reduce hair fall and promote hair growth.
Generally trained to be outwardly strong, and show no signs of weakness or fragility, most men do not talk about it due to societal compulsions, but many of them do suffer from depression and mental anxieties. Ayurveda terms depression as vishaada or glani meaning mental lethargy due to fear of failure.
Ayurvedic beliefs state that what we eat, how we eat, how much we eat, and in what state we eat all affect us in our entirety – physical, mental and emotional. Consuming improper foods (Adhvashana) or incompatible combinations of foods (Vishamashana) can cause Pragya-aparadha or intellectual mistakes that result in the sluggishness of the mind leading to a state of unhappiness or despair.
Any lifestyle that encourages disproportionate eating, lack of exercise and excessive sleeping aggravate the tamasic tendencies which in turn promote Kapha dosha causing hypo-metabolism (abnormally slow metabolic rate) leading to depression.
High BP, coronary diseases, arrhythmia, etc. are some of the heart problems that men are at risk of. It is known that men, more than women, are more prone to heart diseases. Ayurveda refers to heart problems as hruday roga and states that improper diet, lack of regular exercises, poor lifestyle can cause arteries to thicken (dhamani pratichaya ) and harden (dhamani kathinaya) leading to obstruction in the arteries due to an aggravated vata dosha and also angina (ruja).
Urinary Tract Problems
Ayurveda terms urinary tract problems (organs that make up the urinary system include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra) as Mutrakricchra or difficulty in urination.
Improper diet and lifestyle (excessive consumption of alcohol, dry foods with no oil, excessive exercising etc.) damage the doshas in the body leading to weakened agni or digestive fire that produces toxins or ama in the body. This ama mixes with the tri doshas and blocks the urinary channels or mutra vaha srotas resulting in burning sensation while urinating (sadahmutra pravruti), yellowish urine (peetamutrata), swollen bladder (mutrendriya gurutwa) etc.
The prostate gland is situated at the base of the bladder, through which the urethra passes. The prostate produces the alkaline secretion that not only gives volume to the male sperm but also protects the semen from the acidic environment of the female vagina. The health of the prostate depends on the strong metabolism or agni/digestive fire of the prostate gland, preventing it from becoming too dry and sticky.
As men reach middle age (Pitta period) the excess heat in the body is not able to get out via the prostate gland which may result in prostatitis. As men reach elderly age, the weakened agni causes the prostate to become dry, preventing a healthy outflow of its secretions that can result in benign prostate hypertrophy or BPH. Ayurveda describes prostate symptoms as similar to Vatashteela, a form of Mutraghat or suppression of urine.
Loss of Libido
It is a normal occurrence for the sex drive to diminish as men age. Normally men experience a reduced sexual drive after the age of 60 but some men experience a lessened libido at earlier ages too due to other factors such as stress, medical conditions etc. Ayurveda terms loss of libido or desire as a part of sexual dysfunction or Klaibya.
Ayurveda refers to male infertility as Shandhatva or napunsakta where the man is unable to sire a child. Male infertility is the cause of the problem in almost half the couples who find themselves unable to conceive. Ayurveda says that Shandhatva or male infertility can be caused due to many factors including low sperm counts, abnormality of the sperms (shukra dosha), or lack of active sperms, congenital problems (Bija upa tapa), loss of libido (Klaibya), male hypogonadism or low production of testosterone, etc.
Men’s Health Tips for All-Round Wellbeing
Here are some very useful tips that should be a part of men’s health checklist to ensure their overall wellbeing.
Balanced Pitta Dosha
Pitta dosha is the primary energy that controls the digestive fire or agni (and thus hunger & thirst), body temperature, vision, emotions, intellect as well as sensory perception. As pitta dosha controls the metabolism & digestion, any imbalance can cause an accumulation of pitta leading to digestive ailments as well as a weakened libido and hair loss. Eating light, easy-to-digest, cooling food items (bitter, astringent, sweet) that can pacify the fire of pitta dosha, physical activities, regular meditation, chanting, yoga asanas, pranayama, healthy sleeping schedule, and staying stress-free and happy are some of the ways to balance pitta dosha.
Balanced Vata Dosha
Vata dosha is the most important energy form as it controls all the movement, right from the nervous system, blood circulation, respiratory system, etc. If the vata dosha is in balance, then the pitta and kapha dosha equilibrium is also maintained. So having a healthy, balanced vata dosha is important. A balanced vata dosha promotes energy and creativity. Eating sweet, sour, salty, oily and rich foods, avoiding bitter, astringent, and spicy foods, getting ayurvedic massages (Abhyanga), yoga, meditation and regular exercise helps keep the vata dosha in balance.
Balanced Kapha Dosha
Kapha dosha is mainly responsible for promoting stamina, endurance, strength, development of tissues, lubricating joints as well as improving immunity. Three meals a day, sleeping for not more than 7-8 hours, regular workouts, a diet comprising light fruits and green veggies, avoiding sour, spicy, salty, sugar products, cleansing of body toxins to boost digestive fire, etc. can all help to balance the kapha dosha for good vigor.
Men’s Health Diet & Lifestyle
Follow Ayurveda prescribed sattvic diet, eat freshly cooked food, have easy to digest 3 meals a day to promote good digestion that helps boost immunity, and take small sips of warm water (avoid cold water as it hinders the blood circulation and makes nutrient absorption difficult) ever every 15 minutes to keep yourself hydrated, make sure you get enough sleep – have a regulated sleep cycle that lets your brain destress and rejuvenates you in the morning.
Having a fit body (achieved in a healthy manner) is confidence-inspiring in other areas of your life. When you feel good physically it filters into your emotional and mental well-being too! Ayurvedic massages (abhyanga) help rejuvenate tissues and muscles, include energy-producing herbs such as ashwagandha, vidari, ginger extracts, shilajit that help boost energy levels and help tissue regeneration, surya namaskars or sun salutations are a perfect exercise to start the day, make sure to get at least 45 minutes of physical activity (appropriate to your age) in a day. Yoga (especially asanas that focus on chest openers and back bending as they are pitta pacifying) & meditation are great stress busters, relax the mind and help both the body and mind.
Sound Mental Health
In addition to a healthy body, a healthy state of mind and emotions is vital for all-around good health. Many men are brought up to project a strong, silent front that doesn’t encourage speaking about their fears, anxieties, troubles until it becomes very difficult to deal with resulting in depression, stress and anxieties.
Your wellbeing is largely in your hands, take time for things that make you happy, a healthy work-life balance can go along way in improving your emotional state, indulge in hobbies, travel, make a list of to-do things, meditate, do yoga for relaxation and calmness, learn to let go of the past bitterness and embrace the new future… in short enjoy life today.
Any kind of stress or mental disturbances decreases the sex drive leading to a diminished libido. This happens as stress triggers more production of cortisol (stress hormone) resulting in reduced production of testosterone – the primary male sex hormone that is responsible for regulating the sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
In order to maintain a normal balance of testosterone, eat healthy fats, foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids, avocados, 7-8 hours of sleep as it reduces the stress levels and improves testosterone (testosterone is mostly released during the night), include ayurvedic herbs such as ashwagandha, ginseng, licorice, chyawanprash, and mainly stay happy and laugh (reduces the production of cortisol).
Prostate problems generally start cropping up from the pitta dosha period (middle age) and can aggravate during the vata dosha period (elderly age) resulting in an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP). Men can maintain prostate health by having a well-planned exercise schedule (one that improves movement in the lower half of the body to increase circulation in the pelvic region), practicing the Vajroli mudra (the posture that supports circulation to the reproductive organs), drinking lots of fluids to maintain good hydration (urinating 4-5 times a day helps keep the prostate channel clear), keep a strong digestive fire/agni, balance the pitta dosha and do not suppress natural desires.
How Do You Know if a Man is Healthy?
There are some sure signs that indicate that a man is healthy…
- Have a resting heart rate of approx. 70 BPM (beats per minute) and your heart rate returns to normal after a cardio workout
- Can perform daily tasks (even energetic physical exercises) without trouble
- Have healthy, pink fingernails (fingernails are a great indicator of a person’s present health)
- Have a clear urinary output that says you are getting enough hydration (dark yellow color, abnormal odors or blood spotting are warning signs to see your doctor)
- Have healthy bowel movements at the same time each day
- Your internal time rhythm works well – you can get up every morning naturally without your alarm going off
- Have a healthy weight that is within the accepted BMI range
As men become more aware of their own health – physical, emotional and mental, and understand the long-term effects of following Ayurveda prescribed healthy diet and lifestyle, they will continue to thrive & succeed in both their personal & professional spheres to enjoy longer, happier lives.
This father’s day, give yourself the gift of good health, book an ayurvedic consultation with an experienced Ayurvedic Vaidya to get customized Ayurvedic diet and health plans.